Cambridge IGCSE curriculum how can it help your child?

I have been a teacher for almost a quarter of a century, long enough to witness an entire generation complete their education and achieve their academic goals. However, this unique profession allows me to witness important non-academic milestones in my students' lives as well.

One of my earliest student was a brilliant and witty young man, Vishal. I taught him biology in grades 9 and 10. Biology however, did not appeal to Vishal in the least, and for this reason, I believed I would not create a lasting impression in this boy’s life as he grew older. I could not have been more wrong. Vishal graduated from school with distinction and went on to study Engineering at Stanford. Every year he would make it a point to visit his alma mater and pour his heart out to me. He oscillated from wanting to become the next Bill Gates to being frustrated and lonely in the United States. I realised my role in his life had changed. I was no longer just his high school biology teacher. I had morphed into his mentor, his friend. I looked on lovingly as he married another wonderful student of mine. I was humbled to watch as they named their baby boy. The next generation had arrived.

The next and possibly the most important milestone for Vishal was, ‘which school for his son’?

We found ourselves in my drawing room dissecting the merits and demerits of an ICSE school versus an as International School. Vishal, while being a Stanford educated millennial, was rooted in Indian values and finding a school that struck the right balance between the two was very important to him.

Here’s a brief summary of what I shared with Vishal.

as Cambridge Assessment International Education is a non-profit organization, part of the University of Cambridge, which prepares students for life by helping them develop an informed curiosity and a lasting passion for learning. Their international qualifications, the IGSCE and A-level, are recognised by the universities across the world giving students a wide range of options in their education and careers.

The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) programme runs through Grades 9 and 10. In IGCSE curriculum students select anywhere from 7 to 10 subjects to study at this level. This broad base allows students to keep their options open with regards to their future career prospects. Subjects are selected from five curriculum areas:

  • Group 1 – Languages
  • Group 2 – Humanities
  • Group 3 – Sciences
  • Group 4 – Mathematics
  • Group 5 - Creative and Vocational
There are over 70 subjects available at Cambridge IGCSE curriculum, and schools can offer them in various combinations. The syllabuses are aimed to develop in students a depth of subject content, to stimulate their intellectual curiosity and help them to apply the knowledge and understanding gained to new as well as familiar situations. They are designed to encourage both teachers and students to recognize their international outlook and at the same time retain a local relevance.

Now, Cambridge Advanced, popularly known as Cambridge A Level builds on the foundation of the IGCSE. Students after completing their IGCSE in Grade 10 would move on to study Cambridge Advanced in Grades 11 &12.

Cambridge International A Level is typically a two-year course. During the first year (Grade 11), students would aim to complete the Cambridge International AS Level (AS stands for Advanced Subsidiary) and then move on to complete the Cambridge International A Level in the second year (Grade 12). Alternatively, a learner may take all papers of the Cambridge International A Level course in the same examination session, at the end of two years.

The Cambridge Advanced course is well known for its flexibility. Schools have a choice of 55 subjects and the freedom to offer them in almost any combination. Learners can specialise or study a broad range of subjects. Since Cambridge International offers three examinations series, October/November or May/June or Feb/March (only for India), students also have the flexibility to fast track certain courses. Most students study either four or five subjects at the A Level. Since each subject discipline emphasizes on depth of content, universities around the globe accept completion of three subjects at the A Level as a valid entry point into colleges.

Vishal took in the information, but I could see that it was not enough. The question that loomed large in his head was, “Should I be choosing a school based on the curriculum it offers”?

All that I could tell Vishal was there are a lot of A level schools in Mumbai and it is not a new curriculum any more. In today’s global world, the IGCSE and the A Level curriculum helps develop skills that prepares students for this increasingly global world we live in today. Subjects like Global Perspectives and Foreign Languages stretch across traditional subject boundaries and help develops transferable skills. Environmental Management, another subject offered, finds resonance in a world where the perils of climate change are now evident. The emphasis is on developing the ability to think critically about a range of global issues where there is always more than one point of view.

However, any curriculum, no matter how modern and excellent it may be in its design, is powerless unless it is taught in a schooling environment that allows the student to reap all its benefits. Knowing Vishal and his strong sense of values he needed to look for a school that nurtures a happy and safe microcosm of the world for its students. A school which believes in inclusiveness and gives top priority to emotional and mental health. A school where every child matters and every student is encouraged to be the best version of himself/herself and where the endeavour is to put service before self. That is the ABWA way.

These are the things that actually matter

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Franak Bandekar

Secondary School & A Level Head

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