Senior School | Introducing the IGCSEs Programme

Pupils in the Senior School will follow a rigorous academic programme that is designed to challenge every child with the finest elements of a modern British curriculum while still integrating elements of local cultures to meet the needs of all our learners.

Pupils in Years 10 and 11 will study and prepare for the internationally-acclaimed IGCSE examinations through a two-year course across a broad range of subjects. This broad range will be a combination of core compulsory subjects (English, maths, science, modern foreign language) and optional subjects. This will provide our pupils with between 9 or 10 IGCSEs depending on their choices.

For the 2020-2021 academic year, Wellington College International Hangzhou will be enrolling pupils from Year 1 through Year 10, the first year of Senior School that commences the IGCSEs programme.

Mr. Philip Stainton, the incoming Deputy Head of Senior School at Wellington College International Hangzhou, has answered below some of our most frequently asked questions about the IGCSE programme. We hope his answers will give you a better understanding about the programme and how we will support pupils in achieving academic success as well as offer guidance on setting each pupil’s higher education pathway.

Q1: What is curriculum does the Senior School offer?

Once we enter Key Stage 3 (Years 7-9), subject specialists lead individual subjects, effectively encouraging our pupils to begin considering which IGCSE pathway to pursue. The learning journey at Senior School, then, is less thematic-based and more specialist-based.

From Year 10 onwards, Wellington College International Hangzhou pupils will begin their IGCSE journey, culminating in IGCSE exams at the end of Year 11. In Years 12 and 13, pupils will undertake A Levels.

Q2: What are the IGCSEs and what is the difference between IGCSEs and GCSEs?

IGCSEs are independent two-year courses with formal, externally marked examinations held at the end of the second year. It is a rigorous curriculum developing key skills in a range of areas. Through a variety of questioning methods, IGCSEs test a combination of critical thinking, extended writing analysis, knowledge and skills. Every single pupil aged 16 (Year 11) in the UK completes formal examinations in different subjects for the GCSE. The IGCSE is the international version that our pupils will be studying.

Fundamentally, IGCSEs and GCSEs are very similar. Both offer the same rigor and depth of knowledge in the subjects offered through the GCSEs in the UK. There are two main differences between the two: first, the IGCSE removes any cultural bias of contexts in subject knowledge, such as history and English, that would disadvantage international pupils. It also ensures that the language used for the questions in the examinations and within the study context are accessible to any nation. Pupils are given a fair opportunity to access the texts and examinations regardless of where in the world they are studying.

Q3: What are the different subjects that are on offer in the IGCSEs?

We take immense pride in offering a broad curriculum of IGCSE subjects. They are separated into two different categories: compulsory and optional.

The compulsory subjects are the ones we hold highly valued: English language, science, mathematics, modern foreign language and English literature.

Our optional subjects are subjects that our students begin interacting with during Key Stage 3. Through this introduction, they can gauge their interest, passion and potential for academic success in each. Optional subjects include classes in arts, the humanities, ITC and design technology.

Q4: What foreign languages do we offer?

We offer Chinese (as a first and a second language), French and Spanish.

Q5: Different academic programmes have different grading systems. Can you explain the assessment and awards?

All courses end with examinations in May or June of Year 11. IGCSEs do not result in one single grade, score or level. A separate grade is awarded for each subject. How well a student performs depends on the number of IGCSEs they have passed and the grade awarded in each. These grades are awarded independently of the school by examination boards according to strict regulations.

Some courses include an element of coursework. This is work completed during Year 10 or Year 11 which may be marked internally or externally and counts towards a percentage of the final mark. Each subject is awarded a grade following the 9-1 marking system: 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 or 1.

Q6: How will Wellington help prepare its students for their university applications?

We understand that one of the key reasons parents choose a certain school is because they want to help their children get into university. We also believe passionately that we have a duty of care to our pupils. When they leave our institution of Wellington College International Hangzhou, they could be going anywhere in the world and we have to make sure they are making the right decisions to find the best-fit colleges and universities.

This is why there will be designated time in the pupils’ timetables to meet with an University Officer, a member of the Academic team who will work with pupils in researching the best-fit universities and courses. Quite often, prestigious or high-ranked universities are not the best options for a pupil. Through the four-year programme of IGCSEs through A Levels, our University Officer will ensure that our pupils are well-prepared to write college applications and research the necessary application requirements to excel on their chosen pathway to and at university.


At 10am on Saturday 30th May, we will host another Online Open Day to discuss IGCSEs and higher university pathways. Ms. Kathryn Richardson, Principal of Wellington College International Hangzhou, Mr. Philip Stainton, incoming Deputy Head of Senior School at Wellington College International Hangzhou, and Ms. Laura Perry, Deputy Head of Junior School at Huili School Hangzhou will provide more details on our Senior School and address the audience through a live Q&A session.

To register for the Online Open Day, please scan the QR code below.