Your Guide to the Cambridge Curriculum at Chesterhouse College
What is the Cambridge Curriculum?
The Cambridge Curriculum prepares pupils to sit the international examinations administered by Cambridge International Examinations (CIE). The CIE, in turn, is an examination board which operates under the auspices of Cambridge Assessment which was founded in 1858 as a department of the University of Cambridge.
CIE offers examinations and qualifications in more than 127 countries. Cambridge qualifications include international A-level, AS-level, O-level, IGCSE and Pre-U. Examinations are open to students internationally at registered CIE centres.
CIE first developed their International General Certificate of Secondary Education more than 20 years ago for an international student body. Today, CIE offers more than 70 subjects for Cambridge IGCSE. Recent developments in UK education have seen proposals for pupils to write the IGCSE examinations rather than those for the GCSE because the former is of a higher standard than the latter.
CIE is the largest provider of international secondary (aged 14 to18 years) examinations in the world. Cambridge International Examinations operates in 160 countries around the world including the UK and Europe, South Asia, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, North America, Central and South America and Africa. In some countries such as Singapore, Cambridge examinations are the state qualification for students in secondary school. In other parts of the world such as Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland, the board has worked with governments to reform their education systems.
In South Africa, CIE works closely with our local Matriculation Board because CIE pupils not only qualify for matriculation exemption but regularly gain entry into some of the toughest selection courses at university. We have attached the Higher Education South Africa/Cambridge International Examination brochure for your convenience. Please click on the link below.
Why have we chosen this curriculum at Chesterhouse?
At Chesterhouse we recognise our obligation to offer our pupils a reputable curriculum which our parents can trust. Furthermore, we know that CIE prepares children well for university and life.
The Cambridge International Examinations provide a quality qualification that is internationally recognised.
How does Chesterhouse best prepare your child?.
- Pupils learn important skills, namely not to learn subject content by rote but to take the information and interpret it in an analytical and in-depth manner.
- Pupils learn the very important attributes of writing answers coherently, ensuring a logical flow. They learn that facts become appropriately woven into analysis, critical opinion and thought. These are essential skills in life.
- Pupils learn the invaluable advantage of a good work ethic that ensures adequate preparation. They learn both the amount of time required for thorough preparation and the very necessary skill of good time management.
What are the advantages of this?
- Pupils derive great benefit from their education.
- They can function well in the workplace.
- There is a high chance of academic success when they enrol at university.
- They have the information and educational ability to plan their tertiary studies or to use a more informed approach when selecting a career.
- They have a sound understanding of the higher academic demands made by tertiary institutions in SA and abroad.
What are the other curricula on offer in South Africa and what do they stand for?
- The NCS – the National Curriculum Statement
This is the curriculum that is offered at all government schools in South Africa, as well as many independent and private schools. When the matric results are released in South Africa at the end of December or the beginning of January, this is the curriculum that is being referred to. Pupils take seven subjects to their Grade 12 or matric year; a first language, and a second language (both from the eleven official South African languages) must be written. Mathematics is compulsory, at least at Maths Literacy level. Life Orientation is also compulsory, although it is not examined as part of the final examinations.
- The IEB – the Independent Examinations Board
These examinations are written by many independent and private schools across the country. The IEB matric results are often released in the media at the same time or just before the national matric results. Subject choices are the same as per the NSC, but the examinations are set by the Independent Examinations Board and are often said to be of a higher academic standard.
- The IB – the International Baccalaureate
This curriculum and its examinations are also written across the world and like CIE’s it is offered to students who are at a school that is registered with the IB.
How do the results in the Cambridge International Examinations compare to others when applying for university?
Our academic staff have conducted much research into the acceptance of this curriculum by South African universities. Where university faculties still require a certain number of points from aspirant students, the following table applies.
|The NSC Rating Table||Achievement Rating||University entrance points|
|A+ 90% or better||8|
|A 80% or better||7|
|G below 30%||0|
|The CIE Rating Table|
|AS Level||IGCSE Level|
|A = 8 points||A = 6 points|
|B = 7 points||B = 5 points|
|C = 6 points||C = 4 points|
|D = 5 points|
|E = 4 points|
How is the Cambridge Curriculum implemented here at Chesterhouse?
We ensure that the syllabi followed in our Junior School prepare our pupils for entry into the CIE curriculum in the College.
Your son or daughter enters Chesterhouse College and begins high school. They continue with most of the subjects they have been doing at Junior/ Primary School. The only extra subject that newcomers might notice is French. Children at Chesterhouse start taking French classes in Grade 5.
In the College, Social Science is taught as History and Geography and Natural Science is known as Physics, Chemistry and Biology and is taught as three separate subjects.
At the beginning of Grade 8 your child is asked to make two decisions before entering our College – whether they wish to continue with Afrikaans or French as a second language, and to choose two subjects from Art, Drama and Music Knowledge. As a rule, only pupils who have taken French at Junior School are eligible to choose French in Grade 8.
In the third term of the Grade 8 year, around September, pupils are asked to choose their IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) subjects. They have to select a total of 8 subjects with four being compulsory:
- English Language (First Language)
- English Literature (First Language)
- Second language – either Afrikaans or French.
The remaining four subjects are chosen from a list of four groups.
The College is busy phasing out the eighteen-month IGCSE course, and has introduced a new academic programme in 2012. All Grade 8s as of that year will commence their IGCSE course in the January of their Grade 9 year. The pupils who entered the College in 2011 will still follow the old academic programme of an eighteen months IGCSE course that starts in their Grade 10 year.
Grade 9 (2013)
As of 2013, the IGCSE course as per your child’s chosen subjects starts in Grade 9 and lasts for a period of approximately two years. The IGCSE examinations are written in October/November of their Grade 10 year.
Grade 10 (2013)
The Grade 10s are the last intake of the eighteen-month IGCSEs. They commence their course in January 2013 and will complete it in May/June 2014.
Grade 11 (2013)
Pupils at Chesterhouse conclude their syllabi and begin a revision programme for their IGCSE exams during the first term of their Grade 11 year. The exams are written in May and June, according to the worldwide timetable set by CIE. Our Director of CIE Affairs at Chesterhouse ensures that pupils do not write exams for a period longer than 6 hours per day.
The mid-year exam scripts are sent to various marking centres which are accredited Cambridge examinations marking centres. Because of the large number of students writing the CIE exams worldwide and the stringent quality controls CIE exercises, results are released in mid-August. Once pupils receive their IGCSE results, they set about finalising their subjects for their AS Level examinations to be written at the end of Grade 12.
Pupils may choose 4 or 5 AS-level subjects, depending on the many variables of the pupils’ choices after school and their IGCSE marks.
The only compulsory subject for the AS Level course is English.
The remaining 3 or 4 subjects are chosen from the same list of subjects as IGCSE, but they are often grouped differently, depending on various factors that include class size and the timetable. Drama is the only IGCSE subject not offered at AS level as well.
For the remainder of their Grade 11 year and throughout their Grade 12 year pupils prepare for their AS Level examinations.
Grade 12 (2013)
The AS Level course is a demanding one that requires a good work ethic and commitment to the subjects that pupils have chosen. There are a number of important aspects to remember for the best preparation, and maximum benefit, from this course.
Attributes of the course:
- Syllabus material is covered in depth.
- The course is designed to encourage and demand critical, analytical thinking in all subjects.
- The responses that are given by pupils throughout the year in both the preparation and revision of the subject matter demand that there is a systematic flow of information, combining facts with a critical analysis of the facts in order to draw conclusions.
- The manner in which a pupil prepares an answer is consistently and critically assessed for factual interpretation and presentation throughout the AS Level course.
- Past papers and the expected answers are thoroughly analysed and practised during revision periods.
The AS Level examinations are written in October/ November of the Grade 12 year. As with the marking of the scripts for the IGCSE exams, the AS Level papers are marked at accredited centres and results are usually available internationally towards the end of January the following year. In the past few years, results have been made available between the 22 and 26 January. Pupils can access these results from their homes.
At Chesterhouse we spend time with each pupil. We regularly scrutinise their results and support them to fulfil their personal goals.
It is important to remember that candidates can rewrite specific papers when Cambridge again runs their exams in May and October of each year should the pupils wish to improve their AS results.
As of January 2013, we offer full A-level courses. Each course is tailor-made to the pupil’s requirements.
A-level subjects are taught by experienced teachers in college, tutor-style lessons.
Pupils attend their A-level course after normal school hours and they do not wear school uniform.
What does your child need to get a Matric Exemption?
If your child wishes to apply to university, they must offer:
- 4 AS Level subjects in which they have attained a Grade D (50%) or better and 1 IGCSE subject which they have passed with at least a Grade C. There are specific grouping requirements that also have to be met.
- The child’s statement of results is presented to the university of their choice which then calculates the total number of university entrance points achieved.
- Each university in South Africa, along with their different faculties and residences, determines their entrance points requirements. These requirements change every year. Pupils are encouraged to check admission requirements in their Grade 11 year and to make their individual application to universities timeously. The school assists them where possible.
What CIE grades qualify as a National Senior Certificate?
If your child does not want to go to university, a diploma course requires a pass in 3 subjects at AS Level (grade E minimum) plus, either 3 at IGCSE (graded A – C) or 5 at IGCSE (graded A – E). Should your child wish to study a certificate course, a total of 2 AS subjects passed with at least an E is required, together with the same IGCSE requirements as for a diploma course.
Should your child complete their full IGCSE course, they will have the equivalent of a Grade 11 certificate.
Head of Academics
Welcome from our Cambridge International Examinations Officer
As you peruse through our curriculum information, you will also discover how South African universities favourably rate the CIE curriculum. I urge you to take a careful look at the information below on this page which continues from my message and which details how we at Chesterhouse School work with the Cambridge curriculum and how it will benefit your child.
Please feel free to contact me should you have any further questions on firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to meeting you.