Hundreds of State Schools Go for Gove's Tough GCSE
Byline: James Chapman Political Editor
STATE schools are turning away from the traditional GCSE and offering pupils a tougher exam based on O-levels, figures show.
The number teaching the international GCSE has soared by 300 per cent since Education Secretary Michael Gove allowed them to start doing so.
Two-thirds of public schools already enter students for the IGCSE, which does not focus on coursework.
Labour had banned state schools from adopting IGCSEs in key subjects amid fears they would undermine the domestic version.
According to data published by the University of Cambridge International Examinations, which offers the qualifications, increasing numbers are offering the IGCSE instead of the traditional exam, with English, hisset tory and biology particularly popular.
Four hundred state schools now teach IGCSEs compared with 97 in 2010 and 220 last year.
Some 500 public schools are also using the exams, up from 302 two years ago and 350 in 2011. Overall, schools made 50,000 IGCSE entries this year, the exam board said.
Peter Monteath, UK schools manager for CIE, said the structure of IGCSEs, which means pupils sit exams at the end, rather than throughout the course, is popular.
'The feedback we are getting from schools is that they like the flexibility of these syllabuses, which gives teachers more scope to explore different topics with students,' he said.
'Their linear structure also gives students space and time to study topics in depth.'
The Department for Education said it was excellent news that schools were taking advantage of new freedoms and giving pupils the chance to leave school with the same of qualifications as their peers at top private schools.
Government sources said that the figures justified Mr Gove's plans to replace GCSEs with a tougher, O-level qualification - plans being resisted by the Liberal Democrats. …