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An international school in Saudi Arabia has moved exclusively to using Cambridge International examinations to ease learners’ progress from Cambridge IGCSE to Cambridge International A Level.
The Pakistan International School in Riyadh was founded in 1995 as one of the first international schools in the kingdom and now teaches more than 5000 students from ages 5 to 19.
The school has partnered with Cambridge International for more than two decades but until recently used a mix of exam boards for International AS & A Level.
Now the school has recognised the strength of the Cambridge Pathway approach - which gives continuity for learners between each stage in their education - and decided to only use Cambridge Advanced programmes.
The school was also influenced by the fact that Cambridge courses are specifically designed to be taught around the world and feature a balance of practical and theoretical work. The fact that Cambridge programmes are widely offered in Pakistan also featured in the school’s decision making as they want to provide continuity of studies in case a student moves back to Pakistan.
Principal Muhammad Tanveer said: 'Cambridge exams are accessible with direct questions that are clear and concise, and which help teachers to train students on how to apply their knowledge effectively.
'Cambridge programmes have a significant practical element to the exams. Teaching and learning improves overall by balancing theoretical and experimental teaching.'
Some teachers and parents were worried about the potential risk from changing exam boards, but Mr Tanveer said the move went smoothly.
The school held briefing session for parents and students explaining the changes and in practice the complementary approaches of the Cambridge IGCSE and International A Level courses meant the switchover was an easy one.
'The transition from Cambridge Upper Secondary programmes to the Advanced programmes within the same board and with same pattern was quite smooth. From the students’ perspective, they had no psychological fear of dealing with a new board or course,' he said.
Mr Tanveer said the move has helped reinforce the Pakistan International School’s reputation as one of Riyadh’s leading schools.
He said: 'There are many reasons why parents choose our programmes: we have a solid history that goes back to 1995 being the largest Pakistani School in Riyadh under community management.
'We are committed to providing quality education to students with a definite emphasis on character foundation, co-operation and quest for excellence.'