A school‐leaving qualification introduced in 1965 as an alternative to the General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level (O level) for those candidates for whom O levels were considered too demanding. At the time, it was claimed that a grade 1 CSE was equivalent to an O level for the purpose of progression to employment or to further study. Thus, school‐leavers in possession of grade 1 CSEs in English and mathematics were able to use them as equivalent currency to O levels in these subjects. There was a view among many teachers and pupils at the time, however, that a grade 1 at CSE was more difficult to achieve than a grade C at O level. Like the O level, the CSE was replaced in 1988 by the General Certificate of Secondary Education.