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International School Curriculum and Frameworks

The most popular curriculum/ frameworks utilized by International schools are: (Curriculum accreditation/ membership can be verified at the provider’s websites)

International Baccalaureate (IB) 

ib logo

Aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and responsible children. Students are guided to learn by constructing their own understanding through connecting the new information to their own experience and the world around them and working with others. Find an IB World School here 

  • Primary Years Programme (PYP) – Year 1 (5-7 years old) to Year 6
  • Middle Years Programme (MYP) – Middle Year 1 to Year 5
  • Diploma Programme (DP) Pre-University – IBDP 1st Year to 2nd Year (17-19 years ol)
  • Career Related Programme (CP) 

British/ UK/ English National Curriculum 

cobis National Curriculum of UK

The national curriculum introduces pupils to the best that has been thought and said, and helps engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement. It promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society, while preparing them for experiences of later life. In term of structure, there are subjects which are compulsory at each key stage (Framework for Key Stages 1-4)


  • Early years: 3-5 years old
  • Key Stage 1: Year 1 to Year 3 | 5-7 years old
  • Key Stage 2: Year 4 to Year 6 | 7-11 years old
  • Key Stage 3: Year 7 to Year 9 | 11-14 years old
  • Key Stage 4: Year 10 to Year 11 | 14-16 years old (IGCSE – International General Certificate of Secondary Education) 
  • A Levels (Pre-University): Year 12 to Year 13 | 16-18 years old – Many universities and Higher Education institutes in the world recognize A Levels, with a minimum of 3 subjects as a suitable entry qualification. 

The Council of British International Schools (COBIS) supports and represents its member British schools overseas. (COBIS – find schools).

Cambridge International Education 

cambridge international school logo

They support schools in developing a curriculum that suits their context, and that they can tailor to their students’ needs. Cambridge Pathway Curriculums and Programmes is for students aged 5 to 19, four stages lead seamlessly from primary to secondary and pre-university years Find a Cambridge school 

    • Cambridge Upper Secondary | aged 14 to 16 years – It offers learners two routes: Cambridge IGCSE and Cambridge O Level.
    • Cambridge Advanced | aged 16 to 19 years – It offers two routes: Cambridge International AS & A Level, and Cambridge Pre-U for students to prepare for university.

Fieldwork Education 

fieldwork education ieyc ipc imyc

The Fieldwork Education Curriculum is flexible, it can be adapted to children’s interests and level of understanding, and can be integrated with other curriculum. Assessment is done by teachers and children to help engage them with learning, and understand their level of skills and knowledge. The Curriculum is focused around subject, personal and international learning goals to develop learners’ understanding of the world.

IEYC (International Early Years Curriculum | IPC (International Primary Curriculum – age: 5 – 11) | IMYC (International Middle Years Curriculum – age: 11 – 14) | Find a Fieldwork Education School. Most International schools in Malaysia are members (but not accredited), with  access to learning support, tools and resource. 

Canadian Curriculum 

Canada is a federation of 10 provinces and three territories. Provincial governments have exclusive responsibility for all levels of education. There is no national curriculum for Canada. Except for Quebec, students in Canada finish secondary school at Grade 12 (17-18 years old) and move on to college (Diploma) educanada.ca.

ON – Ontario Curriculum 

Website: edu.gov.on.ca

The Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) which is recognized by universities around the world for direct admission, is awarded to a student who has earned 18 compulsory credits, 12 optional credits and completed a minimum of 20 hours of community involvement (in High School from Grade 9 to 12), then move on to College (Diploma) or university (Bachelor’s degree or higher) – ontario.ca


AB – Alberta | BC – British Columbia | MB – Manitoba | NB – New Brunswick
NL – Newfoundland and Labrador | NS – Nova Scotia | NT – Northwest Territories
NU – Nunavut | PE – Prince Edward Island | QC – Quebec | SK – Saskatchewan | YK – Yukon

American Curriculum 

There are no federal national standards for any academic area. It is the responsibility of States and local agencies in the United States to create standards and develop curricula (ed.gov). American international schools are accredited by one of the US-based regional educational accreditors. Here are the popular ones:

Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) 

wasc accreditation usa education

Search for WASC Schools   

New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)

New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)

Find Accredited NEASC International Schools

Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA-CESS)

Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA-CESS)
Find an accredited MSA-CESS school

  • Elementary School: Kindergarten (5-6 years old) to Grade 1 (6-7 years old) to G5
  • Middle School: G6-G8
  • High School: Freshman (G9), Sophomores (G10), Junior (G11) and Senior (G12 at 17-18 years old). Students can choose take vocational education, Honors, Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses.

Advanced Placement (AP) 

The AP program and examinations are for students to earn college (university in USA) credits and entry. The courses must be audited by the College Board to ascertain that it satisfies the AP curriculum as specified in the Board’s Course and Examination Description (CED).


College Board will no longer offer SAT Subject Tests or SAT with Essay to reduce demands on students and adapt to new realities to the college admissions process. The widespread availability of AP courses which let students showcase their skills through challenging coursework, means the Subject Tests are no longer necessary for students to show what they know (collegeboard.org: Jan 2021).

Australian Curriculum 

Australian curriculum

There are three dimensions in the Australian Curriculum (australiancurriculum.edu.au):

  • Disciplinary Knowledge, Skills and Understanding are described in the eight learning areas: English, Mathematics, Science, Health and Physical Education, Humanities and Social Sciences, The Arts, Technologies and Languages.
  • General Capabilities – Students learn to apply knowledge and skills effectively and appropriately in complex and changing circumstances for them to live and work successfully in the twenty-first century.
  • Cross-Curriculum Priorities provide national, regional and global dimensions which will enrich the curriculum.

School education is similar across all of Australia with only minor variations between states and territories (studyinaustralia.gov.au).

    • Primary school – Starting at Foundation/ Kindergarten (5-6 years old), then Year 1 through to Year 6 or 7. 
    • Secondary school – Years 7 or 8 to 10.
    • Senior secondary school (Pre-University) – Years 11 and 12 (17-18 years old) | Senior Secondary Certificates for each state or territory: for example HSC in New South Wales
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