IGCSEs would have encouraged ‘race to the bottom’, say ministers

Following yesterday’s news that iGCSEs are being  removed from league tables, the TES is reporting ministers claims that their inclusion would have encouraged a “race to the bottom”…

The Department for Education has announced that the qualifications will cease to be included in England’s performance measures as tougher reformed GCSEs come in from 2017.

Less than three years ago coalition ministers were actively encouraging state schools to move to IGCSE, a qualification traditionally favoured by the independent sector, as part of their campaign for greater “rigour”.

But a letter to exam boards from Nick Gibb, school reform minister, published today signals a complete about turn. He says he is “convinced” that allowing exam boards to develop IGCSEs, known officially as ‘level 1 / 2 certificates’, as alternatives to new GCSEs would “encourage a race to the bottom, with each board feeling obliged to produce less rigorous level 1 / 2 certificates rather than leaving the market to its competitors”.

“Such an eventuality would jeopardise the entire rationale for our GCSE reforms – namely to ensure that the exams that students take at 16 are high quality, rigorous and on a par with the best in the world,” the minister writes. “This is not an outcome I am prepared to risk or accept…”

More at: IGCSEs would have encouraged ‘race to the bottom’, say ministers

 

Please also see this response from Cambridge International: Cambridge International Examinations responds to DfE decision on performance tables

 

Here is the official DfE announcement: Qualifications included in performance tables

 

Your thoughts on the claims and counter-claims being made here? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…

 

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Comments

  1. Zolesha

    SchoolsImprove I am sick of the government messing around with the GCSES how does this impact on the children taking iGCSEs this year!!

  2. Zolesha

    SchoolsImprove I am sick of the government messing around with the GCSES how does this impact on the children taking iGCSEs this year!!

  3. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove What Nick Gibb is trying to say is: “ministers can’t control iGCSEs so we’ve banned them”. Many iGCSEs were/are very good

  4. PrincesBold

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove Independent schools major on iGCSE, Oxbridge and Russell are said to prefer! Nick Gibb, Numpty.

  5. andylutwyche

    PrincesBold SchoolsImprove Agreed! This is an exclusively political decision. Nothing to do with standards or rigour

  6. Janet2

    But including IGCSEs in league tables was a commitment in the Tory 2010 Manifesto to create a ‘level playing field’ between independent and state schools.

    So why the about-turn?  Simple – Gov’t afraid more state schools would opt for IGCSEs because these have been stable and not subject to ministerial interference.  If sufficient number of state schools didn’t appear in league tables, then they would be rendered meaningless.

  7. helenreesbidder

    SchoolsImprove : tes So why did this government urge schools to do them in 2010? This is political not about educational standards.

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