It's true I feel passionate about the education of our children; that's why I get angry when Toby Young spouts his ignorant nonsense...

Francis Gilbert's picture
 129
So it's late at night, I'm not feeling that well, and I'm asked by the BBC to comment on Michael Gove's proposals to return to O Levels with Toby Young. He and I do have 'history'; whenever he takes a chance, he has a pop at me. Furthermore, Gove's proposals about returning to O Levels do really worry me.

I felt drowned out by Toby's irrelevant drivel about England slipping down the world league tables; this -- this simply wasn't the topic for discussion and yet it was the only thing he was able to talk about -- and wanted to stress the point that returning to  O Levels will be a disaster if it happens. I am particularly concerned about right-wingers like Michael Gove and Toby holding up Singapore as a shining example of good practice when we all now that it is what one might politely call an "autocratic" state but, as I say on air, it could be more accurately described as a fascist one; dissenting voices are regularly silenced, and you can get jailed for very minor infringements of the law. The education system there clearly is there to prop up what is a corrupt regime; it may be very nice to visit as a tourist, but living there is clearly another matter entirely. Of course, if we had a fascist state here, we almost certainly would get better exam results than we currently do, but fortunately, we live in a democracy where you're allowed to air your views and express your emotions without the fear of being carted off by the secret police. Children here have to learn to negotiate and deal with the freedoms they have partly in school; we no longer can beat children or imprison them for minor misdemeanours. This is as it should be.

I still stand by the points I was making on the BBC news channel about O Levels being a totally inadequate exam and don't, at this point, feel that bad about my "robust" delivery. Some people liked it, others hated it; whatever you think, it makes for quite lively TV. But I notice that the right-wing are after me on this one; I've even got Guido Fawkes and the Toadmeister himself blogging about me! I made no personal remarks, I was just trying to stick to the argument; my tone, yes, was an angry one, but I feel passionate about this issue and feel that dissenting voices are being drowned out in the media. Especially, the voices of teachers. The relentless attack on our profession is utterly depressing and I feel totally demoralised by them; yes, I do feel angry, very angry at this miserable government's policies and all of its cheerleaders for relentlessly saying that we're rubbish. Can you give us a break?

I represent no organisation, I'm certainly no hired 'union' hand and certainly wouldn't describe myself as left wing; as Guido Fawkes says I once sent my child to a private school and I supported my local school becoming an academy. What worries me the most at the moment is the way we assess our children; GCSEs could be so much better and do need to be stripped down. Personally, I think teacher-assessment would be much better at 16; teachers are best placed to assess the whole child, not just the very narrow range of skills that GCSEs assess; O Levels, without the coursework element or the assessment of things like speaking and listening skills, are far, far narrower than our existing GCSEs. We need give the power to teachers to assess how our children are doing in all spheres: their problem-solving skills, their initiative, their ability to come up with new ideas, their creativity. This is best done within the context of the classroom and in a "non-threatening" atmosphere so that these assessments can be used to improve a child's skills. This is what the Finnish do, and have the top performing education system in the world as a consequence.



 
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Fiona Millar's picture
Fri, 22/06/2012 - 17:39

The problem for Tory sympathisers is that people feel very angry about many aspects of this government's behaviour and policies and the cronies clearly find that hard to take. THe easiest way for them to deflect it is by personal attacks, which should be ignored while the anger is harnessed to campaign vigorously against these bad ideas which now emerge from Whitehall on a daily basis.
Keep going Wonderfrancis!!

Fiona Millar's picture
Fri, 22/06/2012 - 17:43

I have never looked at Guido Fawkes before....and Gove worries about dumbing down in schools!! He should look in his own backyard more.

Melissa Benn's picture
Sun, 24/06/2012 - 11:57

Francis,

Your passion and frustration came across in the video - good on you!

And, and as you say, it is hard for others to realise how much unpleasant and highly personal goading there is of those of us who put a different view to the official one goes on - including on this website.

Raymond Dance's picture
Mon, 25/06/2012 - 10:05

Your tolerance does you credit. If this petulant child was on my team I'd lock him in the staffroom cupboard and throw away the key. What an embarrassment!

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sun, 24/06/2012 - 12:13

I've been receiving really disturbing personal messages from people who've been explaining that since this government came into power there has been an extreme culture whereby anyone who has even mildly criticised Michael Gove in a joking way has found that they have suddenly become unemployable and that their invoices for work already done have not been paid.

I was fired from my main source of income after I started to write in forums ways which were critical of this government without any explanation or appeal being allowed and I have been subject to campaigns of abuse with systematic lies about me being sent to organisations I am associated with. This is reality. It's what's going on. Anyone who stands up to talk about the reality of education is going to find it really hard. This is why so few people are doing it. Most teachers have bills to pay and relationships with students and school communities they don't want threatened.

Melissa the level of goading on this website is tiny as there are plenty of independent minded people here who post in ways which balance views. Nobody who feels that much unpleasant and highly personal goading goes on in this forum should be attempting to take on Toby Young in a TV interview as they are clearly not ready for it. If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen. My personal hope is that Francis will learn from this experience and ensure that he is better prepared with his facts about education for future interviews and sticks to them rather than veering off in totally inappropriate political directions. This forum is an excellent place for him and others to gather facts and become better informed rapidly before interviews to supplement their wider research and preparation for television interviews.

Paul Smith's picture
Fri, 22/06/2012 - 17:42

Toby Young is a disgrace to his good father's memory.

I lived in Singapore. Put it this way. Given Toby Young's self confessed history with drink and drug abuse Singapore would consider him an undesirable and wouldn't want him entering the country. They would certainly not let this degenerate lead a school. He is a laughing stock and a shameful symbol of what the party he supports has done to your fine country. In Singapore he might even be shot!

Paul's picture
Sun, 24/06/2012 - 10:06

Hugely depressing that 6 people "like" such a pathetic irrelevant comment.

Allan Beavis's picture
Fri, 22/06/2012 - 18:04

Well done Francis. You have passion and concern for generations of young children whose lives are being ruined by a government which Toby Young supports and from which he has personally benefited. I think the anger you demonstrated in front of a court jester is one that many more people will share. Supporters of the Tories' increasingly unsupportable policies - education, health, financial, social - have no depth to their arguments so roll up with the single arsenal of bear baiting. Toby Young is the embodiment of the moral and spiritual void of the present Tory party.

Keep up the good work Francis.

Allan Beavis's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 07:45

Real people?! You are about as real or the same as Pascal Sanbouclier or Tim Bidie. And I don't think a selectively quoted cut and paste from the Economist represents "real people".

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Fri, 22/06/2012 - 20:10

Francis Finland outstrips Singapore in PISA results:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_for_International_Student_Assessment

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Fri, 22/06/2012 - 21:39

Here's one of the word democracy ranking systems:
http://www.worldaudit.org/democracy.htm

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 17:34

Some other key insights,

Singapore does achieve excellent results in maths, because students are taught to base their maths on fundamental structures and axioms rather than being taught to memorise disconnected methods and facts. More info here: http://mathseducationandallthat.blogspot.co.uk/2011_05_01_archive.html

Finland tops the PISA tables across everything because it focuses on developing children as learners rather than on teaching them disconnected facts.

This government published a draft primary curriculum last week which demands precisely the opposite of what is done in both Singapore and Finland and insists on children learning facts rather than connected structures despite all advice to the contrary both from UK and international experts and all the research.

The main argument against Gove's return to O-levels proposal is that there is no desire for it from anyone associated with education. It's just more massive and expensive change for no coherent reason. The problem is not so much the proposal as the ongoing way in which Michael Gove is failing to create any link between education policy and reality.


If you're going to take the topic on again Francis please make sure you're fluent in these facts. Don't go off into attacking another state, it doesn't help.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Fri, 22/06/2012 - 21:31

Francis

I must say I was utterly shocked by that video. You argued that teachers should perform assessments at 16. But having seen that performance, in which you exhibit a total lack of self-control, how could I as a parent possibly trust you to conduct a fair assessment of my child?

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Fri, 22/06/2012 - 21:41

Ricky if you want to criticise him engage with the issue. It's not hard. Look for example at my comments above.

Don't use his lack of experience in handing the pressure of this kind of TV interview to attack his skills in unrelated areas. When you use ad hominem abuse you let yourself down.

Paul's picture
Sun, 24/06/2012 - 10:04

Hello Pot , meet Mr Kettle.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sun, 24/06/2012 - 11:03

Paul - just 'cause Ricky's at it is not an invitation for you to join in.

Paul's picture
Sun, 24/06/2012 - 15:21

I don't agree with Rick

Francis Gilbert is usually measured and intelligent - and passionate. I don't agree with everything he says, but I respect him.

However, some people are deluded and idiotic, and I neither agree with them nor respect them.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Fri, 22/06/2012 - 22:01

Rebecca

I think the video is sufficient proof that there's no point debating the issues with Francis. Besides, I'm not yet certain what I think about this issue or quite where I'd come down on some aspects.

However, I'm sure that I find it appalling to see a teacher behave like that and I would worry if my child might have to be alone with a person who behaved like that at school.

If any other public employee in a position of trust - a civil servant, a judge, a member of the armed forces etc were to behave like that on national TV, they'd probably be disciplined for bringing their organization or profession into disrepute.

Paul Smith's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 06:56

But you are happy, are you, to let your children be led by a chair of governors of WLFS who referred to the Milly Dowler case as "that murdered schoolgirl thing"? Toby Young keeps his status as a D List celebrity and Z list political pundit by scribbling ignorant nonsense for The Sun on Sunday. Whilst anyone with a choice or principles is giving Murdoch a wide berth, here is Toby Young profiting from years having had his tongue firmly up Murdoch's arse.

Personally, I think Francis has articulated the anger a lot of people feel about Gove and how his dangerous policies allow a selfish and divisive oaf like Young to run a school. He is unfit to do so.

If The Sun and the Daily Mail were not as complicit as Young, they would have urged their readers not to let their children near a man who mocks Milly Dowler's murder and spent years stuffing cocaine up his nose then bragging about it. I'd trust any child with Gilbert before Young.

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 12:42

Rick - I would worry if my child were in a school where a high-profile governor repeats statistics known to be faulty or incorrect. It shows a cavalier attitude towards truth. How would this person advise children who were to enter a debate - would he tell them to be scrupulously honest or would he suggest they misrepresent and, if that fails, make personal attacks on their opponent?

No doubt the children look up to their governor as a role model. This carries a heavy responsibility. So I would worry that my child would start emulating this behaviour.

Would I want my child to behave like that? The answer is, no.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 17:22

I'm a teacher Ricky - so when I see people failing to achieve the standards they would like to achieve with a new task I look to see how they will go on to do themselves and the task they have chosen justice soon.

I understand you are not a teacher and that you prefer to denigrate people, but this does you no credit on an education forum.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Mon, 25/06/2012 - 08:32

I lecture in education and I tutor children at the minute.

Raymond Dance's picture
Mon, 25/06/2012 - 10:08

"having had his tongue firmly up Murdoch’s arse."

My God, I hope you're not a teacher!

Paul's picture
Mon, 25/06/2012 - 09:41

So, like Ricky, of whom you say "I understand you are not a teacher" you actually aren't one either then ?

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 08:41

I'm very disappointed in Toby Young. He keeps repeating the same argument about UK "plummeting down league tables" since 2000 when he knows that OECD found that the PISA 2000 figures used to underpin this argument are faulty and has warned that they should not be used for comparison.

How do we know Toby knows the figures are false? Because he reads this website and once commented that he knew if he repeated those figures here then I would jump down his throat (which I would).

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 08:43

In the Sky interview below Toby Young argues with Michael Rosen about 'O' levels and again trots out the discredited 2000 PISA figures. He also says that the 2009 PISA figures showed that UK was behind countries such as Estonia, Poland and Latvia. Again, Toby is wrong. Latvia was below UK and was also below the OECD average in Reading, Maths and Science. UK, on the other hand, was at the OECD average in Reading and Maths, and ABOVE AVERAGE in Science. Apologies for shouting but the accurate figures need repeating if they are to be heard above loud voices that misrepresent the data and, of course, forget the 2007 Trends in Maths and Science Survey which showed English pupils at the top of the European League in Maths and Science at ages 10 and 14.

http://news.sky.com/home/politics/article/16250644

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 08:45

Toby also said in the Sky interview that 75% of Singapore children gain '0' level passes. It's unclear whether that is 75% of ALL Singapore children or 75% of those entered for 'O' level. There is another exam in Singapore - the 'N' level which covers technical subjects. What proportion of Singapore 16 year-olds enter 'N' level and 'O' level? Perhaps Toby can let us know with links to the evidence.

Further information about international tests and the exam systems in high-performing countries is in Frequently Asked Questions above (with links to evidence). You will see that only Singapore retains the 'O'/'A' level system - even Hong Kong has abandoned them this year and replaced them with a single graduation exam.

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 09:46

I'm replying to myself here, but it might help Toby with his research into whether the percentage 'O' level pass rate for Singapore means the percentage of all 16 year-olds or the percentage of 'O' level candidates.

A press release from the Ministry of Education, Singapore, says that in 2011 81% of 35,955 'O' level candidates gained 5 or more GCE 'O' level passes. GCE is not like GCSE, an 'O' level pass = GCSE grade C. Anything less, and the 'O' level candidate fails. In GCSE any candidate gaining below a C can still be awarded a grade D-G. It costs money to enter candidates for examinations therefore it is unlikely that Singapore schools would spend money entering candidates for 'O' level that had little chance of passing. It follows, then, that the 'O' level candidates in Singapore would be only those pupils who were thought capable of passing. A high success rate, therefore, would be expected.

'O' level candidates in Singapore are likely to be those who had been selected for the Normal Academic Stream at the end of primary school. Pupils not selected for the Academic Stream are placed in the N stream.

http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/press/2012/01/results-of-the-2011-gce-o-leve...

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 11:26

Janet

It’s unclear whether that is 75% of ALL Singapore children or 75% of those entered for ‘O’ level.

A total of 36,955 school candidates sat the 2011 GCE O-Level Examination and 36,904 or 99.9% have been awarded certificates.

http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/press/2012/01/results-of-the-2011-gce-o-leve...

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 11:51

Ricky - that doesn't answer the question. 99.9% of the CANDIDATES passed one or more '0' levels, 95.3% gained three or more and 81% (as I said in my 9.46 am post) gained 5 or more GCE 'O' level passes.

However, the number of CANDIDATES is not the same as the total number of 16 year-olds in the 2011 cohort. My question to Toby was: what would the percentage pass rate be if it was calculated as a proportion of the total cohort many of which would not have taken 'O' level.

In the UK the majority of pupils take GCSE - these are pupils of all abilities not just those deemed capable of passing C or above. In Singapore, only those pupils deemed capable of taking 'O' level would be entered - to enter pupils who had little or no chance of passing (ie gaining a C grade) would be wasting the entrance fee.

In England 2011 58.2% achieved 5 or more GCSEs C or above including Maths and English. That seems low when compared with Singapore but it's important to remember that that 58.2% is the proportion of all GCSE candidates (which include those NOT deemed capable of achieving C) ie the whole ability range. The Singapore percentage was based on those deemed capable of achieving a C - ie the high achievers only.

The only meaningful comparison would be to compare the Singapore percentage pass rate at 'O' level with the percentage of English high achievers who gained 5+ GCSEs including Maths and English. For that we'd need to know the number of GCSE candidates who were deemed capable of achieving a C grade.

http://www.education.gov.uk/cgi-bin/rsgateway/search.pl?keyw=066&q2=Search

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 12:06

Janet

I think you will find I have answered your point lower down.

Of the latest batch of primary leavers, around 70% went straight onto the O-level track. At some later date they will be joined by the best of the normals.

75% of the birth-year cohort would be in the ballpark.

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 10:07

Toby - 'O' and 'N' level exams in Singapore have been reformed to give more emphasis on speaking, listening and that subject, much-maligned in some quarters, media literacy.

http://www.todayonline.com/Singapore/EDC120419-0000083/MOE-revises-Engli...

Singapore's secondary education is described below. There's also an Express Stream leading direct to 'O' level as well as Normal (Academic) and (Normal) Technical (both these leading to 'N' level exams and then if the pupil has done well enough to 'O' level). So my comment above needs amending: 'O' level candidates in Singapore are those from the Express Stream (chosen at the end of primary) and those from the Normal Academic Stream and Normal Technical Stream who scored sufficiently highly in the 'N' level exams which are taken at the end of 4 years (but not by Express Stream students).

So, this confirms my contention that only Singapore high achievers are entered for 'O' level hence the high pass rate.

http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/secondary/courses/

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 10:34

Toby (other readers can stop reading if they're rather fed up with reading about Singapore, but I want to give Toby as much help as possible to solve the problem about whether the figure he quotes is the % pass rate at 'O' level for candidates only or the pass rate for the entire cohort of 16 year-olds. It's important because he's using this pass rate to "prove" that 'O' levels are better than GCSE.).

In 2011, 12,244 Singapore Normal Academic stream pupils took Normal Academic exams. 5,675 Singapore Normal Technical stream pupils took Normal Technical exams. Pass rates were 99.6% and 98.2% respectively. These exams are taken after 4 years of secondary school.

Of the above, 8,895 were deemed eligible for promotion to Secondary Year 5 (Normal Academic stream).

In 2011, 4,224 Normal Academic students took 'O' level (presumably these are included in the numbers I gave at 9.46 am).

But there's a further problem - how many NA or NT students didn't enter any exams? Would this lower Toby's % pass rate if non-exam takers were included?

I don't know - it's over to Toby now. And please show calculations.

http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/press/2011/12/results-of-the-2011-gce-n-leve...

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 11:42

Janet

I think you might be surprised at the relative sizes of the Express and Normal cohorts.


A total of 45,261 Primary 6 pupils sat for the PSLE this year. Among these pupils, 44,106 pupils (or 97.4%) are assessed as suitable to proceed to secondary school. In terms of course eligibility, 62.9% are eligible for the Express course, 23.1% for the Normal (Academic) and 11.4% for the Normal (Technical) course.

http://app.singaporeedu.gov.sg/asp/common/extlink.asp?url=http://www.moe...

This shows that around 70% go straight into the O-level stream, which is later added to by stronger performers from the Normal cohorts.

It looks to me that Toby Young was, therefore, right to say 75% or thereabouts of ALL Singapore pupils take O-levels and you lot owe him an apology.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 12:17

...sorry.... I see I have twice said around 70%, when the figure is nearer 63%.

The actual numbers sitting the exam are in my first link and a typical cohort size is in my second. Haven't got time to work out the actual percentage right now..... but may get back to it later. If you want to do the maths:

A total of 36,955 school candidates sat the 2011 GCE O-Level Examination .

A birth year cohort looks to be around 45k.

Looks to me MORE than 75%.

There's also a track called 'special' , but I haven't yet found figures for that.

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 12:30

Ricky - Toby Young might indeed be right but there is too much doubt around these figures to say that categorically. Unfortunately, Toby has a habit of trotting out dodgy data which has been refuted on this site before.

An added complication is that the number of pupils taking 'O' level in Singapore (about 37,000) is very small when compared with the number taking GCSE in England (650,000). Are we comparing like with like? How similar is Singapore to England? Is a comparison between Singapore and England as meaningless as, say, a comparison between an advantaged and disadvantaged area? I don't know the answer to this.

In any case, Singapore, although a high-achiever in the PISA tables, was still beaten by Shanghai, Finland, Korea and Hong Kong. See FAQs above for details of their exam systems. The Singapore figures were used by Toby Young to underpin his support for 'O' levels, yet the four jurisdications that came higher than Singapore in the PISA tables do not use a system similar to 'O' levels.

Finally, I write for myself, Ricky, so to make remarks about "you lot" is presumptuous.

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 12:33

Ricky - it's nice to see your doing some research rather than falling back on trotting out tabloid prejudices. However, see my 12.30 pm post - it will save you some time.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Sun, 24/06/2012 - 09:05

Janet

I appreciate that you are writing for yourself, but I think you also recognize that on this thread there has been a degree of ganging-up on Toby Young to accuse him of being misleading.

Much of this has focused on scorning his assertion that three-quarters of Singapore students pass O-levels.

Without quibbling over minor details, the evidence seems broadly to vindicate what young says. I suspect that you (...like me) assumed that the 'Normal' track in Singapore would be the largest and the 'Express' would be the equivalent of our Higher Achievers (leaving primary with level 5 scores).

It turns out that the Express is by far the largest track. It also turns out that around 37,000 pupils take O-levels each year in Singapore and that each birth-year cohort is around 45,000.

We should all at least acknowledge that Toby Young was not being 'misleading'.

How similar is Singapore to England?

Well, unlike Finland, Korea and China, Singapore teaches in the English language and uses a UK-based examining board. Singapore has a higher GDP per capita than the UK as a whole, but would probably be quite close to, say, London and the South East.

I think you're rather clutching at straws here to avoid acknowledging that Toby was right after all. And also to avoid facing up to the implication of what he says: that Francis and others suggest that O-levels are an 'élite' qualification suited only to a minority of students.
Actually, this need not be the case. They could be designed to suit more than two thirds of the student population - that would encompass all who are on the academic track to university - and then some.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sun, 24/06/2012 - 09:12

I don't think there's any ganging up at all Ricky. Here we have a small handful of people exploring there individual concerns about Young. Paul Smith's effort is particularly good.

If you want to see ganging up in action on a forum, trying going on another education forum where you can see what happens when gangs of people text round each other to aggressively discredit a participant by posting in a particular way. Of course on a good day they only post benign spam to make it impossible to contributors to make points.

There is no ganging up on anyone going on on this site Ricky and I wouldn't bother stepping in to try and defend Toby if I were you. He clearly loves negative attention.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Sun, 24/06/2012 - 09:20

Rebecca


The point is he was right.

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 10:38

Francis - sorry to have hijacked this thread by talking about Singapore but Toby was so adamant about the figures that I felt I had to follow it up. As far as your TV interview was concerned - I'd rather see some honest passion than misrepresentation.

A guest says's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 15:38

On Newsnight Toby advocated that everybody should do iGCSEs as these were more rigorous. Do you know Janet whether any proper academic study has been done to compare IGCSEs with GCSEs?

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 17:12

Ofqual compared GCSE and iGCSE in English, Maths, French and Science (double award) in 2006, so it's out-of-date now. This is what Ofqual reported at the time:

"In all four subjects there were major differences between the IGCSEs and the GCSE
examinations in the same subject. In almost every case, these differences meant that the IGCSE examinations did not meet the GCSE subject criteria in significant ways. The GCSE criteria are tightly bound up with key stage 4 programmes of study in England Hence, where those differences were found to occur, the IGCSE cannot be regarded as assessing the relevant programme of study to the extent that the GCSE does. This probably reflects the different contexts in which the IGCSEs were developed."

"In all four subjects there were also marked differences between the two IGCSE
syllabuses. These were usually as large as – or larger than – the differences between the IGCSEs and the comparator GCSEs. This means it is not possible to come to any general conclusion about the utility of IGCSE in England as an alternative to GCSE in a given subject; rather, each time, one would have to consider both syllabuses."

"There were differences between the GCSEs, but these tended to be minor."

http://www.ofqual.gov.uk/files/qca-06-2974_gcse_igcse_compared.pdf

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 17:15

iGCSE is perceived as being more "challenging". However, this 2010 TES article suggests that they might not be. In any case, it's probably about time GCSE was scrapped and pupils graduated at 18 with a Graduation Diploma as they do in most of the world's highest performing countries (see new thread).

http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6055169

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 17:29

The University of Cambridge International Examinations made the following points about iGCSE in 2007:

1iGCSEs were developed for international use because GCSE was perceived as unsuitable for international schools because of its “anglo-centricity”.
2iGCSE and GCSE have equivalent academic demands or “standards” although they are significantly different in syllabus content and schemes of assessment.
3Coursework was optional in iGCSE because it would have been difficult for international centres to offer coursework. In GCSE coursework was compulsory in most subjects at the time.
4“Grade for grade” they are aligned to UK GCSE standards.

http://www.cie.org.uk/docs/recognition/Recognition%20and%20Equivalency%2...

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 17:39

In maths iGCSEs are not more rigorous. They have less of a language component. This means that there are less questions which are 'in contexts'. Some private schools have chosen to do it because they did not want to bother to prepare their students for there being more questions in contexts as there now on the main GCSE.

This doesn't make it a better exam. It just makes it easier to access for students with very weak English.

A guest says's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 17:49

Actually up to today that is the only article I had ever seen but have just found this on the internet which seems to suggest that one of the exam boards who deliver IGCSEs does not believe that there is any difference in difficulty.


http://ask.cie.org.uk/system/selfservice.controller?CONFIGURATION=1035&P...

Paul's picture
Sun, 24/06/2012 - 15:25

This is the same OfQual that claimed that exams were as rigourous as they ever were .... repeatedly ..... presumably ?

Paul's picture
Mon, 25/06/2012 - 09:45

I think the mistake is assuming the problems of GCSEs can be fixed by changing it to a Diploma, O/CSE, some new tripartite system, or anything else. It's a consequence of countless other problems.

Rosie Fergusson's picture
Sat, 23/06/2012 - 20:31

Surely if Mr Gove is so desperate to prove that his own children are so much cleverer than anyone elses then all he has to do is create A***,A****,A******,A****** GCSE grades.

His proposal to prevent any english literature texts being taken into O=levels is ridiculously half-baked ...I sat my o-levels in 1984 and we took our texts in .

Still I have to say , after the expose on the exam boards admitting they make their curriculums easy to get the exam contract then I'm on his side to prevent competition amongst exam boards. Any thoughts on that ?

After teacher strikes, head teacher strikes and Unison strikes it seems it's now appropraite to have a an nati-o-levle parents strike.....round about ofsted inspections would seem best.

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