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SecEd The ONLY weekly voice for secondary education Inside this issue

VLEs: To pay or not to pay?

We hear from two learning platform experts – one arguing for an open source approach, the other contending that employing a service provider is the best option Pages 10 and 11

Head takes on Gove with pilot Bacc plan

Academy headteacher is seeking 40 schools to help pilot a new Modern Baccalaureate award

Exclusive by Pete Henshaw Dramatic Enquiry

Dramatic Enquiry is a teaching strategy based around philosophy and drama. We look at how one school used this in the science classroom Pages 8 and 9

The RE debate

The National Association of Teachers of RE on the damage that being excluded from the EBacc is having on RE provision Page 12

Life as a supply

Would you deal with poor behaviour and all the other challenges of being a teacher for less than £50 a day? Norma Hart on life as a supply Page 14


and Twitter Thousands of teachers are reading SecEddigital, a virtual edition of SecEd, which is emailed out every week. You can sign up for free by emailing SecEd news and features are now also available on Twitter. You can follow us at www.

Schools are being asked to sign up to an alternative to the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) which its creators say is more rounded and aspirational. A pilot has been launched for the

Modern Baccalaureate (ModBac) and 40 schools are being sought to help develop the award further. Its creation is being led by the

Archbishop Sentamu Academy in Hull whose headteacher Andrew Chubb has been angered by the ret- rospective inclusion of the EBacc in the league tables. Within 24 hours of the Modbac

being launched, Mr Chubb said he had been contacted by 25 to 30 schools expressing their interest and has also had an approach from an awarding body. The EBacc is awarded to any

student who achieves A* to C grades in GCSE English, maths, a science, geography or history, and a language. However, for the ModBac stu-

dents must gain a minimum of eight subjects including English and maths, at least one science, an ICT qualification, and an enter- prise or financial capability award. Students will then be free to make up the remaining subjects with their own choices. ModBac students can also

achieve the award at Foundation (D to G grades) and Intermediate (A* to C) and a Higher award relating to A level achievement is being developed. Honours awards will also be possible and will include other achievements such as com- munity-based learning or a personal challenge. Mr Chubb told SecEd: “There

are three key problems with the EBacc. It’s not inclusive because it’s a threshold measure, it’s not aspirational, and it’s a one-size-fits- all approach.” Mr Chubb said the ModBac rec-

Taking on the EBacc: Headteacher Andrew Chubb has launched the Modern Bacc, which he says is a more rounded alternative to education minister Michael Gove's EBacc

ognises the “broad spectrum and variety of students’ interests and passions”. He added: “The Modbac aims to equip our young people with the skills they need for further study and the workplace, so that they can take their full place in soci- ety. The EBacc does none of this. “The award is still in pilot form.

We are looking for schools and academies interested in an alterna- tive to the EBacc to join our pilot next year, pending a full roll-out in September 2012. “The broad point in all of this

is the damage the EBacc causes. It will lead to a shrinking of the cur- riculum, it will damage creativity and diversity and we are already seeing that – drama, visual arts, business studies, IT, religious edu- cation are all being diminished in curricula across the country. “We are hoping that (education minister) Michael Gove will see

that his idea for a baccalaureate is a good one but that this is a better way of achieving what he is trying to achieve with the EBacc.” Since its introduction into

the league tables in January, the EBacc has drawn criticism from a number of organisations because of its academic focus. The BetterBac Coalition has also been launched to lobby for a more rounded approach. Members include the Curriculum Foundation and Whole Education. Dr John Dunford, chair of

Whole Education, said: “The EBacc has opened up a creative discussion about the kind of baccalaureate that is needed in England. The ModBac is an interesting example from an individual school and helps to dem- onstrate how important it will be to design a baccalaureate for all young people in England. This is what the Better Baccalaureate campaign is now working on.”

One school that has expressed

an interest in the ModBac is West Lakes Academy in Cumbria. Principal Vanessa Ray said it would give more coherence to her stu- dents’ experience of school than the EBacc. She told SecEd: “I do not believe the EBacc is suitable for all of the students at the academy. Last year, nine per cent of the cohort achieved the EBacc and I don’t see that increasing considerably. “We prefer the ModBac for a number of reasons – it includes ICT

which we offer as a core course because we believe it is an impor- tant life-skill and the ModBac ena- bles students to achieve at different levels; it is inclusive. The honours programme also allows schools to include activities that relate to their specialisms and other activities which help to provide students with an all-round education, such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award.” A Department for Education

spokesman said: “The EBacc is just one measure of attainment and focuses on a core of academic sub- jects which top universities say pro- vide an excellent springboard for higher education. “However, it is ultimately up

to heads to decide which subjects they offer and which they make compulsory, beyond those which all pupils in all schools must do. We have deliberately made more statis- tics from the school league tables available to all so that anyone can compare and contrast schools on a larger range of subjects.” For more information, visit

Petition pushes for EBacc pause

A campaign has this week been launched on the 38 Degrees website urging the government to pause its EBacc plans. The website is known for helping to force the government’s u-turn

over selling off the forests. Anyone can submit ideas for campaigns and the ones which receive the most support are taken on by 38 Degrees. The EBacc campaign has been added by headteacher Andrew

Chubb, the man behind the launch of the Modern Baccalaureate, and as SecEd went to press it was ranked as the 42nd most popular. Mr Chubb told SecEd: “It is about raising awareness of the fact that

the introduction of the EBacc is causing damage to the breadth and bal- ance of school curricula across the country.” The petition reads: “Through the introduction of the EBacc, Michael

Gove has dramatically altered our children’s education. By leaving out subjects like RE, music, art, drama ICT, business studies and design technology from the new performance measure, creativity and diversity in the curriculum are being eroded, and children in many schools are being dissuaded from taking these subjects up to GCSE level. “Consequently, the richness of our children’s education is now in

danger of being severely compromised. We would like everyone who believes the EBacc to be a flawed concept to join us in asking the gov- ernment to pause, reflect, consult with the profession, and support the development of a more modern baccalaureate.” The campaign page is at

UK news n SecEd: On Your Side n Psycho babble n Teach it like Torno! n NQT diary n Managing ICT n At the chalkface

Issue 287 • June 16 2011 Price £1.00

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