Cigna International Health Insurance

The British School System vs. International Baccalaureate 0

By Martin Humphrys

Summary: What is the difference between the British educational system and the International Baccalaureate (IB) system followed at many UK international schools?

The High Mistress of St Paul's School for Girls in London (Elizabeth Diggory) indicated recently that GCSE's were a waste of her girls time and the Government Blue Paper on post 14 education seems to reiterate her view, with a proposal that will eventually see the brighter students missing them all completely in order to go straight to AS and A levels.

Schools such as Sevenoaks in Kent and KCS (Kings College School) Wimbledon, which for a number of years had the IB (International Baccalaureate) working side by side with the A levels have both now abolished A levels completely and their students will in future only take the IB. North London Collegiate the top school in the UK over the last few years is looking at proposals to introduce the IB, as is Winchester where the Headmaster Nick Tate was until taking up his appointment, Chairman of the Government's Examination Council.

Students whose parents are continually moving around the world because of their profession (i.e. the expatriate nomad) will find the IB is clearly the best solution. A child is able to transfer easily into any school, which undertakes the IB, and follow a curriculum, which allows them to continually progress.

What is the problem with the GCSE and A level system in comparison? The worst scenario is for a child coming with their parents at 15 years of age for example. The GCSE programme starts at Year 10 for a 14 year old and is a two-year programme involving considerable course work. That course work is so demanding that no top school in the UK will allow any student to enter their programme after the half-term of the first term of Year 10, for to do so would be educational suicide. Thus for a 15 year old there are two options:

1. To start year 10 again with the 14 year olds and begin the system properly  the social implications here are self-evident and can be disastrous.

2. Undertake the IB where no such problems arise and movement into the system is easy and they will have a year pre-IB preparing for the Diploma  but do not be fooled the IB is very academic and any school which undertakes the programme will wish to see that the student is capable of achieving a good mark.

Even if you are coming from a British School abroad do not be fooled.

Most British schools abroad start their academic year in February undertaking the IGCSE programme. If a student completes their programme in February and as a 14/15 year old then moves with parents to the UK they will already be six months behind and not able to slot into the system and will have to start again. Likewise the syllabus used by the IGCSE is unlike that of the GCSE and compatibility almost impossible.

Likewise what of a 16 year old arriving with no GCSE's who wants to do A levels - the top schools will require GCSE results unless they do the IB - so be prepared to be told they need to spend a year obtaining GCSE results and then to come back.

Many parents want to give their children the "British experience" but it does not always work especially at 16 years of age - if they are in for example the American High School programme they should be kept there to complete it, so many children suffer when they move over and never recover  and more importantly it is not their fault.

The question every parent should ask before they move their children into any educational system is "Where will I be in three to four years time?" The answer is critical and the choice of education for the child should reflect the answer.

The IB with the Primary Years Programme (3-11), Middle Years Programme (12-15), Diploma (16-18) allows flexibility in a demanding academic environment.

At the moment there are numerous schools undertaking the IB Diploma in the UK but only three doing all three programmes and they are in or around London:

Southbank International School - http://www.southbank.org The American Community School at Egham http://www.acs-england.co.uk (Egham Campus) International School of London http://www.islondon.org

The IB website can be found at http://www.ibo.org

In short - seek advice! The system is changing and what is right for one child may not be right for yours and British is not necessarily always best!

About the Author

AS Martin HumphrysMartin Humphrys, MA (Cantab) PGCE (Cantab), Educational Consultant for Sterling Corporate Relocation, was educated at Chatham House Grammar School, Ramsgate, and Downing College Cambridge University. He undertook his teaching certificate at the Cambridge Department of Education where he taught at Hinchingbroke School, Huntingdon – an 1800 student Comprehensive School.

An Individual Member of the European Council of International Schools, Martin joined the Sterling Education Team as an Education Consultant in 1999, and has since addressed a number of conferences in regard to educational placements in the United Kingdom and abroad.

Write a Comment about this Article

Sign In to post a comment.
addacomment

First Published: May 03, 2002

Cigna Expat Health InsuranceExpatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance from our partner, Cigna Global Health.
Get a Quote

Culture-Shock-in-CozumelAn Expat Talks about Culture Shock & Living in Cozumel, Mexico

An expat in Cozumel appreciates that good friendships feel like family, the community sticks together and the family-oriented culture.

An expat in Cozumel appreciates that good friendships feel like family, the community sticks together and the family-oriented culture....

Living-in-SuzhouAn Expat Discusses Living in Suzhou, China

An expat in Suzhou, China offers great advice about getting to know other expats in Suzhou, acclimating to a new culture, where to live and more.

An expat in Suzhou, China offers great advice about getting to know other expats in Suzhou, acclimating to a new culture, where to live and more....

Cost-of-Living-in-MexicoCost of Living in Mexico

The cost of living in Mexico is one of the first topics considered by expats exploring the idea of moving there. Here's an idea of what your expenses will be if you choose to one of the expat hotspots in Mexico.

The cost of living in Mexico is one of the first topics considered by expats exploring the idea of moving there. Here's an idea of what your expenses will be if you choose to one of the expat hotspot...

Mexico-Visa--ResidencyMexico Visa & Residency

If you plan to move to Mexico, you'll need to understand the process involved and the order in which requirements need to satisfied. Here is an excellent primer on what you'll need to do regardless of the amount of time you plan to spend in Mexico.

If you plan to move to Mexico, you'll need to understand the process involved and the order in which requirements need to satisfied. Here is an excellent primer on what you'll need to do regardless o...

Copyright 1997-2021 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal