Schools boost their English grades thanks to ‘easier’ IGCSE

The Times is reporting that GCSE results for English this week are expected to show a rise after what it calls a “surge in weaker students” being entered for the IGCSE version of the exam.

The paper claims entries for the English IGCSE increased by about two-thirds and suggests the subsequent drop in pass rates (reported last week) was down to schools entering weaker students into the exam because they are seen as easier to pass.

The paper goes on to suggest we will see a subsequent “reverse effect” for English GCSEs this week as the smaller group of students left sitting these exams is consequently likely to contain a higher proportion of brighter candidates. 

Malcolm Trobe of the ASCL is quoted:

“We have noticed a significant increase in the number of people being entered for the IGCSE. This will mean there will be fewer students entered for the home GCSE English exams.

“As the distribution of grades in IGCSE are more towards the middle grades with a reduction in the high grades, reflecting the candidature, it may well be that we see the opposite happen with the home GCSEs.” 

More at: Schools boost their English grades thanks to easier IGCSE (subscription may be required)


Do you buy the theory put forward by the Times here that schools have been entering weaker candidates for the IGCSE in English?

Are you also therefore expecting to see a rise in English GCSE grades in Thursday because the remaining students taking them are disproportionately towards the higher and lower extremes?

Please share your insights in the comments or via Twitter…


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  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Schools are forced into gaming the system by DfE & Ofsted’s complete reliance on data, so if true what’s the problem?

  2. irvingphil

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove GCSE has been an unreliable indicator since 2011. IGCSE now arguably a better measure of student ability.

  3. andylutwyche

    irvingphil SchoolsImprove I’ve only seen maths iGCSE papers which have some “tougher” concepts but heard many say English is too easy

  4. BarryConker

    SchoolsImprove perhaps schools feel the igcse reflects students’ English skills better as it includes oral English skills. These are vital

  5. DrDD Independent schools have been using IGCSEs for years on the grounds they were more challenging and rigorous.  Now it is alleged they are ‘easier’.   Could it be they are neither harder or easier?
    The Tories’ last Manifesto but one said it would create a level playing field between state and private schools by allowing the former to enter pupils for IGCSEs and count them in league tables.  Now the Government’s changed its mind – they won’t count.  This is probably because schools would desert GoveGCSEs and move to IGCSEs but with league table position threatened they’re less likely to do so.

  6. Nor_edu SchoolsImprove Yes.  It’s a farce.

  7. irvingphil

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove it will be easier; it’s English that they upped the thresholds for in 2011 while “maintaining consistency”

  8. JaninLincoln

    SchoolsImprove RealGingerella Not about IGCSE being ‘easier’. It’s about it ( supposedly) retaining consistency & reliability. Now unsure.

  9. RealGingerella

    JaninLincoln SchoolsImprove and schools were so fed up of the gaming. We moved because we thought we were safe with them!!!!!

  10. RealGingerella

    JaninLincoln SchoolsImprove and anybody who has examined and moderated for a range of boards KNOW there’s gaming!

  11. Dai_James1942

    SchoolsImprove Both GCSE and IGCSE are a travesty of the criterion referenced prototype of GCSE which was sold to the public in mid 1980s

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