Why should you study IGCSE Maths at an international school?

Posted: 20th July 2021

In this latest Blog, Taunton School International Mathematics Teacher, Louise Higgins, explains some of the benefits for international students who study IGCSE Maths at a school like Taunton School International.

Starting the year, some of my students question why they are studying IGCSE Mathematics if their skills are already at a high enough standard to go on and study Mathematics at A level or as part of their International Baccalaureate.

Within Taunton School’s International School (TSI), we currently offer IGCSE in Mathematics to all students on the one year fast track IGCSE/Pre IB course.

So, if you’re an international student and you are already familiar with Mathematics, why study IGCSE Mathematics?

It may be helpful for international families to first understand what GCSEs are: GCSEs (General Certificate of Secondary Education) mark the completion of Secondary Education in the UK. British students typically will take their GCSE exams at the end of Year 11 when they are 16 years old. IGCSE stands for “International General Certificate of Secondary Education”. It is equivalent to the GCSE qualification which is taken by students in Year 10 – 11 in the UK to prepare them for further pre-university level study, such as A-levels, IB and Foundation coruses. The IGCSE is the ‘international’ version of this academic qualification as it’s available in many countries around the world. Both are taken by students all over the world, before they move onto their pre-university education.

Below are some of the benefits of taking IGCSE Mathematics at an international school before beginning further education at a mainstream UK independent school.

Small class sizes

In this small classroom setting with class sizes a maximum of 10 and as a teacher specialising in international education, students are given the opportunity to explore this new way of learning and speaking and familiarise themselves with the material within familiar concepts before to moving onto A level or the IB.


Improve your English

Many students joining Taunton School International (TSI) are here to improve their English, and what better way to do this by recapping concepts they are accustomed with in their own language. Studying a course you are already familiar with helps you to learn new vocabulary and familiarise yourself with terminology you will continue to use through your education such as integers, significant figures and acute angles (acute loosely translating in Russian to stupid!)


Get used to using standardised notations

In addition to getting used to the terminology, it also helps to be more confident using the types of notations that are used in the British National Curriculum. In the UK, we use decimal points for decimals not commas, commas for multiples of thousands, the divide symbol, not colons and the multiplication symbol not a dot for multiplication. Support is available every step of the way with our small class sizes and expert EAL teachers, so there is always a chance to ask for help.


Study at your own pace with students just like you

At TSI we have students from around the world and each curriculum up to aged 16 is slightly different in every country. The content of the IGCSE Mathematics course is presumed knowledge for those studying A level or IB Mathematics at Taunton School so this one-year course addresses and bridges any gaps in student’s knowledge from their own curriculum such as statistics not covered in such detail within international curriculums. Also, as mentioned in the introduction, IGCSE courses are internationally recognised so if students are planning to continue their education in their home countries, it is much easier with the IGCSE.



Preparation for further education

Upon speaking with current Taunton School students who attended TSI last year (who were very able mathematicians and are currently studying both Mathematics and Further Maths) they actually found the IGCSE course harder than their current Year 12 studies. The most-able students entering the IGCSE Mathematics course will spend the year covering the IGCSE course like their peers but with a larger emphasis on the problem solving and reasoning element of the syllabus. This both assures they achieve a grade 9 at IGCSE but also prepares them for the UKMT (with one student reaching the top 600 and being selected for the Maclaurin Olympiad) and STEP assessment used to assess those wishing to read Mathematics at the best UK Universities.

At Taunton School, we offer a range of courses to suit learners of all ages and abilities. Our Pre-GCSE programme, One-Year GCSE or Pre IB or Two-Year GCSE courses are available to students from around the world. Each course includes intensive English coaching as well as studying a broad range of other academic subjects, including Mathematics, Science, Geography, History, Music, ICT, Art and Games/PE.

Find out more about our Academic Options here.

Are you interested to learn more about GCSE options at Taunton School? Get in touch with our Admissions team to find out more: email admissions@tauntonschool.co.uk or call +44 (0) 1823 703200.

Categories: Blog International