Concerns regarding the English Baccalaureate


As a body cCLOA takes a strategic view and recognises the positive aspects of the English Baccalaureate with the country needing to compete in a global economy.  However, we are most concerned that if these changes are not well managed, they could prevent many young people from reaching their potential and also have far reaching negative health impacts.  To that end we have written to Nick Gibb, Minister of State at the Department for Education to bring the following points to his attention.

Taking part in the arts and physical activity helps to develop well balanced young people with increased levels of confidence and enhanced interpersonal skills.  Creative industries, in addition to sport and leisure are also expanding employment sectors in their own right and we need to encourage skill development of young people within this sector which will generate further growth.

There is a wealth of evidence of the social, economic and health benefits of PE and the Arts, but perhaps the hardest hitting is taken from a report by a national sports charity StreetGames in a report called the Inactivity Time Bomb (2014). They found that physical inactivity among today’s 11-25 year-olds will cost the UK economy £53.3 billion over their life-times.  Additionally, the 2012 Health Survey England reported only 21% of boys and 16% of girls aged five to fifteen met the Chief Medical Officer guidelines of 60 minutes of physical activity per day. The Chief Medical Officer has also warned that soaring obesity levels are currently the cause of one in ten deaths in England.

Furthermore the impact of culture on social justice, wellbeing and life chances is compellingly set out by the research findings of the Cultural Learning Alliance, whose report, Key Research Findings: The Case for Cultural Learning (2011), found that:-

  1. Learning through the arts and culture improves attainment in all subjects.
  2. Participation in structured arts activities increases cognitive abilities.
  3. Students from low-income families who take part in arts activities at school are three times more likely to get a degree.
  4. The employability of students who study arts subjects is higher and they are more likely to stay in employment.
  5. Students who engage in arts subjects at school are twice as likely to volunteer and 20% more likely to vote as young adults.

We also know that one in four people experience mental health problems each year and such issues are growing in young people. Regular physical activity and involvement in the arts are arguably the best ways to prevent and manage mental health conditions.

What is needed is for schools to lay down the foundations of healthy active lifestyles so this becomes the norm for future families. This will not only stimulate economic growth, but protect the country from spiralling health costs.

We have invited the Minister to meet with our Executive Committee, to talk through how the possible impact from the English Baccalaureate can be mitigated and will keep you posted on the response!

cCLOA Vice-Chairs Polly Hamilton and Ian Brooke