Friday, 3 August 2012

More IGCSEs are being studied in schools.

With great applause I post an article regarding the usage of IGCSEs in schools;

I hope (finally) teachers and the higher authorities are noting how poor the standard of some GCSEs are and the need for a more academic and pressing qualification like that of the IGCSE.

Ironically the GCSEs were only introduced as the Government believed children were failing the O levels because they were 'too hard'. Now these qualifications have been made bereft of any real prestige they are realising the great effect this has had on our society as a whole. Children are presenting themselves at University unable to spell simple words as 'mischief' or know the difference between 'their' and 'there'. Calculus was removed completely from the GCSE Maths syllabus because it was deemed as 'too demanding'. It appears at A level and the discrepancy between the GCSE and first year A level is so extensive many students cannot keep up. (More on Mathematics in a future post.)

IGCSEs are much more alike to the old O levels (these are still available anyway for our home educated children at the CIE board) and present a more in depth level of knowledge. Children can if they so choose, take longer to study them, are quite detailed and  reasonably intellectual.

One of the main obstacles with the IGCSEs currently for the home educated child are they are not recognised as more advanced than the GCSE. Once they are more widely used and teachers become aware of the differences, schools and colleges will hopefully regard them as the more noteworthy.

For example- my son Ben has a conditional place at a Grammar school for sixth form. In this particular school the student needs a certain amount of points in order to gain their place to study A levels.
They have their own personal point system, with, for example, an A* being worth 58 points and so on (or so down!).

They make no reference to the ample difference in standard of the GCSE and the IGCSEs. This places Ben at a great disadvantage as not only has he not been 'spoon fed' all the relevant work, he has taken a harder set of exams.

The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has been making noises about changing the GCSEs in the UK in a hope to return to a more valued O level type of examination.

What do you think of this?
Do you suppose this to be a sensible idea?


  1. I don't know that I realised that the iGCSE was more difficult then the regular GCSE, apart from the fact that it contains less coursework (or no coursework).
    I do think that GCSE's in general seem to have become easier in recent years, definitely more students seem to be coming out with the top grades.
    Thanks for posting, interesting reading xx

  2. There's an interesting debate at the root of this for home-educators who tend to view GCSE level qualifications as something useful to have rather than the crux of their whole education programme: if this is your view, then in theory you don't much care about the quality of the exams - indeed, the easier the better! -you want to spend as little time and effort on them as possible. In this sense, it's a bit of a pain to have to take the much harder IGCSEs.

    The problem with this approach is that if you and/or your children don't see much value in, or have much respect for, the content of the exams, it can be a bit discouraging having to work for them. With the IGCSEs, you can at least see that they are more intellectually challenging.

    What is the solution to that? You don't want to make these exams out to be the 'be all and end all' of education, but if you downplay them too much, the kids understandably are not enthused about doing them (as some of us have found with our own children!).