Why are we expanding our range of programmes at Uplands?
There are two excellent systems of international pre-university preparation available to 16/17 year-olds, the International Baccalaureate Diploma, and the Cambridge A-Level scheme. Both will smooth the entry to universities all over the world, but which is the better? Neither. They are quite different in their educational philosophy and in their operations. In those UK schools that offer the IB and the A-Levels side by side (approximately 200 schools) the uptake of the newer IB scheme seems to be stablising at about 1/3 of the student body, although that figure often includes many European visitors. The long-term plan for Uplands involves expanding our Senior School in this campus so that, with greater range of programemes and economies of size, we can present a better service to the diverse range of students who arrive in Penang.
But surely there are cheaper ways to study A-Levels in Malaysia and in Penang?
There are, and this is in contrast to those Malaysian schools and colleges that do offer IB Diploma, where fees can be significantly higher than those at Uplands. But the manner in which teaching occurs is at least as important as the specific programme followed, and A-Levels at Uplands will follow the same educational philosophy of total care of your children, including strong pastoral care, experienced local and expatriate teachers, and small classes in well-resourced classrooms and laboratories. We do not teach in classes of 60, we mark homework and report regularly, and we know where our students are at all times of their academic week. In short, we will bring the same high quality, and the same high-quality staff, to bear on our A-Level courses as are already supporting our existing programmes.
Why an 18-month course with January start?
Even though exceptional students can achieve excellent results in the IB Diploma in only 18-months, the course is designed to occupy 2 years and it involves simply more time than an A-level study of three subjects (because of the lack of some essential features of the IB Diploma scheme, the Cambridge A-levels scheme can be completed in fewer working hours). We know that many Malaysian students want to begin their pre-university course in January, with the aim of finding a university place abroad as soon as possible. Because of the lower total time demands of A-levels, in addition to the smaller number of subjects offered, we can devote more time per subject per week and aim to achieve excellent results in the year and a half available.