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Why Are (I)GCSEs and IB The Best Exams For Our Students?

06 March 2015

As we head into exam season I thought it would be good to give you an overview of why we use the IB Diploma Programme (IBDP) as our gold standard of education for our Year 12 and 13 students and (I)GCSE for students in Years 10 and 11.

  • Graduation 2014

There is one very simple rule that our school likes to live by: don’t just take our word for it, look at our results which are externally verified. We accept students from all backgrounds and abilities and we can prepare them to get the best possible academic outcomes. (I)GCSEs and the IBDP are recognised worldwide no matter whether you are applying for a job, university or to enter another school. These qualifications are respected and reliable. It is very important that the IBDP and the Cambridge and Edexcel IGCSE exam boards that we use are internationally recognised and trusted organisations. When a student gets 45 points in the IBDP or an A* at (I)GCSE you know he or she has combined the hard work necessary with understanding, to achieve a great result.

Britain has traditionally used A-Levels with the argument that you concentrate on less subjects but in greater depth. In (I)GCSEs we ask our students to take a minimum of 8 subjects. Therefore if it is good at age 16 why is not so good at 18? The IBDP asks students to pick six subjects, three studied in depth, called Higher Level and three studied at what is called Standard Level. I think if you were to speak to any of our students they would argue that all their Higher Level courses are studied in great depth and this is also backed up by British qualifications authorities.

A UK report from 2014 into mathematics for instance, found the IB’s Higher Level mathematics to be “more challenging” than its A-level counterpart.  Salaries for IB graduates are on average 8% higher than A- level or other equivalents. Why is this? It is the fact that the IB is globally minded (as are (I)GCSEs) and that the study range across six different groups is making the students into all-rounders. The core areas of study range from mathematics, language and literature, foreign language acquisition, experimental sciences, humanities and social sciences to the arts.

Employers increasingly value this global outlook and universities value the research skills that are taught in internal assessments, the 4,000 word Extended Essay and the Theory of Knowledge course that all IB students are required to undertake. The British education sector has had a huge debate in the last few years about trying to move towards a baccalaureate style programme and that in itself shows that at the highest level of politics the concept is seen as worthy. Certainly more and more schools are turning to the IB in all countries.

Many of our students will head off to university and their applications are a lot easier to write due to the IB’s insistence that all students take part in the Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) programme that makes students more active, community minded and pro-active in changing the world. When it comes to university applications Britain’s UCAS currently rates the IB so highly that achieving the world average of 30 points at IB gains  you more UCAS points (credits needed to get into university) than an A-Level candidate getting 2 A grades and an A*.  The IB is respected and understood globally and helps our students get into university. With so many countries constantly trying to change their exam entries IB and (I)GCSE give a comforting stability in how they are set up and how they are unlikely to change from a trusted and recognised formula.  The IB develops the study skills and expertise learnt at (I)GCSE and continues it with the choice and breadth of IB.  The IB learner profile and ethos is crucially without any political interference.

These last few weeks our Year 12 CAS students have worked with our Year 8 and Year 9 students on the Global Classroom Big Challenge. The ideals of learning that goes beyond individual subjects is very much linked to our High Performance Learning philosophy and our students are proving year on year that HPL, (I)GCSEs and the IB are standards that get them university places and ultimately jobs that they want around the world. The High Performance Learning (HPL) philosophy and framework was created by Professor Deborah Eyre based on 35 years of her academic research into advanced cognitive performance.

Finally a thank you to Peshali Fernando the visiting psychotherapist from United Family Healthcare (UFH) and to the parents who turned up for the children’s mental health and well-being sessions this week. They were well-attended and worthwhile events and next week UFH are also lending us Dr Yong Li who will be doing some alcohol awareness sessions for our students in Year 9 and up. We will also be welcoming Clive Leach back into school soon and the work on preparing our student, parent and teaching community to have the right information and attitude to deal with all the pressures of modern life and expectations is extremely valuable. Please don’t forget to check Clive’s presentation from his last session on the school website. Peshali Fernando has also promised to give us the information from her presentations to add to the wellbeing and mindfulness work that is ongoing.

I am looking forward to the PTA International Food Evening next week, as you may know I am an honorary member of the Polish table and of course I am also looking forward to the school production the week after. I hope you are buying tickets for both!

Have a great weekend.

- Chris Share, Head of Secondary


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The British International School Shanghai, Puxi

111 Jinguang RoadHuacao TownMinhang201107Shanghai


金光路111号华漕镇上海市 闵行区201107

Nord Anglia Education

4th Floor, Nova South
160 Victoria Street
LondonUnited Kingdom

General Enquiries +86 021 5226 3211

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