Minister bans IGCSE

Alastair Cliff - Deputy News Editor 6 November 2009

The Government on Wednesday announced its decision to block the use of the new International GCSE (IGCSE) in state schools.  The Cambridge International Certificates (CIC) is offered by the Cambridge International Examinations board (CIE) but it was rejected on the grounds that it failed to meet standard requirements in core curriculum subjects such as English, Maths and Science.

Schools Minister, Iain Wright said: “Approval of CICs would present a risk to the focus on the vital curriculum elements.” The Minister’s ruling rejects the use of the international qualification for state school pupils, criticising the exam as it did not cover parts of the National Curriculum.

However, Kevin Stannard, the Director of International Curriculum and Development at CIE defended the qualification, accusing the School’s Minister of misrepresenting the situation. He said “The decision is surprising and disappointing. CIE is surprised and disappointed by a decision which effectively rules out from English state-funded schools a qualification which is available in 150 other countries.”

We question how this decision is ‘securing choice for young people’ by not funding provision recognised by UK universities, the national regulator and taken by thousands of schools in the UK and overseas.”

However, the Schools Minister defended his decision, saying “The GCSE is a robust, rigorous and proven qualification that is popular with schools, parents and pupils. It fully tests the curriculum and allows for pupils to be stretched and progress.”

The Conservative Party have also criticised the government, saying they will reverse the decision if they win the next election. Michael Gove, the Tory shadow schools secretary, said the decision will “only serve to increase the level of inequality in education.”

He went onto say “Top independent schools are already opting for the international exam because it is more valued by universities and employers.”

Alastair Cliff – Deputy News Editor