Norfolk’s tough EBacc challenge

The challenge of restructuring the curriculum to achieve the government's new English baccalaureate is set to be huge in Norfolk, the GCSE performance tables reveal.

For the first time, and without warning, this year's tables include the EBacc measure, recording how many students got at least a C in English, maths, double science, a foreign language and history or geography.

The new measure, devised by education secretary Michael Gove to force more students to take 'academic' subjects, has already caused great controversy.

And in Norfolk, it is likely to lead to much soul-searching, as schools try to get the balance right between academic and vocational courses.

Today's tables reveal that just 15.4pc of Norfolk students – fewer than one in six, but close to the national figure of 15.6pc – achieved the EBacc in last year's GCSEs. Suffolk's figure is 13.4pc.

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Among the lowest percentages are 11 schools that got less than 5pc. They are:

Charles Burrell High in Thetford (0pc)

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City Academy Norwich (0pc)

Great Yarmouth High (1pc)

The Hewett School in Norwich (1pc)

Lynn Grove High in Gorleston (3pc)

Methwold High (2pc)

Open Academy in Norwich (1pc)

Oriel College in Gorleston (1pc)

The Park High in King's Lynn (1pc)

St Clement's High in Terrington St Clement (0pc)

Sewell Park College in Norwich (2pc).

At just one state school, Wymond-ham College, more than half of students (52pc) achieved the EBacc.

As reported in the EDP last month, headteachers in Norfolk and across the country expressed fury that the measure was included in this year's tables, just two months after it was officially confirmed.

There were also concerns that it only recognises a narrow range of academic subjects, and that it could put thousands of young people off learning because it could force them to study subjects that they were not suited to.

At the time Michael Rose, head of Wayland High, at Watton, said: 'Young people learn in many ways and a significant number will find that if they are forced to complete this then they will struggle to succeed. Motivation and aspiration will fall. Schools will feel less successful and under pressure to conform because of league tables giving an unbalanced view.'

Yesterday, Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers, said: 'We congratulate secondary schools on the progress made yet again in standards, a testament to the dedication of staff and students.

'However, the retrospective introduction of performance measures, relating to a qualification that is actually not in existence, will alienate the profession from an idea which could have had real merit if introduced with engagement and time to plan.

'As it is, it just becomes another misleading and unhelpful league table.'

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