IGCSE boost

3:50 pm Blogroll


The UK government has announced that state schools will soon be allowed to offer IGCSEs as an alternative to GCSEs. This comes as the number of pupils enrolled in GCSEs in the independent sector continues to fall as many departments and schools switch over to the IGCSE. There is a feeling in the industry that IGCSEs are a more rigorous qualification with which to complete compulsory education, especially for pupils heading into post-16 education. The overturning of the ban imposed by the previous government seems to endorse this point of view.

The IGCSE is currently provided by two of the UK’s public examination bodies – Edexcel and CIE. Figures show that last year over 500 UK schools enrolled pupils in the Edexcel version and 350 or so in the CIE version. The qualification has been used by overseas students from all over the globe for a number of years, particularly those with an eye on returning to/moving to the UK for A-levels and university. Tens of thousands of IGCSE examinations were sat across the world.

Supporters of IGCSE say it examines pupils to a far higher standard than GCSE and also moves the emphasis back to actual examinations, with less coursework involved. Critics (rather cynically) say the lower amount of coursework is attractive to teachers wanting to ease their workloads. From my experience with the IGCSE over the years here in Hong Kong, I’d happily say it is harder than GCSE. This is not to say that it should be avoided, but in fact embraced as I believe IGCSE strikes the right level of academic demand at the right age. GCSE has become too easy.

The Edexcel IGCSE courses on offer in Hong Kong are excellent ones. A wide range of subjects can be undertaken and often with a great deal of flexibility, allowing maximum access to the widest range of people. They prepare students very well both for A-level courses and the IB, whichever they may choose to move on to.

By Danny Harrington

Co-founder of ITS Tutorial School

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