“The government has today lifted the restrictions that stopped state schools offering iGCSE qualifications in key subjects. It has also announced its intention to include iGCSE results in school performance tables as soon as possible.”
“The announcement means that state-funded schools will be free to teach from September a wide range of these respected and valued qualifications, putting them on a level playing field with independent schools who have offered them for some time.”
Department for Education press release
7 June 2010.
Four years later, the DfE appears to have changed its mind about “these respected and valued qualifications”. It’s been widely reported the Government has decided to drop them from league tables from 2017.
This unexpected U-turn has caused outrage
. Thousands of state secondary pupils have entered IGCSEs since the decision to include them in league tables was taken while the number taking GCSEs has dropped. Schools will be forced to switch back to GCSEs or abandon plans to introduce them to avoid entering pupils for the new untested Gove GCSEs.
Cambridge International Assessment
, owned by the same organisation which runs OCR exams, says “there is no educational justification whatsoever for denying schools the opportunity to use IGCSE…”
It is right. The ban on IGCSEs has more to do with stopping the flight to IGCSEs by schools wanting to access tried-and-tested qualifications rather than take their chances with Gove GCSEs.
Offering IGCSEs could be popular with parents worried their children will be disadvantaged by being guinea pigs for Gove GCSEs. If enough schools entered their pupils for IGCSEs then league tables would be meaningless in any case.
The only snag would be if the DfE said state schools could not use taxpayers’ money to enter students for IGCSEs. This, however, would cause more outrage as it would contradict the Government’s avowed policy of allowing schools more autonomy.
A zero score in league tables should not be seen as a deterrent – it could be viewed as a bold action by schools choosing a stable system rather than the hastily-introduced Gove GCSEs. Perhaps it’s time for schools to put the educational needs of their pupils before league table position and say “Stuff the league tables”.