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Wednesday, 17 April, 2002, 13:00 GMT 14:00 UK
Sixth forms begin Welsh bacc pilot
The aim is to give a richer tapestry of topics to study
Teenagers across Wales begin studying for a radical new qualification set to replace A-levels.

An international-style baccalaureate will be piloted by 16- to 18-year-olds at 19 schools and colleges.

The Welsh Assembly wants to create a broad, diverse and distinctive study curriculum for students with a wider mix of subjects.

Bacc guinea pigs
Barry Comprehensive School
Builth Wells High School
Cardinal Newman RC School
Coleg Glan Hafren
Coleg Gwent
Coleg Llandrillo
Coleg Meirion Dwyfor
Coleg Powys
Coleg Sir Gār
Deeside College
Neath Port Talbot College
Pen y Dre High School
Pontypridd College
Porth County Community School
St. Albans RC High School
St. Cyres School
St. David's Catholic College
Swansea College
Tredegar Comprehensive School
Education Minister Jane Davidson is at a school in Powys to name the institutions which will test the new approach from next September.

It is the latest departure by the Welsh Assembly from education policy in England.

Ms Davidson is also scrapping tests for seven year olds and has already relegated school league tables to history and re-introduced a means-tested university study grant.

The Welsh baccalaureate is being rolled out in response to calls for a more modern, multidisciplinary schooling for sixth-form students.

In the six-year pilot, students at the colleges will continue to study for GCSEs, AS and A-levels, BTECs and NVQs alongside a new, mandatory core curriculum incorporating:

  • Key skills of communication, numeracy, information technology, working with others and problem-solving.
  • Contemporary Welsh life, Europe and the world, including a language.
  • Work-related, personal and social education programmes.
  • Employment with local enterprises and in the community.

The assembly has charged Welsh Joint Education Committee with delivering the new programme and gave the body £600,000 for the trial.

Student in exam
Students will now have core topic to study for

Launching the pilot institutions at Builth Wells High School, the education minister said the baccalaureate would be "distinctive, modern and proudly Welsh."

"Equal value will be placed on vocational and academic qualifications," she said.

"It will be structured to make it possible for students to combine and move between different types of existing qualifications," she said.

"It will allow centres to pursue issues and activities which interest their students."

The bacc is a key component of the Welsh Assembly's drive to create "a learning country" and was mooted by the Institute of Welsh Affairs think tank as far back as 1993.

See also:

12 Feb 02 | Wales
Grants return sets Wales apart
12 Jun 01 | Education
A-level reforms to be reviewed
29 Mar 99 | Education
Beyond the A level
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