Mamta Sharma- Founder & Career Mentor @Eduvew, Certified Global Career Counselor (UCLA Extension), Teacher Trainer, Masters of Environmental Communication and B.Ed
The author is the Founder and Career Mentor- Eduvew [India | Dubai]. She is an Educationist, a Teacher Trainer and a Career Advisor with over 18 years of proven track record. She has effectively conducted numerous School Academic Audits and Teachers’ Workshops on curriculum implementation and has been mentoring students around identifying the right career while also extending guidance and support services at Eduvew, for College Applications abroad in the students’ dream course and desired study destination.
They say education makes a human being out of us, teaches us to be humane. It is high time we realized that education isn’t just a means to a good job and luxurious lifestyle. It’s also about adding the relevant skills and at the same time establishing ethics and morals of high standards.
The first step towards this is the choice of good school, that not merely gives information to its students, but also provides an effective nurturing environment along with opportunities to evolve.
One of the most common concerns among parents, when their children are ready to move from primary to secondary school, is the dilemma in deciding a curriculum or Board that will help their children get into good university.
The two most common choices, especially for children looking for international curriculum, are General Certificate of Education Advanced Level most commonly known as the GCE A levels (or simply A-Level) and the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program (IBDP).
Both of these are very popular high-school programs which pupils take during their final two-year programs.
So how do you choose a Curriculum/Board/School that prepares your child for a dynamic future where the global conditions are constantly in flux ? There are a few array of indicators that parents should consider.
Curriculum and co-curricular activities- The depth and breadth of curriculum and the pedagogies influence your child’s higher education and future career trajectories. While curriculum is a criterion, the school should also provide with opportunities to develop child’s, physical and cognitive skills as well as overall personality through various co-curricular activities like outdoor sports, art & craft, performing arts, hobby classes. A curriculum weighted heavily towards academics misses out on extending learning experiences through these activities that imbibe critical life-skills like, team spirit, self-confidence, leadership skills in their students. Hence, you need to conduct thorough research into each school's curriculum offerings. Details of curricular and co-curricular activities are usually available on the school website.
Student-teacher ratio- Small class sizes are known to have a positive effect on children’s learning. It allows the faculty to pay individualized attention ensuring that each child comprehends the curriculum and get the help to reach their full potential.
Teaching and learning style- No two individuals are same. In 1992 a study described four different types of learning style in students acronym known as VARK (Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, Kinesthetic). For instance, if your child learns more effectively through images and graphics, she/he may be a visual learner. Similarly, children can also be auditory, reading/writing, or kinesthetic (tactile) learners. For teachers attuning to such distinctions can help them connect better with their students.
A teacher’s pedagogical style also impacts the child’s ability to learn and comprehend.
There are two different student-centric styles that are suitable for the child’s growth and
Inquiry-based: This learning style involves students leading the session, thus encouraging independence and hands-on learning.
Cooperative-based: This learning style promotes experiential, peer-to-peer, or interactive projects.
Personal visits and conversation with the Principal can be helpful.
4. Your child’s needs and interests- You must take into account your child’s strengths,
weaknesses and interests. Ask questions like : Are they more into arts ? Do they love
child have any special learning needs ? It is of utmost importance to consider interests,
aptitude and personality of your child as it will help identify the right career that your
child wishes to pursue in future. Do seek help of a career advisor If you are unsure how
to determine yourself.
Look for a school that will cater to their individual needs, encourage their strengths, and
help them work on their weaknesses.
The same goes while switching Boards: Do not just switch to IB just because the child wishes to apply abroad. It does not help or increase chances of admission. There are multiple other factors that matter and are used to make admission decision. Rather the shift should be based on a through self-analysis by the student.
The student should reflect on the following questions:
Do I seek deeper knowledge about the topics I study?
Do I enjoy reading books for recreation?
Do I question what I learn in class?
Do I seek a wider, global scope of exploration while learning?
Do I enjoy inquiry based assignments?
Do I analyze facts in a balanced manner before arriving at an opinion?
Do I have good writing skills?
Do I know which career would be right for me ?
Once the decision is made, appropriate preparation should begin. Try to gather as much information by talking to IB students/ Parents and by visiting the School. Next create an action plan to bridge the difference. Reading, research, analysis, writing and time management skills should be actively developed for a successful conversion to the new system. Parents and students should have frequent conversations at home about the progress of the student and maintain regular communication with teachers, counsellors and coordinators to address queries and seek advice. Also, asking for help without hesitation, even if it means seeking help from a Psychologist, is important to ensure support from all resources available in school and at home.
The quantity of work needed to excel in any curriculum is not any different-just a shift in approach is needed. Regardless of the Board that students study, they shall excel and will be on right track as long as they understand that its only their sincere work that will translate into excellent grades.
Some schools offer GCSE and then IB Diploma – what is the logic behind this?
General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is externally examined whereas the IB's Middle Years Programme is internally assessed by schools.
Parents may prefer this and then have the option to choose the IB Diploma or A-Level, both of which are externally examined.
CBSE / ICSE offers a relatively theoretical model of education that is well suited for students preparing for college entrance exams in India and is also reputed and recognized worldwide. The Grade 12 exams are scheduled in March to enable students to join college in July as per the Indian system.
IGCSE- IGCSE, established by the University of Cambridge International examinations, is recognized worldwide for its emphasis on student-centric education. It is designed to be taught as a two-year course for students in Grades 9 and 10. During the two years, the teachers use different methods of assessment including course work, practical exercises, oral and listening tests, project work and written examinations. Post IGCSE, students can opt for A/AS levels or IBDP for their plus 2.
IB- The IB programs were founded by The International Baccalaureate Organization and is a non-profit educational organization with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. It runs three programs:
Primary Years Program from Kindergarten to Grade 5
Middle Years Program from Grades 6 to Grade 10
The Diploma Program for Grades 11 and 12
The six subject groups are:
Studies in language and literature.
Individuals and societies.
Pupils also take three core units, writing a 4,500-word extended essay, studying the theory of knowledge and involving themselves in activities involving creativity, activity and service.(CAS)
Why choose GCSE A level
Why choose IB
Traditional learning with focus on textbooks.
Enquiry based learning with lot of Project works.
Parents are more aware of the learning process as it is based on textbooks.
Some parents feel less involved without a clear cut framework.
Minimum of three subjects.
Minimum of six subjects – three at higher level, three at standard level.
Graded with letters, A* being the highest grade.
Subjects are scored from 1 to 7, need 24 to obtain the diploma.
Flexibilty in choosing subjects - a child good with numbers can take Maths, Further Maths and Physics.
Pupils need a mix of humanities, sciences, and languages, regardless of the child’s interest.
Pupils also take three core units, writing a 4,500 word Extended essay, studying the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) and involving themselves in activities involving creativity, activity and service (CAS).
The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is externally examined.
The IB’s Middle Year Program is internally assessed by schools.
Is one better over the other? Which is a more credible qualification?
All Boards/programmes are credible and globally recognized qualifications. It is about which is better for the individual pupil, educationists said. Different approaches suit different pupils. With the right study habits coupled with hard work, sincere students will thrive in under any boards, but those with weaker approaches to studies will struggle everywhere.
This information is intended to guide parents and students over confusion of selecting the right Board. However, if your confusion still persists, do reach out to us for a personalized guidance. Our Career Counsellors and Advisors are experts from education domain and come with over decades of experience, to be able to handhold your child on the right track.