Upper Secondary (IGCSE) Curriculum

Upper Secondary (IGCSE) Curriculum Y10-Y11 (14-16 years of age, KS4)

Two-thirds of the way through Year 9, students and parents will be invited in for an extra consultation based on potential ‘optional’ subjects to be undertaken at Year 10.  During this information evening, teachers will be available for a short presentation about their respective subjects.  They will also be available for one-to-one discussion after the close of the meeting.  This meeting (scheduled for end of February) starts the process of choosing subjects which will underpin future careers and study at tertiary level – indeed, this time is very important.  From here it is essential that Royal School students make sensible choices based upon research and data.  Students must play to their respective strengths and elect subjects which suit their learning abilities and styles.

There are a ‘core’ group of subjects taken at Year 10, these include:

  • English
  • English Literature
  • Mathematics and
  • One Modern Foreign Language (French, Spanish or German)

A minimum of one Science (Students can take either Biology, Chemistry or Physics – or a combination of two or all three) must be selected from the options list below: 

– Biology                                   – Business Studies                   – Global Perspectives

– Chemistry                             – Art & Design

– Physics                                   – Physical Education

– History                                   – Music

– Geography                           – ICT

Students should have a total of eight subjects (including the core subjects) selected for study through to IGCSE level.  Once an initial selection has been made then a ’sanity’ check is made with every student interviewed to review their subject selection and combination.  It is advisable at this stage to have a selection which can be carried through to AS and A-Level (Year 12 to 13).

Upper Secondary Assessment

All subjects offered in Years 10 and 11 are CIE subjects.  Syllabuses and assessment are all in line with CIE criteria and are cumulative throughout the year.

Year 10

In May of the academic year, students in Year 10 will write examinations across all optional and core subjects.  The End of Year Examination is based on topics covered during the course of the academic year and is in line with CIE assessment criteria.  Grade boundaries are as follows:

Grade %
A* 90-100
A 80-89
B 70-79
C 60-69
D 50-59
E 40-49
F 30-39
G 20-29
U 0-19

It is anticipated that a student who has achieved 3:3-6:3 consistently at Primary level will achieve Grade ‘C’ or above in Year 10 and at IGCSE level.  A ‘pass’ mark is 60% and above.

Upper Secondary Progression

It is important to note that IGCSE is a two-year course and is designed to be delivered over the course of two academic years.  With this in mind the vast majority of students will be allowed to progress through to the end of the course unless data and assessment indicate consistent under-achievement.  If under-achievement is noted then a meeting will be called between the School Head and the parents of the child to discuss pathways forward (if possible).

Year 11

Year 11 represents the final year of the IGCSE programme.  This culminates in external examinations in May/June of this academic year.  All syllabuses for all subjects will be completed no later than April of the year in which the examination is being written.  Mock examinations will be scheduled for all Year 11 students, two weeks prior to the Easter vacation.  Mock Examinations will be marked internally and feedback (informing revision strategies) will be given to all students on a one-to-one basis.

Cumulative assessment is used throughout the year to track progress and in early February, all Year 11 students will be asked to make their respective examination entries for the forthcoming May/June series.  Please note that all examination fees for Year 11 are to be paid by the respective families of the students and examination entry is compulsory.

Core vs Extended Level

Core Level Entry

At the point of examination entry an important decision needs to be made – whether a child should be entered for ‘Core’ or ‘Extended’ examination.  At Core level students write examinations which represent c.75% of the Extended examination.  The highest grade available is Grade ‘C’ (even if a student achieves 100% marks).  The Core option is available in Mathematics, English, Biology, Chemistry and Physics.  Choosing the Core option does have implications on future study:  any student who opts for ‘Core’ entry will not be allowed to study that subject further into Year 12 and 13.

This means that a student, for example, who has visions of becoming a Chemical Engineer will not be able to continue studying Mathematical and Science based subjects for AS and A-Level – if they are unable to write Extended examinations then they will not cope with the demands of an AS/A-Level curriculum.  Other implications are in the combination of subjects permissible at AS/A-Level.  For example if one sits ‘Core’ Mathematics she or he will not be permitted to study any of the Sciences at AS/A-Level – chiefly because Mathematics is an intrinsic part of the study of Sciences at Advanced level.

‘Core’ level candidates receive CIE certificates which do not indicate Core level entry – therefore, for weaker students in Mathematics and Sciences and those who have no intention of pursuing tertiary study or careers in either of these fields, ‘Core’ can represent a viable option.

Extended Level Entry

All students in Year 10 and Year 11 are taught at Extended level – irrespective of ability.  However at the point of examination registration a student who opts for Extended level needs to understand that they can be examined on 100% of all modules within each subject.  Extended level is available for all subjects taught at Royal School.

In order for a student to be entered at Extended level, she or he must have data which ensures this is the sensible option.  Please bear in mind that a Grade ‘C’ (60% and above) is regarded as a ‘Pass’ mark and this provides the benchmark for further study and examination entry.