'Requires improvement: urgent change for 11–16 education' a new report by the House of Lords'

The Education for 11–16 Year Olds Committee has published a new report stating that there is a disproportionate exam burden and, due the Ebacc, declining opportunities to study creative and technical subjects.

The House of Lords Committee say secondary education has 'moved in the wrong direction'. The report says the education system for 11- to 16-year-olds is too focused on rote learning and written exams and not enough opportunity for pupils to pursue creative and technical subjects.

In the report they identify four areas to address and solutions for each. Key findings and/or solutions include:


An overloaded curriculum

The Government should undertake a review of the content load of the key stage 3 curriculum. GCSE curriculum content must be significantly reduced to allow more space for developing a broader range of skills and pupils’ understanding of core concepts.


Literacy, numeracy and digital skills

The demand for digital skills is growing across almost all sectors. The current digital skills gap is estimated to cost the UK economy up to £60 billion a year.


GCSE exams

The Government should, following consultation with teachers and schools, identify ways to increase the use of non-exam assessment at GCSE. In the long term, plans should be set out to slim down the amount of assessment for pupils at 16 and reduce the pressure experienced during this phase.


Measuring school performance

The EBacc was introduced in 2010. It is a set of traditional academic subjects that the Government wants 90% of pupils to study at GCSE. We heard that this has created a hierarchy of subjects and has reduced the take up of non-EBacc GCSEs, particularly creative and technical subjects. For example, the number of pupils studying design and technology GCSE has fallen by over 70% since 2010. However, these subjects are important in helping pupils to progress to the full range of post-16 options and the skills associated with them are vital to the UK economy.

The Committee asks:

The Government must abandon the EBacc entirely, including the ambition for 90% of pupils to be taking this subject combination. The remaining school performance measures should also be reviewed.

The Committee have asked the government to respond.

Read the report here