To become an IGCSE school in India, a school has to first establish itself conventionally. It has to be run by a Trust /Society / Section 8 company. Such Trust/Society/Company has to be a non-proprietary organization. There must be a School Managing Committee set up by the Trust/Society. For details visit our previous blog post How to Start a Private School in India?. To Start an IGCSE school in India, the school must have state board’s recognition and should obtain a No Objection Certificate stating that the state has no objection to its affiliation with IGCSE. A school affiliated to any other educational board such as CBSE or ICSE can make a transition to IGCSE provided it meets the standards of the International education board that IGCSE is. IGCSE is the only educational board that is sponsored by a university namely the University of Cambridge. Currently, there are around 10,000 Cambridge schools across 160 countries.
Association of Indian Universities has acknowledged the equivalency of the IGCSE certificates with the school certificates provided by the other boards including CBSE, ICSE and state boards. This in addition to the international recognition by universities and employers of the IGCSE certification has shot up its appeal.
International recognition implies that the student becomes eligible to apply for university education in various arenas in most sought universities across the globe after passing the school. All universities in UK, major universities in the USA , Canada, Australia, Netherlands, etc recognize the IGCSE certificates at par with their own school certificates. The commitment of convincing the universities and creating opportunities for its subscriber school students lies with Cambridge itself which takes measures by reinventing curricula and introducing assignments and assessments. If the school can adapt to a dynamic learning of that level it can aspire for IGCSE affiliation.
For IGCSE recognition the school has to fulfill a set of criteria established by the organization. The criteria pertains to the fitness of the institution in running international curriculum and creating a ground for rigorous assessment of the knowledge levels of the students which provides them with the certification progressively.
The process of for affiliation or recognition with IGCSE starts with an expression of interest followed by a formal application. The application is followed by an assistance visit by the local representative of the organization who assists in the completion of the application and furnishes additional information. After the application comes the visit from the representatives of the approval board. The judgment of the board decides if the school gets the approval to run IGSCE curriculum.
This algorithm of affiliation must not mislead the school promoters. We advise the school promoters to be vary of the oversimplified versions detailed in certain web posts. Here we aim to give a comprehensive picture of the expectations of the international education board. We will elaborate on the features of the organization, the details and specific links to refer and examine your school’s fitness for IGCSE recognition.
As stated above you have to draft an expression of interest, thereafter you have to fill the application form for recognition. Prior to applying you must read through the details provided on Cambridge International Official Website to understand the requirements and assess your ability to fulfill them besides knowing the specifics of the procedure.
It is important to choose the program you want to offer from the entire set of programs which IGCSE offers and prepare a draft of the application fee accordingly. For specific IGCSE fee for the program the school has to furnish details and submit an enquiry form available at the link https://help.cambridgeinternational.org/hc/en-gb/requests/new?ticket_form_id=53542 and the information will be provided. There are call centers to assist the school promoters in getting IGCSE affiliation too.
In order to join the elite group of Cambridge schools, it is essential to understand the IGCSE’s fundamentals, their organization, curricular expectations and standards.
IGCSE is a non-profit organization run by a dedicated department of University of Cambridge, UK. Cambridge boasts of 10 lacs learners in 10000 schools across 160 countries. These are impressive figures indeed but so are their expectations from the schools who want to join the global community the preceding schools have created.
The IGCSE gives freedom to frame the curriculum to the schools provided that the curriculum thus designed meets the board’s expectations of the learning outcomes. The board conducts examinations for assessment and grant of certificates namely O level, A & AS levels which correspond to the class 10th and 12th board certificate exams respectively.
There are keystones of the entire structure of IGCSE which include International Curriculum, Teaching & Learning, Assessment, International Recognition and Global Community.
While we explain all of these so that the school promoters can actively infer the expectations of the board from the schools seeking affiliation. More details are available in IGCSE overview brochure.
The International Curriculum
The IGCSE curriculum has been developed for students of age five through age 19. There are subsets i.e. the primary, middle school, secondary. Cambridge O level (14 -16 years) corresponds to High School and Cambridge A and AS level (16- 19 years) corresponds to Intermediate grades.
The international curriculum which can be designed by individual schools keeping in view the demands of the Cambridge learning standards. It has to be intensive and coherent with the scope of broad cognitive application.
There are curricula for children of 5 to 19 years. Starting from the primary Cambridge through Cambridge Lower Secondary to Upper Secondary and Cambridge advance. The school can choose the span of Cambridge curriculum it wants to run. It can start with a stage and can gradually add stages going finally to certification stage. The exceptional feature is that the Information and Communication Technology is introduced in Cambridge primary (5-11 years) itself. For details visit http://www.cambridgeinternational.org/programmes-and-qualifications/cambridge-primary/cambridge-ict-starters/
The IGCSE professes that its curricula aim at “deep subject knowledge, independent research, work across disciplines keeping learning enjoyable and rewarding, smooth progression from stage to other in a spiral process”. The freedom to design the curriculum is granted keeping in view the diverse needs of culture and national contexts.
‘Cambridge Pathway’ from primary to Cambridge senior secondary and further to Cambridge Advanced cover English, Mathematics, Science, ICT and Global Perspectives in primary and secondary stages from which students advance to Cambridge IGCSE which offers from over 70 subjects, Cambridge O Level 40 subjects, Cambridge ICE certificate in upper secondary(O level and ICE). Cambridge Advanced (AS and A level)
It is a multilingual curriculum and places premium on language acquisition both as a subject and medium of instruction. They emphasize on ‘bilingual education’. This implies that a second language can be used as a medium of instruction. In some countries, certain subjects are taught in their own language, called ‘first language’ besides English. In India however, English is used in the majority of the IGCSE schools as the first language. An additional foreign language is also taught. But if the school chooses it can use English as a ‘second language’ and thus can teach certain subjects in any other language suitable for its students. There are options of a foreign language as well, regional languages can be opted in the curriculum as per the choice of the school. Indian languages have to be taught to maintain relevance for the home country. The practice of bilingual education is in keeping with concepts like Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL).
Next comes the expectations regarding teachers in terms of qualifications and attitude. Adaptability is the byword for efficient teachers as far as the Cambridge curricular expectations are concerned. Knowledge of the subject and proficiency in engaging the students with excellent language skills cannot be exaggerated. There are a lot of training programmes that are conducted for the teacher by IGCSE. Cambridge School Conferences are held for teachers to learn about leading international pedagogical practices. School teachers and leaders can avail Professional Development Qualification Programmes that are provided by a network of professional development centers in several regions to make them accessible to teachers in different locations.
Teachers for an educational enterprise like an international curriculum running school must be chosen with skill set precision and after substantial deliberation. Teacher recruitment drive can be made brief by assistance from talent pool like educatorOne.com.
Assessment pattern includes ‘Summative’ and ‘assessment of learning’. These include ‘end of year exams’ and ‘public exams’. Schools have to follow a ‘code of practice’ for exams. The assessment is central to the entire program. The composite name for Cambridge certificate was Cambridge International Examination which has recently been changed to Cambridge Assessment International Education. IGCSE clearly states that providing world-class examinations is at the core of their functions. Subject-specific knowledge is important, but it has also named skills such as ‘knowledge application’, critical thinking and research as being key to successful progression across all Cambridge programmes.
It is also stated that no student shall be detained in any class till Class VIII. Though the student is promoted he/ she will only be assessed in a subject after clearing the assessment of the previous grade. This ensures that the acquisition of basics of a subject is not compromised.
The schools who aspire to earn their students A and AS level certificates that correspond to class XI and XII respectively, have to prepare the students for primary and middle-level stages by introducing the Cambridge curriculum.
One interesting feature is that the assessment aims at involving students proactively. They learn from their mistakes in such a process.
For details visit http://www.cambridgeinternational.org/images/416992-code-of-practice.pdf
Get ready to be a part of the Global Community
As pointed earlier, the Cambridge has maintained a network of 10,000 schools across 160 countries. This amounts to an international community with the capacity to empower anyone who lags behind. At the same time, it obliges an institution to catch up with the global standards.
A ready support system for the new schools is available through the network of schools. Teacher training and other requirements can be shared with the Cambridge in unison. These are outstanding benefits of being a part of the global community dedicated to an evolved pedagogical program and comes as an exceptional advantage to new entrants into the IGCSE.
Moreover, there is a Cambridge Global Perspectives community which is an online community where the member schools can connect with educators and students from different nations to advance their approaches towards meeting the Cambridge program standards.
In conclusion, it can be stated that IGCSE will assess if the school’s education ecosystem is adaptable to the global perspective that IGCSE introduces with its international pedagogical programme before granting affiliation.
If a thorough study of the documents whose links have been provided above is to be done and assessment of the school’s capacity is made, particularly of the ability of the school system to prepare the students for the certification exams then the move towards IGCSE will turn out be a success story.
Founder & Consultant - School Serv
Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.