The Government has lifted restrictions that stopped state schools offering iGCSE qualifications in key subjects, including ICT. It has also announced its intention to include iGCSE results in school performance tables as soon as possible.
The announcement means that from September, state-funded schools will be free to teach a wide range of qualifications that will put them on a level playing field with independent schools which have offered them for some time.
Schools minister Nick Gibb said: “After years of political control over our exams system, schools must be given greater freedom to offer the qualifications employers and universities demand, and that properly prepare pupils for life, work and further study.
“For too long, children in state-maintained schools have been unfairly denied the right to study for qualifications like the iGCSE, which has only served to widen the already vast divide between state and independent schools in this country.
“By removing the red tape, state school pupils will have the opportunity to leave school with the same set of qualifications as their peers from the top private schools – allowing them to better compete for university places and for the best jobs.”
Up until now, only independent schools were able to offer iGCSEs in English, mathematics, science and ICT, which are widely respected and recognised by universities and employers. A number of the high-performing state schools have expressed an interest in offering these exams, but were prevented from doing so – even where accredited by Ofqual – by restrictions the previous government had in place.
Ministers have also confirmed that they will not proceed with the last government’s proposed new primary curriculum, which was based on a review led by Sir Jim Rose. The new curriculum was due to be taught in schools from September 2011, but the relevant clause in the Children, Schools and Families Bill did not successfully pass through the last Parliament.