As Government plans U-turn on IGCSEs, is it time for schools to say “Stuff league tables”?

Janet Downs's picture
“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”.
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

Be notified by email of each new post.


FJM's picture
Wed, 02/07/2014 - 20:01

I read this in yesterday's Telegraph and was bewildered. My school has been teaching IGCSE sciences for three years with no reservations. What the h*** is going on?

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 03/07/2014 - 15:45

FJM - one of the unions (I forget which) has urged teachers to lobby their MPs. Or your school could do as I suggest - say "Stuff the League Tables".

I think you once said you taught at a selective school. It wouldn't harm your reputation if your school decided not to bother with league table position.

You also said you were impressed with IGCSE Science. If that's the case there's no educational reason to drop it.

Be bold - say "Stuff the League Tables".

FJM's picture
Sat, 05/07/2014 - 13:59

I have sent an email to the DfE asking for clarification of what is being proposed. I was particularly irritated to see them referred to as iGCSEs rather than IGCSEs, showing that they don't even know what they really are. They aim to reply within 15 days. No hurry there, then.

Add new comment

Already a member? Click here to log in before you comment. Or register with us.