Baccalaureate Schmackalaureate

I am distinctly unimpressed with the English Bacclaureate. As a family, we’ve gone through the GCSE “options” process this week.

There is something not right with the process at the school end of the policy sausage macahine. My beloved is having to do Religious Studies as a core, compulsory GCSE subject. But Religious Studies is not included in the Baccalaureate. But a Modern Foreign Language is in the required subjects for the Baccalaureate but not in the core, compulsory subjects. So you end up with Hobson’s Choice between doing a much-loved subject (e.g Dance) and not attaining the EBacc, or doing a unloved subject (i.e German) to attain the EBacc.

This Hobson’s Choice is exacerbated by the fact that much-loved French was withdrawn as an option, effectively, a year ago.

So it’s bye-bye Baccalaureate.

As an employer I can’t say that I would be getting into a lather to ensure job candidates have a modern foreign language GCSE. I took French A level (I love the language) and work in a company with thousands of French employees but I have never needed it for work.

This is all a shame because I am certainly against the Englishman-shouting-abroad approach.

But it seems that the Baccalaureate has been somewhat hamfistedly implemented. It seems crazy that schools are still keeping Religious Studies GCSE compulsory and therefore forcing a Hobson’s Choice at the Modern Foreign Languages end.

One can’t escape the conclusion that the dropping of Modern Foreign Languages as a compulsory subject in 2004 is behind all this. It seems crazy that it was done. But like all changes in education, it’s like an oil tanker, the effects of the decision go on for a long time and its difficult to change it around or stop it. 

I have to caveat all this. The GCSE choices which students have these days are stunning. Business studies, Photography, Media, Childcare, Catering, Drama, Graphics etc. These are all choices I wouldn’t dreamt of when I was educated.

So, we’ve had this major choice this week. Sometimes it felt we were being bombarded with information. But it is wonderful to have such wide and numerous choices. It reminds me of when we chose a Secondary School. It was a very labourious, painful process involving four schools. We visited each of them at least twice and had individual interviews (just for us) for an hour with the headteacher of three of them. The whole process took two years.

But where I grew up you didn’t have that problem – that painful choice. There was one school you could attend – fullstop. So, we should be grateful for the great choice available to many/most parents and children in this country.

Weird dream

We all have weird dreams but often it’s difficult to remember them. Last night (or probably this morning) I dreamt that the singer Lynsey de Paul is an old friend of Hilary Clinton. They go way back – presumably to the days when Hilary was just wife of the new, young Governor of Arkansas.

The only problem is that I know have Lynsey de Paul and Mike Moran’s song “Rock Bottom” stuck in my head and I can’t get it out.

Where are we? – Rock bottom
Tragedies? – We got ’em
Remedy? – Why don’t we
Rub it out and start it again