Gove Levels Part II – The I Level

Back in September, I wrote about “Gove Levels” – the proposed changes to the exam system for 16 year olds proposed by the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove.

Today, we’ve heard a little more about his proposals and his latest ideas, which are being called (not officially) I-Levels. The I stands for Intermediate.

The I-Level is very much an evolution of what he came up with in September. Here are a few ‘highlights’ that we found out today:

  • Exams will be graded 1 to 8, replacing the A* to E grades.  8 is the highest mark, equivalent(ish) to an A*, although less 8’s would be awarded than A*s currently.  By having 8 as the top mark, extra levels could be added if necessary, unlike with the current system – where do you go after A*?
  • No coursework (except for a practical in Science worth 10%) with all exams being taken at the end of the school year (June), except for Maths and English, which would be taken in November. I can see this causing some timetabling problems – what do you do with pupils in the Spring and Summer term once they’ve taken and passed their maths and English exams?  Those going on to study these at AS and A Level can start their courses, but what about the rest? Perhaps this is a precursor to some compulsory studying of maths and English to post-16 level? Not sure that I see the merit in doing maths and English in November – perhaps you can come up with a reason.
  • No retakes for a year.

Using a number system could (will!) lead to a change in the way the league tables are produced – they may well be done on the total points per pupil or average points per pupil. The former would “encourage” schools to enter pupils for lots of exams, the latter to enter pupils only in those exams in which they will do well. Or, more likely, it’ll be some combination of the two – say: the average of 5 (or 6 or 8) exams, including maths and English. What is sure, though, is that whatever system is used, schools will find a way to ‘game’ the system if they are being judged using these results.  Hopefully, though, it will put a stop to the focus on the D/C candidates (getting a pupil from a D grade to a C has a huge positive impact on the school’s performance) at the expense of the top and bottom end of pupil performance (an A* is little better than a C as far as league tables go).

But despite all this – will it actually happen? Who knows. Less than 24 hours after these scant details were released, there is already argument over who released the info, and whether they should have. In February, Mr Gove seemed to backtrack on his proposed changes and a start date (to start teaching for the new exams) of September 2015 with the first exams in June 2017 is not a lot of time to get the exams properly tested and piloted.

So who knows, maybe its just more hot air, maybe its just another opportunity to bring Mr Gove to our attention, to show us that he is a politician who is doing something, a politician who maybe has designs on Number 10 …



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  1. Adam Creen
    Posted 04/06/2013 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    I think you’ve misunderstood about November. Maths and English will be taken in June. But ONLY Maths and English will be available for resit opportunities in November, no other subjects, no other opportunities. How they will will check it is a resit and not a first attempt has not been explained. But Maths will still be taken at the end of Year 11, not November as you say.

    • BAadmin4
      Posted 04/06/2013 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for that – it would make sense for all exams to be taken at the end of year 11.

      I was summarising from several different sources, all of which said

      “… Under the new system, all end-of-course exams will be taken in the summer, except for English and maths papers that will be sat in November. ”

      That direct quote above featured in a number off reports – given the (almost) ident-kit articles in the main papers, I suspect it probably featured in a press release somewhere and has been copied verbatim and has led to (mine, at least!) confusion.

      What may happen is that pupils will be entered for their Maths & English I-Level in November of Year 11, and then re-take it in June of Year 11, giving them two bites at the cherry. Defeats the point of what he (Gove) is trying to achieve, but …

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