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The effects of the English Baccalaureate

Members may be interested to read the Ipsos MORI research report, The effects of the English Baccalaureate, commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE). 

The headlines, and some key findings from the research relating to the study of languages, include the following:

"Take-up of the English Baccalaureate:

• There is no significant change since last year in either the estimated proportion of Year 9 pupils who have chosen to take either the combination of subjects that make them eligible to achieve the EBacc, or in the uptake of individual EBacc subjects.
- In 2012 49% of Year 9 pupils have selected a combination of GCSE subjects that could lead to them achieving the EBacc in 2014. This compares with 46% of Year 9 pupils selecting these options in 2011: the change over time is not statistically significant.
- The take-up of each of the optional EBacc subjects in 2012 – triple science, double science, history, geography and languages – has not increased significantly since 2011.
- There is a slight upward trend in the uptake of each of the individual EBacc subjects and the EBacc combination of subjects since last year, but these changes are not statistically significant.

• The average proportion of pupils selecting each of the EBacc subjects, and the EBacc combination of subjects, is higher in selective than non-selective schools, and higher than average in schools with relatively low numbers of pupils eligible for Free School Meals (FSM)3. The gap in the uptake of EBacc subjects is particularly pronounced for triple science and languages.
- In selective schools, an average of 84% of pupils are studying towards the EBacc compared with 48% in comprehensive and 33% in secondary modern schools.
-  In schools with a relatively high proportion of FSM-eligible pupils an average of 41% of pupils will be studying towards an EBacc from next year, compared with an average of 60% of pupils in schools with relatively low numbers of FSM-eligible pupils.

• The qualitative research revealed that languages are a ‘sticking point’ for pupils in some schools, often those where teachers indicated their pupils have low aspirations: these pupils are less likely to see the value of studying a language, and often find languages more difficult and less engaging than other subjects. Teachers at these schools noted that even the more academic pupils in their school were often reluctant to study towards a language. Teachers at several case study schools explained they were implementing measures to improve language teaching and resourcing, to motivate more pupils to opt for languages.


• Languages are compulsory for at least some pupils in 40% of schools, while history and geography are much less likely to be compulsory (compulsory at 13% and 14% of schools, respectively)."

For more information, visit the DfE website, and to download the report, click here.

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