A new extension to A levels
Introducing the AQA Baccalaureate
The AQA Baccalaureate is a new sixth form qualification which was introduced nationally in September 2008. It is a baccalaureate qualification that has A levels at its core and that is designed to sit alongside a student's normal A level programme.
AQA Baccalaureate introductory video
In the video below, Adam Johnstone (Head of the AQA Baccalaureate at d'Overbroeck's) gives a short introduction to the qualification.
What is the AQA Baccalaureate?
The AQA Baccalaureate is an innovative qualification that extends the current, world-renowned, UK A level system through the addition of extra educational elements, bringing genuine breadth to sixth form studies. It asks students to complement their intended choice of A level subjects with:
- engagement in a variety of enrichment activities;
- the completion of an extended and original project; and
- the study of Critical Thinking to AS level.
As well as providing students with a competitive edge, when applying to top universities, it will also give them the opportunity to develop the real-world skills of self-management, planning, research and presentation.
How does it work?
Unlike other baccalaureate qualifications, such as the IB, the AQA Baccalaureate retains A levels at its heart. The core requirement of the programme is the completion of three standard A levels, in any combination; and success in these is key to success in the Baccalaureate. Alongside their standard A levels, there are three additional elements that a student must complete to receive an award:
First, an enrichment programme, which recognises student's achievements away from the classroom, whether these be through schemes such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award, work-related activities, community involvement, sport, etc. Here at D'Overbroeck's, we have now set up an enrichment website, to which every Baccalaureate student has access. As well as listing details of our enrichment programme, this also provides each student with their own personalised diary site, where they can post photos and comments and record their activities in the form of an on-line blog, allowing us to monitor their progress electronically.
The second additional element is the extended project. The possibilities for this are diverse and we have, of late, been flooded with ideas. The last two years have seen projects launched on 'How to train an event horse', 'The economic situation in China', 'The relevance of feminism', 'The mystery of the Bermuda Triangle' and many others. As well as dissertations, recent projects have included scientific experiments, ecological investigations and photographic portfolios. Each project is individually supervised by a senior member of staff from a relevant department.
The final element of the Baccalaureate is an examined AS level in Critical Thinking, taken alongside the student's normal programme of 4 AS levels. Critical thinking is a high-end AS Level that focuses on the critical analysis and deconstruction of written argument and on the interpretation of data, whether in graphs, tables or embedded in text. It provides an ideal intellectual preparation for any student thinking of applying for a highly competitive degree subject such Law or Medicine and indeed for students hoping to apply to Oxford, Cambridge or any other top-ranking UK University. We have also found that, for those students who have English as their second language, it provides a comprehensive education in English language use that goes significantly beyond IELTS. Critical Thinking is taught by Adam Johnstone, our Baccalaureate co-ordinator, by Simon Harrison, Head of Economics and by Amy Godel, from the Mathematics department.
The AQA Baccalaureate in more detail
Is the AQA Baccalaureate the same as the International Baccalaureate?
Though both Baccalaureate qualifications have the same goal, which is to provide breadth in sixth from studies, they are very different in structure. The International Baccalaureate is not linked in any way to the GCSEs and A Levels with which UK students are familiar and requires a specific set of subjects to be studied. The AQA Baccalaureate, in contrast, is designed for students who are studying for A levels in the usual way. It builds on the base of a standard A level programme; and it allows the student a free choice of which A Levels to study.
If I have to study Critical Thinking as part of the AQA Baccalaureate, can it be one of my four standard AS subject choices?
Critical Thinking could, in principal, be studied as one of a student's 4 standard AS choices. Here at d'Overbroeck's, however, we are targeting the AQA Baccalaureate at our ambitious and motivated students. Since one of the main aims of the AQA Baccalaureate is to add breadth to a standard A level programme, we would expect anyone attempting the qualification to take an AS in Critical Thinking in addition to their 4 standard AS subjects.
Would I be working towards the AQA Baccalaureate qualification over both years of the Sixth Form or just one?
The completion of 3 full A levels is required to achieve an AQA Baccalaureate award. Obviously the A level programme will extend over both years of the Sixth Form in the usual way.
As for the three additional elements required for the AQA Baccalaureate award, we would expect students to continue their enrichment programme throughout their time in the Sixth Form. In contrast, our aim will be for students to have completed the AS in Critical Thinking by the end of their Lower Sixth year and their extended project by the end of their second term in the Upper Sixth.
How is the AQA Baccalaureate graded?
Successful achievement of three A level grades, at E grade or higher, and completion of the three additional elements will earn the student a Baccalaureate award, with a Merit or Distinction for those with better A Level results.
Will universities give credit to students who have taken the AQA Baccalaureate?
The 3 A levels which form the core of the AQA Baccalaureate will, per usual, score UCAS tariff points for a student. The AS in Critical Thinking and the extended project will add further points to a students total score and, in addition to tariff points, the award will provide universities with clear and documented evidence that the student is a well rounded individual who has been engaging in enrichment activities, something that is increasingly looked for during selection, especially when competition for places is intense.
How do I know whether the AQA Baccalaureate would suit me or not?
d'Overbroeck's has always attracted bright and original students whose interests extend beyond the classroom, whether they are sportsmen, artists or inventive thinkers. Our aim in introducing the AQA Baccalaureate is to provide such students with a qualification that rewards their enthusiasm and formally recognises their achievements in a way that goes beyond a set of A Level grades.
For students who are keen to pursue extra curricular activities, and wish to gain documented credit for this, or for students who are thinking of applying to top universities such as Oxford or Cambridge, and are looking for relevant preparation course, the AQA Baccalaureate is a must.
AQA Baccalaureate results 2011
This year's results for our students in the AQA Baccalaureate Diploma included an impressive 5 distinctions and 6 merit awards.
A Distinction, the top award, requires an A grade in all of the AQA Baccalaureate components (the extended project, enrichment and critical thinking) as well as in three A level subjects.
Distinctions were awarded to:
- Fame Cheerapatanakom for his project entitled " How original are Shakepeare's Roman plays?"
- Susannah Cohen: "Men are fools: why is so much male behaviour seen as foolish and irrational by women?"
- Edward Hornsby: "An assessment of water quality at a sewage outlet point in the Oxford area; an ecological investigation"
- Madeleine Hurry; "The biological basis of HIV and its connection to the development continuum"
- Bella Maine: " Is the stratification of the UK sheep industry beneficial to flock health?"
Students achieving a Merit award were:
- Praise Izinyon: "Should patients completely trust their GPs?"
- Grace Kirby: "What can explain the criminal punishment of animals in early modern Europe?"
- Rebecca Love: "How legitimate is the classification of Shakespeare's final plays as romances?"
- Chrystal Pereira: "The Tunisian revolution- was it inevitable?"
- Charlie Richards: "The causes and impact of the deforestation of the Amazon"
- Charlie Skegg: "The Seven Deadly Sins- a photographic portfolio"
- Noel Thompson: "A comparison of a selection of fossil fuels"
In its feedback the Board commented that "the centre should be applauded on such an interesting array of projects". On the Enrichment part of the qualification the feedback stated that" the centre clearly participated in a range of valuable and meaningful enrichment activities" which students have "clearly enjoyed".
How do I find out more?
For further information about the AQA Baccalaureate, please contact us.