Norwich schools welcome league tables U-turn

Two top Norfolk schools have welcomed a rethink that will stop them being ranked bottom of the GCSE league tables.

For the last few years, Norwich School and Norwich High School for Girls - along with Gresham's School at Holt - have been in last place because ministers refused to recognise international GCSEs.

The three schools have chosen iGCSEs in some subjects because they are considered more 'academically rigorous'. But despite pressure from other independent schools that have made the same decision, the government refused to endorse them. The impasse left state schools unable to opt for the iGCSEs, and skewed performance tables.

Now the coalition government has moved to lift the restriction on state schools taking iGCSEs and agreed to include the results in performance tables 'as soon as possible'.

Jim Hawkins, headmaster at Norwich School in The Close, said: 'It's good that they are thinking of recognising the iGCSE in an official sense.

'It is on the whole a very good qualification. It's not everyone's choice, but at least should be available to all if schools think it's right.'

Mr Hawkins said Norwich School offered iGCSE courses in maths, biology, physics, chemistry and modern languages, and was set to add them in English language and English literature.

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He said: 'They typically don't include coursework, so there's more teaching time. They are not modular, so you take it all at the end of the course and don't over-examine pupils.

'And some of the courses have really rigorous content. Maths and science particularly are fairly traditional and allow pupils to be more stretched and challenged.'

Jason Morrow, headmaster at Norwich High School for Girls on Newmarket Road, said: 'I think it's a good outbreak of common-sense. I always thought it was unfair to deny state schools the option of offering a course that may be a better foundation for sixth form study.'

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