Editor's comment

6th June 2008 at 01:00
The decision by the Education Secretary to develop a baccalaureate qualification in the languages and sciences is a welcome, if tentative, first step
The decision by the Education Secretary to develop a baccalaureate qualification in the languages and sciences is a welcome, if tentative, first step. Its parentage owes as much to political and economic considerations as to educational ones. They are intended to give a "dramatic boost" to Scotland's reputation, as well as helping the nation to cut the mustard economically. Quite a pair of claims for a humble school qualification.

This is not, however, the root and branch reform seen in the development of the Welsh "bac", a three-level qualification obtained by success in a range of subjects at GCSE and A-level and includes personal and practical skills. It is also somewhat removed from the 1992 Howie report which envisaged that a Scottish bac would include the arts and the sciences in a broad-based qualification.

No matter how worthy the aims, however, there is no point in having qualifications unless they are recognised: the Welsh bac had early struggles in finding acceptance by universities and employers (even awareness). We trust Fiona Hyslop has, at the very least, sounded out the universities and employers about the value they would attach to the new awards; if they turn their backs on it, she will have been wasting her time.

There are also educational issues to be resolved, principally, as David Raffe points out, whether a bac in languages and the sciences will be seen by pupils (and their parents) as any advance on Higher and post-Higher qualifications in these subjects. The addition of an interdisciplinary project may not be enough to get the juices flowing.

But the bottom line is: can schools deliver? This weekend's annual conference of the Educational Institute of Scotland will ring with tales of woe on staffing and spending reductions. Already, a Glasgow secondary has cut Advanced Higher science from its timetable, not an auspicious start for the baccalaureate.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now