Secondary schools have managed significant changes in the Key Stage 4 curriculum they offer in response to changes in performance tables and accountability measures from 2010 onwards. In this piece we assess how these changes are starting to affect the educational choices and successes of pupils at the ages of 16 and 18. We do this by following a cohort of pupils who took their GCSEs in 2012/13 and A-levels or other Key Stage 5 qualifications in 2014/15, comparing their outcomes to a cohort passing through the education system three years earlier.
Some schools have moved faster than others to realign their subject offer to suit the new accountability measures. In this research brief by Rebecca Allen and Dave Thompson, we focus on 300 schools that implemented major curriculum change over the three year period 2009/10 to 2012/13. We are particularly interested in outcomes for pupil premium pupils and those with lower prior attainment because there is some concern that a more ‘traditional’ or ‘academic’ curriculum could stretch their efforts over too many subjects or into subjects for which they are less motivated or well-suited.
- All pupils should have fair access to sit EBacc subjects, particularly those eligible for the pupil premium
- The Government should reconsider its intention that 90% of pupils should be entered for EBacc subjects.
- The Government should consider what type of Key Stage 4 curriculum is appropriate for those not entering the EBacc and do more to facilitate a Technical Baccalaureate option.