‘The “easy” IGCSE argument is really about much bigger issues’

According to TES, With Parliament in recess over the Christmas period, Labour MP Lucy Powell used the respite from the Brexit chaos to intensify the ongoing controversy surrounding the use of International GCSE exams (IGCSEs) in private schools.

Data released in response to Powell’s parliamentary question has shown that 91 per cent of those who take the supposedly “easier” IGCSEs are privately educated, whereas the government’s allegedly more “rigorous” GCSEs, introduced under the premiership of Michael Gove, are now obligatory for students in the state sector.

Labour is, therefore, arguing that the “easier” IGCSE exams are giving privately educated students an additional unfair advantage, particularly when it comes to university admissions. This is also following a Tes report last year that revealed that universities were asking for lower grade requirements for the IGCSEs than the GCSEs taken in state schools.

For the “rigour” advocates, the current GCSE assessments make total sense. For them, the purpose of education is to give a select few “hard-working” or “gifted” students an escape route out of poverty through a diet of regurgitated canonical knowledge, in order that working-class students can compete with their more wealthy peers.

Labour, therefore, needs to be proposing something far more ambitious. The young people we teach need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to tackle some of the greatest collective challenges we face in the 21st century, including rising inequality, devastating climate change and the threat of automation.

Read more here: ‘The “easy” IGCSE argument is really about much bigger issues’

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Emma

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Categories: Exams, Free Schools, Private Schools and Secondary.


  1. Anonymous

    The new GCSE regime is more rigorous than the previous regime and than the iGCSE. It has also introduced the ‘strong’ pass as the benchmark qualification. The iGCSE still functions with the C grade as the passing grade. State schools are held to account to a higher standard than the independent schools.

    Your point about ‘the select few’ does not apply solely to those disadvantaged pupils, but to all pupils in the state sector and in effect this is to ration access to A Level and University courses.

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