For families moving to Beijing, this may also include which curriculum to choose, given the huge choice of excellent international schools in this city.
For some this will be an easy question based on nationality, but for others it will be a daunting one.
For ex-pats where their country’s national curriculum is not offered in Beijing, it also means trying to understand the terminology and jargon used in another nation’s curriculum.
The English National Curriculum, as offered by The British School of Beijing, Shunyi,(BSB) is considered one of the leading curricula world-wide and is recognised across the globe.
The curriculum is flexible enough to ensure that it meets the academic needs to help children excel in the international ex-pat environment.
Understanding the structure of the English National Curriculum
The English National Curriculum offers a subject-based curriculum from aged 5. It is academically strong and leads to external examinations at age 16 and 18, which are the iGCSE and International Baccalaureate.
Before the age of 5, children follow a structured play-based curriculum. This puts an emphasis on physical, personal, social and emotional development with listening, understanding and speaking skills to foster good communication. This programme is known as EYFS (Early Years and Foundation Stage).
In the National Curriculum, students are placed in Key Stages according to their age.
- Key Stage One - Years 1 & 2 (5-7 years old).
- Key Stage Two - Years 3, 4, 5 & 6 (7-11 years old).
- Key Stage Three - Years 7, 8 & 9 (11 - 14 years old).
- Key Stage Four - Years 10 & 11 (14 - 16 year olds) iGCSEs
iGCSE stands for International General Certificate of Secondary Education. These examinations are recognised internationally and are probably the best preparation for all post-16 qualifications, such as the IB, which is studied at The British School of Beijing, Shunyi.
The IB Diploma is widely recognised, along with the more traditional A-Levels, as the best preparation for top universities world-wide.
The approach that BSB has taken is seen as being the best combination of the two systems in terms of curriculum maturity and the international ex-pat environment the school operates in.
How does it compare to other Curricula?
The International Baccalaureate (IB)
The International Baccalaureate curriculum consists of the PYP (Primary Years Programme) for student aged 3 to 12, the MYP (Middle Years Programme) for students aged 11 to 16, and the IB Diploma, which is a pre-university entry curriculum designed to meet the academic needs of university entry worldwide.
The strengths of the IB programme are that children are taught to ask questions and see links between their learning. Students are encouraged to look at the bigger picture and to understand they must be flexible in the ways in which they use their knowledge. It encourages links between subjects at all levels.
The American Curriculum
There is no single American Curriculum that is in operation worldwide. Schools will vary in the choice of state curriculum model with many following Californian standards but it is important to understand that each school will vary in the subjects they offer. This is because in America, local government determines the curriculum.
The ages for compulsory education vary from state to state as well, starting at 5 to 8 and ending between 14 and 18. Education is divided into three levels - elementary, middle school and high school. Schools have to ensure they respond to the No Child left Behind Act so they will all provide the same core subjects such as maths, science and English and students have to take standardised tests in these areas.
Making the right choice for your child
As with any choice, choosing a school curriculum is very personal and being informed is important.
If you are leaning towards one curriculum type, take the time to find out more. The so called ‘hidden curriculum’ - how a school functions, how people are treated, if the school is an inclusive, safe and welcoming environment are all important factors to take into consideration.
You also need to consider your long-term plans. If you know that you’re returning to, or moving to a country that follows a certain curriculum and that your children will have to work in that model, then it makes sense to follow the same curriculum in Beijing.
For further information or to answer any questions you may have about the English National Curriculum, please contact us. firstname.lastname@example.org