So, what exactly is the Welsh Baccalaureate?
Love it or hate it, the Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge certainly has a huge impact on the studies of all Welsh students. This compulsory qualification was first introduced to the syllabus in Wales in 2015 with the aim of enabling students to develop a range of transferable skills outside the scope of their A level study, helping students with both their future education and employability.
The Welsh Bacc (as it was colloquially known by staff and students alike), is made up of four modules: the community challenge, enterprise and employability, global citizenship, and the individual project. Each of these modules enables pupils to utilise and develop the seven fundamental Welsh Baccalaureate employability skills: Communication, Numeracy, Digital Literacy, Planning and Organisation, Creativity and Innovation, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, and Personal Effectiveness through the completion of different tasks. These tasks range from designing and marketing a new product as part of a team, to writing an in-depth academic essay on a topic of our choosing.
“Isn’t Welsh Bacc just a waste of an A level though?”
To be brutally honest, when I was in sixth form, I, like many other pupils my age, did not see the point in the Welsh Bacc. I thought if I were to do additional study, it should have been something that was relevant to my university course. However, little did I know that the transferable skills I had picked up over the two years of my Welsh Bacc course, would help me out immensely at university.
The Welsh Baccalaureate doesn’t just allow students to tailor their learning experience to them by granting flexibility in its research topics, it also allows us to develop technical academic skills such as referencing and credibility analysis which are integral to studying a subject at degree level.
My Bacc teacher always said, “You take out of this subject what you put into it”. Yes, I admit that it’s slightly annoying that we’re forced to do the Welsh Bacc, however, I do believe that on balance, if you practice good time management and balance your Welsh Bacc deadlines with your other subjects, the gains to your future studies and overall employability will be more than worth it.
How Welsh Bacc has helped me at university
Firstly, even just having the Bacc as an A level qualification at grade B or above, gave me a lower alternative offer from Bath university, taking my required grades down from AAA to AAB alongside a B in the Welsh Bacc.
After conversing with some of my non-Welsh peers on my course, I have learned that getting a head start on learning how to properly cite and reference academic texts is a massive benefit of the Welsh Bacc. In my course, Politics with Economics, every essay we write must be properly cited and referenced. Welsh Bacc made this transition to writing in full academic style that extra bit easier.
Furthermore, being taught how to accurately analyse sources for credibility allowed me to thrive on my course where the critical analysis of texts, journals and articles is fundamental. Informed practice in writing succinct and effective reports before starting university is another blessing the Welsh Bacc provides; everyone’s first piece of marked work at uni is daunting, however with prior experience, the weight is lifted ever so slightly.
Personally, I found the final Welsh Bacc module, the Independent Project, the most useful for my first year at uni. The Independent Project (sometimes referred to as the dissertation), is an in-depth qualitative and quantitative analysis into any topic you’re interested in, as long as it’s related to your current A levels or future career plans. Knowing I wanted to work in politics and international studies, I chose a question focusing on Welsh independence. My analysis of this topic became astoundingly relevant to my university studies when one of my exam questions in my British Politics module focussed on devolution and nationalism.
Bath University's Welsh Baccalaureate MOOC
The University has also teamed up with the University of Aberystwyth to give Welsh post-16 learners a vital helping hand for their Individual Project module. This support comes in the form of a MOOC (or Massive Open Online Course) which is also available in Welsh. The course offers a run-down of the module giving a basis of information and allowing learners to explore the study skills they will need to complete the task to the best of their abilities, all to be completed at one’s own pace and completely for free!
I truly hope that this blog has convinced you that however fashionable it is to hate on the Welsh Bacc, it truly is an important part of the curriculum that does give you a step up in both university education and the wider world of work.