Tim Crookall MHK, Minister for Education and Children, today announced in Tynwald changes to 14-16 qualifications in secondary schools and the adoption of a new examination system.
The Department’s five secondary schools will, this September, begin preparations for a move away from the English GCSE system towards the widespread adoption of the International GCSE (IGCSE), as set by Cambridge International Examinations, the international examination board of the University of Cambridge.
Pupils who begin Year 10 in September 2015 will be the first to sit IGCSE examinations on a large scale, though they are currently used in a small number of subjects in some schools.
Following a public consultation exercise conducted in April and May that yielded more than 800 responses, the Department of Education and Children has been looking closely at the options available to it. The results of the consultation were unequivocal and clearly supported a move towards the IGCSE, said the Minister.
‘The IGCSE is taken by students in 140 countries and has been established for more than 25 years. It provides a stable and internationally recognised qualification for our young people that is valued by employers and universities across the world,’ explained Paul Craine, Co-ordinating Adviser for 11-19 Education on the Isle of Man.
‘IGCSE syllabuses are international in outlook and the qualification is used in a wide range of jurisdictions. The potential, within some subjects, for teachers to opt for assessment to be based partly on course work, in addition to final examinations, means that there is flexibility for teachers in planning their curriculum.
‘We feel it provides the best educational opportunity available to us for the young people of the Isle of Man and are delighted to be announcing this development.’
The IGCSE will be the principal examination used in a core group of subjects, including English (language and literature), maths, sciences, geography, history, art, music and PE.
It is not offered for all subjects currently taught at GCSE on the Isle of Man but, where the IGCSE is not available, or not suitable, for certain subjects, the five schools will be asked to use a single examination board. This will enable the schools to collaborate and will ensure pupils who change schools during Key Stage 4 (14 to 16) will not be adversely affected.
In addition, schools will ensure that, if the IGCSE is not used, an examination is taken that is graded using the same A*-G scale, so that parents/carers and employers are able to fully understand what the qualifications mean.
The decision announced by the Minister today does not impair the ability of schools to enter pupils into vocational qualifications such as BTECs.
Schools will manage the precise phasing of the implementation for different subjects. There is an expectation that IGCSE English and maths will be taught from September 2015 but A level reforms may lead some schools to vary the start date of the IGCSE to avoid both changes taking place simultaneously.
Schools will be supported in their preparation for the introduction of the new qualifications and the DEC will work closely with Cambridge International Examinations to plan face-to-face training, the development of support materials and opportunities for online training in preparation for the teaching of new syllabuses.