Mark Fleet: Making Sense of it all, Secondary School Explained

Many parents and students struggle to grasp the intricacies of the British educational system and are bombarded with acronyms when they approach a secondary school that provides this challenging and robust programme of education.

Key Stage 3 (KS3)

Students enter into secondary school at Year 7, which is the first year of Key Stage 3 (KS3).  Typically, students would be aged 11/12 at this time. They remain in Key Stage 3 for three years: Years 7, 8 and 9.

Here at St George’s we broadly follow the National Curriculum of England and Wales. Students are taught in three traditional sciences, mathematics, English, history, geography, French, German, drama, art, music, information and communication technology, physical education, and SMSC.  A full curriculum guide can be viewed at:

Key Stage 4 (KS4)

At the end of year 9, students enter KS4, typically aged 14/15. This is somewhat of a milestone in a students’ educational journey as, for the first time, they have choices in what they would like to study.

All students follow a core programme of mathematics, science, English, a language, physical education and SMSC (spiritual, moral, social and cultural education).    However, they now also choose 4 other subjects to study. St George’s currently offers students the choice of the following subjects; music, ICT, history, art, drama, economics, business studies, study skills, geography, psychology and media studies.

At the end of two years of study, students will gain internationally recognised qualifications in the subjects they have chosen to study at KS4 in the form of the International General Certificates of Education (IGCSE).

61% of all IGCSE examinations sat in 2016 at St George’s were graded A*/A – this is almost triple the UK average.

Key Stage 5 (KS5)

At the end of year 11, students enter KS5, typically aged 16/17. This is the second important milestone in a students’ educational journey as they now have almost complete freedom of choice over which subjects to study. Their options dictate their university course and ultimately their career.

St George’s offers students the gold standard in post-16 education, Advanced (A) Levels. Typically students study 4 A levels over a period of two years, although most opt to drop one subject in year two and continue with 3 to full A Level. This is the standard university requirement.

A Levels are rigorous qualifications which focus on the subject in greater depth than other qualifications and allow a smooth progression to university courses. Many of our Alumni have commented that A Levels were more academically demanding than their first year at university!

A Levels on offer at St George’s currently include; art, biology, business, chemistry, economics, English, French, German, geography, history, ICT, mathematics, media studies, music, physics and psychology. Students can also choose to complete an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) or complete Further Mathematics.

KS5 students receive regular, individual careers education and guidance support in their applications for university entrance and we regularly track and monitor them to ensure they are on target for the grades required.  Destinations of our past students can be found at:

In 2016, all KS5 students achieved the grades to go to their first choice of university.

Key questions parents should ask when choosing a secondary school include:

How is progress measured and reported to parents?

Students are regularly assessed at St George’s and provided with feedback on their progress.  All students know their target grades, current grades and exactly what they need to do improve, for each subject.  Parents receive regular reports and there are two formal opportunities each year to meet teachers and discuss progress and achievement.  Students also have end of year examinations and these results are also provided to parents.

What is the pastoral care provision?

In addition to a worthwhile and challenging curriculum, it is obviously crucial that the students are happy, engaged and cared for. Each Key Stage has a Key Stage Head (a member of the management team) and a Key Stage Coordinator to continually monitor the students within their allocated year groups.

Teachers at St George’s promote an atmosphere and relationship of mutual trust and respect.  All students are allocated to a form group and their form tutor monitors and promotes the well-being of students throughout their time at the school. We also have a pastoral care coordinator who is available to listen to the student concerns, should they have any.

What arrangements are in place for effective, smooth transition?

Transition to secondary school and through the key stages can obviously be quite a difficult time for the young people in our care. To this end, to manage the three transition stages we offer information evenings throughout the year for parents, taster weeks, taster lessons and an ongoing progamme of support through study skills lessons focusing on areas such as; time management, organisation skills, stress management, revision technique, examination technique, researching, presentation skills essay writing and note taking – to name but a few.

What evidence is there of high quality teaching and learning? 

The proactive management team at St George’s regularly monitor teaching and learning through lesson observations, monitoring student books and ‘dropping in’ to classrooms.  This system of self-evaluation allows the school to continually develop and improve through the sharing of best practice.

The school was independently inspected in February 2015 by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) and teaching was judged to be excellent.  A full copy of the report can be viewed at:

Is there any additional provision of any description?

As St George’s is an inclusive school we offer some students tailored support so they are able to effectively access the curriculum. As such, we have an English as an Additional Language (EAL) coordinator and Special Educational Needs (SEN) coordinator at the school.  The SEN coordinator also has a dedicated team of Learning Support Assistants (LSA’s) who support students in their learning within the classroom.  We also have an Able, Gifted & Talented (AG&T) coordinator to ensure our students are challenged and stretched in their academic studies.

What extra-curricular provision is there?

St George’s offers a variety of after school clubs and activities for students to learn and develop new skills. This year there are 18 different clubs on offer in Secondary for the students to choose from. Students are also given the opportunity to participate in Mérite Jeunesse and World Challenge.

In addition, each year group embarks on an annual residential trip to destinations such as England, Poland, Portugal and Spain; widening their cultural experiences with visits to museums, galleries and places of interest and importance.

There are also opportunities for students to enter into international competitions in areas such as sports, science and debate, to name but a few.

If you would like further information on any aspect of the high quality education offered at St George’s International School please contact [email protected] to arrange a visit.