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IOE and Pearson
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  • Economics
  • Education
  • Mathematics


The upper secondary education curriculum in the English system has been traditionally choice-based, narrow and specialized with qualifications primarily determining its shape. . In general/academic education, the prime goal has been the attainment of high grades in three A Levels in order to access university. This still remains the case, despite repeated attempts at reform over the past 50 years or more to broaden post-16 education . Choice-based specialisation can be contrasted with common practice in other systems where young people in upper secondary general education study a broader range of subjects, including mathematics and a modern foreign language . Vocational courses also remain relatively narrow in England, lacking the core of general education that is typical of other higher performing national systems . Baccalaureates ideas for have become much more prevalent over the past 20 years, although awards of this type still play a relatively marginal role in a system that continues to be dominated by single subjects or qualifications components. In the light of these curriculum and qualifications system features, this scoping paper aims to review baccalaureate-type proposals over the last two decades, but particularly over the last 10. The paper surveys curriculum and qualifications reform and assesses the significance of these within the current economic and policy context; it maps the main features of a range of baccalaureate proposals and conceptualises these along six different dimensions. The paper concludes with a set of questions arising from the analysis in order to better understand strategic choices to be made by the Pearson-led Baccalaureate Development Strategy Group.

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