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Polish: the Polish national curriculum is administered by the Ministry of Education in Poland (MEN). It forms the basis of instruction from the “zero year” (zerówka) to liceum (grade 12).
English: the English national curriculum is administered by the Department of Education in the United Kingdom. It forms the basis of instruction for reception (preschool) to year 13 (grade 12). It aims to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping students with a strong command of spoken and written language.
Canadian: in Canada, the curriculum is administered independently by each of its 10 provinces and 3 territories. This means each province and territory has its own standards, principles, and guidelines. For most provinces and territories, compulsory education runs from Grade 1 to at least Grade 9.
American: in the United States, the curriculum is administered independently by each of its 50 states. All states set their own curriculum frameworks, priorities, and standards. Most states, school districts, and national associations do require or recommend that certain standards be used for school instruction, from elementary to high school.
German: in Germany, the curriculum is administered independently by each of its 16 states, from kindergarten to höhere handelsschule (grade 11). All states are obliged to comply with certain educational standards which specify concrete goals. Most states have a subject-centred curriculum, supplemented by interdisciplinary work.
French: French schools are overseen by the French Ministry of Education and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The curriculum forms the basis of instruction from Cours préparatoire (grade 1) to terminale (grade 12). Education is divided into four separate “cycles,” each of which has its own focus, aims, and teaching approaches.
International Baccalaureate: the IB curriculum is internationally sanctioned and is uniquely adaptable to local and national standards.
PYP (Primary Years Programme): this programme is for children aged 3-12. Its essential elements include knowledge, concepts, skills, attitudes, and action needed to equip students for successful lives.
MYP (Middle Years Programme): this programme is a five-year programme for students aged 11-16. Its curriculum framework comprises eight subject-groups: language acquisition, language and literature, individuals and societies, sciences, mathematics, arts, physical and health education, and design.
DP (Diploma Programme): this programme is for students aged 16-19, and is respected by leading universities across the globe. The three core elements of the curriculum are theory of knowledge, an extended essay, and creativity, activity, and service.
Cambridge: Cambridge Assessment provides an international education for students aged 5-19. It has four levels: primary (5-11), lower secondary (11-15), upper secondary (14-16), and advanced (16-19). It’s part of the University of Cambridge and works closely with some of the most successful education systems in the world.
Boarding: students and faculty live on campus, with students typically boarding for the whole academic year. This offers students—mostly out-of-towners—an immersive academic and social experience.
Day: students go to school and return home at the end of the day. Day schools come in all shapes and sizes.
Homestay: an alternative to boarding, students live with a host family near the school. Homestay is popular with international students.
Private: for-profit schools that are privately owned and controlled by one or more persons.
Independent: non-for-profit schools that are accountable to a board of directors, and often are accredited and reviewed by an institution of peers.
Social: social schools are non-for-profit schools often created by social organizations and associations, such as the Social Education Association (STO). They’re also frequently founded by parents, and have plenty of parent involvement.
Programs and exams
Polish Grade 8 exam: a standardized exam that takes place in klasa 8 (Grade 8) of primary school. The exam is compulsory, and its results influence admission to secondary schools.
Polish Matura: an exam taken at the end of high school. It’s not compulsory, but students must pass it to be eligible to apply for higher education courses in Poland and elsewhere.
Cambridge IGCSE: a world-renowned international program for 14 to 16 year-olds. Assessment takes place at the end of the course and includes written and oral exams, coursework, and practical assessment.
Cambridge 0 Levels: an internationally recognized qualification equivalent to Cambridge IGCSE and the UK GCSE. Schools can choose from more than 40 Cambridge 0-level subjects in any combination to create their own curriculum.
English IELTS: an international language testing system used to assess English-language proficiency for higher education and studying abroad. It assesses English reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.
A levels: advanced level, subject-based qualification conferred as part of the General Certificate of Education (GCE). It’s also used as a school-graduating qualification by educational bodies around the world.
AS levels: a qualification offered by schools and colleges for 16-19 year-olds. Can be taken as an independent qualification, or as the first part of an A-level course.
AP courses: courses with university-level curricula offered through the Advanced Placement program in Canada and the United States to high school students. Some universities and colleges grant placement and course credit to students who obtain high scores on the exams.
SAT: a standardized scholarly assessment test widely used for college admissions in the United States. It’s also used by some international schools.
SSAT: the Secondary School Admissions Test that’s used for admission to private middle and high schools. If you’re considering an elite North American boarding school, this is a test you’ll need to ace.
Language of instruction
Immersion: most or all subjects are taken in a foreign language. Instead of being taught the language, students learn it by using it and being taught in it.
Bilingual and multilingual: subjects are taken in two or more languages—normally at least one of which is a foreign language. Typically, at least half of the curriculum is taught in these languages.
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