One of the most annoying policies of the past few years was the “EBacc”, a list of subjects the government put together as a league table measure, with the aim of encouraging students to take these preferred subjects. The list was annoying because the subjects included made little sense (see why here). What was further annoying was that it felt fixed from the start. Gove was mentioning this particular mix of subjects before he even got into power and though there were warnings that subjects such as RE, or drama and music, might see their numbers go down, these pleas were roundly ignored. The EBacc subjects seemed immutable.
But in today’s speech by Michael Gove at BETT he mentioned that Computer Science was added to the EBacc mix. Gove argued that this was done because the subject was shown to be “sufficiently rigorous”.
This raises a question: How did computer science show it was sufficiently rigorous? For a start, computer science is predominantly coursework assessed (60%); something the Secretary of State has repeatedly criticised in other subject. Also, who looked over the grounds on which it was rigorous? Were other subjects given the same shot?
When pondering this on Twitter, I was tweeted by @OdysseanProject, an account manned by Dom Cummings, the soon-to-depart Special Advisor to Michael Gove. He wrote:
So, there’s the answer. No-one else tried. Hence, if RE, or Drama, or Music, or Psychology want in to the EBacc it appears that what you have to do is approach the DfE and show rigour. Who do you approach? How? In what guise? None of that is clear. But if I was the head of a Subject Association for a non-Ebacc subject I know what the first job on tomorrow’s To-Do List would be….