State schools consider return to 'O-levels'

A new rival to the GCSE exam designed along the lines of the traditional O-level may soon win backing from exam watchdogs and be taken up by hundreds of state schools.

Ofqual, the agency set up by the Government to regulate and accredit examinations, is studying plans for a new Cambridge International Certificate (CIC) which could be offered to high-performing pupils as an alternative to GCSEs. Pupils could start studying for the CIC, which would reduce coursework content and rely more heavily on end-of-course examinations, from September 2009, it was predicted yesterday.

Figures indicate that about 250 of the top fee-paying schools have dropped the GCSE. Martin Stephen, headmaster of St Paul's in London and a former chairman of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, which represents elite private schools including Eton and Winchester, has described the exam as "in crisis". Private schools have opted for the International GCSE – designed by Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), which is linked to the Oxford, Cambridge and Royal Society of Art exam board – for use overseas in countries wanting to retain an old-style O-level exam. But it cannot be used in state schools as it does not have national accreditation so ministers will not fund its use by any institution in the state sector.

Privately, CIE officials have been told they will never be given the green light for the International GCSE to be used in state schools, because it does not meet the published GCSE criteria to be based on the requirements of the national curriculum. However, the CIE was told that if it came up with another name which distinguished it from the GCSE, it could obtain accreditation, leading to ministers funding its use in the state sector. CIE said it had submitted "several syllabuses" to Ofqual.

A spokeswoman for Ofqual said that it would take at least two months for it to consider whether to approve the examination. If it did, ministers would then decide if state schools that wanted to use it would receive government funding.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Senior Textiles / Fashion Technician

£22000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To contribute to the day-to-da...

Recruitment Genius: Health and Social Care NVQ Assessor

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: It is also essential that you p...

Recruitment Genius: ICT Infrastructure Manager

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Edinburgh city centre scho...

Recruitment Genius: Plumber

£30000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An independent boys' school sit...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'