Education report proposes EBacc replacement to broaden post-16 options

Hattie Fisk
Friday, June 17, 2022

The Times Education Commission report calls for an overhaul of the current A Level system, more digital inclusion, and investment in subjects such as music, sport, debating and dance.

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Following a year-long investigation into the education system, a report published on 15 June states that ‘sport, music, art, debating and dance should be an integral part of the timetable for all children, not an optional “extracurricular” add on.’ 

The central recommendation is the mainstream introduction of a British Baccalaureate to replace A Levels, including both academic and vocational routes, or a combination of the two. This would incorporate the arts, with an aim to introduce ‘greater breadth and flexibility to the post-16 curriculum.’

This qualification would be adapted from the International Baccalaureate - an alternative to A Levels offered mainly to private schools. It is suggested that this could be adopted in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. 


The Commission highlights that low productivity, poor social mobility and a shortage of essential skills are ‘holding Britain back.’ Outlining a practical resolution to the current system, the report suggests a 12-point plan for reform.

With evidence from more than 600 experts in business, the arts and education, The Times Education Commission produced the 96-page document aimed at decision and policy-makers in government and elsewhere. 

Integral to and outside of the curriculum 

The report cites statistics from the Commission’s YouGov poll that found that 72 per cent of parents agreed with the proposals that all schools should receive ‘extra government funding to provide additional extracurricular activities like sport, drama, music, debating or dance.’ 

The Commission suggests that the Department for Education (DfE) should establish a new digital platform to help schools to find local providers offering activities to ensure all children have access to these opportunities. 


Sir Tony Blair and Sir John Major have supported the report's suggestions alongside ten former education secretaries.

In response to the report, ISM chief executive, Deborah Annetts, said: ‘The Times Education Commission's report makes for very interesting reading and we will examine its proposals in detail.

The report is clear that music should be an integral part of students’ school experience, which we wholeheartedly agree with. The “British Baccalaureate” idea includes units on creativity, which are missing from the current policy of the “EBacc”.’

She added: ‘The Times Education Commission has thoroughly examined the current system and looked to the future with open eyes. It appears many of their findings align with those of the ISM. It should start a debate about the education system we want for students and their future.’

Read the full findings here.