National Bacc Summit 28th November 2014

On Friday 28th November a summit was held at Highbury Grove to look at the ideas behind the concept of a National Baccalaureate, starting with a number of existing models.  The desired outcome was to see if there was a way forward towards a Baccalaureate framework for England.

The participant list was impressive:

those who attended

those who attended (Chris Husbands, Joe Hallgarten sent apologies)

What happened at the Summit?

Liam Collins shares his notes from the event:

Tom Sherrington opened by asking “Is there a movement for a bacc?”

If there is we needed help to do it as it was very difficult to run a qualification from a school.  There were models already in existance: Welsh bacc, AQA Bacc, TechBacc, ModBacc and International Bacc. Therefore, could we find a common way forward?  We had an opportunity today, with four exam boards attending the meeting.

View from the front

View from the front

The background of the work of the Headteacher’s Roundtable (HTRT) was a reaction to the EBCs consultation in late 2012 and the Ebacc announced by DfE, as this was not a true baccalaureate.  We needed to have a qualification framework that was fully inclusive for all learners in all institutions.

Just over a year ago, the members of the HTRT sat down and designed the advanced and intermediate packages, with entry still needed to be looked at with Primary colleagues (details can be found here  However, the central philosophies were that the students would work together on elements of the programme; that there was a core based on current accountability frameworks; that all skills of each individual would have merit.

Personal Development Programme (PDP) – we felt should be based on the context.  At Tom’s previous school all students will take a language, but that would not be the case in all schools.  Therefore,  language learning if you hadn’t completed at L2 or L3 would need to be designed.  Conversational language could be the method -looking at a variety of qualifications for those if they want to (British Airways).

However, whatever the final pieces it was important that some of the time to complete the programme would not be timetabled; some of the intiative needed to come from the students.

The most powerful idea was the transcript that the students would leave with.  This would hopefully be a currency in the wider world.  The transcript would detail, for employers or HEI, what you had completed at secondary school.  All of your examination achievements with their level; your Extended Project – title (possibly executive summary); what you had achieved through your PDP.  To help some of the elements of the PDP could be additional qualifications, such as, level 5 music examination, life saving, etc. We wanted to normalise the aspect of going out and doing things outside of your examinations.

Put simply, education is more than the sum of the certificates you get.

One school remarked that the EPQ could be completed in the time after their AS exams (if this remains an option) or as part of their studies.  The advantage of completing it in the summer term was that you could collapse teaching, staff  become EPQ tutors based on their chosen subject, which was a motivator to teachers.

Tom Richmond from the DfE asked “how would you make this part of an accountability?”

We explained that this isn’t the purpose. The school accountability measures continue via the existing systems (Progress8 etc) and this is the opportunity to give students additional currency as they move forward through their lives with the transcript.

AQA Baccalaureate – Dale Bassett


  • This is graded but based on the A level results
  • Appeal to HE – universities are supportive, but not using it for offers. Standard 3 A level grades
    Students use a electronic enrichment diary – very similar to DofE – 130 centres certificate, but more just use the enrichment diary.
  • Should this be graded? How do you record your skills?
  • Provide a wider programme to help students be able to communicate well at moments when they have an interview.
  • Can exam boards collaborate to help the frameworks.

The Modern Baccalaureate – Andrew Chubb & Katrina Johnson (Director of Modbacc) – Ian Lynch (the learning machine)


To help students buy in to education. If they had gone towards an Ebacc curriculum they felt they would switched students off and NEETs would rise. Their school was skewed towards the lower ability range and so the ModBacc was the way to make all students feel valued. It had an inclusive nature, but aspirational.
KS4 Principles – “like kit bag”
– Pick up parts during their whole schooling that they can place in their bag
– level 2 three tiers – distinction, merit and pass – grades needed to encourage students to aim for the higher grades.

Accountability and floor targets are a worry for schools like them. They still wanted to enshrine elements like community service, readiness for work (CBI employability skills), Financial skills.
Build on the Tomlinson ideas – laddered approach – stage not age.

QR code on the certificate that links to the transcript.

Cross curricula links as part of their private study for the language component – geography, food etc
Looking at the external courses (DofE, life saving, martial arts etc) – some students chose personal challenges.

Employability Skills – enterprise qualifications

Prof. Ken Spours – IOE
Important moment because there is no turning back from this point.  All of our models are Tomlinson mark 2 and based, in some way, on that report’s rejection.


Got to start at the end point for learners and then work backwards, but you must work the qualification all the way back to primary. If you want more from learners you have to help them climb. There were strong arguments for a multi-level design that helped middle attainers. Steps and stages, because you need a level 2 1/2 to push middle attainers towards success.  The jump was too great between GCSEs and AS levels.

To be successful we had to get consensus – values led, long-term approach


Welsh Baccalaureate- Mike Hatcher
Lesson learnt
• retain strengths of whatever you design
• increase rigour of GCSES etc
• robust quality assurance
• grading at all levels and gradings of each challenge
• ESW and WKS (essential skills and wider key skills) qualifications not used from 2015
• encourage universal adoption by schools and colleges
• introduced ‘challenge’ style activities to evidence skills development


City & Guilds – TechBac – Patrick Craven
Read Sense and Instability, the report from City & Guilds (it can be found here


Oxbridge is still the deep seated aspiration for education and it can’t be the only measure of success.
Start to move the language from vocational to professional – start to overcome the comparisons.
Using Mozilla openbadges used for ready for work skills
A broader bacc could be backed up by this approach.

Peter Fidczuk – International Baccalaureate
Internationally recognised. Schools are authorised to deliver.
IB – primary years, middle years and two sixthform programmes (diploma and careers-related)
Learner profiles – outside the classroom – ‘the core’
1. Extended essay (independent, academic enquiry, research, extended argument and citation)
2. Theory of Knowledge – how do we know?, critical thinking, development of argument, links between subjects
3. Creativity Action Service – experimental learning, not assessed but reviewed against 8 learning outcomes

Career related – combination of academic and vocational

1. Refelective project
2. Language development
3. Personal and professional skills
4. Service learning

Round up from Tom
Overlap is considerable across the models.
1. It is clear that we have all built our models around a core.  Is there a way of having all the models within one model to fit into a national framework?
2.  What are the next steps? How do we move the next stage? How can we engineer a national system?
Bacc style framework?

It was felt to do this we needed to:
1. Political meeting of minds. Cross party support
2. Exam board support – gives the credibility
3. Universities/CBI

Ken Spours’ advice – consensus comes from a discussion on values – fundamentals in sharing. How do we get that and what is the forum for this?  Get the partners in once you know what the foci are at each stage. This looks to be a great opportunity.

Fiona Miller Suggested that we needed to build a bigger group of Headteachers and practitioners – form a group or charity. National Bacc group? How do we do this? Needs stability and long-term vision.
Are the accountability measures the barriers? Govt, OFSTED & OFQUAL.

Set up a body to champion this.

To Sum the outcomes of the meeting up:

Convergence seems to be the best idea with evolution. You might want to have slightly different baccs.
The core is the thing that hooks it together.
We crave the officialdom to give credibility. Exam boards need to put their name to it.
Two areas –

  • We do it, but without accountability measure it will stay at the fringes.
  • Clarity of vision and values – start with an inclusive ethos.

We all owe the pathfinders of the various Baccs a huge vote of thanks, but it was felt that especially Andrew and the ModBacc as this showed us all how, where there is a will, it could be done.

What happens next…
Form a small group to formulate a vehicle to take this forward. Ken Fidczuk to help. Tomlinson’s roots didn’t go deep enough. This is a different moment. It is there to be crafted.

Agreeing the framework – next time it will be focused and some form of accreditation – some form of national Bacc framework. How soon?
Seek partnership with government. Small group to meet next half-term.
Need the end points – universities and CBI need to be a part of this.

What can you do?

  1. Comment on this blog
  2. Come along to the next meeting and be part of the wider discussions
  3. Find out more about the pathfinders, be it HTRT NatBacc or any of the others mentioned in this piece
  4. Speak to local schools to gather opinions

Liam Collins

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4 thoughts on “National Bacc Summit 28th November 2014

  1. John Taylor (@DrJohnLTaylor) December 2, 2014 at 4:08 pm Reply

    I’m pleased to see that EPQ figures as a component part of these exciting proposals. A few remarks on this:

    1. With respect to the comment about EPQ and accountability: EPQ attracts UCAS points and hence feeds into measures of school performance. This is important. For a qualification to be taken seriously by centres and by students, there should be credit gained for success. That said, the fact that it currently tends not to form the basis of most university offers (though valuable as a ‘tie-breaker’ or in some cases as a part of a ‘discount’ offer) means that it is not subject to the same pressures as faced by mainstream full A levels. This might be a good thing. I think that the qualification has found a happy niche, attracting credit and yet not becoming the focus of remorseless pressure, through accountability measures, for ever-higher grades, which can engender ‘teaching-to-the-test’ and destroy the scope for creative exploration of ideas for their own sake. I think there is a lot to be said for exploring the possibility of developing a qualification portfolio with more ‘medium-stakes’ components and EPQ might well have lessons for such a development.

    2. I would be wary of encouraging EPQ as something squeezed in at the end of the AS year. There are considerable advantages in allowing students a longer time-frame for their projects. A project is a process and learning to manage time well is part of what is learned during that process. Moreover, if the process can span both years of the sixth form, there is the advantage that students can put their greater subject knowledge, and academic maturity, to good use, in developing deeper and richer project work.

    3. One of the most enjoyable and valuable elements of the EPQ is the chance it affords for richer, deeper, open-ended enquiry-based learning. The discussions and debates which take place before project work begins, or during the process, can be as educationally valuable as the project itself. I would welcome a qualification framework which enshrined space for this deeper, philosophically rich, open mode of learning – something consciously created as an antidote to ‘teach-to-the-test’. Schools which have a taught-course basis for their EPQ programmes are already doing this, as are IB schools, and it would be great to see this having a wider take-up.

  2. […] for our Sixth Form from 2015, I was delighted to have pulled in the key players needed to make our Heads’ Roundtable National Baccalaureate Summit a success.  We’re now poised to make this whole thing happen nationally.   We’ve got […]

  3. The Big Hairy Bacc | Eddie Playfair April 29, 2015 at 6:57 am Reply

    […] successful alternative models already exist, for example in Wales, and the work being done by the Headteachers’ Roundtable demonstrates the appetite for a baccalaureate approach in […]

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