Be informed The Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification Explained

Be informed The Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification Explained What is the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification?  he Welsh...
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Be informed The Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification Explained

What is the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification?  he Welsh Baccalaureate is an exciting qualification that adds a valuable new dimension to T the subjects and courses already available to 14 – 19 year old students. It combines personal development skills with existing qualifications like A Levels, NVQs and GCSEs to make one wider award that is valued by employers and universities. The Welsh Assembly Government introduced the Welsh Baccalaureate to transform learning for young people in Wales. It gives broader experiences than traditional learning programmes, to suit the diverse needs of young people. It can be studied in English or Welsh, or a combination of the two languages.

What does it set out to achieve? By adding personal development skills to vocational qualifications or academic study, the Welsh Baccalaureate helps young people achieve more. It makes them better equipped for the world of work, better informed and more active citizens. It allows for more flexibility in their studies, whatever mix of courses they are following. Students become better prepared for further and higher education, as well as employment. A Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification is also proof that a student has developed the Key Skills* considered important by employers and universities. It also shows they have furthered their personal and social education, undertaken an individual investigation, gained work experience and actively participated in a community project. * Key Skills Key Skills are the six skills that are important in the world of work, in higher education and in all other aspects of life. These are Communication, ICT, Application of Number, Working With Others, Problem Solving, Improving Own Learning and Performance. Key Skills Support Programme Cymru

The Welsh Baccalaureate Curriculum To fulfil the requirements of the qualification, students must complete a Core Programme of personal development studies along with their Options, which are the subjects they choose from academic or vocational qualifications. As such, the Welsh Baccalaureate adds to the value of established qualifications, but does not replace them. The Core Programme helps students develop their Key Skills and provides a greater breadth and balance of personal experience. Key Skills are developed at the appropriate level for the student’s ability, and fit in with one of the three levels of the Welsh Baccalaureate (explained later). The Core Programme is assessed on the evidence students collect in carrying out their activities: there are no extra examinations.

Principal Learning

Project Qualification

The two parts of the Welsh Baccalaureate work together as follows: The first part is comprised of ‘Options’, selected from established, approved courses/ programmes. For example GCSEs or AS/A Levels, Principal Learning and Project and an additional qualification at an appropriate level, BTEC or NVQs. The second part is the ‘Core Programme’. The components of the Core Programme are: • Key Skills – as well as from their Options, students develop transferable Key Skills through the other four components outlined below. • Wales, Europe and the World – a chance to learn more about Wales and its relationship with Europe and the World. A language module at a level suitable for the student is included in this. • Work-Related Education – includes working with an employer and taking part in a team enterprise activity to help the student understand how businesses work. • Personal and Social Education – helps the student explore issues in the modern world: family, health, relationships, citizenship and sustainable development. It includes an activity in the local community. • Individual Investigation – the opportunity to carry out an individual research project into an area of interest. The value of the Welsh Baccalaureate Diploma ‘Core’ is best measured in terms of the capabilities and experiences it provides. The Welsh Baccalaureate also contributes extensively to Secondary School Performance Measures - for details see Schools and Colleges should note that any candidate who achieves the full Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification will automatically achieve the threshold at the appropriate level.

The Welsh Baccalaureate Core Programme complements academic qualifications (e.g. GCSE or A Levels) and vocational qualifications (e.g. NVQs or Principal Learning and Project or BTECs). It does this because developing Key Skills helps students to perform well in their other subjects. It gives a more rounded educational experience, and greater confidence. Teachers and tutors often say that studying for the Welsh Baccalaureate improves students’ achievements overall. Throughout the programme, students receive support and guidance from a personal tutor. This is at both individual and group level – appropriate to their needs. “The one-to-one interviews with my personal tutor are very helpful. The variety of projects, topics and key skills covered in the Welsh Baccalaureate is interesting and the tutor helps me to stay organised. They give me encouragement and motivate me.” Hannah, Student The Welsh Baccalaureate programme has been carefully designed to complement students’ studies, and although challenging, is not too demanding or time-consuming. Students report that the Core activities actually inform and improve their understanding and performance in their Option subject(s). “You get life skills from the Welsh Bac. It makes you more confident as a person.” Nick, Student

Principal Learning and Project Qualifications within the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification Elements of the 14-19 Diplomas that are being developed in England will be available in Wales, from 2009, within the Welsh Baccalaureate framework. The following elements may be incorporated within the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification: • Principal Learning – these qualifications are being developed by employers in 14 different occupational areas (lines of learning) with an emphasis on practical activities. These could be used together with or instead of other approved qualifications as part of the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification Options requirements; and • Project – this offers students the opportunity to carry out an individual project related to their studies, or an area of interest, which providing it meets the specific requirements, could be an alternative for the Individual Investigation within the Core of the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification. From September 2009, Principal Learning and Project Qualifications will be offered in Wales in the following four occupational areas: • Construction and the Built Environment • Creative and Media • Engineering • Information Technology A further six occupational areas are expected to be offered from 2010 and a further four from 2011. For further information please go to

What does a student need to do in order to achieve a Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification? To achieve the full Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification students must achieve the full requirements of the Core Programme together with the necessary Options. The Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification is available at three levels and the requirements at each level are set out in the table overleaf. The level a student will follow relates to the level they are working at in their Option subjects: for example, if they are likely to get mainly A* – C grades at GCSE then they would follow the Intermediate Diploma.


Learning Level

Core Element

Option Element

Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma

A Level or NVQ Level 3 standard

Core Certificate at Advanced Level (3)

•T  wo grades A – E at A Level • or NVQ Level 3 •o  r BTEC National Certificate at pass level •O  r Principal Learning Level 3 + Extended Project Qualification and an additional Level 3 qualification • or equivalent.

• Three Key Skills at Level 3, one of which must be Communication, Application of Number or ICT, together with the other three Key Skills at Level 2 • Working with an Employer, Team Enterprise and Community Participation • Individual Investigation at Level 3 • Specified curriculum requirements

Welsh Baccalaureate Intermediate Diploma

A* – C grade at GCSE, or NVQ Level 2

Core Certificate at Intermediate Level (2)

Welsh Baccalaureate Foundation Diploma

D – G grade at GCSE, or NVQ Level 1

Core Certificate at Foundation Level (1)

• Four Key Skills – two at Level 2 and two at Level 1 – which must include Communication, Application of Number and ICT. In addition, there must be evidence of having pursued all six Key Skills • Working with an Employer, Team Enterprise and Community Participation • Individual Investigation at Level 2 • Specified curriculum requirements

• Four Key Skills at Level 1, which must include at least one of the following: Communication, Application of Number and ICT. In addition, there must be evidence of having pursued all six Key Skills • Working with an Employer, Team Enterprise and Community Participation • Individual Investigation at Level 1 • Specified curriculum requirements

• F our A* – C grades at GCSE • or NVQ Level 2 •o  r Principal Learning Level 2 and Higher Project Qualification •o  r BTEC First Diploma at pass level

• F our D – G grades at GCSE • or NVQ Level 1 •o  r BTEC Introductory Diploma •o  r Principal Learning Level 1, Foundation Project Qualification and an additional Level 1 qualification • or equivalent.

Key Skills Levels of Attainment Details of what the various levels of Key Skills mean can be seen at or

Why should young people study for the Welsh Baccalaureate? The Welsh Baccalaureate better prepares students for work or university. It helps them develop their Key Skills and gives them a range of positive experiences in the community and with employers. Students report high levels of satisfaction with their experiences of the Welsh Baccalaureate. The Welsh Baccalaureate Core within the Advanced Diploma attracts 120 UCAS points (University and Colleges Advisory Service points), which is the equivalent of an A grade at A Level. This is in addition to UCAS points earned through the Options qualifications and is included in University offers. “I’ve been offered places at Manchester Uni and Aberystwyth. They both asked for two A Levels and the Welsh Bac Core. The Bac is accepted as an ‘A’ at A Level – which is great!” Siân, Welsh Baccalaureate Student The Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification contributes extensively to schools’ performance information. For example, the Welsh Baccalaureate Intermediate Diploma “Core” is broadly worth three GCSEs, at A* – C grade. However, its value is better measured in terms of the capabilities and experiences it provides to students. Employers are also increasingly seeing the value of the qualification as they come to appreciate that it makes students better prepared for the workplace. Students become more confident and self-reliant because they take part in practical activities. With the Welsh Baccalaureate Core the emphasis is on learning by doing.

“The Welsh Baccalaureate at last seems to offer the right mix that employers have been waiting for – developing ‘ready made employees’ with the appropriate knowledge, skills and attitude to make an immediate difference on entering the workplace.” Roger Evans, Plant Director, INA Bearings, Schaeffler UK “The Welsh Baccalaureate bridges the gap between education and the world of work; it’s great to see young people developing more practical skills along with the theoretical skills. This will enable our new employees to hit the ground running.” Grant Jones, Head of Human Resources, Perkin Elmer Ltd. “I’m very excited about this qualification. The combination of real world skills and experience is just what we need – we are now recruiting young people once again.” Karen Murray, Manager, East Park Centre “The Welsh Baccalaureate has transformed learning in the school. Students have a better attitude and really feel they gain from the personal development work and the key skills improvements. I also believe it helps them improve their grades in ‘Options’ subjects.” Phil Davies, Head of Sixth Form, St Cyres School David Rosser, Director of the CBI in Wales said, following a visit to a Welsh Baccalaureate centre: “I saw evidence of a number of the employability skills that employers have asked for being developed through the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification. Finding time in the curriculum to provide a wider course of study and develop research and presentation skills has to be a good thing, and it is right that this is accredited and a qualification awarded.”

Will it mean more exams? There is no Welsh Baccalaureate ‘examination’ over and above the examinations for the Options subjects. Students compile evidence of their competency in the Key Skills and submit it to tutors for assessment. They also present an Individual Investigation on an aspect of the Core (Wales, Europe and the World; Personal and Social Education; or Work-related Education) which interests them. This develops skills in collecting information, analysing it and presenting it in a meaningful way. There is no fixed timescale for completing the Welsh Baccalaureate. However most students complete it in two years alongside their Options at the appropriate level, and evidence is submitted at the end of the academic year.

Widely available throughout Wales The Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification has been developed and is offered by WJEC, which has vast experience in developing and delivering qualifications. It is currently available at schools, colleges and work-based training providers (centres) throughout Wales. Every Local Education Authority area has a centre. Whilst it is offered as an option in some centres, it is the automatic route in others. The number of centres offering the Welsh Baccalaureate will increase each year, with the intention that at least 40% of learners aged 16 or over in Wales will participate in the Welsh Baccalaureate by 2010. From September 2009 it will also be available for 14 -19 year olds, following a successful pilot. For a regularly updated list of centres visit

Recognition by Higher Education Institutions across the UK The Welsh Baccalaureate Core within the Advanced Diploma attracts 120 UCAS points, which is the equivalent of an A grade at A Level. It is included in offers from Universities across the UK, and is formal recognition that the experiences and skills gained are valuable when studying at degree level and beyond. “The minimum entry requirement for students studying the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification Advanced Diploma, will be two A grades at A Level alongside the Core Certificate at Level 3. Some colleges may require candidates to take three A Levels in addition to the Core Certificate. Specific A Level subjects may be required for particular degree courses.” Helen Charlesworth, Admissions Tutor, University of Oxford “We welcome this qualification and accept the Core as having the recognised tariff value of 120 UCAS points. This applies across ALL of our Degree programmes, following acceptance by our Quality Assurance panel. Where individual programmes require specific course requirements then the University of Exeter will stipulate this within any given offer, usually in the form of A Level subjects.” Dr Pamela Hoad, Head of Admissions, University of Exeter “A qualification based on a curriculum model that provides real benefits to students.” Gareth Pierce, Chief Executive, WJEC “Welsh Baccalaureate students’ Key Skills, combined with their subject expertise, will better prepare them for study at degree level. They will also, through their work and community experience, bring a new level of employment and civic awareness which they will be able to apply to their studies.” Dr Hywel Davies, Head of Admissions and Recruitment, University of Aberystwyth

Let us have your comments on the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification If you have any comments regarding Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification we’d be delighted to hear from you. Please contact us by e-mailing [email protected] or [email protected]

Contact /Further information You can find out more by logging onto the Welsh Baccalaureate website Or by e-mailing [email protected] or [email protected] Alternatively call 029 2026 5010. Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification, WJEC, 245 Western Avenue, Cardiff CF5 2YX Tel: 02920 265010. Fax: 02920 575995. Welsh Assembly Government would like to thank Welsh Baccalaureate students, Higher Education Institutions and employers from across Wales who have been photographed for and quoted in these materials.

ISBN: 978 0 7504 4556 6 © Crown Copyright 2009 Issue Date: February 2009 This document can be made available in large print, audio or braille.