English Baccalaureate

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The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is a school performance indicator linked to the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). It measures the percentage of students in a school who achieve 5+ A*-C grades in traditionally academic GCSE subjects.

It should not be confused with the English Baccalaurete Certificate, which was a proposed academic qualification to be awarded in the English secondary education system in place of GCSEs. In February 2013 the Education Secretary Michael Gove announced the Certificate part would not go ahead, and that GCSEs would remain.


In late 2010, the UK Government introduced a new performance indicator called the English Baccalaureate, which measures the percentage of students in a school who achieve 5+ A*-C grades in English, mathematics, two sciences, a foreign language and history or geography at GCSE level.[1] The reason for its introduction was to combat the perceived fall in the number of students studying foreign languages and science.[2] The measure has been included in school league tables since January 2011.[3] This incarnation of the English Baccalaureate is not a standalone qualification in itself, although the Government was considering introducing a certificate for pupils who achieved the required grades.[4][5]

Proposed English Baccalaureate Certificate qualification[edit]

The "English Baccalaureate Certificate" was a proposed exam system to replace the GCSE in England.

In September 2012, UK Education Minister Michael Gove announced that the name "English Baccalaureate Certificate" would be used for a series of new qualifications designed to replace GCSEs in England, citing dumbing down as one of the motivating factors. The Government stated that it plans for the new qualifications to be more "rigorous", with exams to be taken at the end of the two-year course, rather than biannually as occurs under the modular GCSE system.[6][7][8] Chris Keates of union NASUWT criticised the announcement as being "entirely driven by political ideology".[9]

Northern Ireland Education Minister John O'Dowd criticised the UK Government for failing to consult the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland and Wales prior to the announcement, saying that he would announce his own proposals for the qualifications in Northern Ireland in due time.[10] Welsh Education Minister Leighton Andrews hinted that Wales might retain the current system[11] with Roberto De Benedictis, divisional secretary of the Tawe Afan Nedd branch of the National Union of Teachers praising the apparent reluctance of the Welsh government to participate in the new scheme.[12]

The announcement does not affect students in Scotland, which operates a separate system of qualifications from the rest of the United Kingdom.

In February 2013 Education Secretary Michael Gove had planned to bring in the Baccalaureate Certificate from Autumn 2015, but faced criticism from MPs, the regulator Ofqual, and teaching unions, which lead to its abandonment.[13][14]