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. Though, the qualification contains the term baccalaureate it is not a passport for entry into universities and tertiary education institutions such as the French baccalaureate (baccalauréat) or the International Baccalaureate (IB Diploma Program). To gain access to universities in the United Kingdom and around the world students are required to study and take exams for GCSEs and GCE Advanced Level.


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]

Proposed English Baccalaureate Certificate qualification[edit]

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

According to the Government the (supposed) dumbing down of GCSEs was 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.[3][4][5] Chris Keates of union NASUWT criticised the announcement as being "entirely driven by political ideology".[6]

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.[7] Welsh Education Minister Leighton Andrews hinted that Wales might retain the current system[8] 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.[9]

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