Welsh Conservatives would scrap the Welsh Baccalaureate to give more school hours back to pupils and teachers, if voted into power in 2021.
Shadow Minister for Education, Suzy Davies AM, has pledged to see an end to the qualification, the aims of which are soon set to be duplicated by the newly-unveiled Welsh Government draft curriculum.
She first announced the move at the Welsh Conservative Party Conference earlier this month. Speaking at the crowded Llangollen Pavilion she called for the Welsh Government to address falling GCSE results and the pressures put on schools brought by increased workloads.
She said: “I would like our young people and our education professionals to know that we would take an immediate step to lighten the load just a little, and we would scrap the Welsh Baccalaureate.
“More than just getting rid of duplication, we would stop wasting time and money on the confusion the Bacc creates. Is it compulsory? Do universities accept it? Do employers know what it is? And of course, have all schools and colleges really bought into it; and do they know how to teach it?”
The Shadow Minister for Education’s pledge follows the launch of the Welsh Government’s draft curriculum at the end of last month. Mrs Davies welcomes the arrival of the new curriculum, but recognises it signals the redundancy of the Welsh Bacc.
Pupils and students have also repeatedly expressed concerns over the time taken from the school day to focus on the Bacc, and the added pressure that puts on them and their teachers.
A National Assembly for Wales Children, Young People and Education Committee report from April this year, ‘Bacc to the Future,’ heard from concerned educators. The report said: “We are concerned by the evidence we received that some learners are struggling to cope with the pressure caused by the workload involved in the Welsh Bacc.”
Speaking today, Mrs Davies added:
“The aims of the Welsh Baccalaureate are good in principle, but they will be more than achieved by the new curriculum.
“A once-attractive idea, the Welsh Bacc has had more new looks than Madonna, each of them eventually wearying its wider audience.
“We can’t keep increasing pressure on our young people and teachers to invest more and more time creating duplicated work, which might not even help them gain further education or employment because it is so little understood.
“Welsh Conservatives want to create a learning environment that raises Wales up, economically and socially; not one that leaves us stuck at the bottom of the league tables. This is just a starting point for what we can do to help our pupils and committed professionals.”