Category Archives: IB



Few schools run the MYP but teachers parents  and pupils like it, according to NFER research


The International Baccalaureate (IB), it is often forgotten, operates at three levels: the Primary Years Programme- for students aged between 5 and 11, the Middle Years Programme (MYP) -for those aged  between 11 and 16 and the Diploma Programme in the Sixth Form, 16 -18. The last format is the most common in the UK.

Indeed , the Primary and Middle Years levels are rarely taught in the UK .  Currently,13 schools in the UK offer the Primary Years Programme , 11 schools offer the Middle Years Programme and 189 schools offer the Diploma Programme .

Wellington College is one of the select few to offer both the Middle Years and Diploma programmes of the IB. Wellingtons Master, Dr Anthony Seldon, admitted, when he introduced the MYP, a few years ago, that it was a risk. He introduced it because of his, (  and some pupils and parents) disillusionment with the GCSE format, and the GCSES perceived failure to enable the delivery of a rounded education. Many have criticised the GCSE format ,with Seldon  one of its  leading critics. But he did more than criticise. He offered an alternative.

The IB, generally, educates around 5,000 students, most of  whom are in  state schools. The UK is now the third largest user of the IB worldwide .However ,quite a few schools which offer the IB diploma , also offer, concurrently, A levels as an option. Perversely, recent performance tables on university entry subjects ignored the IB Diploma Programme and Pre-U, two existing alternatives to A levels.

In GCSEs subjects are discrete collections of facts grouped by academic disciplines. However there is a growing feeling among teachers that pupils need to explore the connections between subjects. Interdisciplinary, joined up learning, they believe, really matters.  Subjects shouldn’t be taught in silos. With GCSEs there does seem to be an assumption that there is a finite body of knowledge and a right answer (known by the teacher, to be used in the exam).Examiners have strict guidelines to follow which some feel punishes the brightest who do not deliver formulaic answers. But knowledge is an “exploding”, ever expanding concept so the ability to be critical, to think outside artificial boundaries and to be reflective, is essential for life-long learning and individual development. In short, the IB in its various incarnations (not to be confused with the Ebacc) believes in the autonomy of subjects and academic disciplines, but also in their connectivity and for the need for pupils to be global in their outlook. It also encourages the kind of disciplines, including intellectual inquiry and critical thinking, much in demand among employers, and universities, but which are in short supply.

So, are there any downsides?. Possibly. The IB formats are demanding on both teachers and students and require a degree of self-reliance and discipline which in not always evident in pupils. And because they demand more teachers’ time they are more expensive to deliver than other formats. Anthony Seldon has pointed out too that there is a perception that the IB receives unsympathetic offers from some universities, and this is having a direct impact on the number opting to sit the diploma. Recent research by Anna Vignoles and Francis Green ,of the Institute of Education, uncovered a systematic underestimating of top applicants with IB qualifications. But those IB students who are accepted by top universities, they find, tend to perform better than similar A-level students and are more likely to achieve upper-second-class degrees or firsts.

But what of the MYP? One noteworthy aspect of the MYP is that it comes in two basic forms. Either a school, can take the more expensive route  seeking  the MYP  as  a full stand-alone qualification:  ie  with certification (which is what  Wellington College has opted for), or  schools  go the other non-certification route and use it as a  way station to the IB Diploma, which is what most  schools, using the MYP in the UK, do. However if a pupil leaves school, at 16,  for whatever reason, and has been studying the MYP, but not with certification, then they will leave with  no qualification to show to future employers, which might be a consideration for some parents.

Dr Seldon will be particularly pleased by the findings of a recent an NFER report on the IB Middle Years programme. The NFER conducted an investigation into the teaching and learning benefits of the IB MYP, in the UK. The aim was to provide a rich qualitative picture of the programme implementation in the UK, including the impact of the MYP on non-scholastic attributes such as international mindedness and civic engagement, classroom learning environments and school culture. The research design included a comparison of IBMYP, GCSE and IGCSE curriculum and assessment documents, online surveys of teachers, students and parents, and four detailed qualitative case studies.

The Key findings:

IBMYP, GCSE and iGCSE curriculums covered broadly similar content, but IBMYP had a greater focus on thinking skills and international mindedness.

Teachers, students and parents were overwhelmingly positive about the programme and its benefits, although did acknowledge some challenges, especially in regard to public recognition in the UK.

MYP in the UK:

Promotes a teaching style and school ethos valued by teachers, parents and students;

Develops students as independent learners, critical thinkers and active citizens, and encourages involvement in local and global communities;

Impacts positively on school culture and classroom environments – promotes feedback and reflection, engaging and motivating for students and teachers;

MYP students demonstrate greater awareness of global issues, greater interest in understanding other cultures and greater self-efficacy and sense of civic responsibility (local and global) than other students in the UK.

Teachers had positive views on the programme,  but some teachers held negative views  about the MYP qualification. In particular, the lack of recognition in the UK was identified as problematic. Some uncertainty was expressed about how the qualification would be perceived by universities.

Offering the MYP alongside the National Curriculum was identified as the main challenge of delivery and development of the MYP. Some teachers expressed the  view that schools cannot deliver both programmes effectively.

The majority of students said they enjoyed participating in the programme and acknowledged the benefits of its focus on critical thinking and reflection whilst accepting the greater workload they perceived, compared with other courses.  Students, unlike parents and teachers, expressed less concern that the IB MYP qualification may be less useful than GCSE or IGCSE courses. A number of students felt that too much reflection was required and some felt that the  assessment criteria could be clearer.

The survey found ‘IB MYP students reported high levels of awareness on issues such as diversity, social justice, human rights, sustainable development, conflict resolution and interdependence as well as  understanding how cultural values and assumptions shape behaviours. Although  ‘self-reported’, and therefore to be interpreted with some caution, the awareness  levels of IB MYP students were significantly different from, and higher than, those  of students in non IB schools; they were also more likely to cite school assemblies,  lessons and trips alongside family and friends as major sources of learning about  these issues.  In terms of their attitudes and beliefs in relation to global issues, the responses of IB MYP students were significantly different; more said they like learning about 110 different cultures and people with different backgrounds than non-IB students.  They also demonstrated more strongly positive views in terms of ‘self- efficacy‘ in  relation to the global issues mentioned i.e. the extent to which, as individuals,  could make a difference or contribute to the global community.  In terms of citizenship self-efficacy, the belief in one’s own ability to participate in  citizenship issues, identified as a driver of participatory citizenship in adulthood, IB MYP students were more likely than non IB students to report that they thought they could do the following well: argue their point of view about a controversial political or social issue; follow a television debate about a controversial issue;  speak in front of the class about a social or political issue or discuss a newspaper  article about a conflict between countries. Finally, when asked about actions they might become involved in the next few years, IB MYP students were more likely than non-IB students to report that they  would volunteer time to help people in the local community, talk to others about their views on political and social issues and join an organisation for a political or  social cause. All of the non-scholastic attributes displayed by IB MYP students and discussed above reflect the IB ethos and demonstrate that the students espouse the values the MYP strives to promote.

Whether or not the IB continues to expand probably depends on whether reforms to GCSEs and A levels offer, to some degree at least ,what the IB is currently offering to parents and pupils. (unlikely as things stand, but there is a way to go) The IB exists because there is a demand for what it offers to students, because it  claims not to be subject to grade inflation and  because of the perception ,among some stakeholders, that   GCSEs, and to some extent, A levels, are not fit for purpose. Will the IB expand significantly into State schools? On cost grounds alone, this seems unlikely, over the medium term.  And while this report on the MYP is broadly positive ,the big question is    that -if its so good, why  have so few schools opted to take up  the qualification?

NFER-Report for the International Baccalaureate

International Baccalaureate  Middle Years Programme  (MYP) in the UK-2013



Difficult times ahead?


The IB has enjoyed an increase in popularity over the last few years (close to 200 schools teach it) but is now experiencing its most difficult period. While the numbers of pupils taking the IB has been on the rise, for the first time schools are beginning to drop the award. The most recent to do so is a leading independent school, Kings Wimbeldon. The award is widely seen as more challenging than the A level and claims, with some justification, not to be a victim of grade inflation. But it is also seen by teachers and pupils alike as more challenging.  No bad thing, say supporters ,who say it’s the opposite of by rote learning, encouraging breadth and real understanding of the subjects studied. The ideal IB candidate is self-motivated and inquisitive. The Diploma also requires more teaching time, so it is more expensive to deliver. Already schools complain that they spend too much on exams and testing so any award that is relatively costly, at a time when budgets are under pressure,  is going to have the cards stacked against it, whatever its merits. There is another issue that is sometimes glossed over. The IB requires the post 16 study of maths and a science, subjects that pupils are often very keen to drop.

The IB, which it is often forgotten, operates at three levels: the Primary Years Programme for students aged between 5 and 11, the Middle Years Programme for those aged 11 and 16 and the Diploma Programme in the Sixth Form. The last is the most common in the UK. The Primary and Middle Years levels are rarely taught in the UK (mainly international schools for the middle years programme -and of course Wellington College-whose Head Anthony Seldon admitted that introducing the MYP was a  risk). Although some state schools run the IB most of the take-up is in the independent sector. And quite a few schools who offer the IB, also continue to offer A levels as an option.

Students on the diploma study six subjects, and specialise in three. They choose these from six subject groups to ensure a breadth of learning: first and second languages, humanities, sciences, maths, and the arts. They also write a 4,000-word essay, take classes in the theory of knowledge, and commit to 150 hours of CAS (creativity, action, service).

Running the IB programmes, though, is a challenge for schools and is not a task that should be lightly undertaken. Marlborough College is still searching for a Head having stipulated that it wanted someone with a sound knowledge and experience of the IB Diploma. Rumour has it that the candidates that they have seen who were proficient in all matters IB ( fishing in  relatively small pool) had perceived  deficiencies elsewhere. (no names no pack drill)

It is fair to say that the IB  may be in some danger of becoming an obsolete qualification and disappearing as a mainstream award  over the medium term  unless universities play their part in keeping  the award  alive. In theory IB students should be attractive to Higher education institutions and their admissions tutors  as it encourages the kind of  self-reliance and lateral  thinking that they are on the look- out for in candidates , but   as things stand, see  far too little of.   But its not that easy.  Indeed, supporters of the IB believe that admission tutors are being far too harsh on IB candidates and must take decisive action and insist that the offers for IB students reflect the depth and breadth of study it demands.   Rather too many IB students believe the IB is receiving unsympathetic offers from universities, and this is having a direct impact on the number opting to sit the IB Diploma. If you hear of disappointed IB students not getting the offers they thought they might , then you, as a pupil , begin to worry and this is shared in spades by parents and  slowly   confidence leaches away.

UK universities are systematically underestimating top candidates with IB qualifications in their admissions procedures, according to recent research by Professors Anna Vignoles and Francis Green of the Institute of Education .They found that at the top end of the scale, universities are demanding higher scores from IB candidates than from their A-level equivalents. Overall, universities systematically deviate from the official recommendation (provided by UCAS) in the offers they make to IB students. Universities tend to ask their IB applicants for higher IB points than officially recommended, but adjust too far at the top end of the scale. The report states “In institutions with IB students having an average grade of 37 or more, for example, we find that the IB students are 5.4 percentage points more likely to achieve an upper second class degree or better.”

Dr Anthony Seldon, the Master of Wellington College, put the concerns as follows in a letter to Times Higher Education Supplement –  ‘My own experience as the head of an independent school offering both A Level and IB informs my alarm.  It is deeply frustrating to see two students of comparable ability being asked for (for the A Level student) three grade As at A Level and (for the IB student) 40 points with – and here is the sting – two 7s and a 6 at Higher Level.  That A Level student, doing modular A Levels, is almost assured of gaining his or her place; for the IB student there is far less certainty.  Students are being penalised for taking the tougher option. ‘

With competition for places at top universities getting harder all the time the very idea that IB students are not getting a fair deal has the potential to undermine the qualification. Those who support the IB as an important qualification and absolutely suited to the requirements of some pupils, which I do, need to work hard with stakeholders to resolve the  outstanding issues and the sooner the better.

Note; The IB Diploma should not be confused with the other Diplomas introduced by the last government which were neither  vocational nor academic qualifications  –so had a bit of an identity crisis right from the start. (qualifications should be demand- led not prescribed, top down by politicians and officials).  Poorly conceived, marketed and managed,  they never quite managed to establish themselves  as robust qualifications among stakeholders,  though championed and over-sold  by education ministers in the last government.



What’s it all about?


In the White Paper, The Importance of Teaching, published on 24 October 2010, the Secretary of State announced the introduction of the English Baccalaureate. Not to be confused in any  way, of course,  with the IB which is altogether different and a qualification in itself. This new group award  is to be used as an additional indicator in KS4 performance tables. The EBacc is not a new qualification . It will recognise students’ achievements across a core of selected  ‘academic’ subjects in getting good passes in rigorous GCSEs or iGCSEs. It has been introduced due to concerns that the number of students who currently receive a broad education in core academic subjects is far too small. This is particularly the case apparently  for students in disadvantaged areas.  Special recognition will be given in the performance tables to those schools which help their students attain this breadth of achievement and the achievement of individual students will be marked through a certificate.  The English Baccalaureate will recognise A* to C passes at GCSE or iGCSE in five subject areas; English, Maths, Science, Humanities and Languages.  Further details listing which qualifications will be counted for each subject are now available in a Statement of Intent 2010 Addendum notice, on the Department for Education’s website.

The 2010 Tables which should be published this month  will also, for the first time, show the proportion of pupils at school, local authority and national level achieving good GCSE grades (A*-C) in both English and maths. The Governments  intention is to include science in this ‘Basics indicator’ from next year.  So it seems the English Baccalaureate, which new league tables will measure, will encourage pupils to study the following core Academic subjects:

English, English Lit, Maths, Triple Science, History, Ancient History or Geography and a Modern (although the correct definition of that term is now up for debate) Foreign Language (Spanish, French, German, Italian, Hindi (as a second language), Welsh as First and Second language   and  Latin ,classical Greek  and Biblical Hebrew.

Note Cambridge International Certificate and  CIE legacy iGCSE options are  also  included –see web site

Pupils  can then pick one subject (yes just one it seems) from, for example,   the following (non academic?) GCSEs:

Applied Sciences,  Applied Ethics, Business Studies, Classical Civilisation, ICT, Sociology, Art, Drama, Music, Media Studies, RE, Engineering, Psychology, Health & Social Care, Law, Economics, Critical Thinking, Citizenship, Statistics, PE, Resistant Materials, Textiles, Technology, Graphic Design Catering, Food Tech ..etc

In fact, all of the GCSEs listed above have  some  academic rigour, but aren’t academic enough to be counted in Government plans it seems. The worry is some will simply disappear as  it will not make economic sense for exam boards to continue to offer them or indeed  for teachers to train for them .  How do you distinguish between Ancient History and Classical Civilisation ,  the former is in, the latter out. Is it because one is more academically rigorous than the other? Already religious leaders are lobbying hard for RE, which they argue is a humanity, to be included in the core EBacc.  Critics point out that  if last years results  are viewed through the new  EBacc lens  it would mean  just 15%  of pupils passed.  On the one hand, they point out,  Gove complained about how much was prescribed by the previous government and the need to reduce central prescription. On the other, he has made it  clear that schools will in future be judged solely on their success in this  specific combination of subjects, effectively prescribing them as the route  that all students must take. This also clearly impacts on Academies and Free schools  freedom to choose their curriculum too. Indeed given the above do schools actually have   much meaningful  freedom, when it comes to the curriculum?  On a positive note, it is good that the ICGSE qualification gets the recognition it merits. The nonsense  whereby fine schools  dropped  to the bottom of the  league tables because they entered pupils  for more demanding IGCSEs ( because the league tables didn’t recognise them) will  now end.  The Government plans to continue to include the current 5+ A*-C GCSEs measure, including equivalences, in the Performance Tables for the time being.

Some Heads  are angry the league tables are being reformed  in effect retrospectively, ranking schools on exams taken before the new  Ebacc measure was announced. The Guardian has found that some schools are radically changing their curriculum offer to fall in line with the Ebacc requirements. But others welcome the fact that it will flush out schools that have been gaming, in other words entering their pupils for soft options in order to inflate their schools league table position,  whether its  in  the interests of the children, or not.

The Government says that the Ebacc is  not compulsory and will not suit all children, but it is the effect it will  have on league tables that worries many Heads.


Under the new English Baccalaureate measure, according to the results released on 12 Jan – 15.6 per cent of pupils in England achieve an A* to C GCSE (or iGCSE) in English, mathematics, sciences, a modern or ancient language and history or geography



Stereotypical view reinforced

Implications for International Baccalaureate too?


The largest ever investigation analysing whether teenagers want to take maths or physics in the sixth form has found that even high-ability, highly motivated girls are less likely than boys to want to persist with the subjects beyond the age of 16. Researchers from the Institute of Education, London, who surveyed 10,355 14- and 15-year-olds in 113 schools across England found that girls were less likely to want to take maths and physics at A-level and through other post-16 qualifications, even when compared to boys with similar background characteristics. Three times as many boys as girls said they strongly agreed with the idea of taking physics beyond the age of 16, while for maths, boys were 1.5 times more likely to say this was the case. The academics behind the three year study, presented at the British Educational Research Association’s annual conference  last  September admitted that it was still not clear what schools should do to counteract this “male-orientation” towards take-up.

Apart from confirming a stereotypical view with wide currency, this study also raises questions about how you can make these subjects more appealing to girls. Also there has been much in the media recently praising the merits of the IB, which makes science and maths  study obligatory, post 16 ,however, this research suggests that the IB would hold much less  appeal  for girls than  for  boys, certainly as things stand.

Some 79 per cent of UK entries for physics A-level in 2010 were from boys, while the corresponding figure for maths A-level was 59 per cent.


 Erosion of trust and confidence in qualifications – is the culprit political interference?

Reforms may not improve confidence


Simon Lebus, Cambridge Assessments (CA) Chief Executive, attacked continuing political interference in our qualifications system, in a recent CA conference.CA are responsible interalia for innovations such as the IGCSE and Cambridge Pre-U .

Reforms are envisaged under the Apprenticeships Skills, Children and Learning (ASCL) Bill, completing its Parliamentary passage, which establishes a new independent regulator, Ofqual. The aim is to distance itself from qualifications regulation in the hope that this will improve trust in the system, and put an end to the annual dumbing down debate. But this is unlikely to happen, according to Lebus’ reading of the developing situation. He does not believe the new arrangements will be sufficient on their own to restore trust. This is partly because the long hand of central control continues to exert its influence through Government ownership of the curriculum. Lebus said, “ Whilst there is a legitimate issue of accountability here, the realities of bureaucratic activism and the need to reconcile competing interests among stakeholders make this self-defeating. Originally well intentioned efforts to ensure consistent minimum standards soon lead to overbearing and overloaded programmes of study.”

 Lebus used the new science curriculum as a case study to illustrate his point. The new science curriculum reflects the tension between the desire to promote general scientific literacy among non-scientists and the need to educate the next generation of practising scientists. So he said “the emphasis has been on producing a motivating National Curriculum which includes coverage of all sorts of contemporary social issues rather than a succinct statement of a common core of learning that lists key concepts and processes and establishes them within a sensible framework of conceptual progression.”

 He continued “So we have the paradox that the instrument of central control – in this instance the National Curriculum – destabilises the learning it is designed to protect, a good illustration of how concentration of control in the centre can generate its own entropy and a good justification for an approach along the lines of that locally-responsive ‘community curriculum’ proposed in Professor Alexander’s review.”

The producer cannot, as Professor Alison Wolf pointed out at the same conference, also be an honest inspector –and the Government now is clearly a producer. It has moreover a vested interest in showing ,year in year out, that performance is improving (which is now a political imperative) so it duly does, to most stakeholders continuing disbelief. Admissions tutors at Universities meanwhile continue to observe a mismatch between what they see in terms of the skills and aptitudes of new students and what official results supposedly tell them.

It is instructive that in most other countries, indeed almost everywhere, Government interference in qualifications is confined almost exclusively to vocational education and training for the young. As ever, our establishment feels that it knows best, though OECD league tables might suggest otherwise.

 The Progressive extension of state control over our qualifications is predicated on two assumptions – that the government can be both effective and impartial and top down interventions are preferable to bottom up. It also implies that the Government is more effective, and more impartial, than independent bodies can be, even under regulation. This is an unlikely proposition in the first instance. In practice it is demonstrably unsustainable.

Producer, or Regulatory capture, follows if governments are measuring their own success through the performance of tightly supervised, or nationalised, agencies.

These agencies self-evidently have a strong incentive to influence the way they are measured. The establishment of Ofqual was supposed to signal a move back to independent quality assurance with light regulation but it appears too close to Government and few insiders believe that it will make much difference. The Reform think tank recently proposed that HE Institutions should become more involved in the development of subject syllabuses for A levels. Lebus approves, as it would permit HE, schools and awarding bodies to re-connect and re-establish ownership of the curriculum, instead of its being mediated, as at present, through regulatory and other central points of control. Awarding Bodies would welcome such a development and would be able to respond quickly and effectively (A levels were designed primarily for HE entry)

Lebus also suggested that, more generally, we need to think about how to achieve a shift in control so that we establish a better balance between a less ambitiously stated ‘framework’ National Curriculum and giving room to teaching professionals, awarding bodies, representatives of HE and other interested bodies to create interesting and challenging learning programmes on the ground, programmes in other words, which incorporate a slimmed down National Curriculum but go well beyond it.

 What should drive any education system is the needs of learners. Teachers must be allowed to use their professional judgment more and to teach creatively to respond to learners individual needs and to deliver a rounded education. The qualifications system should be demand driven and while elements of our system are demand driven, far too much of it simply isn’t. You have to ask why most of the best schools are turning away from GCSEs and A level and towards the IB, IGCSE and Cambridge Pre-U.

The answer is that they are losing confidence in the qualifications and the quality assurance and regulatory regime that goes with it. Meddling politicians and civil servants are the primary reason for this state of affairs.

Sometimes centrally driven interventions, and the command and control model works. Literacy and numeracy policy is an example (it is easy to forget just how poor literacy and numeracy teaching was 12 years ago). But the default position should be programmes driven from the bottom up rather than top down. With qualifications the Government has simply got it wrong and needs to change tack.

The shambolic introduction of Diplomas has simply reinforced this message.

Cambridge Assessments concerns over the ability of Ofqual to restore confidence should be a matter of huge concern for all stakeholders.




Not to everyone’s tastes, but the market speaks


It is extraordinary how much debate there is in the blogsphere about the merits and demerits of International Baccalaureate, which is seen by some  here as a better alternative to the A level and in its junior form, the Middle Years programme, as  a better option  than the GCSE.

  In the States some critics suggest that the IB promotes “socialism, disarmament, radical environmentalism, and moral relativism, while attempting to undermine Christian religious values and national sovereignty”. Crikey, it makes it sound rather appealing.

 Elsewhere, in the middle east and Far East it is seen by some  to be   promoting values which are perceived to be too ‘pro-West’. 

 Despite  such criticism demand for the qualification is on the rise. Here in the UK if you include pupils in both the maintained sector, FE  and Sixth Form colleges included, and the independent sector, the total figure for pupils taking the IB  for 2007/8  was 2,485, divided  pretty equally between the private and state sectors.

While growing in popularity here but  from a low base  it  ironically perhaps, is seeing its greatest  growth   in the US, the Middle East, and South East Asia. Across the IB brands , year on year growth is thought to be around 14%. And because the IB doesn’t have ‘ the baggage’ of any one faith, it can gain access to schools which are predominantly Christian or Muslim or Jewish (or anything else come to that)

 The  British government, when  Tony Blair was PM  announced that every local authority in the country would have an IB school; Gordon Brown has gone back on this, but the Conservatives are well disposed  in principle towards the IB, both as a model, and as a programme (


Browns decision to backtrack on the IB commitment is perhaps understandable given that the IB is much more expensive to deliver than A levels. Perhaps, 50% more expensive in fact, as it requires much more  teaching time than the A level.

 The Middle Years programme  of the IB has been in the news recently as a handful of schools are either already delivering it in preference to GCSEs, or about to.

 One noteworthy aspect of the MYP is that it comes in two basic forms. Either a school, can take the more expensive route  seeking  the MYP  as  a full stand-alone qualification:  ie  with certification (which is what  Wellington College has opted for), or  schools  go the other non-certification route and use it as a  way station to the IB Diploma, which is what most  schools, using the MYP in the UK, do.

 However if a pupil leaves school, at 16,  for whatever reason and has been studying the MYP, but not with certification, then they will leave with  no qualification to show to future employers, which might be a consideration for some parents. .

 My only problem is that apologists for the IB tend to oversell its  case-it is clearly not the best option for  every pupil, indeed its insistence that science and maths are  studied by every student,  post 16, probably makes it unsuited to all but a minority.

 The key point in all this is  though is that the increased demand for the IB, and indeed  other qualifications like the IGCSE and Pre-U is because confidence in GCSEs, A levels  and the new Diploma is not what it should be. The blame for this must rest squarely with meddlesome politicians and the QCA.