I believe that every child should have access to the best opportunities in Britain, and this means having access to study the key subjects that provide the knowledge and skills young people need to succeed and leave school ready for life in modern Britain. I am very pleased that Ministers want to see 90 per cent of pupils studying GCSEs in the EBacc subjects by 2025. I am encouraged that 40 per cent of pupils are now being entered into EBacc subjects, compared to 22 per cent in 2010.
While the EBacc rightly focuses on the core academic skills that employers and higher education institutions value, pupils will still study a broad curriculum – the EBacc doesn’t exclude or undermine other subjects such as arts. I certainly recognise the value of the creative arts for our children and young people, both within and outside of a school setting.
I am encouraged by evidence that suggests entries to arts subjects have not fallen as a result of the introduction of the EBacc. Indeed, the proportion of pupils in state-funded schools entering at least one GCSE in an arts subject has increased since the EBacc was first introduced, rising from 45.8 per cent in 2011 to 48 per cent in 2016. Art and Design continues to be one of the most popular GCSEs, with over 25 per cent of pupils in England taking it in 2016.
I know that Ministers are well aware that the EBacc will not be appropriate for a small minority of pupils. I am encouraged that the Department for Education has been clear that the decision not to enter a pupil for the EBacc will need to be considered on a case by case basis by each school. No single factor should automatically exclude a pupil from entering the EBacc.