Dear Mr Gove MP,
As Education Secretary, and very much the figure head of changes to Education policy, I’m writing to you to express the concern of young people in my UK Youth Parliament constituency of Sheffield.
At a session I chaired in Sheffield this year with young people, doubts were raised about the EBacc and other issues relating to access to Education. There was a consensus held there, and among many of the young people I represent, that the EBacc was not offering vocational qualifications, and was instead narrowing down the opportunities available. It was felt that the more traditional, quite often unpopular and uninviting subjects were favoured in this programme. It was the young people’s belief that whilst these subjects may be academically satisfying, they didn’t fulfil the need for a more practical approach to education that would go some way to fill the skills gap. By introducing an element of ‘hands on’, the EBacc would support economic growth by giving people the opportunity and expertise to enter the jobs market working in manufacturing, construction or engineering.
There are those who have expressed worry, that schools are directing resources away from other initiatives, and into the EBacc, indirectly forcing young people to switch courses and take this new qualification. This is the case even for those who would have never chosen the EBacc, but would have instead benefited from an alternative, wider ranging set of qualifications. We also shared the opinion that this system could deter genuinely talented young people from taking creative subjects such as performing arts. By the Department placing such a large emphasis on the EBacc young people would fear taking any other course would negate their future job prospects.
You claim the EBacc offers a young person a more rounded education. However, there is a strong belief amongst young people and teaching professionals, that this is not the case. In favour of higher league table positions, schools may forget that vitally important subjects such as R.E are being missed out. It is certainly my belief that a well rounded education should expose young people to diversity, allowing them to embrace and understand cultural differences prevalent in the UK.
The issue of access to education has been a campaign I’ve been involved in for many years. This started out with a very open and candid opposition to any increase in tuition fees or increase in student contribution to higher education.
These measures carried out by the coalition have led me to a similar conclusion as the one expressed by young people at the Q&A session in Sheffield, in April. Education is being hived off, and put out of the reach of many disadvantaged young people in this country. I feel inaction would be doing them an injustice.
Member of UK Youth Parliament for Sheffield