27th September 2017
Daily summary of the latest news and opinions from the world of independent education bought to you by Education Advisers...
The best of both worlds with Cambridge IGCSE
Peter Monteath, of Cambridge Assessment International Education, on how to switch to 9-1 grading without changing the syllabus
With the first 9–1 GCSE grades now awarded, reports suggest that schools in the independent sector are now reviewing whether to adopt new 9–1 graded UK GCSEs or to continue to use alternative qualifications. At Cambridge Assessment International Education (formerly Cambridge International Examinations/CIE), we recently surveyed UK schools to judge their intentions regarding alternatives to GCSE. Our research shows that independent schools plan to increase the number of Cambridge IGCSE subjects that they offer, which would build on stable entry numbers in summer 2017.
Cambridge will support independent schools in the UK by offering 9–1 graded IGCSEs in popular subjects. This means that schools have the choice of retaining A*–G grading, or moving to 9–1 grading, while continuing to teach the same Cambridge syllabuses. The syllabus content and the method of assessment will be the same in each syllabus. The syllabuses will be distinguished from each other by their syllabus codes, enabling schools to defer their decision on grading scales until the time they submit entries, a few months before the examination. Whichever grading scale schools choose to offer, universities have informed us that they are committed to maintaining consistent entry requirements and that students with A*–G graded IGCSEs will not be disadvantaged.
Schools tell us that they value Cambridge IGCSE as a well-established, linear qualification. Cambridge IGCSE assessment takes place at the end of the course and can include written examinations, oral tests, coursework and practical assessment, which broadens the opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning. Cambridge IGCSE develops knowledge, understanding and skills, which provides an excellent springboard to advanced study.
Cambridge IGCSEs will continue to have unique features that distinguish them from GCSEs. They have been independently benchmarked by UK NARIC, the national agency in the UK for the recognition and comparison of international qualifications. NARIC found IGCSE comparable to GCSE standard. The awarding standard for IGCSE – the standard a candidate has to reach to be awarded a particular grade – remains closely aligned to the awarding standard for GCSE.
Pupils switch to private schools over subject limits
One of Scotland’s leading private schools has seen a surge in interest from parents of children in state education who are concerned by restrictions on subject choices.
John O’Neill, the rector of the High School of Glasgow, warned that the broad education that has been a traditional feature of Scottish education was being diminished.
peaking to more than 1,000 alumni, teachers and pupils at a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the school being saved by former pupils at Glasgow Cathedral yesterday, Mr O’Neill also proposed a closer, more constructive relationship between the private and state sectors.
Since the introduction of the curriculum for excellence and new national exams, many schools allow pupils to take a maximum of six subjects only by Secondary 4.
Mr O’Neill, who says almost all pupils take eight subjects at his school, said that he had noticed an influx in interest from parents “who would never have considered independent education”.
He added: “They have found themselves closed down in terms of subject choice because of changes with curriculum for excellence in certain state schools. If you get to a stage that certain children are denied what children in another local authority are not denied, is that right? What’s appropriate is fine but there shouldn’t be a mixed economy.
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