IGCSE dropped from school rankings
The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) in English and maths will be eliminated from school league tables, and parents have inquired how this will affect their children undertaking IGCSE examinations.
Although some international and direct subsidy scheme schools in Hong Kong have switched to offering the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IBDP) over traditional A-Levels, many do offer IGCSE prior to the diploma.
"It remains the qualification of choice for thousands of international schools across the globe [because] it is less Anglo-centric than the traditional UK based GCSE, and it prepares students well for the International Baccalaureate," says Ian Clayton, headmaster of the international section of the French International School.
The IGCSE will remain "a powerful, portable and acceptable qualification for students [at international schools] in Hong Kong", he says.
IGCSEs and GCSEs count in the league tables that rank schools in the UK.
Schools are ranked by the percentage of pupils attaining at least five A* to C grades in a range of subjects that include key subjects of English, maths, two sciences, a language and either history or geography. If the IGCSEs offered by the school are eliminated in the ranking process, then the ranking of the schools will drop.
In a move to revamp the local examination system from 2017, only the new reformed GCSEs in maths and English, which feature little to no coursework and whose assessment are comprised primarily of exams students undertake at the end of the course, will be counted. The new syllabus will be introduced in schools in September.
New GCSEs in other subjects, such as science, history and geography are due to be introduced in 2016.
Consequently, thousands of schools that currently offer key qualifications in English and maths could find themselves falling significantly in the school rankings, if they don't change to the new syllabus in these subjects.
Parents considering sending their children to boarding schools should look at other criteria like overall student performance in exams, university acceptance rates, and the level of attainment in the new spelling and grammar tests.
Anjali Hazari teaches IB and IGCSE biology at the French International School in Hong Kong