English Baccalaureate versus International Baccalaureate

According to figures from a YouGov survey released this week, less than a quarter of teachers in England support the government’s plans to scrap GCSEs in favour of the newEnglish Baccalaureate (EBacc) qualification. Meanwhile, the International Baccalaureate programme continues to rise in popularity amongst globally mobile families and the uptake of another existing alternative to traditional GCSEs, the international GCSE (iGCSE), has continued to rise significantly in UK schools.

According to figures from a YouGov survey released this week, less than a quarter of teachers in England support the government&#x;s plans to scrap GCSEs in favour of the newEnglish Baccalaureate (EBacc)&#x;qualification. Meanwhile, the International Baccalaureate programme continues to rise in popularity amongst globally mobile families and the uptake of another existing alternative to traditional GCSEs, the&#x;international GCSE (iGCSE), has continued to rise significantly in UK schools.&#x;The results come from YouGov&#x;s Teacher Track survey, which tracks the opinions of teachers from UK schools. With the current GCSE system, students&#x; marks are based on a final exam as well as on controlled assessment (coursework done during the year under exam conditions), but under the EBacc system results will be based only on final exams. While this marks, according to&#x;education&#x;secretary, Michael Gove, a &#x;return to rigour&#x; in England&#x;s examinations - which, he hopes, will bring England back in line with other academically successful countries - education commentators have expressed concerns about an over-reliance on a final examination result.Jeremy Lewis, Head of School at ACS International School, Egham, told Re:locate, &#x;the emphasis on exams as the best means of assessing a students' academic capabilities undermines the extremely valuable role of coursework and projects that enable students to demonstrate their strengths, valuing the whole learning process, rather than total reliance on a final examination result.&#x;ACS International Schools are one of a few schools in the UK to teach the International Baccalaureate&#x;s International Middle Years Programme (MYP). &#x;The MYP offers a broad curriculum - studying eight subject areas: English, maths, science, a language, the humanities, art, technology and PE. The EBacc, by comparison is only due to cover the core areas of English, maths, science, languages and the humanities.&#x;As well as valuing each assessment type equally, the IB MYP's great strength is as a skills-based curriculum, nurturing students' critical reasoning skills to enable them to become independent inquirers,&#x; continues Mr Lewis. &#x;Like GCSEs, the E Bacc will continue to follow a content-based approach to learning, teaching students the facts they need to pass exams rather than focusing on nurturing the whole person to become a lifelong learner.&#x;Back in 2009, Wellington College, an independent school in Berkshire, chose to offer the MYP as an alternative to the GCSE. Headmaster, Anthony Seldon explained that he wanted to move away from the &#x;treadmill of endless examination&#x; in favour of courses which stimulate children and put the excitement and challenge back into learning.In fact, Mr Seldon has called for the MYP to replace GCSEs in England&#x;s schools. &#x;&#x;Let&#x;s junk the GCSE system&#x;, Mr Seldon wrote in The Telegraph earlier this year, &#x;but replace it with an exam much more like the MYP, which students at Wellington College sit at 16. This system trusts and respects teachers to devise their own programmes of study and to assess merit and scholarship accurately and fairly.&#x;Jeremy Lewis of ACS Egham makes the point that there has been very little evidence of grade inflation with the IB programme, a criticism that has been aimed sharply at GCSEs in recent years. &#x;"One of the key strengths of the MYP,&#x; says Mr Lewis, &#x;is the consistency of marking and external moderation which puts the MYP Certificate beyond the political fray and has helped make made this qualification highly respected the world over.&#x;Globally mobile parents have already recognised the value of the IB when seeking an internationally transferable programme of learning for their children and the IB is offered at many highly respected international schools across the world. &#x;The IB remains a genuinely international organisation offering three programmes that are taught and respected on a global level,&#x; concludes Mr Lewis, &#x;nurturing students to develop critical thinking skills with a truly international outlook on life, all elements neither the E Bacc or GCSEs currently provide, but which are increasingly valuable to students of the 21st century."