Today the Governments Ebacc scheme was brought to my attention (thank you facebook) I vaguely recall hearing the name mentioned but not much in the way of detail about it before. As someone who struggled at school (due to unrecognised dyslexia) and left pretty much being told I was a failure, this scheme is something that concerns me a great deal both in general as a member of British society but also as a parent. I have therefore signed the petition to include more creative options in Ebacc but also emailed my MP expressing my concerns about the scheme as a whole and in fact, our education system as a whole. I got a bit carried away and so decided rather than put that on facebook I would post my letter here and link to it so here it is.
Dear Mr Speaker
I write to you as my MP in connection with the above mentioned Ebacc Scheme that I believe the government is looking to enforce this coming weekend.
Firstly I am surprised there has not been more awareness of this and am disappointed that there has not been more public debate on such an issue.
I am very concerned to here of such a step being taken within our education system. I believe we are already applying too much pressure to our young people for academic achievement. I myself failed at school, I am dyslexic and reasonably strongly so, this was unrecognised for me until my early 20’s (thankfully things have changed in the respect). But for me academia (certainly during my youth) was something I just could not manage, because of this I was written off as a failure before I even got to exams. Having spent 10 years working as a youth worker this is a struggle I have continued to see in many young people I have worked with. Being in the very early days of GCSE’s I got away with only taking 4 however these were all academic subjects and my grades in 3 of them were very poor (I did manage to get a C in science). I had interests and skills in other areas but how different might my late teens early 20’s have been had I been able to explore and learn in these areas while at school.
I appreciate that a good grasp of core subjects, especially Maths and English are important but people can do very well in life without getting high grades even in these subjects. We only have to look at some of the high profile people who like me have struggled with dyslexia and other learning difficulties but have gone on to be very successful, particularly in artist and creative areas. I myself have found the support I have needed and having returned to study (now on 2 separate occasions totalling 6 years) have managed to achieve academic qualifications and am now an ordained minister in the church of England with a post Graduate Diploma in Theology and Ministry. But for me there was a need for the support which unfortunately wasn’t there when I was younger, but there was also a need to be in the write place, to have gained the experience of life to encourage me to struggle through (as a minister of course I also believe God is a key part in this for me and my calling).
There are of course still those for whom academia is not the way and never will be, but our schools should be helping these people to find ways that help them, people who are good with their hands but leave school being told that because they have not achieved in the core subjects they have failed, even if our schools are better than this now I’m afraid our government still seem to give this message with the pressure for academic achievement. But when we look at how difficult it can be at times to find and electrician, plumber or builder for example, I believe if we encouraged our young people to explore the things they are good at, they are interested in, a chance to learn a trade, we could give more of our young people hope and a more positive outlook on life and work, and that has to be good for us as a nation doesn’t it?
I am sorry, this has turned out to be rather longer than I anticipated and I appreciate that you are a very busy man but this is an important issue and I think in recent years our education system has been going backwards rather then forwards and on so many levels, but especially as a parent (my middle child will be among the first to be impacted by this scheme) this worries me.
I have signed the parliamentary petition to include creative arts in the Ebacc Scheme although personally I don’t think this goes anywhere near far enough towards doing right by our children and their education in this country.
I would be more than happy to discuss any of this with you in person at some stage but i urge you please to fight for our children and young people for whom academics does not come naturally and is perhaps forcing them down a path that just isn’t right for them.
Many thanks for taking the time to read this and please be assured of my prayers for you as you seek to serve and do right by the people of your constituency and this nation.