Qualifications

Each year the Department for Education data for GCSE can confuse, particularly if applied to independent schools.  Each year I seek to explain why this league table cannot be used for schools like us who follow International GCSEs (IGCSEs).   My explanation in 2015 can be seen here: http://aksheadmastersblog.co.uk/bottom-of-the-table/ , 2016 can be seen here:  http://aksheadmastersblog.co.uk/0-and-aiming-high/ .  But confusion remains.

The simple fact is that the traditionally more rigorous IGCSE qualifications do not score in these league tables. Last summer our Year 11 students took IGCSE in English Literature, English Language, maths, biology, physics, chemistry and combined science. All will score zero in this DfE list, thus schools offering both qualifications will appear much lower than those following only GCSE.  The Independent Schools Council (ISC) wrote last Thursday:

Once again GCSE tables don’t include independent school-preferred IGCSEs, meaning many schools score zero and making comparison not possible’

Of course, those in the education business know this. However, I have much sympathy for students and parents who may not understand the way this particular league table works. It is beholden on education professionals to help make sense of it. Our job is to educate, not misinform.

Independent schools can choose the exam board and syllabus that best suits the needs and demands of their students. At AKS, our results are excellent, both in comparative and value-added terms. We will not change our winning formula unless it is in our students’ interest to do so.

I believe we should celebrate qualifications, not undermine them. I observed an assembly last week about how qualifications hold their value. Students were reminded that clothes wear out, cars rust, holidays may be forgotten. Even money devalues. Yet a qualification earned will maintain its value throughout one’s life, whether GCSE, IGCSE or other.

M H P Walton
Headmaster