Bedales Assessed Courses (BAC)

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Year 10 and Year 11 students at Bedales School.


BACs are courses offered in place of (I)GCSE examinations at Bedales School. Courses are internally assessed, but externally moderated and quality assured by acknowledged experts in the design and delivery of curricula in their subject area.

Education context

As part of the curriculum at Bedales, students must study five compulsory GCSE/IGCSE subjects: GCSE in a modern language, plus IGCSEs in English language, mathematics, and science (double or triple award). Students then choose from a considerable range of BACs and other GCSEs or externally examined subjects. View the information on the structure of the year 9-11 curriculum: 

The BACs are an established part of life at Bedales. Good preparation for A level and development of independent learning skills are common aims, and BACs are tailored with the first school objective in mind: ‘to develop inquisitive thinkers with a love of independent learning’.

Awarding providers
  • Bedales Schools

BACs are awarded by the school. Authority for the award rests with the Headmaster, who delegates oversight to the Deputy Head Academic, and other teaching staff where appropriate.

BACs are five-term courses begun at beginning of NC Y10, with teaching completed by Easter break in NC Y11, and results available at the same time as (I)GCSEs in August of NC Y11.

Each BAC is structured in a different way, with a variety of forms of assessment, weightings, and objectives. History is assessed by a mixture of formal examinations and coursework, Y10 is worth 40%, and Y11 is worth 60%. Each half term coursework unit in geography is worth 10%, with the final assessment acting as a synoptic paper. Further information on BAC coverage is available on the school website.

Individual subject BACs’ content and assessment can also be found on the departmental pages of the school website.

Subject areas

BACs are awarded in the following subjects:

  • Ancient civilisations
  • Art
  • Classical music
  • Dance
  • Design
  • English literature
  • Geography
  • Global awareness
  • History
  • Outdoor work
  • Philosophy, religion and ethics
  • Theatre arts

All BACs are intended to be comparable in challenge to the IGCSE qualification in that subject (or analogous subjects in the case of global awareness and outdoor work).


BACs are graded according to their own assessment criteria, but follow the Pearson (I)GCSE convention in England of awarding A* – E grades, and from 2018, 9 – 1 grades. The level of attainment indicated by these is intended to be as difficult to attain as the corresponding (I)GCSE grade. The flexibility, structure, and assessment of the course is intended to ensure students are prepared for the independence of mind and intellectual depth required for A level and beyond.


The methods of assessment in the Bedales courses vary according to the subject. Some, like history and geography, incorporate formal synoptic exams; philosophy, religion, and ethics students spend a whole term developing an extended dissertation. Design is assessed by four large-scale projects, English by the best five out of eight essays, and art students must present a final exhibition along with a portfolio of preparatory work. The newest course, global awareness, assesses students’ performance in a collaborative project in the second year of the course.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

Dependent on the subject in question, all subjects incorporate a mixture of continuous, formative, and summative assessment.

Resit arrangements

No resits are available to students. In cases of student illness and absence during assessments, the school follows JCQ’s regulations for accredited qualifications.

Programme size

Students receive 140 hours of teaching for each BAC subject.

Key issues for UK HE admissions

Students from Bedales will have taken BACs in some subjects instead of (I)GCSEs.

These are not accredited qualifications but are intended to be comparable in content, assessment, and grading to (I)GCSEs.

Timing of assessments and results

All BACs are completed by the end of the Easter term of NC Y11, and the results are published alongside (I)GCSE results in late August of each academic year.

Qualification dates notes

This qualification is current.

Certification information

Certificates issued by the school. Exact numbers are dependent on size of year cohort and exact number of BACs taken. 270 - 360 qualifications awarded annually in August.

Progression information

Students who have been awarded BACs are prepared to study any of the wide range of 16-18 courses available in UK and around the world, and have been enabled to go on to make competitive applications to a considerable range of providers of higher education.

Further information

All student work, formative and summative, is internally moderated on a regular basis by the academic departments that teach the courses. All student coursework and examinations are moderated and endorsed by external experts from, for example, the Education Department at Cambridge University for the course in Philosophy, religion and ethics, Winchester School of Art for the art course, or by a senior figure from the Geographical Association for geography.