Department for Education delivers scathing verdict on Burnham’s MBacc

The Department for Education has condemned GM Mayor Andy Burnham’s MBacc plans as ‘unequal’ and ‘narrow’.

In a statement to MM, the Department for Education criticised Andy Burnham’s recently announced plans to introduce a Manchester Baccalaureate – or MBacc. 

The MBacc was designed to offer a simpler route for GCSE students to enter technical education. It will sit alongside the current English Baccalaureate, which encourages kids to sit a ‘core set’ of GCSEs. 

A spokesperson said: “Our reforms to post-16 qualifications are simplifying the system, providing a clearer choice of all the high-quality options available to young people including new T levels alongside A Levels, and creating a level playing field. 

“Introducing a separate system or Manchester Baccalaureate would undermine this progress, create an unequal system and narrow the opportunities available to young people.”

Burnham took advantage of new powers gained from the ‘deeper devolution deal‘ and recent Budget to propose the change, which will come into effect for year nine’s from 2024. 

The mayor along with councillor Eammon O’Brien, the GMCA lead for Technical Education & Skills, announced the scheme this May. 

There was immediate speculation about whether this would put the council at loggerheads with central government, but this is the first public response issued by the department.

A GMCA spokesperson said: “Greater Manchester’s plans for the MBacc have been enthusiastically welcomed by businesses, colleges, students and parents. This is not about a separate system but a localised version of what the Government wants to achieve, designed to make T Levels work in the real world.

“We look forward to working with the Department for Education to clear up any misunderstandings and bring about a reform that will be hugely beneficial to the two thirds of young people in Greater Manchester who are not going to Higher Education.”

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