What is the Pre-Senior Baccalaureate?
The Pre-Senior Baccalaureate (PSB) is part of the Learning Skills Trust (LST) which operates 2 frameworks of study. The PSB is designed for Years 2–8 and the Skills Development Framework (SDF) for Years 9–11. The frameworks focus on the active development and assessment of 6 core skills: Communication, Collaboration, Leadership, Independence, Reviewing and Improving and Thinking and Learning. Member schools promote the core skills across all areas of school life, and provide guidance for pupils in progressing these skills, which are seen as essential for developing capable and balanced adults, able to make the most of the opportunities of a fast-changing world. A strong but appropriate knowledge base complements this, with the use of focused tutoring, pastoral care and Well Being programmes.
Schools do not work to a prescribed curriculum and the emphasis is upon promoting an independent approach which works for each individual school. There are subject INSET days for LST school staff annually, supported by specialist colleagues, to ensure that work done in LST schools complements the demands of education at higher levels.
The development of skills is recognised as essential by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI), and recent ISI reports on PSB schools highlight the excellent contribution the PSB has in schools achieving excellence.
The PSB has a 10-point scale for all subjects studied with a compulsory spine covering: English, Maths, Science, Modern Languages, The Humanities, Art, Design Technology, Music, Sport and PE with each pupil additionally completing a cross curricular project – The Pre-Senior Project Qualification. Optional subjects are agreed with schools, but these must be supported by a scheme of work clearly identifying appropriate core skills which are assessed on a narrative scale. The 10-point scale cross references both ISEB and National Curriculum assessment levels. Pupils moving on to senior school do so via individual senior school pre-testing arrangements, the award of the PSB certificate, core ISEB papers or a combination of the above.
The SDF is a commitment to enable students across 3 years to experience authentic interdisciplinary experiences through extended project work. Schools have freedom to work within the framework and adapt it to their specific setting and existing programmes can be adapted to the SDF. The assessment of core skills is across all aspects of school life and not focused on academic subjects, which have their own particular demands. Time is given for students to reflect on the development of core skills, progression academically and contributions more widely to school life. A particular emphasis is given to the successful transition to independent study and away from closed learning tasks assessed on knowledge retention rather than student reflection.
All schools join as Partner Members and progress to full membership following an audit.
Affiliated membership is for schools that have developed their own skills-based approach, in line with LST principles; staff can participate in training opportunities and the Heads of Affiliated Schools join committee meetings as guests.
Membership of the above categories is dependent upon strong ISI reports, the development of a skills-based curriculum, with skills clearly identified in schemes of work, and excellent teaching.
Foundation membership is for organisations that actively support the LST by providing funding which enables the charity to invest in research, IT, etc. They also provide staff for meetings and conferences and offer a valuable perspective on the operation of the charity.
The LST is an entirely independent charity overseen by a Board of Trustees who have expertise in both primary and secondary education. Details of the LST can be found on the website – psbacc.org – together with contact details for the Operations Manager who can provide further details on request.