By Tony Grew - 28th July 2011
The English Baccalaureate should not have been introduced before the national curriculum review was completed, according to a cross-party group of MPs.
The education select committee said the EBac certification system "should be shelved", as should plans for a Technical Baccalaureate to sit alongside the existing award.
It calls on the government to provide further international evidence to "inform debate on the merits of the EBac".
Teaching unions have also condemned the way in which the new qualification was introduced and questioned its worth.
The select committee said evidence it received did not suggest a link, in other countries, between the prescribed study of certain academic subjects and improved attainment and prospects for poorer students.
Committee chair Graham Stuart said the government's motivation behind the EBac is right "in several regards".
"Of course all children should have access to a broad and balanced curriculum – including traditional, academic subjects – and of course we should be working tirelessly to narrow the gap in attainment between the richest and poorest," he said.
"But our inquiry uncovered significant concerns about the EBac’s composition, potentially negative as well as positive impact, and the way it was introduced.
"We received a huge amount of evidence and the government needs to look at that very closely: indeed, if it had conducted a similar consultation, it might have avoided some of the concerns which have been expressed."
Voice: the union for education professionals, welcomed the select committee report.
General secretary Philip Parkin said:
"The committee is to be congratulated for its insight.
"However, I would go further and say that the misnamed 'English Baccalaureate' is narrow and pointless. Whether as a performance measure or an actual certificate of achievement, it has no point.
"The government seems unsure about what the EBac is actually for. The promotion of a broad and balanced curriculum is a good thing but the EBac does not do that."
Chris Keates, general secretary of NASUWT, the largest teachers' union, said the committee report is "a damning inditement" of the EBac and the way it was introduced.
"It is wholly inappropriate, overly prescriptive and does not suit the needs of young people or potential employers in the 21st century," she said.
"It is a classic example of the relentlessly elitist approach of the coalition to education.
"Important subjects such as music, art, RE and IT have not only been downgraded but those who teach them are facing redundancy."
Keates branded education secretary Michael Gove as "a repeat offender" for his failure to consult with teachers.
"The fact that he has announced and is pursuing the implementation of the EBacc makes a mockery of the curriculum review he has commissioned and renders the whole exercise a waste of public money," she said.
"It will remain to be seen whether this critical report gives the secretary of state even pause for thought let alone cause him to change course."