Hornchurch student misses out on job after exam confusion

George Goss holds his IGCSE certificate with mum Gill and dad Daniel

George Goss holds his IGCSE certificate with mum Gill and dad Daniel - Credit: Archant

Next week thousands of students will be able to breathe a sigh of relief as they receive their GCSE results.

However, some students may be surprised to find out their exam could well be an IGCSE – the international equivalent of a GCSE.

That is exactly what happened to 17-year-old George Goss, of Hubbards Chase, Hornchurch, who lost out on an apprenticeship with engineering firm Qinetiq because they didn’t recognise his English language IGCSE.

“He took his exams last year and after a year of college he decided to do an apprenticeship,” said George’s mum, Gill.

“They asked for copies of his certificate and when they saw it they said they would withdraw the offer.

“I got an email back from the company director and he said they had been advised that it’s not as demanding a syllabus as GCSE.”

George, who attended Hall Mead School, Upminster, said: “At first I was annoyed at the school, but it wasn’t really the school’s fault.

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“It’s just been quite annoying because I had the idea that I would start in August.”

Gill added: “Why is it acceptable for secondary schools to be offering courses that may ultimately result in their students achieving a qualification that an employer can choose not to acknowledge?

“If all schools had to continue with the GCSE, this situation for our son would not have occurred.”

Exam board Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) said that an IGCSE is the equivalent to a GCSE but does not require UK-specific knowledge. Because of this, some companies, like Qinetiq, do not recognise IGCSEs.

A spokesman for Qinetiq said: “Our Apprentice Training School sets its own entry requirements to ensure successful applicants stand the best chance of success on its challenging courses.

“For this year’s intake the GCSE was specified as the benchmark. However, we continually review our entry requirements to reflect changing academic routes and are currently assessing how the IGCSE might fit into our selection process.”

Hall Mead School could not be contacted for comment.

See next week’s paper for our GSCE round-up.