There’s really no way around this, the Labor MP Lucy Powell is claiming, nay insisting, that all the universities in the country are entirely as thick as pigstercore*. Not just them either. Also every business in the country, or at least their Human Resources departments. And she’s got a point on that last perhaps.
The underlying whinge is that GCSEs and iGCSEs are different exams of different perceived difficulty. State schools aren’t allowed to do the iGCSE while private can. And those iGCSEs appear to have better results. Therefore this is privilege for private school pupils etc.
Obviously, some part of this is about the people taking the exams, not the exams themselves. Private school results are generally better, an exam taken only by the private sector would, if it were of exactly the same difficulty and offering the same range and variation of marks, still show better results.
Mr Taylor said that the difference can – at least in part – be explained by privately educated children generally having higher levels of attainment than children at state schools.
But to Lucy Powell MP:
Lucy Powell, the Labour MP for Manchester Central, said it is a “scandal” and an “outrage” that children at private schools who win top grades in their iGCSEs are looked on more favourably by universities and employers who cannot tell the difference between these exams and GCSEs.
That is, the claim that all those people who run university entrance departments, all HR departments across the country, they’re thick as pigs**t. For they’re entirely incapable of differentiating between iGCSE and GCSE. It’s not exactly an optimistic view of the brainpower running the nation now, is it?
Whether we think of the brainpower in universities and business or that in Parliament, it’s still not an optimistic view of the brainpower running the country.
This isn’t a new claim from Labour either:
The Labour party is demanding an inquiry into GCSE reforms that it says are putting state school pupils at a disadvantage by forcing them to sit harder exams than students in the private sector. The Department for Education describes the reformed GCSEs, which started to be introduced last year, as “gold standard”. But official figures show that many independent schools are opting for internationally recognised GCSEs (IGCSEs), which are being phased out of state schools at the behest of the government because it considers them less robust. The consequence, according to critics, is that private school pupils are being afforded an advantage over state school students in the race for university places. The shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner MP, said: “We cannot have an education system with different rules for the privileged few. It is totally wrong that Tory reforms are putting state school pupils at a disadvantage compared to their counterparts who can afford a private education.
And we’ve noted the implication before too:
Let’s entirely accept the underlying contentions here. That IGCSEs are easier than GCSEs, the private sector sticks with the IGCSEs and that this means that the private sector pupils are getting better exam results when we look purely at grades. Does this give those private sector pupils an advantage when applying to university? Well, only if those running the universities are entire fools.
People applying to Britain’s gilded cloisters come from all sorts of educational backgrounds. There will be those who have come up through the British school system, those from various remnants of the colonial schooling system, baccalaureates, perhaps the international bac, we’re sure that here will be graduates of Finland’s famously egalitarian system, of Sweden’s variation, or Russia’s and so on. Even some who managed to scrape through American high school.
That is, those who select pupils for entry into the universities are already well versed in the intricacies of different sets of qualifications. Thus entirely capable of distinguishing between 15 A*s at IGCSE and 5 Cs at GCSE. Actually, if they can’t, then what are they doing there?