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.
Independent schools plan to increase the number of Cambridge IGCSE subjects that they offer
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.