Year 10 students are offered the opportunity to participate in the Priestlands Baccalaureate award that aims to play a part in developing and preparing them for life beyond school.
- Extended project
- Community service
- Academic achievement
The purpose of the project is to provide an opportunity for students to investigate and research something that has sparked their interest in a subject they might consider studying at University. With competition for places at higher status Universities as fierce as it is, students must be able to demonstrate a passion for their subject over and above the studying they do in GCSE and A level classes. They will have subscribed to a relevant journal or involved themselves in wider reading, which will enable them to respond intelligently to a question that might throw other candidates. For example:
- Are One Direction as musically relevant as The Beatles?
- How many egg cups would it take to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool?
- Can wars only be considered as destructive events?
- Is the genetic manufacture of body parts ethically acceptable?
Universities will be more interested in the candidate’s approach to the problem rather than their answer.
With the support of a mentor, students will choose a topic that they will research. It is not intended to be a piece of coursework; another task for them to do. Rather, it should be something they enjoy and more like a hobby than a school project.
In October of Year 11, students deliver a presentation to parents, teachers, governors and peers of the results of their endeavours. Our experience is that the standard of these presentations is very high and that students understand the importance of developing their interest independently of school. Some of the presentations have also been delivered by students to large groups of their peers in assemblies.
A selection of topics that students have researched in the past:
- An exploration of organisms that reside around hydrothermal vents and the adaptations that allow them to thrive in such extreme conditions
- A study of the possibilities of space colonisation
- A study of the aurora borealis
- Establishing a connection between chicken eggs and the flu vaccine
- A study of Shakespeare’s Sonnets
- Territorial Army: study of the use of advertising to persuade young people
Giving back to the community in some way encourages students to do things and go to places they wouldn’t normally have considered. In meeting different people they learn about themselves and also about the lives of other people, building their understanding of the complex society of which they are a part.
Students give up at least 20 hours of their time over a minimum of 3 months, which is signed off by a responsible adult who cannot be a member of their family. Community service conducted as part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme can also be used for this section of the Priestlands Baccalaureate.
Students are encouraged to achieve the best GCSE grades they can and the Priestlands Baccalaureate recognises their achievements at three levels:
- Students who have achieved 5 or more grades at A and A*
- Students who have achieved 5 or more grades at B or higher
- Students who have achieved 5 or more grades at C or higher
The awarded certificate will show the student’s level of GCSE achievement.
Students who participated in the scheme have spoken very positively of their experiences:
‘It’s a good way to make you feel like you have a role in the school.’
‘Do it because it looks good on your Record of Achievement’
‘My confidence has improved and I learned more about presenting well’
‘I really enjoyed the whole process of the extended project’
‘It took a lot of time but I really enjoyed it; it was like a hobby’
‘It made me realise I can do it’
‘It pushed me out of my comfort zone’
Priestlands Baccalaureate prompt ideas for extended projects
When choosing a subject area for your extended project pick the subject you are passionate about; the subject you love. When selecting a topic, pick something that will really interest you. This is not another piece of coursework, but rather reading, investigating, researching something that genuinely excites you.
Recommended reading list for Higher Achievers
The range of possibilities is almost endless and the inspiration should come from within you. For an idea of the breadth of possibilities have a look at some of the ideas in the file list below.