Is there any logic for private schools to play silly games on GCSEs v IGCSEs?
Recent articles have been published in various newspapers, including The Mail, Sunday Times and the Telegraph, alleging that public schools (the top fee-paying independent schools), are gaming the system by entering their students for IGCSEs instead of the new supposedly harder GCSEs.
For most independent schools – especially the high performing ones, it does not make sense to say that they have stuck to IGCSEs to avoid the new, supposedly tougher GCSEs. There are a few reasons, including the following:
- Before the new GCSE was introduced, many independent schools were taking the IGCSE when it was perceived to be more challenging than GCSEs
- Encouraging an easier pre sixth-form qualification is not a good preparation for A-level, IB or Pre-U
- With all the hullabaloo surrounding the new 9-1, grade, why should anyone with a choice abandon what they’ve been doing successfully and get into the choppy waters of the new GCSE at such a turbulent time?
There are dreadful private schools out there, where I would never dream of sending my child, even if you paid me to do so! At the same time, there are brilliant state schools out there, where bright young people shine against all odds. As a parent, you may, perhaps, have won a mini lottery of life if you’ve managed to get your child into one of the handful of good state schools that exist. Sadly, the vast majority of state schools are not what I’d describe as fit for purpose, despite tremendous effort by excellent teachers who do their best day in and day out.
I suspect the reason why some are accusing independent schools of going for the easier option could be one of self-gratification, ideological principles and the resentment felt by many against independent schools. We have to remember that not everyone with a child in a private school is a millionaire. It would be nice to live in a world where we all recognise the strengths and weaknesses of others, learn any lessons we can from them and celebrate success irrespective of to which camp they belong
Personally, I welcome the introduction of the new, tougher GCSE as it can only improve standards. The fact that options exist in being able to choose which type of academic qualifications to go for is both a curse and a blessing at the same time. When an institution decides to go for one of the two options between the IGCSE and the GCSE, the motivation behind that decision could be either to play safe at a time of turbulent changes or to try and gain an unfair advantage.
As for the latter, it is not in the medium or long-term interest of any school to get its students to do easier examinations, as it is hardly the best preparation for the more challenging A-level and its equivalent of IB or Cambridge Pre-U that the students will do two years down the line. There are two reasons for this: it will make the A-level look harder for the students and it is not a test of whether they have what it takes to do the A-level.