At our options evening last night (GS), the head stressed over and over again that GCSEs aren't a 'numbers game'; that 9 is plenty, and better 9 good ones than 11 almost good ones. The school has introduced the option of a free study choice (4 periods a week) instead of one GCSE (giving 9 rather than 10) for boys who want to consolidate the ones they are doing, or take part in music or art practices, or sport. Seems like a damn good idea to me.
Also the teacher in charge went to great lengths to stress the synthetic nature of the Ebacc - at this school it is not compulsory to take History or Geography - 'we think it is more important boys choose subjects they enjoy than that we look to improve our score on that measure'.
Read my lips Mr Gove - no one cares.