Ofsted Blog on the Practice of “Gaming” the GCSE Examinations System
September 14, 2018
Last week, Ofsted has released a blog exploring the practice of “gaming” in schools. “Gaming” refers to the unethical decision taken by some schools to enter candidates for GCSEs which benefit the school more than the individual pupils.
According to Ofsted, a common form of “gaming” refers to the practice of using the Attainment/Progress 8 ‘open group’ to enter candidates for qualifications which have a lower ‘currency’ than others but which are likely to generate high Progress/Attainment 8 scores to push the school up the league tables. Examples of “gaming” include schools entering pupils for qualifications which overlap in terms of content or putting all candidates in for ‘easier’ examinations. Until recently, Ofsted noted that some schools would enter pupils for the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL). This qualification counted toward the ‘open group’ and, while of minimal use to the pupil, the majority of candidates performed very well – which subsequently meant they had higher overall Attainment/Progress 8 scores.
The blog warns schools that it is easy for Ofsted inspectors to spot signs of “gaming”. Inspectors will ask serious questions if pupils are performing disproportionally better in the ‘open group’ of Attainment/Progress 8 than across other subjects.
Those governing are reminded that “gaming” is unethical and contradicts the purpose of education which is to ensure that young people are equipped with the necessary tools to lead happy and fulfilling lives. In reviewing this year’s GCSE outcomes, secondary governors and trustees should look to root out any signs of “gaming”. Where identified, those governing should question senior leaders and gain assurances that the practice will stop immediately.