Diploma and bac are good match, says official

26th June 2009 at 01:00
Teachers and lecturers should keep an "open mind" about a new-look bac

Traditional A-levels and GCSEs will not be threatened by the "marriage" of English-style diploma qualifications with the Welsh baccalaureate, a leading official has said.

Mike Hatcher, head of pre-19 vocational development at the Department for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills, said teachers and lecturers should keep an "open mind" about a new-look bac, with more options due to be introduced next term.

Speaking at a conference in Cardiff last week, he said he wanted to dispel some myths about the incorporation of principal learning - an element of the English diploma whereby pupils learn about a particular work sector - into the bac.

He told teachers: "Principal learning is not going to take over A-levels and GCSEs - it's going to complement them.

"In England in 2013, all schools have to offer all 14 options. You don't. That's your choice. I'm asking you to keep an open mind."

From September, some vocational elements of the English diploma will be "married" with the Welsh bac as optional courses.

The first four options will be in IT, construction, engineering and media. Six more will be added in September 2010, including hospitality and hair and beauty studies. The final four - including retail and tourism - will be introduced in 2011.

The Assembly government has started promoting the new options to schools, colleges and work-based learning providers at a series of conferences in Llandudno and Cardiff.

Gareth Pierce, chief executive of the WJEC exam board, said the new qualifications would add "another dimension" to the "rich mix" of course options available within the bac.

"They will give students more opportunity to develop work-related knowledge and skills," he said.

"There has been discontent for a while in the higher education sector about how much skills and knowledge students have."

Mr Hatcher also told delegates that the Welsh bac is increasingly gaining respect across the border.

"A lot of schools and colleges in England think it's a better model," he said. "They wish they had the Welsh bac instead of the diploma."

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