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Upper School (IGCSEs)

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International GCSE qualifications

Ages 14 – 16 (Year 10, Year 11)

Upper school comprises CHS Level 3 and CHS Level 4 (Years 10 and 11 in other schools). During these two critical years, students study and pass their International GCSE qualifications. International GCSEs are highly respected, stand-alone qualifications and are a passport for progression to A Levels and ultimately to University.

Upper school students can choose the subjects they wish to study but should bear in mind that A Levels require a top grade in the same subject at International GCSE. So if you need to study Biology, Maths and Psychology at A Level because that is what you need to enter University, then you need to study these same three subjects at International GCSE level too. Students can only study A Levels in subjects they have already studied and attained a B (6) grade or higher in at International GCSE level.

Also, students can choose the number of International GCSEs they wish to study. However, students should not choose too few subjects because they may require an A Level to enter University and if they haven’t studied it at International GCSE level then they won’t be able to study the subject at A Level. Students change their mind about what they want to study at University all the time and so the broadest selection of International GCSEs affords the greatest scope for future directions.

Cambridge Home School students typically attain between a half and one whole grade higher than their peers in most other schools at International GCSE. This is because Cambridge Home School students have many advantages including; superior qualified teachers (Masters/PhD), small class sizes, interactive classrooms free of distractions and bullying, the largest archive of video-recorded lessons to accelerate revision, learning and catch-up, minute by minute reporting available to parents for monitoring performance and grades and unrivalled accessibility to teachers.


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Our school is nearly always full, with very few school places!

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Yes. Most students want to progress on to A Level courses and you can’t do this unless you have good results, usually a B grade or higher (6 -9) in the subject you want to study at A Level

No it is a pass. However, this grade is unlikely to be accepted by most 6th form colleges in top schools to study A Levels. Typically students need grade 6 or higher to get on to an A Level programme in top schools. This is because there is a big jump in level between GCSE and A Level and students with grades lower than 6 are going to struggle. Sometimes students attain lower grades for understandable reasons outside of their ability; illness, bereavement etc. In such mitigating circumstances schools may allow students with grade 5 to study A Levels. This is because such students are capable of A Level study but were disadvantaged by their personal circumstances.

Yes, most students attain between one and one and a half grades higher than the national average. This due to selecting very motivated academically able students and providing them with  small classes, highly qualified subject-specialist teachers and powerful technology that targets the higher grades. We also offer dedicated success coaches, inspirational speakers, counsellors and super supportive peer groups and clubs.

GCSE and IGCSE are equivalent qualifications. The I stands for international and because CHS is an international school IGCSEs make sense. GCSEs are only available to students in the UK which would mean many CHS students would not be able to study them.


No. Both GCSEs and IGCSEs are equivalent qualifications and are accepted by UK Universities.

Typically, private schools attract more international students. The I in IGCSE stands for international. IGCSEs can be studied by international students where as GCSEs can’t.

If we consider that a grade 1 is technically a pass then very few students will fail their IGCSEs. However, for students wanting to progress to A Levels (most students) any grade lower than 6 in good schools might be considered a fail to the student. While passing first time at grade 6 is desirable it is possible to retake examinations so it is more a matter of time. It won’t ruin your life if you don’t attain a grade 6 or higher first time – just retake them if you can afford the time. While a delay of 6 months to a year can seem disastrous to young people it really isn’t in the grand scheme of life. So do your best to prepare for your examinations but if things don’t go your way first time then just try again. A common reason for poor examination performance is stress so find a healthy balance of determination and perspective.

Strictly speaking you don’t need any to be a Doctor because you need a medical degree. However, to get onto a medical degree you need A Levels in English, maths and the sciences, and to get onto the A Level programmes you need a grade 6 or higher in the same subjects at IGCSE level. Most IGCSE students study 8 to 10 subjects but as long as you do well in the subjects mentioned you need not study this many. That said, many student change their mind about their future ambitions so studying a few extra IGCSEs can be a smart move.

Strictly speaking you don’t need any to be a Lawyer because you need a Law degree. However, to get onto a Law degree you need A Levels in English, history or geography and a language (Latin, Spanish, Italian are popular as much legal text is derived from Latin and global perspectives are important) to get onto the A Level programmes you need a grade 6 or higher in the same subjects at IGCSE level. Most IGCSE students study 8 to 10 subjects including English, maths and a science, but as long as you do well in the subjects you need to study at A Level you may not need this many. That said, many student change their mind about their future ambitions so studying a few extra IGCSEs can be a smart move.

English Language, maths and at least one science are your starting point. Most schools make these subjects obligatory and for good reason – you need them for almost every job and getting through life without them could be a challenge. So the other subjects are what you can choose. A good approach is to consider what you want to be doing with your life as an adult. Choosing your  future career(s) is never easy at any age but as a teenager it is even harder as you are too young to have experienced careers. This is why having a broad range of IGCSE subjects is a good idea. If you wake up one morning with a eureka moment and you suddenly realise you want to be a midwife then you are going to be glad you picked biology. If you woke up thinking you want to be a police officer you’ll be glad you picked physical education or a language or religious studies. For those lucky few who know exactly what they want do for a career it’s relatively easy to choose the right subjects; just work backwards from the degree you will need. If you need A Levels in the sciences to be a Doctor then make sure you choose them at IGCSE. You must make sure that you choose the IGCSEs that will get you onto the A Levels that you will need to get onto the Degree that you need to get into the career that you need.

Going through life as an uneducated person is tougher than it is if you are educated – simple! Regardless of whether you want to go to university or not you will need a job and employers need people who can read, write and speak to a reasonable level – typically that level is GCSE level. Also, bear in mind that as we grow older we want more from our lives, particularly when we have a family of our own. To provide a good standard of living for you and your family you will typically need a well paid career. To get this career you will probably need a degree and to get onto a degree you will need A Levels and to get on to A Levels you need GCSEs or IGCSE or equivalent vocational qualifications.

It is a fact that for most people in the world the opportunity to study IGCSEs is a distant dream. To have the opportunity to study many diverse subjects is a gift that we too often take for granted. If we push to one side grades (not easy to do we know) then study can be wonderful. As we study we grow and become better people; we learn tolerance, understanding, empathy, sympathy and kindness from learning about the triumphs and mistakes of peoples and their relationship to their world. Also, learning with our peers in classrooms can provide us with life-long cherished friendships and memories of laughter and fun. Curiosity is as natural as breathing and there is nothing more fun than satisfying curiosity.