Isle of Man GCSE reform consultation process begins

Paul Craine

Paul Craine

  • by Jackie Turley

Education chiefs are urging Isle of Man residents to have their say on GCSE exam reform in a major consultation being launched today (Wednesday).

With GCSEs being overhauled in England from 2015, the department is reviewing the way forward it will take.

The three options were outlined at regional public meetings ahead of the consultation launch.

Options under consideration are following the route England takes on GCSEs, switching to the International GCSE (IGCSE) or moving to the Scottish qualifications National 4 and National 5.

Paul Craine, co-ordinating adviser for 11-19 education, said: ‘There are certain things that we need the consultation to tell us. We need to know how pupils, parents, teachers and others feel about the planned return to assessment solely by end-of-course tests.

‘We need to hear how the community would feel about the possibility of switching from English to Scottish qualifications.

‘We also need to have a response to the alternative idea of using the IGCSEs, which are independent of any government.’

He added: ‘We hope many people will take the time to respond to the 10 key statements and offer us any additional views, preferences or concerns in the open question.’

A simultaneous consultation is taking place through school and year group councils.

There will be discussions involving subject leaders from secondary schools.

The new GCSEs in England will be phased in with the first teaching starting in September 2015 for examination in 2017.

The DEC is committed to ensuring teachers know which pathway schools will follow before September.

The consultation will be available at and via

News about the survey can be followed via


The new GCSE (England):

• New grading system from nine (high) to one (low)

• Assessment by end-of-course, external exams in most subjects. No coursework or controlled assessment in most subjects

• No tiered exam papers in most subjects so pupils of all ability sit the same exams

• More demanding exams so fewer students will attain higher grades, at least initially.

The International GCSE:

• An international version of the current GCSEs offered in over 140 countries with over 500,000 entries each year

• Provided by Cambridge University through its exam board. Politically independent

• Graded from A*-G and has parity with existing GCSEs

• Assessed mainly by external exams but also includes the opportunity to assess coursework in most subjects

• Offers more than 70 subjects titles and has tiered exam papers in most subjects.

Scottish National 4s:

• Focus on learning

• Not designed for the full ability range

• Awarded a pass or fail

• Teacher assessed with external moderation but no external assessment

• Teacher can use case studies, assignments, coursework and question papers.

Scottish National 5s:

• Awarded in pass grades A-C

• Include coursework but assessed mainly through terminal examinations

• Aimed at pupils in years 10 and 11 and can be studied alongside Scottish Highers.




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