New ‘MBacc’ qualification to offer Greater Manchester high school students an alternative to university

It would be introduced later this year.

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 5th January 2024

A new ‘MBacc’ qualification could be introduced later this year, and it’s set to offer high school students an alternative to university.

It’s all part of Andy Burnham‘s grand plans for Greater Manchester in 2024.

Now that we’re just a few days into the new year, the Greater Manchester Mayor has been reflecting on how far the region has come within the last 12 months, and has taken a moment to appreciate all the successful new projects that were delivered in 2023.

These include the £2 cap on single-route bus fares, plans for a new non-charging Clean Air Zone, and, of course, the long-awaited launch of the new Bee Network.

But now that the region’s plan for public transport is well underway and “proceeding at pace”, Mr Burnham has decided it’s time to turn his attentions onto two other “fundamental issues” that he claims “also need fixing” this year.


One of those issues was the region’s housing sector, with the Mayor declaring he wants 2024 to go down as the year that Greater Manchester “got serious about housing”, and then the other is education.

Wasting no time in kick-starting plans for potential change within the education sector this year, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has announced plans to launch a new Greater Manchester Baccalaureate – or the ‘MBacc’ – this autumn, and it’s intended to sit alongside the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) that already exists in secondary schools throughout England.


Currently, almost two-thirds of 16-year olds in Greater Manchester do not pursue or achieve an EBacc, and an MBacc is “designed to plug that gap”.

GMCA says the EBacc is designed to maximise young people’s chances of a good university place, while in comparison, the MBacc is designed to “maximise their ability to get a good job in the growing success story of the Greater Manchester economy”.

New ‘MBacc’ qualification to offer Greater Manchester high school students an alternative to university / Credit: GMCA

The new qualification will give the region’s young people two clear equal paths to choose from when it’s time to pick their options at age 14 – one academic path, and one technical.


Speaking ahead of the launch of the MBacc later this year, Andy Burnham said: “The MBacc will steer young people towards GCSEs and other qualifications that are most-favoured by employers, and then on to post-16 opportunities and the many great jobs we have in the Greater Manchester economy.

“It will offer young people an equal and clear technical pathway in life, help employers fill workforce shortages, and give investors another reason to come here.”

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Mr Burnham explained that the MBacc will be built through the academic years of the rest of this decade.

And then, when looking ahead to the future, he hopes that by 2023, the MBacc will mean Greater Manchester boasts the country’s employer-driven “integrated technical education system”.

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