Sunderland pupils’ better record on key subjects

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A HEADTEACHER has welcomed figures which show the proportion of students studying core subjects has risen.

New statistics issued by the Government claim twice as many students are now taking key academic subjects, which are highly valued by universities and employers, since the introduction of the English Baccalaureate, EBacc.

The EBacc was introduced by the Department for Education in the performance tables in January 2011 and is achieved by pupils who gain a GCSE grade C or better in English, maths, a language, history or geography and two sciences.

In 2010 22 per cent of GCSE pupils were entered for the EBacc, but a survey for the Department for Education has revealed 49 per cent of Year 9 pupils have chosen to study the set of key subjects from this September.

Grindon Hall Christian School, in Sunderland, which recently became the city’s first Free School, has had a long tradition of pupils studying the core academic subjects at GCSE.

Chris Gray, headteacher at the Pennywell school where 61 per cent of pupils gained the EBacc this year, said: “We welcome the renewed emphasis on traditional academic subjects.

“As an independent school, which we still are, we don’t really bother about league tables, which are unhelpful.

“Understandably, however, some schools have felt themselves pressurised by league tables to increase their percentages, so have been inclined in some cases to offer less demanding and much less marketable subjects.

“Who can blame them?

“The trouble is that many of those qualifications do not stand children in good stead for the future.

“A solid set of at least six good GCSEs in English, maths, two sciences, history or geography and a language will enable students to keep their options open and have much greater choice about what they do next.

“Of course, for many students it may be that a more vocational route is best, but, for the vast majority, the subjects covered by the English Baccalaureate are well within reach.”

The Government survey indicates that individual subjects are returning to levels of popularity not seen for years, including history which is due to be sat by 41 per cent of GCSE pupils in summer 2014, the highest proportion since summer 1994.

The figures show that the EBacc has had an especially positive impact on poorer pupils.

In 2010, just 10 per cent of pupils in schools with a high proportion of children on free school meals were taking the EBacc combination of subjects, but 41 per cent of pupils in these schools started studying the set of key subjects from this September.

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