International Schools were established with the approval of the FIAC/BOI beginning from the 1980s. They are officially regarded as business ventures and are registered with the Registrar of Companies under the Companies Act No. 17 of 1982. These schools invariably impart education in the English medium and mainly follow the British curriculum in preparing students for the London O/L and A/L, GCSE and IGCSE examinations
GCSE stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education. The London Examinations IGCSE is a new qualification that embraces the best practice of O level and GCSE. It also provides students with an international perspective to their studies, and IGCSEs is the most up-to-date qualifications.
IGCSEs examinations are 100% externally assessed. This allows schools to offer a GCSE qualification, even if teachers are not coursework specialists. Most IGCSEs contain a coursework option so that centres with the experience and expertise can offer coursework.
Many IGCSEs have a distinct international element and educational specialists have developed subject content to allow teachers to base their work on their own region, where possible, to make it more relevant to their students.
IGCSEs, like O levels and GCSEs, have exams that are normally taken at the end of two years’ study, with the coursework (where taken) submitted in the second year.
London Examinations IGCSEs are graded in the same way as our GCSEs. Foundation tier papers are targeted at grades C-G and Higher tier papers are targeted at grades A*-D. This allows students of all abilities the opportunity to gain good results.
IGCSEs are examined at the same standard as O levels and GCSEs, and provide the same progression to GCE AS and A level qualifications. O levels and GCSEs will continue to be available.
If you would like to receive a copy of the specifications, support materials and subject overviews, go to
Your current IGCSE specification is valid until the end of 2008. Please continue to use your current specification, even though the date on the cover may not say 2008.
If you are unsure about whether you have the most up to date issue of the specification, you can check on the web site
(www.edexcel.org.uk/international), where you will find the latest issue of the specifications.
We provide information on International schools as there are many such schools in towns across the country which are becoming popular. It is also important to note that students learn in the English medium and their career is much faster as they prepare for undergraduate courses through these schools or other institutes in overseas universities. Some students enroll in foreign universities ( Universities in UK, Australia, Malaysia, USA and Singapore are popular among Sri Lankan Students) soon after their results are released. Those who are not admitted to the universities, and those who have passed GCE ordinary level exam too follow courses leading to foreign degrees through these institutions.
QCA is a non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES). It is governed by a board, whose members are appointed by the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, and managed on a day-to-day basis by an executive team.
The Primary Years (Y1 – Y6)
There are three ‘core’ subjects in the National Curriculum – English, Maths and Science. Maths & English are tested at Key Stage 1, Science being added at Key Stage 2 at the end of the Primary cycle. In addition children are taught History, Geography, Technology, Art, Music and Physical Education.
Secondary Education (Y7 – Y13) Years 7 – 9
Children continue to be taught the same subjects as in the Primary years, with the addition of at least one foreign language. In many countries this is normally French, while in international schools the host country language will almost always be taught. Science may be taught as an integrated subject or as three subjects (Chemistry, Physics, Biology) depending upon the school’s policy.
Years 10 – 11
This is a two-year cycle in which students prepare for the GCSE examinations. These are important for university entrance as well as for employment. Success in at least 5 subjects is usually required for eventual entrance to a British university and also for universities in other countries, since the British system is recognised in most countries throughout the world. The level of achievement in GCSE is the normal indicator of a student’s capacity to study at A Level. Many international schools take IGCSE (International GCSE) rather than the normal British GCSE.
At this stage students will normally study up to 9 subjects, although in international schools the number of subjects taken may depend, student’s ability. The results of these examinations are graded, from A-G. The ‘pass grades’, acceptable to universities and employers, are A*, A, B and C.
Following successful results at the (I)GCSE examinations students wishing to go on to university or other institutions of higher education will take A Levels. Students will normally study 3 subjects for A Level, though they may study for a fourth A Level, or perhaps an additional subsidiary level course (known as AS). The choice of subjects depends upon a student’s likely course at university, and likely future career. For example, a student wishing to study Engineering, will have to study Physics and Maths and one other subject; for Medicine, Chemistry is obligatory, normally with two other subjects out of Biology, Maths and Physics. A number of other courses, however, have wide flexibility in subject choices – for example, Law, Economics, Business Studies.
Pass grades at A Level are A, B, C, D and E. Fail grades are N and U. The level of pass grades required will depend upon the demand for places at different faculties and universities. The most difficult universities to enter are normally Oxford and Cambridge, while the most difficult faculties will usually be Medicine, Veterinary Science, Dentistry and Law. Because of the effect of supply and demand, some students may well fail to gain entrance with pass grades in 3 subjects of B, C and C, while others applying for lower demand subjects will easily be accepted with such grades.
International students transferring at a late stage to a British school (for example at the A Level stage, but not having taken the GCSE exams) should not be too concerned. British universities are flexible in their demands, especially with international students, and will offer places on the school’s recommendation and likely results in their A Level.
The above description is by no means comprehensive in detail, but is intended to be a basic guide to the British educational system for those not familiar with it. However, parents seeking a place at an International school for their children will understand the essential structure from the description given above. They will always be able to find out more details from the schools which they visit, or which their children are currently attending.
National Curriculum in English Medium
There are private schools those who conduct national curriculum in english medium, such schools are listed under private schools section. There are also few national schools have started english medium classes.
Those who are not admitted to the universities, and those who have studied up to the GCE advanced level or GCE ordinary level exam, can either study at the Open University or at private institutes. Those who pass A/L exam with three subjects can also pursue higher education as external students in Public Universities or at the Open University of Sri Lanka. The Open University of Sri Lanka was established in the early 1980’s with the idea of conferring degrees and diplomas to the working population who can do part-time studies by paying tuition fees.
There are many other private institutes to provide higher education for those who are not admitted to universities.There are foundation courses for those who have passed O/L to study further up to diploma level or degree level. Degrees are awarded by foreign universities.
Following successful results at the A/L examinations those who wish to study in foreign universities can proceed with the path which schools offer, or they can study at any other higher educational institute locally or abroad. Some institutes facilitate students to study one or two years locally and the following years at their overseas university. Back to top