Why more schools are saying yes to the IGCSE

Di Palmer

There was lively debate over the "sudden enthusiasm" for the IGCSE on social media and in the national press last week ("If they cause all this grief, why keep GCSEs at all?", Editorial, 23 August). This enthusiasm is not sudden: take-up of the IGCSE in the UK and worldwide has been growing for several years. In fact, exam entries have doubled each year since it was made available to state schools in 2010.

So why are schools adopting the IGCSE? Feedback from teachers throughout this debate shows that there are, as you would expect, many reasons. Some like its structure, which frees them from the interruptions of modular assessments; others like the fact that there is no controlled assessment, giving them more freedom to plan their lessons; and, during this time of change, many value its stability.

Some schools used the IGCSE this year hoping to boost their students' performance by entering them for more than one exam in the same subject. We believe this practice is misguided and not a sustainable way of improving students' performance. It may explain the behaviour of some teachers but it is in no way reflective of the overall picture.

Di Palmer, Director of assessment services, Cambridge International Examinations.

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