By Gavin Mackintosh-
Private schools are having an easier time than state school pupils when it comes to G.C.S.E standards, an academic report reveals.
International GCSEs used by private schools have been dubbed “easier” than new reformed G.C.S.Es, the new research suggests in a report likely to spark an urgent review to ensure parity and fairness between state and private schools in Britain.
Research published by Education DataLab, based on information from the National Pupil Database, suggests that iGCSEs are graded less strictly than GCSEs, making top grades easier to attain for private school pupils. Private schools are meant to generally be of a higher standard than state schools in the Uk, making it a hot issue if they are taking easier G.C.S.E’s to state schools. The exams taken by private school students exclude coursework, with all the assessment compiled into one exam at the end of the 2 year period. The reformed G.C.S.E’s also excludes coursework, making it tougher and all exam based.
The content is more challenging, with more substantial texts in English literature. It includes more essay style questions, contrary to the previous list of several questions. The standard of both should at least be comparable, some experts insist private schools take a tougher version of the exam. Education dataLab believe private schools are given easier exams in the face of the tougher and more challenging curriculum there high school fees demands for their intellectual development..Research shows that 2 in 3 students get top marks in iG.C.S.E’s.
DataLab’s research, carried out by Dave Thomson, found two thirds of pupils achieved a grade A* or A in maths and English language iGCSEs in 2017, while between 18 and 20 per cent achieved the equivalent grades of 9 to 7 in reformed GCSEs.
Researchers compared iGCSE English and maths results alongside pupils’ results in a legacy GCSE qualification also taken in the summer of 2017. This revealed that more A* and A grades were awarded in English and maths iGCSEs than expected based on performance in legacy qualification. However, they were in line with expectations for the reformed GCSEs. There were also “slightly more” A* to C grades awarded in both subjects at iGCSE than expected. Most private schools undergo a more challenging programme than state schools, but there are many state schools that also emulate the very high standards of academia taught in private schools. Uk State schools of that calibre are in the minority, but they are there.
Neil Roskilly, chief executive of the Independent Schools Association, disputed this conclusion and insisted there was “no research to suggest that iGCSEs have a lower cognitive demand than reformed GCSEs”.
“Most state schools have been forced down a narrowing curriculum pathway by the Ebacc performance measure, but independent schools would rather assess the suitability of the new GCSEs before deciding on any wholesale change,” he said.
“It comes down to private schools making decisions on specifications and content, in the best interests of their pupils, and not being so driven by narrow accountability measures. That’s not gaming the system.”
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said it was “manifestly unfair” that state schools were no longer able to take iGCSEs.
“The research from Education DataLab provides more cause for concern and it is of paramount importance that Ofqual ensures the new reformed GCSEs are not graded more severely than equivalent qualifications,” he added.
“The unfairness is that the government has shifted the goalposts for state schools having previously encouraged them to teach iGCSEs.” However, the Department Of Education defended the credibility of the reformed G.C.S.E’s in a manner they could not do for the iG.C.S.E exams taken by private schools.
A spokesperson from the Department Of Education told The Eye Of Media.Com:
“We reformed GCSEs to equip pupils with the knowledge and skills they need, and ensure parents and universities can trust them. These new, gold standard GCSEs better prepare students for further study and the world of work.
“Universities are able to have confidence in the rigour and quality of these new qualifications. International G.C.S.Es have not been through the same regulatory approval and quality control as the reformed GCSEs.”