The first stage of secondary education.


The GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) certificate is the standard qualification marking the end of the first stage of high school. In the UK it is normally taken by students at the age of 16, after 11 years of schooling. GCSE level examinations are taken by all students, and are usually required in order to progress onto AS/A Level and University Foundation programmes.


IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) courses are usually recommended for international students. This qualification is the same standard as the GCSE, and has the same value to universities and employers, yet the English language used in the course is more suited to international students.


Abbey College focuses on small class sizes – the average is 7 with a maximum of 15 – so we can get students fully settled and prepared for the challenges of university preparation ahead. We can offer 3 main ways of studying this course:

GCSE programme name Usual age range at start of course Number of subjects Start Date Duration Suitable for

14-15. Sometimes 16.

Minimum 5. Maximum normally 8. Plus English Language support as needed. The number and type of subjects taken depends on the student’s ability, background and future ambitions, and on how much English Language support they need.

September. January for suitable students. Other times by arrangement.

2 academic years/18 months

Students needing a full profile of GCSE subjects, with English Language development where needed, in order to progress on to A Levels or University Foundation Programmes.

GCSE/IGCSE 1 year – Academic Focus 15-16. Sometimes 17. Normally 5-6. Plus a little English Language support. September. Later start dates not normally allowed. 1 academic year

Students that have a good level of English (approximately B2 level), and have studied to approximately GCSE level in their own country, but who do not have the equivalent formal qualification.

GCSE/IGCSE 1 year – English Language Focus 16-17 Normally 2-4. Plus a strong focus (more than 50%) on English Language. September and January. Other times by arrangement. 1 academic year/6 months Students that have already achieved the equivalent of GCSE qualifications in their own country but who cannot yet progress on to A Levels or Foundation Programmes due to weak English. This is mainly an English Language and Study Skills preparation course, but allows students to also study some GCSEs, so they gain extra qualifications and become familiar with the British style of teaching and learning.

Core Subjects:

English, Mathematics, ICT

Main Optional Subjects: 

Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Business Studies, Enterprise, Economics, Art


Other supplementary subjects, such as English Literature, Accounting, History and Geography can be offered if there is enough demand to run the subject in a class, or as one-to-one classes for a surcharge.



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