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The English Baccalaureate

Discussion in 'Social sciences' started by REC66, Jan 19, 2011.

  1. Hi
    Is anyone else concerned about the effect the new EBacc might have on Psychology teaching in schools? The government had previously classified GCSE Psychology as a Science, but it is not considered as such in the EBacc. The International Baccalaureate views Psychology as a Humanity. There seems to be no place for Psychology in the EBacc and this might discourage students from selecting it at GCSE. Demand at GCSE has been growing but this trend might reverse.
    Would welcome your views on this? Do we have a case to present? Should we be demanding that Psychology be valued?
  2. My view, for what it's worth (not much, probably) is: 1. In the short term, where schools are going to be judged / ranked on the 5 "core" GCSEs (English, Maths, Science, Humanities, MFL) there will be a "mass switch" of resources to these areas (which means subjects like psychology and sociology may well be squeezed out at GCSE - although sociology isn't extensively taught in schools at this level anyway). If enough fuss is made then subjects like psychology will force their way into the EBac, but I think that may well be a little way down the line (when the fan is hit by smelly stuff - see below). If the core EBac is failing then face can be saved by allowing subjects schools / students may additionally want to teach / study, such as psychology etc. into the EBac. I think psychology would be able to make a good case for inclusion - the fact that it's not there already probably owes more to Govian Conservatism (it's too easy, not rigorous, wasn't taught in my day at Eton etc.) than anything more substantial.
    2. Although the EBac (stupid idea, stupid name...) was measured this year the real starting point is next year (the results will be poor, but not as poor as this year). However, since schools have a 2 - or even 3 - year lead-in to GCSE my (not very well informed) guess is that it won't be for another 2 or 3 years that EBac results "really matter" (because schools can rightly pint to the changeover lead-in). By this point, two things might happen:
    a. The coalition has fallen apart and when a new government is formed from the ashes, expect "new and radical" (i.e. borrowed from somewhere else and more of the same thing we in the last-reform-but-one) changes.
    b. The headlines generated by the number of "falling schools" / "failing pupils" will result in media / political panic and there will be a "radical rethink" of the whole shambles. At, or even before this point, if the coalition survives the contradictions inherent in "giving schools more freedom" / "tight direction from the political centre" the overall result will be an unholy mess (which, again for what it's worth, has been my only experience of "teaching reforms" these past 25 years...).
  3. Thank you for your reply. I found your views most calming!
    I feel much better now.
  4. I think that if we've learnt anything these past years it's that "fools rush in" when it comes to education (there also has to be an irony about a Tory-led government "condemning" centralisation "in the past" when they started the whole sorry merry-go-round as a way of bashing "left-wing" teachers).
    As far as sociology at GCSE goes I don't think anyone will bother making a case for it (as I say, it's mainly taught post-school and the numbers aren't high). Psychology is a different case (even though I'm a sociologist) because of both it's current status in the curriculum and because it's just got to be more use to students than learning to speak French or German v.v.badly (unless MFL actually means Spanish or Chinese - which I somehow doubt...). Someday it will dawn on politicians that the reason "Europeans" speak English so well is because it's everywhere, is actually useful and children are exposed to it from the moment they pop-out. Until then, I think you have to continue to make the case for inclusion in the EBac until some future politic ans decide it's a terrible idea and "reform" (i.e. abolish) it.

  5. MrsArmitage

    MrsArmitage Occasional commenter

    I've already felt the axe on my neck as I've been told whatever I teach next year, it won't be sociology any more! Goodness only knows what that's going to leave me doing.
  6. 'They' won't like sociology as it encourages children to question the 'order'. I'm guessing RE might be next for the chop although the Christian element might cling on to it in church schools.
  7. I am concerned about a number of issues but one which is taxing me at the moment is how to advise children: take the subjects you like, enjoy and can do well at or opt for ones which are part of the English Bacc? Can it really be the case that a child who achieves, for example, C grades in these 5 areas be more likely to get a place at university than one who achieves A*/A in other GCSE subjects? What do other people think?
  8. yasf

    yasf Established commenter

    this is the problem.
    We are the only country that has such a liberal 'choice', where schools give 12/13 year olds a free rein apart from Maths, English and single science. Real choice is informed and made later and better at 16. End of Y8/9 depending on the school is far too early as, frankly, students aren't mature enough. And following on from that idea - it's often actually the school that 'chooses' rather than the student. And finally - why the exclusive concentration on 'liking, enjoying and doing well (which now means instant accessibility). How about encouraging our youth to have to work hard, over a period of time in order to achieve something - and the satisfaction that brings? Is instant gratification a lesson you really want to teach them?

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