Principal's Blog

Our mixed curriculum - the best of all worlds

28 July 2022

Surval offers both the American High School Diploma and UK IGCSE and A Level courses. 

With our exceptionally small class sizes where the focus of teachers is on ensuring challenge for each girl to match her level and aspiration, Surval is able to cater for the demands of both pathways.

Whichever pathway they choose, our emphasis on CODE (Challenge, Ownership, Dialogue and Engagement) underpins all courses, ensuring that our focus is on the development of key attitudes to learning which will stand all students in good stead whatever their academic qualifications. Our purpose goes much further and wider than the specifications of any particular course.

What are the key differences between the US and UK pathways?

IGCSEs and A Levels are two-year programmes culminating in final exams at the end. Typically students will sit around seven IGCSEs in Grades 9-10 narrowing down to three or four A Levels in Grades 11-12. The course specifications and content coverage are clearly laid out by examination boards. Surval students follow Pearson Edexcel exam specifications.

The American High School Diploma is achieved by building up a broad range of credits during Grades 9-12. The High School programme retains a broad base of subjects across all four years with the flexibility to choose credits according to interest alongside core credits. High School credits are achieved through continuous assessment rather than a final exam, except if students opt for Advanced Placement courses. Advanced Placements are one-year academically rigorous college-level courses culminating in end-of-course externally assessed exams. In addition to achieving the minimum number of required credits, a student’s GPA (Grade Point Average) is important. This is a cumulative grade based on a student’s performance across the four years of the High School programme.  

The two pathways allow students the flexibility to choose a course to meet their needs.  The A-Level pathway is well established and well suited to students who are clear about their interests and wish to commit to studying a chosen smaller number of subjects in depth over a two-year programme.    On the other hand, the American High School Diploma allows for greater flexibility for students to tailor their programme each year, building up a selection of one-year credit courses year on year. The credit-based system of the American High School allows flexibility for students to join from other curriculum programmes.

What is most important is that both pathways keep routes to universities around the world open. Students from Surval go onto universities in the UK, US, Switzerland and elsewhere regardless of the pathway they have followed in school. Both routes enable students to demonstrate their commitment to their studies, and give scope for students to follow particular courses of interest.  

All of this notwithstanding, arguably what is most important in a Surval education is our Surval Core which is integrated into all programmes. If qualifications open the door, the Surval Core sets girls up for future success giving them a competitive edge for tomorrow’s world.  The Surval Core is based on Languages and Culture, Global Perspectives and Etiquette, Social Enterprise, Leadership, and Adventure.  These foundations set girls up with a multilingual, multicultural perspective, and resilience to study and work anywhere in the world. They develop a sense of social responsibility, openness to challenge and confidence to step up to opportunities and own their voice, which will stand them in good stead to walk into any workplace holding their head high.

Get in touch with us to book a personal one to one meeting with our Principal Mrs Woodhouse

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