An EBacc/ABacc English Curiosity

A morning Twitter discussion highlighted this curiosity:

In order to count in the EBacc statistics a student needs to get an English Language GCSE or an English (combined) GCSE. English Literature, on its own, can’t count.

In order to count in the ABacc statistics a student must get three of the Russell Group ‘facilitating subjects’. English Literature is one. English Language is not. (see p.15)


This means that we think at 16 it is most important that children study Language but at 18 we suddenly value Literature. Surely this can’t be right?

Given also that a common defence of the EBacc is that its subjects reflect the ‘facilitating subjects’ of the Russell Group, I’m confused. Why is English Language in the EBacc over English Literature if Literature is the one the Russell Group believe keeps your options open most widely, and also is the one that counts towards a school’s “ABacc measure”.

Any ideas?

[PS – big thanks to @miconm and @danielhugill for prompting me to check this]

2 thoughts on “An EBacc/ABacc English Curiosity

  1. Yes, curious, isn’t it. Answer: A level English language has lower academic status than English lit. Eng lang not widely studied in grammar schools and independents. Result of A level structure too, no doubt. You can only do three subjects, so you would be unlikely to do both lang and lit. It’s all about tradition, just as the choice of Ebacc subjects is.

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