Choosing a Secondary School: IGCSE vs. IB MYP speaks to some of Singapore’s top international schools about whether parents should choose the British (IGCSEs) or the IB (Middle Years Programme) pathway to a post-16 education.
Choosing a Secondary School: IGCSE vs. IB MYP
By Carli Allan
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It may feel like only yesterday you were weeping at the school gate as you dropped your child off for their first day of primary – and then suddenly the end of secondary is in the not-too-distant future. As your child races through their last year of primary, it’s only a few years before they’ll be choosing their exam subjects. But which secondary school curriculum is best for your child?

Singapore’s international schools champion international and British curricula. While some see the IB as a globally recognised qualification and the best choice for today’s students, others strongly believe that I/GCSEs and A Levels remain the gold standard in secondary education.

As your child approaches Year 7/Grade 6, most international schools in Singapore choose between a UK pathway that works towards the GCSE and International GCSE curriculum or the International Baccalaureate’s Middle Years Programme (MYP). I/GCSEs are a two-year curriculum taught in Years 10-11 that follow on from Key Stage 3 in the National Curriculum for England. The MYP is a programme for 11-16-year-olds (Years 7-11) that follows the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP).

That’s a lot of letters and numbers! To help make sense of it all, speaks to some of Singapore’s top international schools about why parents should choose the British or the IB pathway to a post-16 education.

Which is more widely offered in Singapore – the MYP or I/GCSEs?

MYP students at Canadian International School

There are eight international schools in Singapore following the MYP, compared to more than 25 that offer I/GCSEs. For some IB schools, but certainly not all, it’s a natural progression to move from the Primary Years Programme (PYP) into the five-year MYP, and then onto the Diploma or Career-related Programmes (IBDP and IBCP).

For British curriculum schools following the National Curriculum for England (or the Cambridge International Primary Curriculum), it can be a seamless move into the two-year I/GCSE programme. The vast majority of these schools will then move onto the IBDP, with Tanglin Trust School being the only international school that offers a choice of taking A Levels or the IB.

Schools must be authorised by the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) to offer the MYP, and teachers must be trained to teach the MYP.

There are many schools in the city, though, that offer a blended curriculum – switching from the IB PYP to I/GCSEs or from I/GCSEs to the IBDP. And then there are schools that follow the MYP for Years 7-9 before moving onto I/GCSEs for Years 10-11; at Nexus International School, for example, teaching follows the MYP for three years before focusing on I/GCSEs.

There’s choice aplenty in Singapore – certainly far greater than you may find in your home country – and it is one of the strengths of international education here. While the task of choosing which pathway to take may seem daunting, you should feel reassured that both programmes can complement each other; both offer a robust, rigorous education that provides a platform for further study; and one is not better than the other. It’s all about finding the one that brings out the best in your child.

Next: Curriculum: What subjects will I study at I/GCSE compared to the MYP?

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