Students at Geneva English School take part in numerous extracurricular activities, including many sports © GENEVA ENGLISH SCHOOL

A pathway for the future: the British curriculum
Internationally mobile parents in Geneva are often faced with a vast array of options in terms of curricula for their children
1 Apr 2024

In a city as international as Geneva, it is no surprise that parents are faced with many choices in terms of schooling, and it can be somewhat bewildering to decide which school will be the best fit for their children. We can consider ourselves fortunate in being spoiled for choice, but the onus is then on parents to do the research required to make the best decision for each child.

One element that is often overlooked, and at times misunderstood, is the importance of the school curriculum in setting internationally mobile children up for success.

A common misconception is that the different ‘international’ curricula are more transferable and more widespread. In fact, the most widely taught curriculum in international schools across the world is the British Curriculum, with over 10,000 schools worldwide offering A Level school leaving qualifications, compared to fewer than 4,000 offering the International Baccalaureate® (IB) diploma. 

While no curriculum on offer in the region is intrinsically better than another, each program has unique features. The British Curriculum is known for its structured approach, with clear learning outcomes defined at each of five ‘Key Stages’ of the educational pathway, and assessment methods which enable teachers, students and parents to gain a clear understanding of how well a student is doing. This clarity also makes it easy for internationally mobile students to transfer seamlessly from one school to another.

The British Curriculum also has a very strong focus on literacy and numeracy, as well as other core subjects across sciences, humanities, arts and more, which tend to be taught as individual disciplines rather than blended together as can be the case in some international curriculum approaches.

At Geneva English School, which has two campuses located in Genthod and Versoix, all students from age 3 to 18 follow the British Curriculum and benefit from a strong focus on academic topics, enhanced through activities such as physical education, debating, STEM and entrepreneurship. The school’s educational approach also places a clear emphasis on extracurricular activities, with a view to students becoming well-rounded human beings and developing teamwork, leadership and critical thinking skills through sports, arts, music and community service.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the British Curriculum and other school-leaving qualifications is the possibility for students to select just three or four subjects for their final two years, with no compulsory subject options. Unlike the IB diploma, which requires students to study six subjects which must include mathematics, science, humanities and at least two languages, the A Level diploma program’s focus enables students to play to their strengths. This typically results in students being more engaged in their learning. For students who already have a clear idea of what they would like to study at university, this can have further benefits: aspiring doctors can choose only to study sciences, which increases their chances of acceptance at medical schools, while aspiring lawyers can focus on English and the humanities. Importantly, however, A Levels do not preclude students from keeping their options open, since the freedom of choice means students can study any combination of subjects.

“Students studying A Levels select subjects they are passionate about and as a result they can showcase their skills, knowledge and understanding of those subjects. The format of an A Levels program is more similar to that of a university course, so students may be better prepared for that next phase of their education,” explains Matt Williams, Head of Geneva English School.

Students at Geneva English School can choose from 18 different A Level subjects, including Art and Design, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Drama, Economics, English Literature, French, German, Geography, History, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Music, Physical Education, Physics, Sociology and Spanish. With a 100% pass rate, results are world-class, ranking in the top 5% of schools globally.

With their long-standing track record and wide acceptance at universities worldwide, A Levels provide an excellent pathway for international students to access the very best higher education options. While most top universities also recognise other qualifications, data from Oxford University suggest that A Level students are up to five times more likely to achieve the conditions of their offer than those studying the IB diploma! According to Pearson, the UK’s largest awarding organization, “A Levels are more widely recognised and valued more consistently (than the IB) both globally and at individual country level for university admissions.”

Ultimately, the choice of both school and curriculum must reflect the individual aspirations, strengths and preferences of each child as well as their family situation. Families opting for the British Curriculum, however, can be confident that this choice will enable their child to develop both academically and socially, become adept in English, and provide the foundations for a successful transition to thousands of schools, universities and employers worldwide.

To find out more about Geneva English School or to schedule a visit, please contact our Admissions department: 

* Tania Gentet Ganose is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator for Geneva English School.
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