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Friday, 29 January 2016

The EBacc System Debate


If you know me well then you'll know I love writing a good post on a recent debate that's got my cage rattled and the various debates, campaigns, speeches that have emerged for and against the EBacc System being introduced to our education system is no different. The EBacc System is a lot to digest so bare with me whilst I get into the nitty and gritty of why we should be saying a big no to the system. This is pretty damn important to please read on.


I was really lucky with my school education, in more ways than one specific. The location of my school, it's financial resources, the quality of the teaching, the dedication and the passion of the teachers, the number of extra-curricula activities made available to me and the small number in the classroom which enabled such focussed work with us that we all felt like we was supported. I felt my education allowed me to explore and be inspired by a variety of things rather than one specific subject. The way in which education is currently being discussed by the likes of our MP's Nicky Morgan and Nick Gibb frustrates me and allows me to acknowledge why I was so lucky. My school wasn't driven on the outcome of league table results. My school encouraged all of it's students to balance subjects across the curriculum, in particular as we entered into our GCSE level education, so that's arts, sciences, sport and other objects all sat alongside each other and nothing wasn't seen as more important and vital to another. Education in my days enforced in the best possible way that if we have the attitude of working hard and were passionate about what we did, we could achieve whatever we wanted to. It was down to this attitude that constantly encouraged me to get by the bullying I went through education and that there was belief in I could create a career for myself and consider the 'artistic' route in my career and go to university. I couldn't thank them enough.

Growing up I always considered being a teaching myself. I think it's important to transfer my energy into knowledge, information and enthusiasm to a upcoming generation of young people that's being restricted from an amazing world of creativity through the arts as much as other subjects. It gets more difficult to undertake a position now where there is constant new policies, league table results, inadequate resources, OFSTED visits, endless data collection.. I have the upmost respect for those who have chosen this route, in the midst of such a list of time consuming 'duties' to give their time to young people who are in real need of their skills, support and love of learning. Because, as both Nicky Morgan and Nick Gibb do acknowledge well is that children learn best when they love what they do, and will flourish if they feel their efforts to be supported, appreciated and important at both school and at home.

When applying for university and creating your personal statement for potential further education options, your told to stress our individual 'transferable skills'. You know the things that we learned in our education so far that could help us in the future? English? Dance? After School Clubs or outside commitments? Looking back the combination of all of the stuff I studied, the science, maths, english, humanities taught me great things. But nothing more so than the activities I engaged with and my BTEC National Diploma in Musical Theatre at college. I performed 2-3 shows a year, got to work with professional choreographers and be in an environment where my passion for the arts was supported and flourished to the best of my ability.

I am not going to suggest that maths, english and the sciences are not important subjects that need to be included in our education system. We need to understand our thoughts and our feelings, our society and it's communities, why it's worth getting out of bed early enough to see the sunrise, how to be alongside other human beings, how to build something together, how to be allowed to explore our creative thoughts, how it feels to dance in front of a packed out theatre but also how to be ourselves.

Our arts subjects are so vital to our development as human beings. Our creative industries make around £8.8million an hour to our economy through a variety of sources, our society thrives on the inspiration, joy and sanctification to brings to our everyday lives. Introducing an EBacc system would mean that there will be little room left for those pupils who want to be submerged into the creative subjects that they crave so much to learn about. The EBacc system is based on a extreme narrow-mindedness which will therefore destroy infrastructure and resources in schools. I'm not going to bemoan the enormous step back represented be a reversion to non-modular syllabus structures with little coursework, placing an enormous pressure on pupils to do well in those final exams as their only means of achieving good grades, and how that will hopelessly isolate those who simply do not learn of work most effectively and to the best of their ability in such a possible system (myself included). I'm not going to point the many roles that without creative training would have nothing interesting to programme. Instead, let's talk about things which demonstrate the importance of arts for the under-18s in ways which are so utterly obvious that you'd have to be a complete idiot (or perhaps just a politician just hell-bent on metrics and money to the exclusion of everything else) not to see why.

(Most of this information is Dance based, as it's pretty much what I know most about)

1. The Centre for Advanced Training. These are in various places all over the UK, usually hosted by dance organisations in the region. They are actually a government imitative funded by the Department for Education and managed by the Music and Dance Scheme (MDS). The scheme was initially set up back in 2004.
"The aim of the scheme is to help identify, and assist, children with exceptional potential, regardless of their personal circumstances, to benefit from world-class specialist training as part of a broad and balanced education, which will enable  them, if they choose, to proceed towards self-sustaining careers in music and dance." MDS Advisory Group
I think it's an absolutely amazing idea for individuals who want to pursue a professional career in dance whilst being supported by the professionals that know the industry the most.


2. One Dance Uk's UDance. Udance is a National celebration of dance for young people where around 164,863 have taken part since 2013 (I believe!) I volunteered last summer when it was held in Plymouth and was part of the panel for the county platforms too. I couldn't even tell you in enough words how humbling and exciting it is as a dance practitioner myself to see those young people get involved in dance the way they do and also work alongside other young people in workshops with professionals too. You could smell their ambition in the air during the whole festival and now I'm a National Dance Ambassador the festival this year it feels even more important to me. 

The Ebacc syllabus isn't worthless, but it's also just not enough for the future generations of young people. Whilst it is amazing that such a variety of arts-based projects now have the opportunity to run externally to the school system, these can actually only flourish and do well if the schools themselves actually value and teach the importance of those art forms to their children. It's not about specialization, dumbing down specific subjects or being a non-academic, or one group of subjects verus any other subjects within the educational system. People like myself thrive on the opportunity to work in and outside schools to encourage young people to participate, be inspired and engage in art activity. There's no better job than inspiring the next generation of dancers. Our time in school education is the one opportunity we all have in our lives to engage with a fresh, exciting, and very wide range of opportunities provided to us in the palm of our hands for us to enjoy and experiment with without being restricted or pressured by. Please let's not allow these valuable ideas to be lost through the Ebacc system, it's important we talk about this so I would love to hear from anybody in the arts to get their views out there too! If you haven't done it yet, I encourage you to sign the petition.

thanks for reading,

6 comments:

  1. Hey! Great post.
    I have to disagree somewhat though! I took the International Baccalaureate which is a sort of A-Level equivalent.
    At fourteen or fifteen you are incredibly lucky if you know what you want to do when you leave school - for a lot of people they don't. By being in a position where you can study a vast range of subjects (and they're not saying here you can't study creative subjects as well, there would be the scope to study one additional subject of your choice) it gives you the chance to develop all areas.
    At the time it seems like English and maths and science are pointless but it's not just what you're learning that's important, it's HOW you're learning and the transferable skills that this gives you. I don't argue that for someone like yourself, being able to do Pythagoras is not going to help an inch when it comes to performing but one day when you're paying bills or working out a mortgage all of those skills you learnt with numbers will help you once more.
    However, I completely agree with you that education shouldn't be so attainment heavy. Some people are naturally more attuned to learning and will excel in every subject and then there are those that have skills in other areas like drama or art or even playing an instrument. Sadly, people are measured against their peers and everyone turns into a statistic - it was the same when I was at school and sadly I don't think it'll ever change; even if we try and stop them implementing the Ebacc. I think everyone should be given the best chance they can to get a well rounded and fair education but I completely believe that there shouldn't be so much emphasis on attainment. But, annoyingly, I can't come up with a better way for learning to be measured.

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    1. Hi lovely!
      I think that's great that you studied it and saw a positive outcome, however I just wasn't that academic and really struggled with the core subjects. I came out with awful grades but felt the arts allowed me to still flourish at something and inspire my career choice :)
      I haven't said the stuff you learn in English and Maths isn't important because we do use it in our daily life but I'm saying that the emphasis on exams and the pressure of doing well in exams overrides the opportunity to enjoy what your learning sometimes. I don't excel in exams, being in a room full of a lot of students with a paper in front of me and having to focus on that for a specific amount of time wasn't what I thrived on in education. I think there should be the opportunity to include a creative subject within the core subjects, giving everybody a taste of why it's important to have it involved within their education structure and to experience those results I like so many have had.

      Thanks for your comment :)

      Emmie x

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks for reading it and leaving a short comment! :)

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    2. Thanks for reading it and leaving a short comment! :)

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