IGCSE schools in UK

Schools moving to 'easy' IGCSE exams to boost grades

But teachers and academics claim that the move towards the international test may also be driven by the view that it is easier for pupils to pass.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told the Times Educational Supplement: “What schools are saying is that [IGCSE] is easier – there is more flexibility over which books pupils can read and so on – and those schools that were doing it were of the view that students were going to get higher grades than in GCSE.”

The huge shift towards IGCSEs follows a Coalition decision to scrap rules imposed under Labour that effectively barred state schools in England from offering them as an alternative qualification.

From 2010, schools have been able to use Government funding to enter pupils for IGCSEs and include results in league tables.

The IGCSE had been favoured by independent schools because it featured less coursework and more emphasis on exams sat at the end of two years.

But conventional versions of GCSEs have been toughened up in recent years and it is claimed that the IGCSE is now easier.

Prof Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the Buckingham University, told the TES: “It is not necessarily the leading comprehensives and grammar schools following the lead of the independents and taking English IGCSE.

“Instead word has got round that the English IGCSE is easier and schools that are having to pay particular attention to meeting the [government’s] floor GCSE target seem to be presenting the IGCSE to their pupils.”

Some 856 schools – most in the independent sector – provided IGCSE exams in 2010, but numbers increased to 1, 402 a year later and 1, 842 in 2012.

This year, some 2, 677 schools will offer IGCSE, with most entries now in the state system.

One contributor on the TES website said: “Compared to GCSE it is an absolute doddle. The first few times I tried it, I ended up trying to cover too much too quickly, and then realising I still had a whole term left.”


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