Ask Tes Institute- what are the different international school curricula?

Tes Institute Team


Ask Tes Institute- what are the different international school curricula?

It is estimated that there are over 8,000 international schools in the world, each with their own unique perspective so finding teachers to teach, not only a subject but also the curriculum that the school follows can be a challenge.

This guide provides you with an overview of the main international school curricula and details about relevant Tes Institute qualifications and programmes. 

Ranked in size order the most common curricula across the world are as follows: 

English National Curriculum

Taught at over 2,900 schools worldwide, the English National Curriculum is the most popular curriculum choice in the world.

The curriculum itself is a set of primary and secondary subjects including religious and sex education with corresponding standards that pupils have to meet. Awarding organisations like OxfordAQA design syllabuses to match the national curriculum with a more international focus. Headteachers need to be assured that their curriculum is in-line with the UK, reflecting things like the new 1-9 grading system and qualifications need to be internationally recognised. For further details about OxfordAQA's international qualifications you can view their website

There are five key stages to the English National curriculum and it provides structure from ages 5 to 18:

Primary School Key Stage 1 Years 1 & 2- for pupils aged 5-7
  Key Stage 2 Years 3 to 6 - for pupils aged 7-11
Secondary School Key Stage 3 Years 7 to 9 - for pupils aged 11-14
  Key Stage 4 Years 10 & 11 - for pupils aged 14-16
Sixth Form (non-compulsory) Key Stage 5* Years 12 & 13 - for pupils aged 16-18

*The use of the term 'Key Stage 5' is not universal 

Which programme works with this curriculum?

Some schools may require QTS to teach this curriculum and if you're teaching without it these programmes are designed to help you meet the English teacher’s standards and gain QTS:

  • Straight to Teaching: a professional development programme of between 1 and 5 terms, dependent on experience, for overseas staff to upskill and gain QTS
  • Assessment Only: for teachers with more than two years teaching experience- this programme prepares you to build your portfolio of evidence against the QTS standards in 12 weeks  
  • iPGCE: Our iPGCE is based on the English National curriculum and the context driven programme has been specifically designed to be applied to an international school context.

The International Baccalaureate Organisation (IB)

The third most popular curriculum in the world (after the American curriculum) is the IB with its official languages being English, French, Spanish or a combination- allowing it to work in bilingual settings.

The programme consists of three separate stages:

Primary Year Programme (PYP) Ages 3-12 

This is made up of three elements: the written curriculum, the taught curriculum and the assessed curriculum.

Middle Years Programme (MYP) Ages 11-16

The MYP curriculum framework consists of eight subject groups, providing a broad and balanced education for young people, with an international perspective.

IB Diploma Programme  Ages 16-19

The globally recognised IB diploma, across US and UK universities requires students to take courses in six subjects, three at higher level and three at lower level

Which programme works with this curriculum?

Tes can support an iPGCE in an IB school. We can also support Straight to Teaching and AO in schools that teach a blend or a hybrid with the English National Curriculum as is commonly the case with IB schools.

The Cambridge International Curriculum

The Cambridge International Curriculum or CIE covers ages 5 through to 19, leading to qualifications like iGCSEs and international A levels.

The curriculum is divided into four stages:

Cambridge Primary Ages 5-11
Cambridge Lower Secondary Ages 11-14 
Cambridge Upper Secondary Ages14-16
Cambridge Secondary Ages 16-19

Which programme works with this curriculum?

Our Master's level iPGCE is a qualification designed specifically for education professionals outside the UK and will equip you with the skills needed to teach the CIE curriculum. 

Some schools may combine Cambridge qualifications with other local or national curricula to form a blended school curriculum and when blended with the English National curriculum Tes can support Straight to Teaching/ AO.

Still unsure of the curriculum you follow?

As if it wasn’t difficult enough to comprehend the different curriculum across the world’s many international schools, a large proportion of schools might be considered ‘hybrid’ in the sense that they offer students a mix of different curriculum choices. An example might be a school that describes itself as an English-style institution while also offering IB classes as supplementary choices. Other schools might offer a US high school diploma as its graduation certificate, while encouraging upper school students to pursue the IB Diploma. There can be any number of possibilities!

Our enrolment advisors are on hand to talk through your options and find the best programme for you. Email your enquiry here.