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What are the benefits of Cambridge International versus IEB curriculum?

by Monica Dunk, Head of Administration & Cambridge International Assessment Education at Reddam House Durbanville

Monica Dunk, Head of Administration & Cambridge International Assessment Education at Reddam House Durbanville
Monica Dunk, Head of Administration & Cambridge International Assessment Education at Reddam House Durbanville

In recent years, the Cambridge International curriculum has become a hot topic of conversation in the education sector. What is it? What are the benefits of Cambridge versus IEB? And why has it become so topical? Monica Dunk, Head of Administration and Cambridge International Assessment Education at Reddam House Durbanville - one of the Reddam House schools which follows a dual Cambridge and IEB curriculum - unpacks this.


In our fast-changing world where globalisation is set to stay, there are key skills that should be taught at school level. Today and in the future, it’s all about the ability a successful person will have with regard to thinking skills, problem solving, thinking ‘outside the box’ and successful facilitation of the obstacles the daily workplace can deliver. The Cambridge International (CI) curriculum is flexible, challenging, inspiring and international in approach, resulting in students developing an informed curiosity, a lasting passion for learning and the essential skills required for success at university or in their future careers.


And so, to best equip the scholars of today, education needs to focus its outcomes on these concepts. This is where the curriculum, the syllabus, what is delivered in the classroom becomes critical.


How is the Cambridge International curriculum devised? Experts in the field of education reflecting the latest educational research create the syllabus content providing a strong platform for students to progress from one stage to another. The resultant syllabus is well supported by teaching and learning resources.


Dual curriculum schools are fortunate to have the freedom to look for curricula that deliver these criteria. In the senior phase, Cambridge International has two main externally recognised assessments, namely IGCSE and AS/A-Levels. These exams are usually taken in grade 11 (IGCSEs), and grade 12 (AS Levels) and the A Levels offered in Grade 13 as a choice for a post matric year. The results of these internationally set, run and marked exams are transferrable and accepted in every major university in the world – not just local tertiary education institutions.


The two external exams provide a more flexible subject choice and subject load from Grade 11 onwards. Students do not have to continue with a second language beyond mid-Grade 11, allowing them the time and effort to focus on those subjects that will see them achieve an exemption qualification at the end of Grade 12.


How does my child achieve a school leaving qualification with exemption while completing the Cambridge International curriculum?


IGCSEExaminations taken in June of Grade 11

  • Starts in Grade 10 with 8 subjects.

  • Compulsory: English First Language, English Literature. Second Language – Afrikaans or French, Mathematics.

  • Elective subjects: Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Computer Science, History, Geography, Business Studies, Accounting, Art and Design, Drama, Music.

AS LevelsExaminations taken in October and November of Grade 12

  • Starts in July of Grade 11. Students select 4, 5 or 6 subjects.

  • Compulsory: English Language OR Language and Literature in English.

  • Elective subjects: Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology. Students should take one of these four to ensure exemption. This is not always necessary, and many different combinations are possible Computer Science, History, Geography, Business, Accounting, Art and Design, Drama, Music.

A Levels (optional)Examinations taken in October and November of Grade 13

  • Starts in January of Grade 13 – a post matric option.

  • Any subject listed at IGCSE or AS Level is permitted, and students can elect to take 2 or 3 A Level subjects. This depends on what their plans are for after school studies. We offer advice in this regard.

South African Bachelor’s Pass.Examinations taken in October and November of Grade 12

  • Starts in Grade 10 with compulsory 7 subjects.

  • English or Afrikaans Home Language, English or Afrikaans as Second Additional Language.

  • Students must have: Mathematics OR Mathematics Literacy, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Life Orientation, Social Sciences.

Beyond the credibility of the syllabus itself, Cambridge International schooling and syllabus is notably more challenging than the local syllabus in all subject fields. This has the effect of preparing its candidates far more rigorously not only for tertiary education requirements but also for workplace critical thinking and problem-solving expectations.


The Cambridge International curriculum is beneficial to students who wish to take up their tertiary education outside the borders of South Africa. The Cambridge International curriculum for high school and the Cambridge Primary curriculum are internationally recognised curricula, backed by the first-class teaching and research departments of the University of Cambridge. These are based on a set of common principles underpinned by the best educational and assessment practice; quality and coherence delivered through the curriculum with guaranteed assessment standards and high-quality resources underpinned by sound training and professional development.


For more information on Reddam House schools, visit https://www.reddamhouse.com/


For more information on Inspired Education Group, visit https://www.inspirededu.com/our-schools/ and click on Africa & Middle East link.

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