Unifying the Curriculum through a Baccalaureate

If a school seeks to develop a Collaborative and Connected Curriculum (see previous articles) where lines of curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, attainment and progress truly converge a unifying structure is required. 

My contributions over the last few years to the development of a CGL pedagogy, its associated Curriculum and an Assessment Framework through which,

Academic Progress is measured on a scale of 1-4 within Knowledge, Understanding and Skill across time and along Trajectories (roughly equated to 4 levels of progress from the end of KS2 through to the end of KS4);

Commitment is measured on a scale of 1-10 recognising in class contributions, work ethic and the standard of excellence demonstrated by the learner in all that they do;

Attendance is measured as a % attendance to date (within that academic year); and

Learner Attributes, associated with a Lifewide-Lifelong Learning Capacity,  are recognised, recorded and measured  in a similar vein,

has led me to believe that Curriculum and Assessment Framework must be married together, beyond just the bonds of measurement and intervention.

I propose that what should be established is a unifying  ‘in-house qualification’, one that all students can work towards, connecting assessment within each subject area, within each aspect of Progress, Commitment and Attributes, creating an award for an individuals whole education; a school based baccalaureate.

I propose that such a baccalaureate would be awarded at the end of each academic level; year 7, 8, 9 and could potential be awarded at KS4 and KS5 as a means if unifying what are at times desperate subjects. The award would be graded at Pass, Merit or Distinction. A failure to meet the requirements for a Pass would result in additional intervention, across the year if a student is deemed ‘at risk’ and through a summer school if warranted to ensure that every student meets the Pass level. The top 10% of students within the cohort would receive additional recognition for their achievements being placed on a school Honours List; awarding excellence with peer recognition.

Students would work towards the baccalaureate across their academic level, providing further connectivity between subjects in the minds of students, particularly in the area of assessment within subject areas, as a single tangible goal is recognised by all.

Progress towards the baccalaureate and a students current working at position (P, M or D) would be updated every term and shared with students and parents. Tracking their own progress towards a baccalaureate Distinction (and the awards that come with it) would encourage students to track their progress within all subjects as success overall will require success in all subjects areas within the Directed and even a Self-Directed Curriculum if such was offered. This approach has far reaching positive implications for competitions, tutorials, reporting and consultation evenings, shifting a focus away from just subject progress and attainment into a wider recognition of achievement facilitated through the unifying baccalaureate.

Data from each termly ‘drop’ relating to Academic Progress and Commitment and data relating to Learner Attribute development and attendance would form the basis for assessing, measuring, informing and ultimately rewarding learners with an appropriate grade within the baccalaureate.

I would suggest that the following could be used to judge and determine which award students are progressing towards and which award they ultimately achieve at the end of each academic level:

  • Commitment average across the Curriculum (P:7-8 M:8-9  D:9+)
  • Progress average across the Curriculum (P:2.5-2 M:2-2.5 D:1.5-1)
  • Attendance % to date from the start of the academic year (P:70-80 M:80-90 D:90+)
  • Attributes development (along the scale associated with each academic level e.g. Bronze achieved in all 7 attributes within Year 7-8, Silver achieved in all 7 attributes within Year 8-9, Gold achieved in all 7 attributes within Year 9-11)
  • One assessed ‘product’ at the end of each academic level drawing together KUS from the year (P, M, D based on established criteria for the specific ‘product’)

The above would enable the same criteria to be applied across all year groups and across all academic levels. The use of Attributes will make Community, Internationalism, Leadership e.t.c all part of and valuable features of such a baccalaureate.

The individual student, their Collaborative Learning Group and the Tutor would take responsibility for monitoring progress towards the baccalaureate. This could be tracked within online Learning Journals.

One possible way to promote extrinsic-intrinsic motivation is to use display boards showing a students name and where they are within a diamond at each point in time, working at either Pass, Merit, Distinction. Updated every term this would create greater authenticity and value.

In summary it is my belief that schools can take their existing systems of Curriculum, Progress et al. and unify them into a coherent whole through the establishment of an award structure such as that outlined above. Why wait for the EBacc, or the coveted IB when the means to introduce such a system exists within many schools already. 

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