It is an exciting period for education in Wales. We are delivering a transformational new curriculum; reforming teacher training and professional standards; and introducing the most progressive and equitable student support system in the UK.
As part of this reform journey we have also been looking closely at our qualifications to make sure they are fit for purpose and meet the needs of learners, further/higher education institutions, and employers.
That is why I’m writing this today – to highlight the reformed, rigorous level 3 Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate which will have first certification this summer. I want to ensure that all Iearners who have taken the Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate and getting their results are properly recognised as they take their next steps.
As an internationally recognised and benchmarked qualification, I would expect all UK universities to accept the reformed Welsh Baccalaureate – Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate as part of your future entry requirements or as part of an alternative offer within your University and its Departments.
The reformed and more robust Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate was introduced for first teaching in September 2015. Assessment within the reformed Welsh Baccalaureate is more rigorous than in the past and is a better indicator of the true acquisition of level 3 skills.
It provides young people in Wales with greater breadth to their learning, and supports the acquisition of knowledge and skills critical to successful higher education study and through to employment. It enables Welsh students to develop independence in a range of skills and depth of knowledge that will be of great benefit to their future studies at University.
The Welsh Baccalaureate – Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate is the qualification that students from Wales will have appearing on their UCAS application form. It is comparable in terms of content and challenge to a GCE A level. Qualifications Wales, our regulator of non-degree qualifications and the qualifications system, have stated that the Welsh Baccalaureate – Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate is the same standard as an A level and this is reflected in the tariff score it has been awarded by UCAS. It is the size of an A level (360 GLH) and graded A*-E and has been allocated the same UCAS points per grade as an A level.
The Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate consists of 4 components, an Individual Project and 3 Challenges. The component’s flexibility and versatility allows centres to cater for students’ individual needs, providing a platform for students to explore and increase their in-depth knowledge of specific subject areas of personal interest or in relation to their study programme.
The three Challenges all involve some tasks being taken under controlled assessment conditions. Each of the four components are internally assessed and externally moderated and graded Fail, Pass, Merit, and Distinction. Students must pass all four components to achieve an overall grade with the four marks combined to provide a grade A*-E.
As with all our reforms, the development of our qualifications draws on the best international evidence and practice, with input from experts based at universities here in the UK and overseas. As we continue to raise standards and reduce the attainment gap, I look forward to a strong relationship with universities here in Wales and across the UK.