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Cambridge curriculum: not just for bright students

There’s a common misconception that Cambridge International – the globally recognised, exam-based school curriculum – only suits the brightest learners.

Principal Danny O’Connor is keen to put the record straight.

“Cambridge was introduced in a number of schools in New Zealand as a result of dissatisfaction with NCEA in the early 2000s,” he explained. “Unfortunately, some schools only allowed their brightest students to study Cambridge, which led to the perception that it was only for top academic students.

“The reality is that all students can do well under this curriculum.”

ACG Strathallan offers Cambridge at both primary and secondary school levels. Teachers say the curriculum is well structured, thorough and easy to understand.

One of its greatest strengths is its ability to be tailored to different academic levels.

“It provides a very structured programme that allows us to meet the needs of every student,” explains Primary School principal Kristie Thomas.

“Every level is broken down into very specific and comprehensive learning intentions. We know who has achieved which intention and what their next learning step will be. We ensure each student is taught at a level that meets their individual learning needs, regardless of the year they are in.”

She says parents also like it, because they understand exactly what their child needs to work on.

Parents like Caroline and Kieron Lynch, whose daughters Stella and Georgia have been at ACG Strathallan from the age of three.

Stella, in Year 11, is academic, and is flourishing under the Cambridge curriculum.

Participating in advanced maths, science and global studies has kept her challenged, and she’ll complete A Level Maths a year early, allowing her to take an extra subject in Year 13.

Georgia, Year 8, is more sporty. For Caroline it was a relief to watch her step up academically as she transitioned from primary to secondary.

She believes Cambridge gave both girls the right foundation.

“Most of the children here are not academic superstars, but they are getting a quality education with outstanding teaching. For Georgia, the academic support system she needed was there. Now she’s flying.”