A decade of success


Andrew Thomas, Key Stage 4 Manager at Bishopston Comprehensive School, has witnessed a change in his school over the past 10 years. The introduction of the Bronze Award followed by the Certificate of Personal Effectiveness has made a difference. Here he explains the impact these courses have had on his students and the school’s outcomes.

Bishopston Comprehensive School is an 11 to 16 mixed comprehensive school situated towards the west of Swansea. There are 1,096 pupils on roll; with a significant number of preferred placements from many other parts of the wider Swansea area.

In 2004, the school had a Level 2 threshold (5 or more A*-C) of 88.6% and a Level 2 threshold including English or Maths of 78.2%, I felt that there was still a gulf in our curriculum, which did not meet the needs of approximately 10-20 pupils in each year who were less suited to GCSEs. These young people preferred a more holistic learning style that took them out of a classroom environment and recognised their individual abilities.

Therefore, I explored all the available courses and came across ASDAN’s Bronze Award, which met the needs of pupils and helped maintain motivation and prevent disaffection. After teaching the Bronze Award for two years, I introduced the Certificate of Personal Effectiveness (CoPE), which has become an inherent part of the curriculum.

Seven years on and I have since developed other courses to dovetail into the main CoPE qualification, giving students up to five GCSE equivalents, as well as allowing their own individual talents to be developed and enhanced.

The other qualifications include Construction and Hair and Beauty BTECs, which involve students attending a placement off-site for one afternoon a week in year 10 and two mornings a week in Year 11. Both of these qualifications are used to support pupils in Improving their Own Learning and in Module 6: Vocational Placement. The BTEC in Sport and Leisure enables students to demonstrate Problem Solving, as well as helping them develop their fitness and understanding of how their bodies work (Module 3).

We take every opportunity to build in careers education and develop employability skills. To support their vocational courses, students have attended practice interview days with local employers such as ASDA. Enterprise days have provided opportunities for teamwork, as students produced an environmentally friendly product with support from local employers. Work experience visits are also recorded in portfolios.

Students are taken on day trips to develop their confidence and self-esteem and challenges have been tailored to represent real-life situations. For Working with Others, we focused on The Environment (Module 5), landscaping the grounds of the old caretaker’s house. Pupils worked with a local charity to transform the area and it is now used by the school’s environmental committee.

CoPE has enabled students to develop their own strengths through an individualised programme that meets their needs. Their self-esteem and confidence has increased immeasurably, helping to maintain motivation and prevent disaffection. And, on top of all this, pupils have gained meaningful qualifications to enable them to continue on their chosen path to further education or employment.