This site has been put together by people on the HE-Exams Yahoogroup, which discusses the practicalities of gaining formal qualifications as a home-educated young person. 

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This page is an offshoot of a larger article explaining what IGCSEs and Edexcel/AQA/Cambridge Certificates are.

Independent Schools using IGCSEsEdit

It is often said that IGCSEs are popular with independent schools, so I trawled through a sample of independent school websites to find out if this was true.  The majority use a mix of IGCSEs and GCSEs, with GCSEs being used for several reasons - either where it is the teacher's preference, or no IGCSE is available in the subject, or in some occasions, GCSEs are offered to lower ability sets and IGCSEs to higher ability sets.

The links should take you to pages where the school lists the IGCSEs it offers, or discusses its rationale for offering them:

Exeter Daily article on independent schools using IGCSEs.

Winchester College - top public school only does IGCSEs 

Manchester Grammar - most subjects follow the IGCSE syllabus, with a few GCSEs.

- Sevenoaks school in Kent, a very highly regarded independent school 

" IGCSE is widely seen as a more challenging qualification than traditional GCSEs." 

St John's College, Southsea explains why it offers International GCSEs in most subjects, eg in maths:

"In common with an increasing number of independent schools, we have elected to follow the International GCSE (IGCSE) examination in Mathematics. This syllabus is not controlled by the Government’s Qualification and Curriculum Authority but is examined at the same standard as the Edexcel GCSE that we had previously been following. The qualification is fully recognised by universities and employers.

This syllabus has a higher quality of Mathematics; offers greater stability, and has a wider range of grades offered at the higher tier (a considerable advantage now that all Mathematics GCSEs have two tiers of entry).  The examination course involves no controlled assessment, which will help to reduce the coursework load on students."

On the 'English' tab on that page, it says:

"At the commencement of Year 10 all students begin the International GCSE offered by Edexcel as a core requirement of the curriculum. This qualification is designed exclusively for Independent and International schools and whilst this qualification is not regulated by the Government’s Qualification and Curriculum Authority, it is examined at the same level as standard national GCSEs and therefore fully recognised by universities and employers."


"The top set of English in Y10 and Y11 will take IGCSE; other sets take GCSE. "

Uses a mix of GCSE and IGCSE across subjects, with more able boys taking IGCSE maths early. All boys study IGCSE science.


"Our core GCSE curriculum includes English (IGCSE), English Literature (IGCSE), Geography or History, Mathematics (IGCSE), a choice of double or triple Sciences and a Modern Foreign Language. ..

We think that a balanced academic diet is vital so all our girls take the ECDL computing course. We also encourage the girls to indulge their creative side.."

Blundell's school uses a variety of exam boards and qualifications, and this page shows that they are currently offering IGCSEs in a number of subjects.

Christ's Hospital, a very academic selective public school, found they got lower grades when the same year group (apparently) was put in for GCSE and IGCSE sciences.  The grades are eye-wateringly high, whatever exam and subject these students are taking:

98% of GCSE pupils who took separate sciences (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) achieved A or A* grades.

In the more rigorous International GCSE (IGCSE), 96% of pupils received A*, A or B grades. 28 of the 30 pupils undertaking IGCSE gained an A* in the new further Maths exam, with over half of pupils being awarded the new “A* with distinction” grade."

Note the statistical sleight of hand there.  They list A and A* grades for separate sciences at GCSE, and 98% got that - usually only the most academic kids are encouraged to study separate sciences in schools.  But for IGCSE, they lumped together A*, A and B grades - and still, even though the B grade was included, the percentage getting top grades dropped.

Cheltenham Ladies College

IGCSE syllabus followed for at least English, Maths and Sciences

I have approached Cheltenham Ladies College today regarding accepting my daughter for exams summer 2017 and they do not accept external candidates at the moment (Dec 2016)


"With the introduction of 'controlled assessments' at GCSE, the Department has moved over to the IGCSE for both English Language and Literature"


"All boys study English, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and a main Modern Language (French, Spanish or German) for IGCSE."

Other subjects are a mix of GCSE and IGCSE.

City of London School for Girls

Extremely academic, very respected independent school.

Does Edexcel International GCSEs in English and sciences - look on subject pages to see, eg

"From Year 9 students follow Edexcel's iGCSE specification. There is a fantastic range of topics to study, both inspiring students and ensuring that they are well prepared for A Level."

Downe House

English Language is CIE IGCSE, maths and sciences are Edexcel IGCSE, other subjects a mix.

Dulwich College

"IGCSE (International GCSE) examinations are taken in Mathematics (Edexcel) and in English Language, English Literature (Cambridge), all Sciences and History. "

Exeter School takes a mix of IGCSEs, Certificates and GCSEs from various different exam boards.  For example, in Mathematics: "The subject follows the Edexcel IGCSE curriculum", and for English "The department teaches an internally designed course throughout KS3, before preparing all pupils for IGCSE English Language and IGCSE English Literature"

Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School

"Habs initially chose to offer the IGCSE to our pupils studying mathematics and the sciences because the regular GCSE curriculum failed to challenge them appropriately.  The Mathematics IGCSE, for instance, includes a study of calculus which is overlooked in the ordinary GCSE." Lancing College, Brighton]

IGCSEs for maths, science, and English Language.

Under Maths, it says: "IGCSE has the same status in terms of university entrance requirements, and is equivalent, grade for grade, to GCSE." And regarding the choice of science curriculum:

"The IGCSE specifications do not have a practical or coursework component, leaving us free to explore experimental skills and research methods in ways we feel are most appropriate for the students at the various stages of their science education" 

Eton offers IGCSEs.


"International GCSEs are slightly harder than GCSE and thus a better preparation for A-level than normal GCSEs. The following subjects are offered: Maths, History, French, Spanish, German, and Biology."

Magdalen College School, Oxford

"The core GCSE curriculum consists of English, English Literature, Mathematics (iGCSE), the three sciences (following the iGCSE syllabus) and French."


Their kids do Edexcel IGCSE in sciences and maths, CIE IGCSE English, and then GCSE for other subjects.

Sevenoaks school in Kent, a very highly regarded independent school . 

" IGCSE is widely seen as a more challenging qualification than traditional GCSEs." 

Wellington College

Appears to take IGCSEs for sciences, English and Maths, in addition to offering the IB Middle Years Programme.  However , website was difficult to navigate and was annoying me too much to give individual references.  Job ads for teachers confirmed syllabus choice,

Wycombe Abbey

"Many of the subjects offered at this level at Wycombe are IGCSEs. Each department makes its own decision on whether to pursue GCSE or IGCSE based upon the relative strengths of the courses and the preparation they provide for study at A level."

The King's School, Canterbury

"Statistical comparisons are difficult since this is only the third year where the King’s cohort has sat an almost entire menu of International GCSEs. This is for two reasons - firstly, that these appropriately challenging public examinations prepare pupils well for their future ‘A’ levels, and, secondly, that the results, thanks to the International nature of the awarding body, are not subject to Government Policy on grades: i.e. there is a good standard element to them.  "

Oratory School

Edexcel IGCSEs in English and Sciences; other subjects are GCSEs.