Impact assessment: delivery of the Skills Challenge Certificate as part of the Welsh Baccalaureate
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What is the Welsh Baccalaureate?
The Welsh Baccalaureate (Welsh Bacc) was designed in Wales for our learners. It gives broader experiences than traditional learning programmes, to suit the diverse needs of young people. The Welsh Bacc award is based on specified combinations of qualifications to help learners get the most benefit from these experiences and skills.
It is wide-ranging and embraces the teaching of key skills that complement the subjects and courses already available for learners. Learners get real life experience of the world outside school, and learn how to apply skills in practical situations.
How is it structured?
The Welsh Bacc can be achieved at three levels:
- Foundation (Level 1)
- National (Level 2)
- Advanced (Level 3)
At all levels, it comprises multiple elements and is achieved on the successful completion of the Skills Challenge Certificate and the required level of attainment in supporting qualifications.
What is the Skills Challenge Certificate?
The Skills Challenge Certificate (SCC) is a standalone, graded qualification and is valued as a GCSE or A Level equivalent or it can be taken alongside GCSEs or A Levels. It can be achieved and awarded without the supporting qualifications that comprise the Welsh Bacc.
It offers a different type of qualification that focusses on developing a range of essential employability skills. It gives learners the opportunity to study topics and issues of their choosing that are relevant to their future study and career plans.
It consists of four components:
- Individual Project
- Enterprise and Employability Challenge
- Global Citizenship Challenge
- Community Challenge
The combined outcomes of the four components will determine whether the SCC is awarded.
The focus of the SCC is on the essential and employability skills young people need in their future lives. These skills are developed and assessed through an individual project and three challenges. It is designed to include learning and assessment that will enthuse, engage and motivate learners in the classroom, the workplace and the wider community. Learners are required to reflect on how the application of their skills may impact on individuals, employers, society and the environment.
Why do we want learners to complete the Welsh Baccalaureate?
We want all learners to benefit from the Welsh Bacc, and achieve the Skills Challenge Certificate. By adding essential personal development and employability skills to academic study or vocational qualifications, the Welsh Bacc helps young people to be better prepared for further/higher education, employment and life.
It provides an opportunity for our learners to develop the wider skills and knowledge that align with, and build upon, the four purposes of the new curriculum.
We want all learners in Wales to be:
- ambitious, capable learners, ready to learn throughout their lives
- enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work
- ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world
- healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society.
Through the SCC learners are able to develop their wider skills and confidence, enabling and empowering them to take their place as responsible and active citizens within a diverse society. The Enterprise & Employability Challenge specifically supports learners to become enterprising, creative contributors who will be better prepared to play a full part in life and work.
Through the Global Citizenship and Community challenges, learners will be given the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding of society, the community in which they live and an awareness of global issues, events and perspectives - helping them to become ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world.
The individual project provides the learner with the opportunity to undertake work related to their studies, an area of particular interest to them or related to the further/higher education course they wish to pursue.
Is the Welsh Baccalaureate compulsory?
It should be offered to all learners in schools and further education colleges at Key Stage 4 and post-16, in line with our vision for universal adoption. Learners at Key Stage 4 should be entered at the appropriate level for them.
There are no statutory requirements for learners to undertake any qualification. Therefore, undertaking the Skills Challenge Certificate is not compulsory. However, our policy is to encourage all schools and colleges to offer it as part of their learning programmes. Every learner should therefore have the opportunity to benefit from taking the SCC as part of the Welsh Bacc.
For most learners it is invaluable in helping them to develop the skills they need for further study and work. It complements other subjects and courses, giving learners greater confidence and a more rounded educational experience.
For some learners, undertaking the SCC may not be the right choice, and we therefore need some flexibility. Schools and colleges should be providing opportunities that are in the best interests of their learners. We expect schools and colleges to use their professional judgement, by giving due consideration to each young person’s wellbeing and their ability to reach their full potential, in determining whether an individual learner can be exempt for taking the Welsh Bacc and the SCC.
Do employers value the Welsh Baccalaureate?
It will help young people develop the skills that employers need in their workforce and thus, have better access to varied opportunities when they leave education and enter the workplace.
It’s development involved employers and experts from across the UK, and the content of the specification presents schools with a choice of delivery models, so a creative approach to curriculum requirements can be taken.
The review of the Advanced SCC by Wavehill for Qualifications Wales found that many employers say that the skills that are developed through the Welsh Bacc are ones that young people need to succeed in the workplace.
Do universities value the Skills Challenge Certificate?
The skills, attributes and behaviours that are developed through the SCC are greatly valued by universities. The Advanced SCC can help students to gain entry to higher education.
We encourage sixth forms and colleges to ensure that their young people follow two or three A Levels (or equivalents) according to the requirements of higher education course they intend to pursue, in addition to the Advanced SCC, universities are generally supportive of this view.
Universities are autonomous bodies and as such are responsible for setting admission criteria for their courses. Universities across the UK, including Russell Group universities, are generally very positive with many prepared to accept the Advanced SCC for entry requirement purposes.
However, there are differences in how different universities identify the Advanced SCC as part of their offer-making process. Sometimes there are differences across different courses offered by the same university.
- Some universities treat the Advanced SCC as equivalent to an A level when making offers
- Others will make alternative offers for students who achieve the Advanced SCC
Some universities and faculties have strict policy of only making entry offers based on A level grades. But many of these will take the experiences gained by learners on the Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate into account when deciding whether or not to make an offer.
Those universities that don’t accept the Advanced SCC as a specific entry requirement still value it for the broader skills and experiences that it gives the young person, and it can enhance applications e.g. personal statements and interviews.
The Advanced SCC is a relatively new qualification, and was introduced in 2015. It is not unknown for universities to take some time to fully recognise and accept new qualifications – we therefore continue to work with our partners promoting the qualification to universities across the UK.
WJEC publishes the most recent information on their website (external link) about universities that accept the Advanced SCC.