Schoolzone blog: Farewell then, IGCSEs

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15 Jan 2015

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You shall not be missed, as it happens.

We at schoolzone were never quite sure what they were supposed be for. Not for want of asking schools why they used them - and indeed, why they didn't. The problem was that they obviously had a short shelf life, since coursework was always (well, in the last four or five years) on its way out and there didn't seem to be any point to them apart from to avoid having to set and mark and moderate this troublesome component of GCSEs.

One wag told us their school probably did them because SMT thought they were developed by Apple. As a qualification, I always thought they sounded rather existentialist.

Schools marketed IGCSEs as being more academic, largely because private schools tended to do them since it doesn't matter to them whether their results are included in performance tables and since their students mostly go on to A-level and university anyway, so their currency could be largely ignored too. In case you never looked at the content of them, they tended to look like O-level specifications - and if you never saw them, lucky you, youngster.

Anyway, IGCSEs haven't gone, exactly, but they won't be included in the new accountability measures and performance tables, so private schools could still use them. However, as qualification currency, they may as well just dig out an old GCSE syllabus and use that.

Perhaps I'm being a bit hard on IGCSEs, but as mentioned above, it's really difficult to see much point to them now. That's not to say that anything that isn't allowed in performance tables is worthless, but other qualifications find a place in schools to give something to pupils who wouldn't cope with GCSES and there are plenty of more valid options for the top end of performance.

Schools will all welcome simplification in the qualification system. By and large, less is more and if all children sit the same exams, it's a lot fairer (assuming you think that exams are fair at all). Many teachers welcome the (recently revisited) idea of having just one awarding body for each subject, for similar reasons.

So then a challenge: if you can clear up for us what the purpose of IGCSEs will be in future, please use the box.




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