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GCSEs: Taking GCSE maths is just a dumb move, says school.

Byline: By Shahid Naqvi Education Correspondent

A Birmingham independent school has stopped teaching GCSE maths and science because it believes they have been "dumbed down too far". Instead, King Edward's School for boys has adopted a 22-year-old curriculum in the subjects that harks back to the old O-level exam.

It claims a raft of reforms has left GCSEs in maths and science lacking enough content and depth to stretch its pupils. The Edgbaston-based fee-paying school yesterday saw the first wave of 16-year-olds pass the International GCSE exam in maths.

Next year will see the first results for pupils taking IGCSEs in science.

George Andronov, deputy chief master and head of science at King Edward's School, said: "It is very sad that the kids are being sold short. We have switched because we think the content has been dumbed down so much it is not going to do our kids justice."

One of the key elements of the IGCSE is that it does not rely so heavily on coursework.

King Edward's School - in common with an increasing number of independent schools including its neighbouring King Edward VI High School for Girls - believes the focus on coursework fails to properly test pupils.

"The first time they reformed the GCSEs, they took out about a third of the content to make way for coursework," said Mr Andronov.

"I could take the first set of dumbing down which was about ten years ago, but the second last year was just too far."

He said the reforms meant that pupils did not get a good understanding of the subjects, which meant they were not adequately prepared for A-levels.

"What I felt was wrong was that that a pupil would be asked questions about nuclear power, for example - whether it is good or bad - without knowing the physics of the generation of nuclear power.

"It became something that was relevant to the modern world but the science was gone. It was more opinions about things. But if you don't know much about what goes on with the science it is difficult to form an opinion."

All 130 GCSE candidates at King Edward School taking the IGCSE passed the exam. Results show 58 per cent of grades in the subject were A* and 95 per cent were A* or A.

King Edward's stance comes at a time of increased concern over a lack of youngsters studying science and maths subjects at A-level and beyond. Schools are also finding it hard to recruit teachers in the subjects who have sufficient levels of qualifications.

John Claughton, head of King Edward's claimed the school had rejected GCSE maths because the exam appeared to be more geared towards boosting exam results. "You are trying to produce an examination which will challenge the most able and be accessible to a wide range of people which is not necessarily compatible.

"In A-levels, that is what is driving people to the International Baccalaureate because the exam exists to get people through the exam and go to university.

"With the IGCSE our boys do sums and therefore they are given a better chance to show their ability.

"We feel that it is better for our pupils going forward."

IGCSE was originally designed as a secondary school qualification for pupils overseas.

Many independent schools believe it is a more rigorous preparation for A-levels. They also adopt it to stand out from the state sector.

Currently about 100 schools in the UK use the Cambridge International GCSE.

Results achieved in IGCSE subjects, however, appear as a zero in school league tables because the Government refuses to recognise the qualification.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families, said: "We have conducted a review and we are not going to adopt it. It is not compatible with GCSEs."

"I could take the first set of dumbing down which was about ten years ago, but the second last year was just too far George Andronov, deputy chief master

CAPTION(S):

Left, Amelia Derry and Beth Heaven celebrate their results and Imogen Brooke (right) points out her straight A*s, all at King Edwards High School for girls in Edgbaston SB230807GCSE-04 SB230807GCSE-09 Pictures, SAM BAGNALL SB230807GCSE-10
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 24, 2007
Words:698
Previous Article:GCSEs: Making the grade; TOP MARKS.
Next Article:GCSEs: Twins lead year of exceptional results for King Edward's School.


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