About the NBfE

The National Baccalaureate for England

What is the main purpose of the National Baccalaureate for England?

The main purpose is to provide a universal framework for students in all educational contexts that gives recognition to the full range of their achievements and learning experiences including academic qualifications and personal development. Completion of the National Baccalaureate signifies that a student has received a rounded education and has achieved success in a range of skill areas, not limited to those tested in formal examinations.

The framework is designed to have tiers of entry, from Entry Level to Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced, so that all learners – including those with special educational needs, those engaged in our most academically challenging programmes and those engaged in technical and vocational programmes – have the opportunity to complete the National Baccalaureate; it is inclusive and challenging for all.

What are the components of the NBfE?

The framework has three key components:

Core Learning

This is made up of the formal qualifications that each student is taking. It could be three or more A levels or a Level 3 Diploma for the Advanced Baccalaureate; it could be a specific Level 2 technical qualification alongside Maths and English for the Intermediate Baccalaureate.

A Personal Project

This is an accredited project that gives students the opportunity to pursue a depth study in area of interest. Accredited qualifications such as the Extended Project Qualification cover the requirements.

Personal Development Programme

This is a centre-devised programme of activities and experiences that allow students to develop a range of skills and personal qualities. Typically this might include arts, sport, community service, work experience and would involved 100-150 hours of activity over two years.

In the first three years, there will be exploratory phase where different detailed models are explored. At this stage there are no hard and fast rules as long as all three components are present. The role of the National Baccalaureate Trust will be to help establish standards for the depth and quality of each component in light of the features of different models that are put forward.

Is it a qualification?

No. The National Baccalaureate is a curriculum framework. We talk about students ‘completing’ the National Bacc; they are not ‘awarded’ it.   The qualifications component of the National Bacc comes from the Core Learning and Project; these components have assessment regimes that stand on their own and are subject to scrutiny by OfQual. The NBfE is a framework for pulling the components together into a coherent, universal structure for learners in different contexts.

How will students be given recognition for completing the National Baccalaureate?

The goal for all learners in an NBT affiliated school or college would be to complete their National Baccalaureate by completing their core learning, the personal development programme and their project. They will receive completion certificates to mark this achievement.

In addition, each student will receive a full transcript following a standard template, detailing the different components of their Baccalaureate. The design of the transcript will be one of the areas for development in the exploratory phase.

What is the current status of the NBfE?

The National Baccalaureate for England is being piloted in earnest from September 2016 and we are currently recruiting pathfinding schools and colleges. The NBfE is being run independent from the DFE or any government body; the explicit intention is that the framework is developed from the grassroots. Any school or college is free to adopt the framework. Over the next 2-3 years, we aim to share the ideas developed in our pilot institutions with a view to formalising the structure after a clear consensus has emerged around content and standards within each of the components.

How is it different to the International Baccalaureate?

In terms of the overall structure, there are many similarities. The IB fits the criteria for the NBfE so any schools running the IB would be able to dovetail their programme with an A level or vocational diploma programme. There is core learning, a project and a personal development programme (CAS) in the IB. Like the IB, we aim for the NBfE to be run independent of government.   A crucial difference is that the NBfE framework has to be flexible enough to encompass learners in all possible learning contexts, academic and technical, and span the full range of tiers from Entry to Advanced.

How does it relate to the government’s EBacc?

The EBacc is not actually a true baccalaureate. EBacc is more akin to a performance indicator measuring student engagement in five subject areas at KS4. This has recently been elevated to becoming a compulsory curriculum requirement. However, a true Baccalaureate should reflect the final stages of each student’s compulsory education and should encompass the full range of their educational experiences. Our hope is that the National Baccalaureate for England gains recognition and that the five-subject EBacc is renamed as it becomes subsumed within the much wider concept that we are promoting.