• GCSEs

    • GCSEs are level 1 or 2 courses (depending on the grade achieved) and are available in a wide range of academic and applied subjects.
    • They are usually achieved in 2 years and are graded from  A* - G
    • A very high percentage of school pupils take these qualifications at the age of 16.
    • They are available to students of any age in schools, colleges and other learning centres.
    • They are the most common and well known of qualifications.
    • GCSE grades are used as an entry qualification for jobs, training and courses.
  • AS and A Levels

    • A levels are Level 3 courses and are available in a wide range of academic and applied subjects.
    • They are usually completed in two years and are graded A* to E
    • A high percentage of learners staying on at school or college study AS and A levels however they can be studied at other learning centres.
    • They can be achieved in two parts; year one is at AS Level. To achieve a full A level, students need to complete a further year of study at A2.
    • Completing A levels usually allows progress to courses at level 4.
    • A levels are a traditional route for entry to higher education and training for the professions.
  • BTEC Courses

    • BTECs are vocational qualifications. This means they are available in subjects linked to an area of work. They are available for students who find learning difficult through to highly skilled professional workers.
    • BTEC qualifications are available in seven levels ranging from BTEC Introductory Diplomas and Certificates to BTEC Advanced Diplomas, Certificates and Awards.
    • Within each level, the qualifications are available in a range of sizes, taking different amounts of time to complete.
    • Some courses at level 2 and 3 run alongside A level and GCSE subjects. Others are aimed at people in employment who need special qualifications to help them get on at work.
    • They can be studied full – time or part time, in schools and colleges and in the workplace.
  • QCF/NVQs

    • QCF/NVQs are work based awards and are available at all levels. However most QCF/NVQs are available from levels 1 to 5.
    • They are delivered in the workplace or somewhere set up to be like a workplace.
    • They are not linked to set course or programme. QCF/NVQs are broken down into small units so that they can be delivered and assessed flexibly at a place of work.
    • QCF/NVQs cover a huge variety of careers.
  • Welsh Baccalaureate

    The Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification (Bacc) is a qualification for 14 – 19 years old students in Wales.

    There are no exams in the Welsh Bacc. Instead, learners take on different challenges and put together a portfolio of evidence to show how skills have been developed.

    The Bacc is studied alongside other subjects and courses

    What's involved? 

    The Welsh Bacc is a qualification made up of 3 elements: 

    • Skills Challenge Certification: This is an individual project and 3 challenges 
    • GCSE English Language or Welsh Language and GCSE Mathematics - NUmeracy 
    • Supporting qualification such as other GCSE's, A Levels/AS qualifications and vocational qualifications 

    Skills Challenge Certificate

    The Skills Challenge Certificate is made of four assessments which the learner needs to complete.

    1. Individual Project: This is a research-based assignment on a subject chosen by the learner. The learner will work independently on this project to demonstrate the knowledge and skills to produce a written investigation supported by written research.

    2. Enterprise and Employability Challenge:  This challenge encourages learners to develop entrepreneurial skills to improve employability. These challenges may be designed by a centre (school/college), an employer or other national organisations.

    3. Global Citizenship Challenge: Learners will demonstrate an understanding of a global issue and will respond appropriately to it. These challenges may be designed locally or nationally.

    4. Community Challenge: Learners will identify, develop and participate in opportunities that will benefit the community. These challenges may be designed locally or nationally. 


    Welsh Baccalaureate levels

    The Welsh Baccalaureate is awarded at three levels:

    1. Foundation Welsh Baccalaureate (level 1 - equivalent to GCSE grades D, E, F, G) for use at Key Stage 4 or post-16 – these are graded Pass* and Pass

    2. National Welsh Baccalaureate (level 2 - equivalent to GCSE grades A*, A, B, C) for use at Key Stage 4 or post-16 – these are graded A*, A, B and C

    3. Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate (level 3 - equivalent to A, A/S Level,) for use at post-16 only – these will be graded A*-E


    Essential and Employability Skills

    In the Welsh Baccalaureate learners are assessed on essential skills. All these skills are developed in different ways across the curriculum and throughout learning and life. These skills include;

    • Literacy
    • Numeracy
    • Digital Literacy
    • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
    • Planning and Organisation
    • Creativity and Innovation
    • Personal Effectiveness 


    Higher education

    You can use the Welsh Baccalaureate to go on to higher education. A student studying the Baccalaureate at advanced level would usually combine their study with two or more A levels, or equivalent.

    For an A* at advanced level, the Skills Challenge Certificate is worth 56 tariff points.

    It is always advisable to check with UCAS (https://qips.ucas.com/qip/advanced-welsh-baccalaureate-skills-challenge-certificate) and your chosen University regarding the Welsh Baccalaureate qualification. 

    Find out more about the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification 

  • Essential Skills

    • Essential Skills (ES) the new title for what used to be called Key Skills or Basic skills.
    • They can be studied at 4 levels and are qualifications aimed at 14 – 19 year olds in schools and colleges.
    • As with Bacc and IB they are generally studied alongside other subjects such as GCSEs, A levels or vocational courses.
    • ES are aimed at helping learners become effective in work and in society in general.

    Learners study:

    • Communication
    • Application of Number
    • Digital Literacy
    • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
    • Planning and Organisation
    • Creativity and Innovation
    • Personal Effectiveness
  • Certificates of Higher Education

    • Certificates of Higher Education (CertHE) are courses at level 4.
    • They require one year full time or two year part time study.
    • Although CertEd courses are awards in their own right they usually form the first year of a degree course.
    • They can be offered in single subjects or vocational areas.

    • HNC (Higher National Certificates) and HNDs (Higher National Diplomas) are vocational higher education qualifications at level 5.
    • They are aimed at giving learners the skills that can be used in a particular job. Both HNCs and HNDs are available in a wide range of vocational areas.
    • HNCs can take one year to complete full time and two years part time.
    • HNDs take two years full time and can also be taken part time but will take longer to complete.
  • Foundation Degrees

    • Foundation degrees are vocational qualifications at level 5.
    • The courses include study but also have a requirement for the learner to gain work experience and learn in the workplace.


  • Degrees

    • Degrees are higher education qualifications. They are available at several levels.
    • Ordinary  (level 4) or Honours (level 5)
      • These are the most well-known type of degrees.
      • These are the degrees that most learners study in higher education.
      • They are available in a very wide range of subjects and vocational areas.
      • They are the minimum entry requirement for many professions
    • They can take between 3 and 4 years of study.
    • Masters degrees (level 7) are achieved by showing a very high level of knowledge about a subject or topic. They are usually achieved by undertaking a research project over several years.
    • Doctorates (PHDs) (level 8) is a ‘post graduate’ degree offered at Universities. This means that the learner would first need to get a degree qualification – then continue with their research and study to obtain a PHD.
  • Postgraduate Diplomas and Certificates

    • Post Graduate certificates and diplomas are at level 7. They allow learners to build on the skills and knowledge gained in a first degree and are available in a wide variety of subjects.
    • Post Graduate certificates are required for entry to some professions for example Teaching (PGCE) and Law (GDL)
    • Certificates are often shorter than diplomas, with each taking a number of months (but less than one year) to complete full time

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