A Levels or IB?

British education curricula are the most popular in the international market, with A levels used by 34% of schools and IB by 26% of schools in 2021 (ISC Research).

BSM offers A Levels, but you may be wondering what the key differences are between A Levels and the IB Diploma.


ALevels or IB


Which should you choose?

Both A Levels and IB are excellent. They both offer a 2 year course for students aged 16 - 19 enabling students to get to university anywhere in the world. However, some students excel in the breadth that IB offers whilst others thrive in the depth that A Levels provide. Whichever you choose, remember the quality of teaching is likely to be more important than the curriculum.

BSM offers A Levels in our Sixth Form. You can see a summary of both curricula in the table below:

A Levels

IB Diploma

Students choose 3 or 4 subjects, in any combination,  from 25 A Levels or BTECs available at BSM.

Choice of 25 subjects:
Nearly any combination of subjects possible.
A personalised curriculum

Enrichment Programme
(Theory of knowledge is embedded
within subjects at BSM)

Supported by:
BSM's Learning Ethos

Students must take one subject from each of six compulsory groups*:

Language and literature
Language acquisition
Individuals and societies

Extended essay
Creativity, activity, service
Theory of knowledge

Supported by:
IB Learner Profile

* Students may opt to study one additional science, individuals and societies or languages course, instead of a course in the arts.


A Level Advantages:

More flexibility of what you learn: You can study any combination of subjects.
(3 sciences are possible, or  maths, further maths & science possible)

More flexibility of your time: more focus on independent study.

IB Advantages:

You can study more subjects.

Continue to study useful subjects (such as maths and foreign languages), even if they don’t directly relate to your future plans.

A Level Disadvantages:

Limited to 3 or 4 subjects

IB Disadvantages:

Less Flexibility: You don't have complete choice over your subjects (you will not be able to study all 3 sciences for example)



Principal's View
Why A Levels?

My educational philosophy is that, as educators, we  should do our best to empower our students to personalise their education wherever and whenever we can.

By offering internationally recognised A levels, schools like BSM and BSS find that there is a surprising level of flexibility and room for innovation for students to personalise their curriculum for post 16 study. Whether it's offering students the opportunity to study 3 or 4 A levels, combining A levels with vocational qualifications like BTEC, or giving the chance for students to resit some GCSEs while embarking on their A level subjects, the options are many and varied.

Furthermore, the students themselves can choose their own unique combination of A level and BTEC subjects to suit their particular strengths and projected career pathway. This ability for students to personalise and design their own post 16 curriculum leads to greater student independence and motivation, crucial to success at university and beyond.

We would be very happy to discuss the variety of A Level options available for your child at BSM. Please get in touch with our Admissions Team and we will be delighted to help you.

Kai Vacher

not for profit

Curriculum overview documents

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