The Baccalaureate provides higher attaining students the opportunity to study towards an extra qualification at Level 3 that will assist them in their future applications to university. The overall qualification combines their chosen A levels with an AS level in Critical Thinking, an enrichment element and an extended project in a topic of interest.
Critical Thinking allows students to develop a range of skills. Students are taught to consider situations and ideas in a different way, developing their analytical and reasoning skills and the ability to evaluate evidence. A key feature is also identifying different elements within arguments and using these ideas to write well-constructed arguments.
The Extended project invites students to explore a topic that is of interest to them. It reinforces the development of independent learning, planning, self-management and research, as well as report writing and presentation skills; all attributes that are essential for success in higher education.
The enrichment element brings a formal recognition for all the non-academic activities that are completed. Over the two years, students complete a log showing a minimum of 100 hours and can include a wide range of work-related learning, community and personal activities.
Studying this course will require a great deal of commitment as it is seen as an academic enrichment activity.
Year 12: There are 2 taught lessons per fortnight throughout Year 12 as students complete their AS level in Critical Thinking. In addition, several lessons are allocated to the development of taught skills that provide the foundations for success in the Extended Project. Towards the end of the summer term students will be asked to start their preparation for their Extended Project, which they will then research over the summer.
Year 13: Throughout the second year of the course, much of the time commitment is through the independent completion of the project, with 1 hour per fortnight of allocated time within lessons. Some of these lessons will be spent developing further skills to aid the effective completion of the project and associated presentation.
Throughout the two years, students will also need to complete the necessary enrichment hours and the associated log.
How is it assessed?
Critical Thinking is assessed through the completion of two exams, both of which will take place at the end of Year 12. They involve multiple-choice, short and long answer questions.
The Extended project is graded A*-E with the A* being worth 70 UCAS points. It is assessed in 4 different sections, including the critical analysis and use of resources and how effectively research is developed into a project with a conclusion.
The enrichment element is assessed depending on how thoroughly the diary is completed, and needs to comprise of at least thirty hours from three of the four areas, including work-related learning and community.
Overall the AQA Baccalaureate is graded as a Pass, Merit or Distinction.
How will this help with further study?
The skills developed during Critical Thinking and the Extended Project are highly sought after from admissions tutors and employers because they are transferable to any other course of study and allow students to be tuned in to the demands of higher level study.
The enrichment element of the Baccalaureate allows students to evidence a wide range of life experiences that can give them an advantage over other students during the increasingly competitive university application process.
Having studied Critical Thinking and the AQA Baccalaureate, students often move on into careers such as Medicine, Law, Veterinary, Accounting, and Marketing etc.