Suffolk: Ground-breaking plans for new qualification

PUPILS in Suffolk could soon be able to sit a ground-breaking new qualification aimed at bridging the gap between school and work.

The Suffolk Baccalaureate is a proposal to secondary school head teachers from one of the key partners behind the Raising the Bar commission.

Joe Hallgarten is the director of education at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), which is leading Suffolk’s independent commission on educational standards and aspiration.

He will propose to a gathering of 30 heads today that the county’s children should be “given the tools to capitalise on Suffolk’s strengths” by studying for the Suffolk Baccalaureate (SBacc) alongside their GCSEs.

If adopted by schools, the SBacc would be used to “close the gap” between the classroom and the workplace by teaching young people the skills needed to be successful in a tough employment market, and especially within local industries.

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Mr Hallgarten said the proposals, which would see pupils able to opt in or out of the extra sessions, were a sign of Suffolk’s “appetite for innovation”.

He said: “The RSA is delighted to be working with schools and businesses across the county to develop a Modern Baccalaureate for Suffolk.

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“The bacc will enable young people to record their qualifications, experiences and wider skills, in a way that employers will really understand and value.

“Suffolk is one of only two local authorities in the country which will be piloting the Mod Bacc from 2013. This shows the county’s appetite for innovation, and the way that Raising the Bar is already building a momentum for change.”

The proposal comes following discussions between the RSA, school head teachers and staff and local businesses, as part of Raising the Bar.

The Suffolk Baccalaureate would run alongside either GCSEs or the planned new EBacc qualification and be developed with the help of employers involved in some of Suffolk’s biggest industries, including green and nuclear energy and telecommunications.

The Raising the Bar commission is looking at educational attainment, aspiration and employability in Suffolk and is to be lead by Matthew Taylor - CEO at the RSA and former prime ministerial advisor.

It comes as the latest GCSE attainment figures for the county show that while there have been improvements year on year, the county is still four per cent below the national average when it comes to young people getting five or more good GCSEs.

The commission is due to conclude its work in May 2013. A further conference focusing on primary schools will be held in November 2012.

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