Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification

The Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification , also known as WBQ or Welsh Bac, is a pre-university qualification which will be offered in the future to schools and colleges in WalesOfficial roll out of Welsh bac, BBC, October 2006 [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/6060442.stm] ] . Where offered, the WBQ runs alongside and complements qualifications such as A-levels and GCSEs. 31 schools and colleges are running a pilot scheme as of 2005. The Welsh Assembly Government has announced staged roll-out of the WBQ across Wales from September 2007 and intends that at least one quarter of Welsh students will be studying for the qualification by 2010.

The WBQ is an inclusive diploma available at three levels: Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced

WJEC LEVEL 1 Welsh Baccalaureate Foundation Diploma: Core Certificate at level 1 includes:
* Four key skills at level 1, : This must include one from the ‘first three’ i.e. Communication, AON and ICT: and evidence of having pursued all six key skills
* Work Related Education, Team Enterprise Activities and Community Participation.
* Produce a short Individual Investigation from topics already included in the Science programme.
* NVQ Level 1 and other GCSE. At Key Stage four the Options requirements are Four grades D-G at GCSE or equivalent WJEC LEVEL 2 Welsh Baccalaureate Intermediate Diploma: Core Certificate at level 2 includes:
* Four key skills, two at level 2, and two at level 1: Again, this must include the first three: There must be evidence of having pursued all six key skills.
* Team Enterprise, Citizenship and Community Participation.
* Individual Investigation at level 2.
* Other minimum requirements: English, Mathematics, Science (single), P.E. + Religious Education, Work-related Education, Careers Education and Guidance, PSE and Sex Education.
* Key Stage 4 options: Learners require at least four GCSE grades A* - C to be accredited with the Diploma. WJEC LEVEL 3 Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma: Core Certificate at level 3 includes:

* Six Key Skills , three at level 3: One of the level 3 Key Skills must be from the first three key skills, with the other three key skills at level 2.
* Work Related Education, Team Enterprise Activities and Community Participation., Language Module.
* Produce a succinct (1800 word) Individual Investigation or project from the Wales, Europe and the World segment.
* Two GCE Advanced Levels.

In Wales, 63 % of WBQ students passed the qualification in 2006, compared to fewer than 50 % in 2005 and a 97 % pass rate in A-level subjects.BBC News Article: [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/4799413.stm] ]

Criticism

The Welsh Bac has come under criticism from some students who believe that the programme is a waste of time they could have spent studying for their selected A-level courses. Another criticism of the programme is that many of the areas and skills taught are ones that students are already aware of.

Research on the Welsh Bac has been conducted by the University of Bath as well as the University of Nottingham [http://old.accac.org.uk/eng/content.php?mID=725 External Evaluation of the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification Pilot] ] . This research clearly shows the positive impact of the Welsh Bac in broadening the learner experience. Due to the results of this research, the Welsh Bac is currently being rolled-out in Wales.

Compared to the International Baccalaureate, the breadth of the WBQ is questionable: It is possible to achieve the WBQ with no science content, for example; whereas the IB Diploma requires study of science, maths, a first language, a second language, and 'people and societies'. The IB Diploma can be prescriptive because it is based on a unique curriculum which allows six subjects to be studied simultaneously. The A-levels and National Diplomas of the WBQ are broader and require more time per subject; which limits the number of subjects.

The WBQ offers vocational qualifications within its framework which the IB Diploma does not.

However, independent external evaluation of the pilot programme found that by their final year, many students see its worth, including when applying to university. Many of the top UK institutions now accept the qualification in lieu of a third A level. However, many universities outside of Wales do not recognize the qualification and, even in connection with three or for A levels, students have been known to be rejected from university with the qualification if they drop a grade in one of their subjects, even though the Welsh bac has been marketed as "the equivalent of 120 points at advanced GCE."

See also

* Education in Wales

References

* [http://www.wbq.org.uk WBQ Official site]
* [http://education.guardian.co.uk/1419education/story/0,,1818678,00.html EducationGuardian.co.uk - "The baccalaureate explained"]
* [http://www.bath.ac.uk/ceic/welshbac/ Centre for the study of Education in an International Context (CEIC). Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification: Internal Evaluation]
* [http://accac.org.uk/uploads/documents/2392.pdf University of Nottingham, CDELL. External evaluation of the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification Pilot. 2006]


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