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IGCSE vetoed for state secondaries

STATE SCHOOLS will not be funded to offer a more traditional, O-level style version of the international GCSE, the Government said this week, despite a consultation indicating public backing for the change.

Hundreds of independent schools already offer the IGCSE, which involves less coursework and covers challenging subjects such as calculus in greater depth.

Some state schools want to join them but cannot get government funding to do so because the qualification is not officially recognised.

In October, Lord Adonis, the schools minister, announced a public consultation on making what he called a "reputable qualification" available in state schools. He said the Government would look at the results "with an open mind".

Now published, they show that 72 per cent of respondents thought IGCSEs should be available in all subjects in the maintained sector.

But the Department for Education and Skills said that most respondents were from independent schools and that only a minority of respondents connected with state schools felt the qualification was suitable for them.

"IGCSEs do not meet GCSE or national curriculum criteria," a DfES spokesman said. "The IGCSE is not accredited for use in state schools and we have no plans to start funding it for teaching in state schools."

Geoff Lucas, secretary of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, which represents 250 leading independent schools, said: "Our members are getting tired of hurdle after hurdle being put in the way of recognising what everyone knows is a good qualification."

The IGCSEs cannot be included in the league tables.

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