Labour MP Bill Esterson warns of long-term damage to young peopl

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson with Maghull High head of design and technology Nick Abraham during the MP's visit to the school last year.

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson this week said that the Tory-Lib Dem Government's education policy was not only damaging for young people but also for the long-term future of the country. 

His warning came a year after concerns were raised with him when he visited two of Maghull’s high schools.

Quizzing government ministers in Parliament, Bill warned that the introduction of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) would disadvantage young people who want to follow more technical qualifications. 

Bill raised concerns first put to him by students at Maricourt Catholic High School and at Maghull High School.

The EBacc is the new school performance indicator which was introduced by the Tories and Lib Dems, and which measures the percentage of students in a school who achieve grades A*-C in English, Mathematics, two sciences, a foreign language and history or geography at GCSE level.

Speaking in Parliament, Bill Esterson said: "The EBacc means students are less likely to study technical subjects purely on the basis that schools are less likely to provide them because they will be measured on the narrow academic approach of this new qualification. Surely the way forward should be for all schools to offer vocational qualifications, knowing full well that people do better in their academic subjects when they take vocational routes. These should not be provided only in specialised technical colleges."

He said young people and the country were being failed by the government's education policy.

After the debate, Bill said: "This government is forcing a very narrow academic focus on our schools. Many of our young people have an aptitude for more vocational and technical subjects, but schools are turning away from these subjects because they will end up scoring poorly on the EBacc indicator.

"How a school does on the EBacc indicator is made public and is already featuring on league tables, so schools will do all they can to get the best results in the EBacc subjects.

"This is obviously at the expense of other subjects, such as technical and arts subjects. And it is to the detriment of a fully rounded education for our young people. 

"This issue was first raised with me when I met a group of students at Maricourt Roman Catholic High School in Maghull last year. Students at Maricourt told me they were worried that the EBacc would put them at a disadvantage as they wanted to study subjects for GCSE which are not part of the EBacc. These subjects included engineering, catering, music, religious education and hairdressing, none of which count towards the EBaccSefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson and Maghull High head of design and technology Nick Abraham with pupils during the MP's visit to the school last year..

"As a result they were worried that schools might not be able to give them the support they needed in their chosen subjects because of the need to push for results exclusively in the EBacc subjects. The students understood the need to do well in English, maths, science and the humanities but they want careers not just good grades in the most academic subjects and employers want young people who have studied subjects relevant to their businesses. A similar point was made to me at Maghull High School and at schools around the constituency."

Bill said he feared the EBacc will lead to a shortage of workers with non-academic skills.

Bill said: "At a time when the economy is struggling, we need to be looking to the future, at ways in which we can help Britain create the next generation of skilled workers.

"By narrowing down the focus of the education schools provide, this government is handicapping young people who have interests outside the academic subjects and damaging the future economy.

"The Tory-Lib Dem Government's education policy is driven by political ideology at the expense of our schools and young people.

"Despite repeatedly raising these concerns with government ministers, they have yet to address the concerns about the damage which they are doing."

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