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AQA Baccalaureate
The potential benefits are enormous. I would strongly encourage students to do an extended project whichever university they want to go to.
Geoff Parks, Director of Admissions, University of Cambridge

All Sixth Form students at the Alice Smith School follow the AQA Baccalaureate programme (AQA Bacc), of which A Levels are the academic element.

A Levels plus three other elements 

The remaining three elements are Broader Study (resulting in an AS level in General Studies) Enrichment Activities (100 hours) and an Extended Project.

On the Extended Project in particular, Geoff Parks, Director of Admissions at Cambridge University goes on to say that the 'opportunities to get deeply involved in a subject that interests you, to develop research skills, to pull together different areas of the other subjects you are studying and to develop extended writing skills will all be enormously valuable preparation for going to university'.

Fully preparing students for future challenges and working environments 

It is recognised that sole academic achievement at A Level is not all that is required to secure places at the world’s leading universities or that they fully prepare young students for important challenges and working environments which they will face in the future. The AQA Bacc. provides our students with a more rounded education and skill base whilst upholding the academic rigour that A Level success demands. It also demonstrates the school’s appreciation to prepare its student body with greater skills to compete in today’s world.

AQA is one of the UK’s leading national examination boards. At the Alice Smith School the Extended Project and Enrichment sections are completed in Year 12 and the Broader Study section is completed in Year 13.

 

Benefits

  • Promotes independent learning, self management and research skills through completion of the extended project.
  • Assists students in further education choices and career guidance
  • Fosters active citizenship and community involvement
  • Equips students with a greater ability to structure, reason and present varying angles of an argument
  • Additional AS Level in General Studies which contributes to the university entrance points system.
  • Additional AS Level awarded for the Extended Project which contributes to the university entrance points system.

Extended Project

"The Extended Project will allow students to develop their critical reasoning skills, their analytic skills and even their project management skills among others, which is something we really value in universities for the kind of stretch and challenge all universities expect their students to engage with and achieve."

Janice Kay, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Exeter University

Students prepare a personal project based upon interest, further study requirement or career choice. Students are supervised by their Sixth Form tutor in small tutorials. Students are taught key skills in order to complete their written project or artifact. A substantial number of hours need to be completed unsupervised and as such the school allots one study period a week to this end. The object of this report is to show evidence of research, referencing, analysis, project management and review. Where possible an expert advisor from the teaching body is assigned to the student. Projects are externally marked in the same way that coursework is marked, and count as an AS examination in their own right, contributing points towards university entrance.

Examples of Extended Projects

The extended projects completed by Alice Smith students vary greatly in subject-matter which signifies the diverse interests and opportunities the school has on offer. These are just a selection from the 2013 cohort.

In sport, what makes the best, the best?

What is the brains and neurotransmitters role in psychopathology?

What is the relativity theory by Einstein and how is this related to the neutrinos traveling faster than light?

Can all communist states be considered totalitarian regimes?

Why was it so difficult to exceed the speed of sound?

Explore the ethics of using a 3D bio-printer to print human body parts and organs in relation to its economic and social effects

What are the different types of blood doping methods, how do they work and what are the differences between these various methods, what sports are they predominantly used in and why?

How does the design of a primary school classroom affect the learning efficiency of a child?

Is the Insanity defense a valid defense, or an escape of justice?     

Do people in positions of high status take advantage of the power they obtain?

Pancreatic Cancer - Why is there still no treatment for the deadly disease yet?

How is Japanese culture reflected in/affecting Japanese horror films? (focusing on the works of Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Takashi Miike, Hideo Nakata and Takashi Shimizu).

Broader Study

"General Studies links well to a number of other subjects (especially humanities or other essay writing subjects). The skills of analysing and interpreting sources, seeing bias, and understanding flaws are key skills with you can easily bring into many areas. I also think that being able to argue well, or see flaws in your own arguments is a really useful skill to have in life. Also the ability to see both sides of an argument develops the way to interpret the world and understand your own views. I think this will prove of use later on in life, as well as more immediately or at university." Alice Smith Sixth Form student

Under this section, students complete the AS General Studies course. This is a recognised AS course in its own right. Students review current issues in the media and learn how to deconstruct and construct an argument. There are elements of debating and researching. This section is assessed by a formal examination.

"The skills obtained from the course, such as data analysis and evaluation of sources, help me in my exams, especially when answering comprehension questions and justifying my stand." Alice Smith Sixth Form student

Enrichment Activities

Life as a Sixth Form student at the Alice Smith School is about so much more than the courses students choose to study. We pride ourselves on the Alice Smith School experience that ensures that our students are well rounded, well prepared young adults, ready to face the world of work and higher education. Accordingly, students in the Sixth Form are expected to follow an enrichment programme designed to deliver this breadth and depth.

Enrichment activities are defined by the AQA Examinations Board as ‘the extra-curricular activities and experiences that broaden horizons, develop new skills and cultivate personal and social qualities such as commitment, good citizenship, initiative, leadership and team spirit.’

“I really enjoyed myself in school. UNHCR and the various school events such as the Charity Dinner and International Week have been a positive influence on my school life”

Alice Smith Sixth Form student

The Enrichment element of the AQA Baccalaureate qualification plays a vital role in helping students to develop soft skills and personal qualities that will help to prepare them for university, employment and adulthood. In order to meet the Enrichment requirements of the AQA Baccalaureate, students are expected to complete a minimum of 100 hours of enrichment activities. At least two of the following three core areas must be included, with a minimum of 30 hours spent on any one area.

  • Work Related Learning
  • Community Participation
  • Personal Development Activities

"My Wider Learning day experience with UNHCR was something I'd definitely do again. Learning how to teach English (the TEFL course), something I initially expected to be a simple task, turned out to be much more complex, and the variety of techniques we learnt are really helpful skills that I can use again and again for future charity work I wish to do. The kids at UNHCR were unbelievably lovely and it was such a pleasure to teach them. The interactions we had with them really made the whole day so rewarding and worthwhile, not once did I think of teaching the kids as 'work', because it really was so enjoyable. It's something I would definitely advise others to do!"

Alice Smith Sixth Form student

Students keep a record of their Enrichment through the Online Enrichment Diary where they are expected to make full, descriptive, reflective journal entries about their activities. At the end of each term, students write a fuller comment reflecting on their overall Enrichment progress so far. Deadlines are set throughout the academic year with expected number of hours completed at each checkpoint. This is to support students in managing their time over the course of the year.

Useful Links

The potential benefits are enormous. I would strongly encourage students to do an extended project whichever university they want to go to.
Geoff Parks, Director of Admissions, University of Cambridge
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