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Click here for a full account of the background, controversies and national statistics for GCSE.IGCSEs were introduced in 1988 and are internationally recognised qualifications.In future all children will be introduced to the broad range of literature - including complete Shakespeare plays."One example being bandied around is an Edexcel English paper from 2011.
In 1988, when GCSEs were introduced, 8.6 per cent of entries were awarded an A grade, but this number has now climbed to almost one in four.
Debate has raged for years over the so-called “dumbing down” of qualifications for 16-year-olds.
IGCSEs are offered by Cambridge, Edexcel and AQA exam boards and you can find more information about them on the web pages linked here.
As part of its shake up of national qualifications in which academic diplomas are to be dropped, the government is to allow IGCSEs to be taught in state schools.
The then Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, said that: “Schools must be given greater freedom to offer the qualifications employers and universities demand, and that properly prepare pupils for life, work and further study.” “For too long, children in state maintained schools have been unfairly denied the right to study for qualifications like the IGCSE, which has only served to widen the already vast divide between state and independent schools in this country.
“By removing the red tape, state school pupils will have the opportunity to leave school with the same set of qualifications as their peers from the top private schools – allowing them to better compete for university places and for the best jobs.” (BBC News, 7 June 2010) IGCSE qualifications are ideal for those wanting to study for national qualifications by distance learning.
But Edexcel explained to Channel 4 News that this was just one part of the exam and pupils would have needed to have read the entire play to answer all of the questions.
A spokeswoman for Pearson, which owns Edexcel, said: "GCSE English candidates are assessed on their knowledge of a whole Shakespeare play in the exam.
New science GCSEs contain practical experiments and extended work on topics such as genetics, ecology, energy and space. As far as the government is concerned, kids these days have it too easy.
Writing in the Times, the education secretary says: "In the past, GCSE English students studied only a sliver of Shakespeare (perhaps as little as a single act of one play, which they were often tipped off about in advance)...