International GCSEs to be axed from school league tables

exam room Some state schools enter teenagers for both GCSEs and IGCSEs

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International GCSEs in English and maths will be axed from school league tables from 2017, with other subjects to follow in 2018, it has emerged.

The change is part of the government's overhaul of the exam system in England.

New GCSEs in maths and English, which feature little or no coursework and exams after two years, will be introduced in September 2015.

The 2017 league tables will include only the new qualifications - IGCSEs, which are unchanged, will not count.

Currently, both IGCSEs and GCSEs count in the league tables.

Key qualifications

Ministers are understood to have made the change as IGCSEs generally do not share the same construction as the government's reformed qualifications - in terms of the amount of coursework and the timing of exams.

English and maths GCSEs are key qualifications for schools as they are judged on their results in these subjects.

New GCSEs in other subjects, such as science, history and geography are due to be introduced in 2016, with the first exams taken in 2018.

IGCSEs in these subjects are likewise due to be dropped from the 2018 rankings.

IGCSEs could be reintroduced at a later date if changes were made to ensure they were of a similar design to the new GCSEs.

The measure has drawn a qualified welcome from head teachers.

Brian Lightman, of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: "It is important that all qualifications that count in performance tables have an equal level of challenge, and we support moves to ensure that this will be the case in future."

However Mr Lightman said news of the changes to the status of IGCSEs in England had emerged "very late in the day".

"The position of IGCSEs should have been carefully planned and thought through much earlier as part of the government's overall approach to qualification reform," he said.

"This failure to develop an overall vision and work out the consequences in advance is leading to real difficulty in schools."

'Serious consequences'

He said schools "which, in all good faith, had planned to continue using IGCSE qualifications", would have to reconsider those plans.

"It also has serious consequences for young people," he said.

"Parents and young people are finding it difficult to make sense of these contradictory and piecemeal changes."

IGCSEs have long been favoured by private schools, but there has been a surge in the number of state schools using IGCSEs after the government decided to drop the speaking and listening element of English GCSE from the overall grade and report it separately.

Some schools enter pupils for both qualifications in the same subject.

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