Baccalaureates fail to set the heather alight


Baccalaureates were introduced to Scotland five years ago amid government claims of deeper learning and critical-thinking, but now teachers want this “added complication” to be scrapped in the wake of low uptake.

Designed to promote key subjects including science and languages, in 2012 the scheme grew to cover expressive arts and social sciences.

Yet in 2014, the number of pupils sitting Scottish Baccalaureate exams fell almost eight per cent to 176 from 191 last year, according to figures from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).

Only three candidates sat the expressive arts Baccalaureate this year, down from five in 2013, and 15 entered the social sciences qualification.

The languages Baccalaureate had a 50 per cent fall in entries from 32 to 22, while those studying social sciences fell less sharply, to 136 from 142.

Alan McKenzie, acting general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, said schools had always been suspicious of the rationale behind the qualification, viewing them largely as politically motivated for the image of the SNP government.

He continued: “We are now of the view it is time to scrap them because they are an added complication in a system that already has high-quality alternatives in the form of Advanced Highers.

“The qualifications are not seen as being worth the effort and we should be concentrating on Highers and Advanced Highers, which are the gold standards of the system.”

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS union, said schools had been “swamped” with changes to the qualifications system and teachers did not have enough time to supervise the Baccalaureate. 

He explained: “With the upgrading of Advanced Highers to ensure they provide a good preparation for university, it is difficult to see the Baccalaureate becoming a priority for most schools.”

A Scottish government spokeswoman said it would ask the SQA to assess the decline in Baccalaureates, which comprise a group of related Highers and Advanced Highers, and an interdisciplinary project marked to Advanced Higher level.


Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code
Claim Free Subscription