Working with local businesses to enrich the Welsh Baccalaureate

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Ysgol y Preseli has forged links with local businesses and entrepreneurs to ensure that the Welsh Baccalaureate nurtures the skills that learners need to succeed in employment.

Number of learners: 902
Age range: 11-18
Date of inspection: November 2016

Information about the School

Ysgol y Preseli is a designated bilingual comprehensive community school for pupils aged 11-18.  The school is maintained by Pembrokeshire local authority.  It has 906 pupils with 162 in the sixth form.  The school is located in the village of Crymych in the north of the county and it serves an extensive rural catchment area that includes the towns of Haverfordwest, Pembroke and Tenby.  In general, pupils come from areas that are neither prosperous nor economically disadvantaged.  Four point nine per cent (4.9%) of pupils are eligible for free school meals. A minority of pupils (approximately 43%) are from families where Welsh is spoken in the home and almost all pupils speak Welsh fluently.  All pupils are taught through the medium of Welsh.  The school admits pupils from the full range of ability.  Twenty-one per cent of pupils are on the school’s additional learning needs register, and 1% have a statement of special educational needs.  The school is currently a pioneer school and is working with the Welsh Government and other schools to proceed with developments relating to the curriculum and professional learning.

Context and background to sector-leading practice?

Ysgol y Preseli has been delivering the Baccalaureate to all pupils in key stages 4 and 5 since 2005.  Baccalaureate results are excellent.  In 2016, the Baccalaureate was rated for the second year.  Eighty-nine per cent (89%) of the cohort succeeded in gaining an Advanced Diploma and 100% of registered pupils.  The A*-A success rate was 51%, and the A*-C success rate was 100%.  The 2007-2016 Legacy Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification success rate was excellent.  In terms of outcomes, the Baccalaureate’s success in key stage 4 and key stage 5 has placed the school in the vanguard in Wales.

The Baccalaureate Co-ordinator is a member of the Management Team.  The revised Baccalaureate provides an opportunity for the school to develop a new approach to delivering the challenges of the Skills Challenge Certificate.  The Baccalaureate Co-ordinator is responsible for leading key stage 4 and key stage 5 teams.  In 2016, co-ordinators were appointed for each challenge, making use of their expertise to draw up a stimulating and inspiring programme of learning and teaching.  The school considers this to be an effective method of allocating responsibilities and nurturing expertise in the various challenges.  The Co-ordinator produces an annual Self-evaluation and Departmental Improvement Plan.

Description of nature of strategy or activity?

The Co-ordinator and the Challenge Co-ordinators are responsible for preparing challenging and appropriate schemes of work, which develop rationally from contextual knowledge.  The department is committed to providing interesting, challenging and stimulating learning experiences, for example the #MENTRO17 Enterprise Conference.  The conference provided an opportunity for pupils to work as a team, to solve problems and to think creatively before going on to receive advice and support from successful local business people and entrepreneurs.  Emphasis was placed on developing employability and innovation skills.

The school provides information about all available career opportunities and offers impartial guidance to help pupils choose the correct pathway.  The school recognises the inclusion of the Baccalaureate and the Skills Challenge Certificate as an integral part of the school’s Careers and World of Work programme.  Pupils receive high-quality guidance and advice on their career learning pathway, for example the Paving the Way Conference for Year 11, the Seren Network Conference and the Future Pathways Evening for Years 11 and 12.

Skills Challenge Certificate challenges nurture the necessary skills to succeed in employment.  In order to enrich provision for pupils as it delivers an innovative programme of learning, the department has forged direct links with local businesses and entrepreneurs.  The department uses input and advice from entrepreneurs when structuring and implementing provision, ensuring that schemes of work, activities and feedback are fit for purpose, not just in meeting the challenges’ requirements but also in preparing pupils for a future career path.

In order to meet the needs of the Community Challenge, the school has developed constructive and exciting partnerships with the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and with the Paul Sartori Foundation.

Nurturing pupils’ digital skills is a priority for both the school and the department.  The ‘Bring Your Own Device’ scheme is used in Years 10 to 13 to enrich digital experiences.  The department takes advantage of the latest digital developments to enhance pupils’ personal effectiveness and to prepare them for the demands of future employment.  There is evidence that the department uses Facebook, Show My Homework, Hwb and Twitter effectively to communicate with homes in order to raise parents’ awareness of the qualification’s relevance.

What impact has this work had on provision and pupils’ standards?

Close co-operation between the school and businesses and entrepreneurs gives pupils a key insight into employment.  The programme of learning and teaching goes beyond meeting the qualification’s requirements and enriches pupils’ understanding of what lies ahead of them as they venture into further education, higher education and employment.  By providing opportunities for pupils to learn about successful entrepreneurs’ experiences, successes and mistakes, pupils are equipped to be innovative, to think creatively and to take risks, as required by Skills Challenge Certificate challenges.

How have you shared your good practice?

Resources are often shared with other schools on request as a means of sharing good practice.  The department works closely and constructively with Pembrokeshire schools and Welsh-medium schools in the region to ensure quality and to strengthen assessment processes.  The department’s resources are hosted on Hwb+.  Relevant stakeholders are invited to visit or participate in events such as the #Mentro17 Conference.  All activities are publicised via the school’s Facebook page.