British Curriculum: Everything You Need To Know

We Asked Some of the Best International Schools in the World About What Makes The British Curriculum Stand Out! Let’s See What They Had To Say.

The British Curriculum is one of the most well-known and highly-regarded curricula in the world of international education. Schools from Madrid to Manila choose the British Curriculum because they see it as the best choice for providing their students with a first-class education. Parents from around the world seek out British schools to prepare their children for success at British universities and beyond.

But for many parents trying to find the best school for their children, understanding the details of the British Curriculum and what sets it apart from the other excellent international curricula can be a challenge. 

This is why we brought together experts from some of the top international schools who use the British Curriculum to help you understand what makes this curriculum unique and whether it may be the perfect fit for your child.

What Is the British Curriculum?

The British Curriculum is also known as the National Curriculum for England, and this system of education stresses creativity, critical thinking, and flexibility. Simultaneously, the British Curriculum includes a series of measurable and achievable goals, each designed to build on what went before while preparing the student for their future work.

One of the first steps in selecting a great school for your family is understanding the curriculum they follow. There are several great options to choose from, and each has impressive benefits for the students who study under that system.

Let’s take a look at what the British Curriculum looks like and how it works:

You don't have to be in the United Kingdom to get the benefit of a great British education. There are plenty of international British Schools, too
You don't have to be in the United Kingdom to get the benefit of a great British education. There are plenty of international British Schools, too

The British Curriculum is also known as the National Curriculum for England, and this system of education stresses creativity, critical thinking, and flexibility. Simultaneously, the British Curriculum includes a series of measurable and achievable goals, each designed to build on what went before while preparing the student for their future work.

Through its focus on goals and achievement, the British Curriculum ensures that both parents and children understand their progress. This, in turn, allows each student to reach his or her full potential. Here are a few key takeaways from one of the most popular forms of education in the world.

What Top British Schools Answer:

The British Curriculum is a highly structured curriculum designed to meet all students’ needs—challenging brighter children and providing support to those who need additional help through differentiated teaching and learning activities. 

It focuses on a breadth of knowledge across various subjects, guiding children towards globally-recognised GCSE & A Level examinations. Throughout the British Curriculum, there is a focus on core subjects, such as maths, English, and science.
As children progress through their education, they are able to narrow subject areas, which allows them to excel in areas in which they have higher interest and ability. In the Primary years, the curriculum remains as broad and balanced as possible, with a strong focus on child-centred learning. 

As older children narrow their subject areas, there are a variety of pathways. These are delivered under the regulations of a national examinations benchmark that makes it easy for parents, students, teachers, other schools, universities, and employers to track progress and understand future learning targets.

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The British Curriculum is a rigorous program of study that begins in the nursery school and ends with GCSEs (General Certificate of Education) at age 16. The curriculum is an undertaking to allow students to discover, to build their knowledge, and to develop their learning and life skills.

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What Are the Benefits of the British Curriculum?

  1. A Globally Recognized System
  2. A Focus on Both Breadth and Depth
  3. Well-defined Key Stages Provide Clear Understanding of Progress
  4. Schools Encourage Growth Beyond the Classroom

Having seen how the British Curriculum is structured, it is important to understand how this system can benefit your child. Each education system provides unique benefits to learners based on the explicit and implicit goals of the educational framework.

Let’s take a look at the main benefits of studying the British Curriculum:

There are many benefits to the British Curriculum
There are many benefits to the British Curriculum

A Globally Recognized System

The British Curriculum, established in 1988, is one of the most widely taught educational systems in the world. The education is student-centered and well balanced, providing both breadth and depth of subject matter. Students are assessed through regular benchmarking, which ensures they have mastered the content and are prepared for the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and A level qualifications.

A Focus on Both Breadth and Depth

The British Curriclum structures learning in a way that guides students through a variety of subjects including not only ‘core’ subjects such as maths, science, and literature, but also the arts, humanities, and more. Starting in the early years, students focus on the fundamentals of their subjects, and as students progress, the curriculum dives deeper into these subjects, exploring not only the more nuanced and complex aspects of the subjects, but also how they relate to other areas of study.

Well-defined Key Stages Provide Clear Understanding of Progress

Unlike the American Curriculum, which does not explicitly define the stages of education, the British system is organised in well-defined blocks known as ‘Key Stages’. The first stage is the Early Years for students from 2 years old through 5 years old. Once the student enters primary level, they start with Key Stage 1 (KS1), from ages 5 to 7, before moving on to KS2, which lasts from age 7 to 11. After completing the primary Key Stages, students begin the secondary stages with KS3 and KS4, which are for ages 11-14 and ages 14-16, respectively. Students who plan to continue to university may then begin the pre-university KS5, where they will study from age 16 to 18. Since the stages are explicitly defined and students are assessed at the end of each Key Stage, the stages provide a simple, clear overview of the progress a student has made.

Schools Encourage Growth Beyond the Classroom

As a curriculum which aims to develop well-rounded individuals who not only understand the core principles of their subjects, but also how to use this knowledge in real-world situations, the British Curriculum places a high priority on extracurricular activities such as team sports and performing arts, which help students develop skills in leadership and teamwork and to understand the intricasies of competition and camaraderie. Schools that follow the British Curriculum also encourage students to participate in activities that deepen their understanding of academic subjects such as Model United Nations, Debate, or STEM activities like robotics or maths competitions.

What Top British Schools Answer:

There are many benefits of the British Curriculum. These include the way it prepares children in a broad sense for the future, narrowing subject-areas according to individual interests and ability. This is particularly beneficial to those with specific career goals. 

The British Curriculum is rigorous and, as one of the longest-standing systems (proven to work over many decades), it is well-regarded across the world. In addition, the system is monitored and quality-assured through the inspectorate system. Britain has a rich heritage in schooling, and the curriculum upholds strong British values while celebrating its nation’s cultural diversity.

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The benefits of the British curriculum are its flexibility and its rigour. Beginning with basic literacy, numeracy, and social skills, children follow a journey in which they are introduced to different subject disciplines as they grow and change as learners. 

The curriculum allows for a certain amount of choice, especially after age 14, and caters to all types of learners and those with additional needs. The British Curriculum provides students with a perfect blend of skills and knowledge gained in a host of different learning environments.

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International recognition of the British Curriculum

The British Curriculum is one of the most popular curricula in English-speaking international schools. As one of the leading international curricula, the British Curriculum is recognized by schools, academies, universities, and employers worldwide.

Whether you plan to stay in one place for the remainder of your children’s education or foresee your family moving several times before graduation, knowing that your child’s education will be applicable and transferable to other schools and universities is crucial to ensuring educational outcomes.

Let’s take a look at the transferability of the British Curriculum:

The world is becoming more connected every day, so it is important to choose an education that is recognised around the globe
The world is becoming more connected every day, so it is important to choose an education that is recognised around the globe

The British Curriculum is one of the most popular curricula in English-speaking international schools. As one of the leading international curricula, the British Curriculum is recognized by schools, academies, universities, and employers worldwide.

Students who study under the British Curriculum can quickly transfer to a new school and pick up almost right where they left off. In addition to this, the GCSE and A Level examinations are well regarded and accepted around the globe.

What Top British Schools Answer:

The British Curriculum is recognised globally, and many people send their children to the UK for British schooling, with a particular draw from Asian countries. At Rugby UK, for example, almost 20% of students are international students from abroad. The GCSE and A Level examinations (or international equivalent) taken within the curriculum are also widely accepted and respected.

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The British Curriculum is recognized around the world as one of the leading school curricula, hence the proliferation of British schools in all corners of the globe. Teachers training standards within the British curriculum are exceptionally high. Teachers are often dedicated to their own professional development due to an education system that seeks to set the global education agenda. GCSEs, awarded at age 16 in a whole host of subject areas, are recognized by employers and universities the world over as representing one of the most challenging exams in schools.

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Which Schools Can Offer the British Curriculum?

All state-run British schools can teach the British Curriculum. Though not compulsory, the British Department of Education does offer a voluntary accreditation scheme for British Schools Overseas (BSOs).

Part of what makes world-class curriculums so sought after is that they are trusted by parents, universities, and employers around the world. This trust is often based on strict accreditation and rules governing the way students are taught, meaning not every school can teach whichever curriculum they please.

Let’s see which schools are able to teach the British Curriculum:

State-run schools in Britain aren't the only schools that can offer the British Curriculum
State-run schools in Britain aren't the only schools that can offer the British Curriculum

Many schools around the world offer the British Curriculum. Though not compulsory, the British Department of Education does offer a voluntary accreditation scheme for British Schools Overseas (BSOs). These schools must follow specific guidelines and maintain a certain level of quality to maintain their prestigious accreditation and ensure their students’ education is up-to-date and transferable.

What Top British Schools Answer:

All state-run British schools can teach the British Curriculum. British independent schools and international schools can choose which curriculum to deliver (but then need to apply to have accreditation). Rugby School Thailand is in the process of receiving the prestigious COBIS accreditation.

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Schools offering the British curriculum would ideally also employ a large number of teachers trained in Britain and for whom English is the first language.

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What to Look for In A Great British School?

Parents can inquire about school alumni’s successes, view rankings in examinations and extracurricular activities, and examine the campus and facilities. Families may also want to learn about what schools offer outside of the classroom, for example, the types of sports or educational activities.

The popularity of many internationally-recognised curriculums means that there are often several schools in a given region to choose from for each system. Whether you have decided on the specific curriculum that is right for your child, or you are still in the process of selecting, it may be helpful to know whether the schools you are considering provide the best possible outcomes based on the curriculum they follow.

This is what you should look for in an outstanding school following the British Curriculum:

It can be a challenge to find the perfect school when so many amazing British Schools to choose from
It can be a challenge to find the perfect school when so many amazing British Schools to choose from

As a parent, you want to ensure that the school you choose for your child will provide an excellent education and prepare your child for success beyond the classroom. Each family will have their own set of standards when considering a set of schools, but some common characteristics make for an outstanding British school.

Parents can inquire about school alumni’s successes, view rankings in examinations and extracurricular activities, and examine the campus and facilities. Families may also want to learn about what schools offer outside of the classroom, for example, the types of sports or educational activities.

What Top British Schools Answer:

Choosing a school is a personal choice, and it can be best to look around and meet the headteachers to see if you like it. Then find out what the curriculum provision is—do you want a school that finishes early or late? A school with daily sport? Etc.

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A world-class British school would be a welcoming, ‘open-door’ school in which children are encouraged to ask questions; to discover through play, investigation, and collaboration; and where the teachers are highly knowledgeable with an academic qualification relevant to the age group and subject area that they are teaching.

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Is the British Curriculum Right for Your Child?

The British curriculum will be right for your child if you value education as a journey, not a destination. In general, if your family is coming from the United Kingdom or plans to move there in the future, the British Curriculum is a great choice.

Above all—more important than transferability, more important than any specific factor—what truly matters is whether the curriculum is right for your child. While each child is unique and has specific needs and learning styles, there may be some common threads that make a curriculum better for your child.

Here are some things to consider when deciding if the British Curriculum might be a good fit:

Finding a system where your child will thrive is a key element in selecting the best curriculum
Finding a system where your child will thrive is a key element in selecting the best curriculum

The British Curriculum is a fantastic choice for many students; however, the choice of which school and which curriculum is the best is a very personal one. In general, if your family is coming from the United Kingdom or plans to move there in the future, the British Curriculum is a great choice.

But even if your family has no plans of living in the United Kingdom, the British Curriculum still offers an excellent education framework with a decades-long record of success in schools around the world. After considering all of the British Curriculum benefits, you may decide that it is the best choice for your child.

What Top British Schools Answer:

The British Curriculum can be right for any child, and parents are best placed to make the decision based on their child’s needs.

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The British curriculum will be right for your child if you value education as a journey, not a destination. British curricula schools seek to inspire young people to want to develop their skills, and assessment is often based on what students ‘can do’ as opposed to what they ‘know.’

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Conclusion

In the end, although all major international curricula offer an excellent education for students, each curriculum has benefits and drawbacks that can affect whether it will be the right choice for your family and your child.

The British Curriculum is a fantastic choice that provides a globally-recognised education
The British Curriculum is a fantastic choice that provides a globally-recognised education

The British Curriculum is a fantastic, internationally-recognised system that provides a first-class educational framework for students. It is uniquely suited for students who plan to attend a British university or families that often move.

As one of the longest-running international curricula, the British Curriculum has been tried and tested and has shown to be a successful education system. This outstanding record of success, along with a well-defined system of quality oversight for schools and students, should provide parents with a sense of confidence that their child will be receiving one of the best educations available.

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