I love trips but I hate the Ebacc

I love trips.

As a teacher, I enjoy getting out of my classroom and getting the opportunity to go on new new adventures to places I would never have seen and do activities which I have not done before. They are a great opportunity for my own development as a person, providing an excellent way to engage, in different situations, with students and other staff.

Some of you might be reading this and thinking, “Fine – but surely schools trips are about the students?” and you would be right! But everything I said in the previous paragraph is also true for students who have the opportunity to venture out on a trip.

I am a passionate believer that education is not solely about classroom learning. Much of the rhetoric from government and media is about results and “academic” learning – schools are measured purely on these factors, but other factors, in addition to exam grades, are essential for the employability and development of students in their future lives.

The problem for schools and government is that these factors are very difficult to measure and if it is difficult to measure, it is challenging to prove, on paper and in a league table, that it has a measurable impact on that student. This is where I begin to get frustrated with our current system which has such a fundamental basis on league tables. Much of what many schools are doing is based on being more successful in league tables – for example, promoting EBACC subjects. As educators, we can agree that positive extra-curricular opportunities help students develop into more well-rounded individuals, so we would not even consider taking these away.

So why would we even consider reducing, or even removing or restricting the uptake of, subjects which do not come under the EBACC envelope? Why do we even have the EBACC? Why is it that schools are measured significantly on their progress in core and EBACC subjects? I understand the logic – we want our country to be literate, numerate and have an understanding of the world around them – but education is more than just words and numbers and certainly more than a grade on a piece of paper, however easy the grade is to measure.

If we want our students to develop fully, we should be considering the ways in which we can give them a well-rounded education, in addition to supporting their reading and writing. We should be giving them the opportunity to explore lots of different things and challenge them with many varied concepts and ideas across a wide and varied curriculum. I fear, however, that until someone creates a way of measuring social progress without an exam grade, we may be fighting a losing battle with a PM who is determined to focus on the core.

But a few more trips wouldn’t go amiss.


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