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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 October 2006, 17:12 GMT 18:12 UK
Official roll out of Welsh bac
Students with exam results
Over 30 school and colleges have been involved in the bac trial
Education Minister Jane Davidson has announced the Welsh Baccalaureate qualification will be rolled out to schools across the country.

The Advanced Bac - which is worth the equivalent of an A grade at A-level - has so far been offered only as a pilot qualification.

All schools and colleges will be able to participate from next September.

The baccalaureate's aim is to offer a broader qualification than the traditional A-level.

We are leading the way to a new style of learning
Education Minister, Jane Davidson

To gain the qualification, pupils still need a minimum of two A-levels at grade E and above, but they must also pass the bac core with modules in subjects including modern languages and politics.

It aims to broaden post-16 education, and give credits for activities such as community work and work experience, but also for proving they were capable in key skills such as maths, ICT, languages and communications.

Announcing the decision, Ms Davidson said: "Today is an historic day for education in Wales.

"We are leading the way to a new style of learning, and I believe one that will be the envy, if it's not already the envy, of learning cultures throughout the UK."

She said there had been a "clear message" from pilot centres, UCAS, internal and independent external evaluation that the Welsh bas was "fit for purpose".

'Half-way house'

Ms Davidson said additional funding was already in place to ensure "adequate resources and support structures".

Professor David Reynolds from Plymouth University said the version being rolled out was a "half-way house" between A-levels and the full international baccalaureate.

He explained that a full international baccalaureate would require 35 or 40 hours formal teaching per pupil, per week.

"It's very difficult to actually resource that increase in teaching hours and I think this half-way house may very well be the way forward," he added.

But teaching union NASUWT said it had "serious concerns" about increased workloads for teachers and inadequate funding, and said the roll-out should be delayed.

'Dropped out'

There has also been political reaction to the bac with Plaid Cymru called for "major changes" to be made before it was rolled-out, claiming too many questions had arisen from the pilot programme.

The Welsh Conservatives said clarification was needed on whether it would be optional to schools, and said it had "yet to gain widespread recognition among universities and employers".

A total of 31 schools and colleges across Wales are currently involved in the pilot.

Around 700 pupils began the advanced bac pilot in 2003 but 400 had dropped out by exam time in 2005.

Project director Keith Davies, from the Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC), conceded that the rigours of the course might have come as a surprise for some students but insisted it still had a future.

A-levels 'should be phased out'
15 Aug 06 |  Education

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