According to the Council for Independent Education (CIFE), the professional association for twenty-two of the leading independent sixth form colleges, its members running Easter Revision courses are reporting an increase in demand for GCSE courses this year. This is being attributed to the recent reforms of the GCSE examinations, designed to contain tougher topics than previously. The new exams combine new content, new assessment and a new grading system.
James Barton, Director of Easter Revision Courses at MPW College, London, explains the reasons: ‘Parents are a lot more clued up on the reforms now and their questions are much more targeted. GCSE demand is buoyant because there is continuing nervousness about the new exam specifications. Secondly, as schools get ever stricter on admissions into their sixth forms, parents are using GCSE revision courses in large numbers to try and ensure their child’s place for A-levels at their chosen school. No one wants to be the wrong side of the line on results day.’
MPW College, South Kensington, London
We asked James Barton to tell us why the revision course stigma has disappeared:
‘Summer examinations are of pivotal importance for students. Government led reforms mean that the examination system is now more challenging. GCSE results have always been an important milestone but their significance today is greater than ever. For lower-sixth students, regardless of whether the examinations are internal or external, their results will have considerable influence on their UCAS references and predicted grades as they are replacing the AS level grades marker of the outgoing system. For upper-sixth students, their results will determine their university and career prospects and in some legacy subjects, this may well be the last opportunity to sit the examinations.
A-level demand has always been driven by a wish to translate predicted grades into university places in August. However, there is also now a resurgence in GCSE demand buoyed by a continuing nervousness about the new exam specifications. Furthermore, schools and colleges are also raising their requirements for sixth-form entry, driving uncertainty. With A levels becoming linear, university tutors are paying much closer attention to applicants’ GCSE grades. Not surprisingly, students are keen to ensure that their exam preparations are as comprehensive and streamlined as possible during the final few weeks before their examinations begin.
The stigma about taking a revision course has vanished. Nowadays, revision courses are generally quite self-selecting in terms of the students signing up to courses, with students using practice based revision classes to ensure their grades for top universities or places at their nominated sixth form. It leads to a very conducive and interactive working environment.’
Click here to read the School House guide to the best revision courses this Easter. For more information on Easter Revision courses run by CIFE colleges, go to http://www.cife.org.uk/courses-at-cife-colleges/easter-revision-courses-at-cife-colleges/