Education watchdog Estyn says the Welsh Baccalaureate has many strengths, but there is significant variation in standards between different schools, and teaching of key skills could be much better.
The watchdog's report, released today, finds "the Welsh Baccalaureate offers many benefits to students." These include a broader range of topics that are offered on the curriculum. However, "the standards achieved vary a good deal between students and between schools", reflecting how different schools approach and teach the qualification.
The Baccalaureate was introduced in September 2007, as a qualification for 14-to-19-year-olds here, designed to give "broader experiences than traditional learning programmes." Pupils are taught subjects such as Europe and the World and Personal and Social Education, which aim to prepare them for life after education. The numbers taking the Welsh Bac across the country have grown rapidly from 1,329 in 2007 to 8,323 in 2011. Last January, the Welsh Government announced that it would be rolled out to many more schools and colleges.
Estyn highlights a great deal of paperwork that needs to be completed by both teachers and pupils doing the qualification. It also says evaluation procedures need to be improved, with senior school staff unaware of the progress of students, and students themselves having "too little input."
The watchdog makes a number of recommendations:
- The Welsh Government should consider reviewing the qualification's structure, to focus on eliminating weakness in it
- The awarding body, the WJEC, should provide further guidance and support to schools, particularly in delivering and assessing essential skills
- Secondary schools should monitor how they deliver and assess essential skills so they are not too bureaucratic
- Secondary schools should evaluate the quality of teaching, and use students' feedback to improve the provision of the Welsh Baccalaureate
The Welsh Government says it welcomes the report, which it commissioned to inform the way the Welsh Bac develops in the future.