Is the IGCSE really an advantage for uni entry?
Your story "Top unis' GCSE demands favour private pupils" is, I feel, misleading and highlights a handful of exceptions rather than the norm.
Universities receive applications from students from all over the world and are well used to interpreting the different grade systems used in different countries. When assessing entry applications, universities primarily focus on a student’s A-level performance. GCSEs are designed to prepare students for the next step in their educational journey, including A levels and other level 3 qualifications.
The majority of university courses require a grade 4 or C at GCSE for English and maths and the lower boundary of a grade C is equivalent to a grade 4 in the 9-1 system.
Competitive courses such as medicine may look at science GCSE grades, but in most cases entry to these courses requires a student to take admissions tests and interviews, so any weighting on GCSE performance is much less significant.
In addition, contextual admissions are becoming increasingly important in the UK university admissions process, which look more broadly at applicants rather than just considering grades. Universities use a range of factors including POLAR data to make appropriate offers to applicants to improve access for students based upon ability, not background.
What the article highlights in regards to IGCSE is also true of level 2 grades from other parts of the country – Wales and Northern Ireland still use the A*-G grading system. As of Monday 19 August, Ucas data shows that over 17,000 students from Wales have been accepted by universities across the UK for study in September.
We are currently working with UK NARIC to benchmark Cambridge IGCSEs against reformed GCSEs in England, which will further assist UK universities when considering applications from students who have Cambridge IGCSEs.
CEO, Cambridge Assessment International Education
Engaging pupils in the fight against climate change
In response to your story "Restricting pupil climate strikes to one day 'not acceptable'": Here, in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, our youth goes out into the streets on Fridays. But protests are just the beginning. There are numerous innovative scientific solutions to fight climate change. It is our responsibility to find and understand them and spread the word. We have to share our ideas and our knowledge because they represent the key to our success in this challenge concerning all of us. It is time to act, all over the world and in numerous languages. Let’s get together in our schools, so we can get the school community, the citizens and the politicians to listen.
For several years, we have been developing an interesting concept to spread scientific ideas. Students lead us in an entertaining and scientific evening known as "DupleX". The idea of this event is based on “science slams” hosted at German universities, where different talks about scientific topics or ideas are given in under 10 minutes. As we know from “poetry slams”, the audience then decides which presentation they consider the best.
The French expression “La soirée duplex” is an anagram for “Relia deux pôles”, which translates in English as “connecting two poles”. There are two kinds of candidates: students (from schools or universities) and scientists. The presentation is done alone or in pairs.
There are two main aims: science and presentation skills. The talks should be scientific, interesting, interactive and humorous.
There are two types of evaluation; a total of 100 points can be awarded. The scientific judges can give a maximum of 50, the other 50 points are given by the audience. The vote by the audience is considered a key element in creating an interactive and successful evening.
We invite you to use the idea of the “DupleX” at your school, too.
The organisation gets a lot easier when you mobilise everyone: parents, nearby schools, creating posters in class, interdisciplinary work and so on.
It is no longer enough to simply chat about this in small groups. It is no longer enough to make decisions on our own, and to give up on our own. If we want a change for the better, we need to act now. We need to reach out to all the citizens. We need to make sure we are being heard. We need to exchange ideas because we can only reach our goal together.
Guillaume Chevallier (teacher), Elena BarucWesthäuser, Julia Bednarz, Kadidja Filiz Saruhanoglu, Lara PressLohrmann, Lilly Fischer, Nicolas
Schmeding, Silas Schneider, Yves Scheuring and Casper Haak
Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany