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A guide to the British National Curriculum

Many Shanghai schools adopt the UK’s curriculum

A guide to the British National Curriculum

The National Curriculum of the British schooling system encompasses the governments of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The National Curriculum was designed for students from age 5-18 and is followed by most state schools. Most independent schools follow their own curriculum.

In Shanghai, the English National Curriculum is used to guide the academic teachings. There are different phases within this, which are called “Key Stages 1-5”.

The first two stages focus on a nurturing environment for children while maintaining a High Performance Learning approach.

  • Key Stage 1:

This is a foundational time for children ages 4-7 including an SAT test.

  • Key Stage 2:

This is for ages 8-11, and includes basic academic fundamentals and an SAT test.

  • Key Stage 3:

For ages 12-14 are encouraged to form opinions and choose their favorite courses at the end of year nine (SAT Test). They gain exposure to a variety of subjects taught by teachers who specialize and are passionate about their subject.

Students discover their strengths and passions and are placed in classes with students of similar learning ability. These opinions and course choices they make influence future exam and university choices.

Students are still required to take core classes such as English, Math and Science along with their courses of choice. Additionally, students study two foreign languages.

  • Key Stage 4:

For ages 15 to 16, students are prepared to take exams for the International General Certificate of Secondary Education, or IGCSE. Employers and universities around the world recognize the IGCSE exams.

These concluding exams are slightly altered from the similar exams that students in Britain take, in order to better represent the unique backgrounds of students at international schools in Shanghai.

  • Key Stage 5:

For ages 17 to 18, this is the final phase. This is when students receive their General Certificate of Education, or their A-levels. Following this is the IB program, which is highly regarded by universities worldwide.

The academic rigor and demand this program requires is substantial. British schools in Shanghai include British International School of Shanghai in Puxi, Nord Anglia International School Shanghai in Pudong(IGCSE and IB DP), Britannica (IGSCE), Dulwich (IGCSE, IB DP), Wellington (IGCSE) and Yew Chung International School (IGCSE, IB DP).