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More pupils taking 'tougher' exams

Rising numbers of pupils are being entered for a qualification viewed by some as a tougher alternative to GCSEs.

115,000 children from across the country - including pupils from 54 schools in the North East - have been entered for the international GCSE exams, which are known as IGCSEs.

That is twice as many as last year according to Cambridge International Examinations' latest statistics.

The exams are used in many private schools and have been for some years. After a 2010 decision by ministers to allow state schools to offer the qualifications, they are becoming more popular.

  • 963 schools currently offer IGCSEs (UK)
  • 368 schools offered IGCSEs last year (UK)

"Cambridge IGCSE has grown significantly in popularity over the past few years. Schools recognise that its linear structure offers rigour and effective preparation for the next stage of their students' education.

"For sure, they are also mindful of planned educational reforms such as the recently proposed changes to GCSEs and A-levels."

– CIE chief executive Michael O'Sullivan

IGCSE papers are usually taken at the end of a two-year course. Many GCSEs are modular, where students sit exams throughout the course.

Ministers and the exams regulator Ofqual are now making changes to bring final exams back to GCSEs.