Gove finally caved in on the changes to education that he was rushing through last week. Teachers and educationalists awoke to the news that he was going to have stop the removal of GCSE’s. However, this hasn’t stopped the EBacc altogether. Now while lots of teachers, parents and students would agree that GCSE’s need reform, a lot would argue against the EBacc in its current form, mainly because it seems that not all subjects are equal. Most within education have known this for a long time. Certain subjects receive more funding, staff and timetable time than others. There are some legitimate reasons for this, like school performance. Maths, English and Science will always take priority but lots of subjects, for example MFL, RE and the Arts have all had to take a back seat in recent years. With lack of funding and investment, cuts in PGCE placements and school funding being on a knife edge, means that teachers are teaching outside their specialism, staff aren’t being replaced and students aren’t getting the best deal.
On the positive side, RE and the Arts have been reaffirmed in the new National Curriculum, with RE having to be ‘taught in every key stage’ and it’s now included in the Specialist Leader in Education Programme run by the NCSL. However, all this good work will be undone because of the weight placed on the EBacc. It will be the main measure of school performance. The implications for non-EBacc subjects here is huge. All RE teachers teaching compulsory GCSE have suffered the ‘it’s not an important GCSE is it? I only value my option subjects’ response from students, often supported by parents. *head, desk* So if the Government isn’t valuing non-EBacc subjects, what hope have they got? Also, RE Short Course GCSE will not count towards school performance at all. Anyone else hearing a death knell?!
During the Parliamentary debate, RE was only mentioned by one MP (I forget which one!) But Gove being the excellent politician that he is, avoided it, as he did most questions, by thanking everyone for the valuable contribution to the process. He simply refused to acknowledge the existence of the subject. There are still dark days ahead for education in Great Britain, despite the odd glimmers of hope.