Innovating with GCSEs - Keith Budge in TES

Posted on 06th September 2016

In a TES article on alternative qualifications, Keith Budge describes Bedales as its own awarding body, and discusses differences between the grading of Bedales Assessed Courses (BACs) and the non-core GCSEs they replaced.

Bedales is one of three independent schools featured in the article, which looks at recent developments in alternatives to non-core GCSE qualifications – considered by those interviewed to be uninspiring, lacking in rigour and a poor preparation for further study. Bedales students sit five IGCSEs in core academic subjects, but Keith Budge questions the point of them pursuing 10 or 11 as a matter of course, as still happens in many schools.

Alternative qualifications mean that schools must become mini exam boards, setting, marking and grading exam papers and coursework. At Bedales, each BAC is externally moderated by somebody with GCSE experience, to ensure that it does not drift away from GCSE standards. However, the school does not replicate the system by which GCSE standards are maintained, relying instead on the professional judgement of teachers when awarding grades. Keith explains that teachers have a good sense in this regard, and that any issues – for example, grade inflation – would be picked up quickly by others in the department.

Although BACs have considerably more coursework than GCSEs, and so would seem less daunting than GCSEs, this turns out not to be the case. BAC results are published alongside GCSE results and, says Keith “There’s still a sense of expectation about it, so the pressure isn’t off.”

The TES article is available here (subscription required to access the full article).

More information: 2016 exam results at Bedales and the Bedales Assessed Courses.