US News: Private school students are getting into top universities after taking 'easier' exams - PressFrom - United Kingdom
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US NewsPrivate school students are getting into top universities after taking 'easier' exams

15:45  25 august  2019
15:45  25 august  2019 Source:   inews.co.uk

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Top universities are giving privately educated children an unfair advantage by not differentiating between the rigorous GCSEs compulsory in the state system and less demanding Like many private schools , St James Senior Boys’ School , Surrey, offers pupils IGCSE exams in several subjects.

Read on see the top 25 private schools that prepare students for life at a top college and beyond: It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous "The curriculum is very rigorous and the students are well prepared for AP exams and for university studies," a parent commented.

Private school students are getting into top universities after taking 'easier' exams © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

The UK's top universities are failing to distinguish between exams taken by state school pupils and "easier" variants that are sat at private schools.

Freedom of information requests submitted by Labour MP Lucy Powell revealed that nearly all of the UK's top Russell Group universities make no distinction between GCSE qualifications from the state school curriculum and International GCSEs, an alternative qualification common in private schools.

In 2018, independent schools accounted for three-quarters entries for IGCSEs, which are widely regarded as less rigorous and easier to gain top grades in.

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The Department for Education itself refuses to recognise IGCSEs on league tables because they "have not been through the same regulatory approval and quality control."

However, of the 24 top universities that comprise the Russell Group, 23 make no distinction between results for GCSEs and IGCEs. The 24th member, Cambridge University, does not take GCSE or IGCSE results into account as part of its admissions process.

Private school students are getting into top universities after taking 'easier' exams © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

Easier to get top grades

Speaking to The Observer, Ms Powell said: "It’s an absolute scandal that it is easier to get top grades in IGCSEs than in the new GCSEs, yet universities essentially class them as the same.

"State schools do an excellent job – often in difficult circumstances, and now with reduced funding – to help young people get the best GCSE results they can.

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"There’s been a lot of turmoil with the new system, which private schools, by shirking away from the new GCSEs, have shielded their pupils from."

Independent schools are submitting pupils for IGCSE qualifications instead of the more rigorous GCSEs (Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire)

Robert Halfon, the Conservative MP who chairs the Commons education select committee, echoed the concerns.

He told the newspaper: "The priority has to be a level playing field. I find it extraordinary that… pupils in private schools, who start with many advantages, are then able to take inferior exams.

"Everyone should have the chance to climb the education ladder, without unfair advantage to those in private schools."

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Not interchangeable

Exam regulator Ofqual cautioned against "using GCSE and International GCSEs interchangeably," but added: "Universities and employers are used to seeing many different qualifications on applications and deciding what value they place on them.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said: “Independent schools are by definition independent and make their own decisions about what qualifications to offer.

"If a school decides to offer international GCSEs instead of reformed 9-to-1 GCSEs, it will not get credit for them in performance tables.

"This is because we want to ensure pupils benefit from reformed 9-to-1 GCSEs, which are the gold standard qualification at 16, in line with expected standards in countries with high performing education systems."

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