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Bac deserves some praise

I write regarding some of the negative publicity surrounding the Welsh baccalaureate qualification. Many of the highly positive qualities of this qualification have been lost or ignored. It is ironic that in its pilot phase, a time designed to identify problems, the qualification has come in for criticism.

Students who undertake the Welsh bac experience a much more rounded education than those who do not. It allows for the development of:

* enterprise skills directly related to industry and commerce;

* political awareness relating to good citizenship - essential for tolerance in our communities;

* community service;

* personal and social education;

* language skills including Welsh.

Although only 12 students enrolled initially for the two-year programme at Saint David's, this number quickly rose to 60 as students realised the benefits of the bac. Of these, 53 achieved the full level 3 diploma. For a new qualification, its acceptance by universities has been good, with several students securing their places on successful completion. And the college has been well supported in delivering the programme by the Welsh Joint Education Committee development team.

There are currently more than 180 students continuing into their second year of study for the Welsh bac. We plan to recruit more than 500 students to the first year of the programme this September.

Far from being a disappointment, the qualification has been highly successful in providing students with a valuable experience that is fully accredited, and has helped significantly in their preparation for employment and higher education.

Mark Leighfield Principal Saint David's Catholic college Ty Gwyn Road, Cardiff

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