In St David’s Catholic College, Cardiff, nearly all level 3 learners follow a newly developed delivery model for the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification. After consultation, learners, staff and external stakeholders contributed to priorities for continued improvement. This ensures a varied and stimulating teaching experience for learners, allowing them to develop their skills effectively.
Number and age range of learners: 1550
Date of Estyn inspection: 15th November - 19th November, 2010
Brief contextual information about provider/partnership
St. David’s Catholic College was founded by the Archdiocese of Cardiff as a Catholic sixth-form college in 1987. The college is based on one campus in the north-east of Cardiff. St. David’s provides learning opportunities for about 1550 full-time learners. Nearly all learners are aged 16-19. There are no part-time learners. Just under 80% of enrolments are at level 3, with 60% of these on A/AS level courses and 27% of these mixing AS/A level courses with Level 3 vocational courses. About 18% of enrolments are at level 2 and about 3% at level 1. Most learners at the college come from Cardiff, but about 13% come from further afield, including Newport, RCT, Caerphilly and Bridgend. About 54% of learners are female and 46% male. About 22% of learners are from minority ethnic groups. About 45% of learners come from areas of educational deprivation. All full-time learners are studying towards the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification.
Please identify how the area of excellent/sector-leading practice, identified during the inspection, relates to a particular key question, quality indicator and/or aspect
Key Question: 1 and 2
Quality indicator: 1.1-Standards, 2.1-Learning Experiences.
Aspect: 1.1.1, 1.1.4, 2.1.1, 2.1.2
Context and background to excellent/sector-leading practice
Leadership within the College demonstrates a strong commitment at a strategic and operational level to the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification. A role was clearly identified for the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification in contributing to the enhancement of learner experiences and performance. As a consequence, over 1000 learners, nearly the entire level 3 cohort, now study for the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification at Advanced Level. The model utilises the concept of a St David’s ‘core’ curriculum that is accessed by all learners at the college. Coverage is mapped across the core, evidence is drawn from curriculum areas and differentiation is undertaken in terms of both the task and qualification aimed for.
The Welsh Baccalaureate at Advanced Level plays a key role in assisting in the:
- promotion of the all-round development of learners;
- setting of learner-led targets;
- embedding and contextualising opportunities for skills development;
- raising of key skills attainment;
- development of strong links between curriculum provision and pastoral care;
- promotion of Welsh culture, community service, ESDGC and WRE; and
- ensuring that the learning core is given equal value
Several models for the delivery of the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification were considered by the College. Modes of delivery differ by qualification level. The model of delivery at Advanced Level was integrated with other college initiatives, such as the electronic individual learning plan (eILP) and the Moodle- based learning platform. The development of the model was undertaken in consultation with a range of stakeholders, including learners; teaching staff; higher education advisors and parents. A strategy was developed to ensure parental appreciation of and support for the qualification.
The current model focuses on learners’ development in a number of ways; exposing learners to a variety of teaching and learning styles enables learners to focus and develop their skill sets. For example, thematic delivery lessons encourage learners to develop listening and discussion skills, while enterprise lessons enable learners to develop their skills of team working and self-awareness. The Welsh Baccalaureate programme also exposes learners to topics that encourage them to become more responsible citizens as well as promoting areas that are important to Wales and the Welsh economy. It is important to note that a learner may not get such opportunities if they were not enrolled on the programme. In addition, key skills attainment has risen due to the development opportunities that have been embedded in the delivery model and the requirement to be proficient in areas that are regarded as important by both educational establishments and employers. Some learners have attained Level 4 key skills and the Extended Project through the delivery of a refined programme for more able and talented learners.
The current model is ‘gestalt inspired’ whereby the teaching and learning of various topics are driven by specific learning styles, resulting in the learner receiving an overarching teaching and learning experience that is both stimulating and varied. The core components are divided into themes, and specialist team leaders produce resources that address such themes and provide support and guidance for WBQ teachers in their delivery, as well as monitoring the quality of delivery and assessment. The delivery of Welsh Baccalaureate is wholly supported by the Moodle-based learning platform, whereby learners are able to undertake experiential based learning. In addition, the Moodle allows learners and teachers to track the assessment process. Key skills and Essential Skills Wales have been fully integrated into each theme/module and learners are able to submit evidence and receive formative feedback through the Moodle platform. The Welsh Baccalaureate Moodle has embedded basic skills support; both explanations and the ability to book one-to-one support sessions, where required. This model is proving very successful and ensures a consistent experience for all learners, sufficient support and guidance for deliverers and transparency from a quality perspective.
Description of nature of strategy or activity identified as excellent/sector-leading practice
A number of models were piloted prior to the adoption of the delivery model for the Advanced Level. Following an extensive review (including an analysis of quantitative data, feedback from learners and deliverers, educational e-pedagogy, feedback from moderators, referring to best practice and seeking advice from Moodle specialists) the current delivery model was proposed in summer 2009. The main areas for attention that emerged from this review included the need to improve the complexity and variability of teaching styles and materials, to improve consistency with regard to quality (where a large number of deliverers were involved) and to focus on how technology could be utilised more effectively. The current model has addressed each of these areas. Nevertheless, a number of refinements are being considered to further improve the learning experience. For example, including more interactive and innovative Moodle features such as workshops, forums and podcasts as well as improving the quality of lesson delivery.
Central to the refinement and development of the initiative is the active contribution of stakeholders in setting priorities for continued improvement. The full inclusion of the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification within the College’s quality framework assists in providing feedback for continued improvement. Following this year’s feedback from learners, we have decided to place continued emphasis upon the delivery and assessment of the programme through on-line materials and activities and we will increase the emphasis upon on-line formative assessment, tracking and monitoring. Learners have appreciated the increased variety of approach within the qualification. As a result, a range of options are available to learners such as minority foreign languages, leadership and management units and units of the Cambridge pre-U qualification. These, and other, innovative approaches will continue to be developed.
What impact has this work had on the quality of provision and learners’ standards
The volume of key skills coverage and key skills attainment has risen dramatically. For example, in 2009/10 success rates in Communication improved from 61.6% to 75.4%; Working With Others rose from 58.3% to 86.8% while the success rate of Improving Own Learning and Performance rose from 76.9% to 87.9%. Measures of wellbeing and emotional intelligence development have increased as a consequence of the approach to the qualification.