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Title: The constitution and implementation of the English Baccalaureate : implications for educational equality
Author: Hobbs, Kathryn
ISNI:       0000 0004 5918 7615
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2016
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The English Baccalaureate (EBac), a performance measure for English secondary schools, was introduced by the British Coalition government in 2010. As a narrow range of traditional academic subjects, the EBac contrasted with the previous broader, more flexible curriculum. The stated policy purpose was to ensure that all students had access and encouragement to study EBac subjects. The research aims are to investigate why the EBac policy was introduced at this time, to examine the potential and actual impact on the school curriculum from the perspectives of teachers and to identify the potential winners and losers of this policy. This study provides critical reflection around the implementation of the EBac policy within a poststructural approach, making recommendations for socially just refinements. Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is deployed within Scheurich’s policy archaeology framework to explore policy implementation via semi-structured interviews with school leaders in four contrasting secondary schools. CDA highlights a set of socially constituted issues, which in turn lead to the identification of the problem of low educational standards, (particularly among disadvantaged students) and hence to the construction of a politically acceptable policy solution, namely the EBac. Five key themes arose from the interviews: the nature of knowledge; differentiation and hierarchy; choice and resistance; control and accountability, and equality. Teachers’ discourse centred on notions of student ‘ability’ in contrast to the anticipated focus on student characteristics of social class, gender and ethnicity. Teachers’ pre-occupation with outcomes of high-stake educational tests created self-governance and restricted access to EBac subjects for students deemed ‘not capable’ of achieving the pass grade of A*-C. The study concludes that the EBac in its present form might exacerbate educational achievement inequalities rather than resolve them. The neoliberal drive for outcomes and performance measures has resulted in some students continuing to be diverted away from EBac subjects.
Supervisor: Winter, C. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available