E-Bacc concerns raised during Labour MP Bill Esterson’s visit to

Labour MP Bill Esterson with Head of Design & Technology at Maghull High Nick Abrahams and pupils Charlie Aspinall, Jess Wilson and Hannah McAlpine

Sefton Central Labour MP Bll Esterson heard concerns about the Tory-Lib Dem government's reforms to the education system during a visit to Maghull High School this week.

Bill, who is Parliamentary Private Secretary to Labour's Shadow Education Minister Stephen Twigg, visited the school's Design & Technology department where he heard from pupils and staff about their concerns regarding the reforms which include the introduction of the E-Baccalaureate (E-Bacc).

The E-Bacc is a school performance measure which the Tory-Lib Dem government is introducing. It measures the number of pupils who have secured a C grade or better in core academic subjects English, mathematics, history or geography, the sciences and a language.

Critics say the E-Bacc disadvantages pupils who are talented in arts and creative subjects.

Head of Design & Technology at Maghull High Nick Abraham told Bill Esterson: "Design and Technology and the related subjects of Engineering and Hospitality are vital subjects for our children and also the future prosperity of the nation.

"If we are to create wealth and jobs in the future we are going to have to compete with the emerging nations like China and India as well as established nations such as Germany and USA. We will not be able to compete with mass production so must develop niche, specialist or creative industries and by developing new technologies and materials in a creative way.

Labour MP Bill Esterson with Head of Design & Technology at Maghull High Nick Abrahams"However with the introduction of the E-Bacc into league tables there is now evidence from GCSE entries for 2011 that it is impacting on numbers taking Design & Technology related examinations. It is particularly worrying that Electronic Products and Systems and Control numbers are so small and falling. This may result in future numbers studying hi-tech subjects at university falling. These are just the types of subjects that are important for our future.

"The Design & Technology community feels that our subject provides pupils with the opportunity to develop their creativity, to work with new technologies, to become problem solvers and to apply their mathematical and scientific knowledge in a real problem solving and creative manner.

"We believe that Britain’s prospects for recovery and future growth in 2011 and beyond are based on high value sectors such as engineering, advanced manufacturing, design and the creative industries – sectors in which Britain is still highly competitive.

"It is through Design & Technology that we can not only help our children develop the skills and knowledge necessary but also to inspire them to take careers in these important sectors."

Bill thanked Mr Abraham and the pupils for sharing their concerns.

Bill said: "I was very impressed by the hard work of the students I met and of the commitment of the staff at Maghull High School in making sure the young people have the skills they need to help get a job.

"Training students at school in technical subjects helps them to get a job when they leave school and is what businesses want from young people and from schools. The country needs business to succeed and to create jobs. We also need to compete with countries like China and Brazil so our young people need the skills they learn in design and technology subjects so that we can develop the hi-tech modern products which people around the world will want to buy.

"High skilled jobs are better paid, so it makes sense for schools, colleges and universities to run top quality courses which teach the skills needed. Sadly, the government has brought in a new measure called the E-Bacc which encourages schools to cut the number of technical subjects they offer to young people.

"I share the very real concern of teachers, young people and business that we are going to see fewer opportunities for young people to study technical subjects like design and technology, engineering or computer science. The same cut backs are likely to affect catering, hairdressing and music, also subjects which many young people want to study to help them get a job.

"It appears that the Tories and Lib Dems are not listening and I will continue to raise this issue in parliament.

"I'd like to thank Mr Abrahams and the pupils of Maghull High for sharing their concerns with me."

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