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How to Start an ICSE Affiliated School in India?

How to Start an ICSE Affiliated School in India?

Posted on January 22, 2018 | by Vinod Kakumanu

Starting an ICSE school in India implies getting a school affiliated to the Central Council of Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) or the ICSE board. To get affiliated with the council a school in India must be operational and must have the state board recognition. Opening a school with a vision towards CISCE affiliation must keep medium of instruction as English exclusively. Every private school in India must be run by a Trust/ Society/ Section 25(1) company. Such Trust or Society must be non- proprietary and it must own or hold on lease the land for the school. There also must be a memorandum of association between the school and the Trust/Society which sets up a School Governing Body or School Management Committee.


School promoters who decide to venture into education sector and plan to open a new school know that successful start of a new school depends on several factors. For detailed directions on the school set up process visit our previous post  How to start a New School in India?


How to start a school in India?


It is important to review why ICSE is emerging as the board of choice for affiliation among school promoters in India.  In the second decade of 21stcentury when we have started to redefine scholastic merit in international terms the school education boards with some global orientation are finding renewed relevance. Now there is a marked increase in the popularity of curricula and methods of assessment that are informed by global pedagogical standards. The Council for Indian Schools Certificate Examination (CISCE), popularly known as’ ICSE board’ is the only Indian education board that enjoys international recognition. This implies that the grades acquired by the school students passing the board examinations are considered at par with the grades of several international merit assessment exams for higher education. Admissibility of ICSE board grades in English at par with TOFEL and IELTS grades is a case in point. Besides, the CISCE offers a wider choice of subjects than CBSE and state boards and emphasizes the overall development of pupils.  Starting a school in India affiliated to the ICSE board becomes an excellent choice for these reasons.

ICSE schools are compulsorily English medium schools and are required to maintain a high academic standard to sustain their affiliation with the council. Presently, there are over 2100 ICSE affiliated schools in India. The figures make it clear that the ICSE schools are lesser in number than schools affiliated to other education boards like CBSE. It implies that they cater to a population with a specific set of educational preferences. This gives a chance to the school to make its place and gain an edge through its merit without facing the disadvantages of having an enormous number of competitors in the fray. School promoters just have to concentrate on providing rich educational experience to their students and expect success and enviable reputation in return.

It is important to take note that the school should not advertise itself as “ICSE School” or running “ICSE syllabus”. This direction is in accordance with the rules laid down by the Council. The abbreviation CISCE should be used instead.

Coming to the process of gaining affiliation with the CISCE, it must be underscored that for an affiliation application made by a school to be processed it must have

  1. Association with a Trust / Society / Company

The trust /society /company must be non- proprietary and must be financially sustainable. It must ensure that a School Governing Body and Managing Committee are constituted.

To attest the financial stability of the trust/society/company an audit report issued by a firm of chartered accountants along with balance sheet and income and expenditure accounts must be submitted while applying for affiliation.

  1. State Board recognition and No Objection Certificate (NOC)

The school applying for affiliation must have a prior recognition from the state board and a NOC to the effect that the state approves the affiliation of the school with the ICSE from preschool to class 10th or 12th.

The school applying for affiliation must have started Class VI and the school must get affiliated to the CISCE before students enter Class IX.  It is strongly stated by the council that before the affiliation is granted students should not be promoted to class IX.

The schools applying for affiliation to CISCE should concentrate their efforts and resources on following aspects

  1. Land and School Infrastructure

School land and property must be in the name of the Society / Trust / Company or the school itself. The land can be owned or leased. If the land or school building is leased it should be registered for a minimum term of 5 years, additionally, there must be a renewal clause of at least 30 years.

Minimum land requirement for a school applying for affiliation with the CISCE is 2000 sq.metres. Such land would include the school building and the playground.

A format termed ‘land certificate’ assigned by the Council needs to be filled by the school applying for affiliation. You can download the form at ICSE land certificate form.


ICSE land certificate form


Coming to the school building and infrastructure, the council mandates minimum area of a classroom to be 37 sq.metres. There must be separate laboratories for science subjects with practical’s and for lessons in computers. The labs must be well equipped. The complete inventory of lab equipment can be availed from the council’s website http://cisce.org/. The school must also have requisite infrastructure for instruction in other subjects, for instance, equipment and field space for practical instructions in Geography etc.

The school must also have a fairly rich library.Looking to buy, sell or rent school property? The specifications of the CISCE with respect to the stock of the library is   2500 books with about 5 books per student excluding the text book specimens. The council clearly directs that the school library must not stock keys or guide books of any sort.

Fulfilling land and infrastructure requirements requires careful selection and precision. With the advent of portals like SchoolProp.com the property for schools has become far more accessible.

  1. Teaching Staff

The school must appoint teachers with qualifications as per the CISCE norms. The council has specified the qualification and experience required for the academic staff including the Principal and the Vice-Principal.  For instance, minimum qualification according to the council for The Principal / Headmaster / Headmistress is a postgraduate in a teaching subject from a recognized University and a recognized teacher-education degree and five years teaching experience in a recognized school. For details about the qualification and experience for teachers and heads Chapter II of the affiliation guidelines must be referred at CISE Affiliation Guidelines.


CISE affiliation guidelines


While considering the question of teacherYour next teacher hire is here ! student ratio it must be kept in mind that the number of students in any given class must not exceed 45.

Given the uncompromising attitude of the CISCE regarding the qualification and experience of teachers and Heads of the schools affiliated with them, a recruitment drive for selecting adequately qualified teachers must be undertaken. School promoters can find human resources for schools through educatorOne.com

  1. Establishment of Curriculum

The Council has a prescribed Curriculum for Preschool to Class VIII.  It has assigned syllabi for subjects   of examination for the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) (Classes IX & X) and for the Indian School Certificate (ISC) (Classes XI & XII) examinations.

There are however no assigned textbooks for instruction by the council except for English and other languages. The schools can opt for a set of textbooks for instruction in all other subjects provided they are efficient in imparting the desirable levels of knowledge.

  1. Preparation for Inspection

After the application for affiliation is made by the school and the application is found complete with all essential documents and details the Council will delegate to the inspectors the duty of school inspection for affiliation.

The council has expressly instructed the aspects and ideal conditions for their upkeep in chapter III of its affiliation guidelines.


Chapter III of its affiliation guidelines


School promoters must mind that these conditions are met in totality to ensure their school’s affiliation with CISCE. The comprehensive list of facets that are inspected includes the school infrastructure, teaching and other staff, facilities, documentation, students’ assessment criteria, curriculum and teaching aids, extracurricular facilities, Internet availability, documentation standard, conduct of examinations, accounts, medical amenities and staff, fire safety, provision of lifts and staircases with railings, water harvesting apparatus etc.

School supplies are carefully assessed both for quality and quantity by the Council. A detailed list of school supplies that must be at the disposal of the school administration is listed in the affiliation guidelines. It includes high quality blackboards, teaching aids, stationery, laboratory equipment, and furniture and storage facilities besides sports and games supplies etc. School promoters must carefully observe the listings in the affiliation guidelines of the council at the link given above and make no compromises. Quality school supplies can be purchased online on portals like  schoolsupermart.com.




The school promoters must prepare for the Inspection and concentrate on the undermentioned aspects.

  • Documents of School Initiation

Documents detailing every aspect of school founding that must be maintained include land records, blue print of the structure, fitness report from the concerned authority, NOC from the Government, trust deed, memorandum of association / registration certificate, list of members of the Governing Body / Managing Committee, minutes of the meetings of the Governing Body / Managing Committee and audited statement of accounts of the school.

  • School Infrastructure and Support Services

Details of the school building, location and surroundings, architectural design of interiors, playground, toilets,    drainage and emergency safety apparatuses are surveyed. Quality of the construction will be particularly observed by the inspectors deputed by the Council for affiliation fitness inspection.

The sizes and equipment levels of classrooms, library and laboratories will be closely inspected. Stock registers of supplies must be kept up to date for the inspection. Special attention is to be paid to the computer lab where required number of appropriately configured computers and internet facility will be particularly inspected. Library must be stocked and staffed according to the Councils directions and its budget allocation is to be specified.

Facilities, Canteen, Infirmary will be inspected for hygiene status and standard of equipment.  Infirmary must be well equipped and staffed. It has to have wheel chairs, oxygen cylinders and services of Doctors and nurses at hand.

School Conveyance must stand in good stead. The condition of school buses, background information of drivers and conductors and security arrangements will be inspected besides other details that are considered relevant by the inspecting team.

  • Documents and details of students and staff

It includes details about the number of boys and girl students in each classroom. The admission process is also scrutinized by the Inspection Committee. The documents including birth certificates and transfer certificates must be in place. Other documents that are to be produced at the time of inspection include the fee book, attendance registers, consolidated mark sheets, school time table and format of report cards.

There must be an articulated document detailing the provisions for the differently abled students. Details of and procedures followed with regard to the management and employment of teachers, administrative and ancillary staff must be documented for appraisal.  This includes the details of the qualifications of the teachers and Principal, their pay scale and work load. Besides that the leave rules, teaching modalities and service conditions must be clearly delineated for the Inspectors’ observation.

The same applies for the administrative and ancillary staff. There also has to be a Counsellor and Special Educator. The documents and details that are needed for inspection are service records, attested certificates and documents of the qualifications of the employees, reports of the lesson observation, appraisals and incentives records and salary and attendance registers for the employees.

  • Status of Academics and Extra-curricular activities

The details about the academic set up and curricular conduct of the school is closely checked by the council and any asymmetry between the guidelines and practice is pointed out. The details include the subjects being taught in the different classes, third language from Grade V to VIII, choice of subjects planned for Grade IX to XII , text books prescribed , class assignments and homework , projects in different subjects ,practical work in Sciences ,Craft / Art / Socially Useful Productive Work , speaking skills and conversation skill in the languages , aural comprehension , use of teaching aids , criteria for internal assessment , format of question papers, evaluation of examination answer scripts , format of the report card , consolidated report card and mark sheet for the year.

The details of the co-curricular activities which include drama, dance, music, elocution, inter- school and intra-school competitions, house system , exhibitions of art, craft and projects,  hobby clubs , school magazine / newsletter , social services and community programs are to be produced at the time of inspection.

Once the inspecting Officers deputed by the CISCE submit their report the school awaits the correspondence from the council. If approved, the new school gets a provisional affiliation.

The process of CISCE affiliation is demanding, and once obtained, sustaining the affiliation requires consistent effort on the part of the school management. It has to keep assessing every aspect of school operation and strategize school improvement. If this is accomplished the school would certainly see itself in the league of reputed CISCE schools.

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How to Start a New School in India?

Posted on January 10, 2018 | by Vinod Kakumanu

Starting a school in India is a venture many like to explore. Owing to the state policies regarding private schools which involves securing multiple licenses and permissions, opening a school can turn unduly strenuous. This need not be so daunting. We have detailed the procedure to start a school in India for the ease of school promoters in this article.


The private school venture, both in terms of establishment Need help to start a school in India? and gaining  investment returns, highly depends on the policies formulated by Ministry of Human Resource Development and states’ education department. School establishment and recognition laws in India are made by both the states and the center and certain facets may change from one state to another.

The process of opening a private school is pretty direct but it involves several steps and components which demand time and dedicated resources. A set of principles must be followed to set up a new school successfully.
The guidelines for starting a private school in India are explained as under —

1.Decide the type of the school you want to start

The school can be a Playschool, Pre- Primary, Primary, Secondary or K-12. At this point, one has to decide how many grades would there be in the beginning. School promoters can decide to start the school with a small number of grades with a vision of increasing the number with time or they may plan to launch the school with both lower and higher grades.

A primary school will not be affiliated to any board of education. It should have the recognition form the State/UT department of education. After the primary school starts running class V, it can apply for approval for Middle Class  Syllabus form Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and start class VI to VIII. School promoters can also choose to start an International Baccalaureate (IB) School or ICSE school. In every case the school has to be started first and then attempts for affiliating it to any given board has to be made.

In case the school promoter starts a school till class VIII or higher, he/she has to get affiliation from the state board. A state board school can eventually apply for secondary and/or senior secondary affiliation from CBSE, CISCE, IB or IGCSE.

2. Associate the school with a Trust or Society or Section 8 company

To start a private school, association with either a trust or society or a section 8 company is a must. It can be a pre-existing trust or society or can be a newly formed one.   A trust or society operating a school in states of India must be registered under the state’s Trust Act or Indian Societies Registration Act 1860. The trust or society thus established is not -for -profit organization. If a company is sponsoring the new school, it should be registered under section 8 of the Companies Act 2013.

The trust or a society has to have a minimum of three members to get registered. The said trust or society must comprise of a ‘School Governing Board’ with three officially declared members namely the President, Secretary, and Chairman. The board additionally has two or three other members. It is preferable for these members to have educational or social work credentials.

The school board must acquire a ‘Memorandum of Association’ from the educational trust.

3. Acquiring land or appropriating a Land for Establishing School

Land for establishing a school can be purchased or leased. If the school promoters already possess a land, they must get it approved for educational use by municipal and the education department of the concerned state. The minimum size of land required depends upon the type of school, the location i.e. rural, urban and its location relative to the city limit. Also, different boards have their own minimum land area requirements.

Before proceeding to procure land for the school the need of a Looking to BUY, SELL or RENT school property? new school in the given area must be recognized by the Department of Education (DoE) of the state. For this, the department issues an ‘Essentiality Certificate (EC)’. The certificate establishes that the new school is indeed essential for the area for which it is proposed and is not superfluous. This certificate is, in effect, the NOC for the school building construction. Municipal authority’s certification is also required. Other considerations include the environment that would host the school and availability of amenities that makes it fit for children like drinking water etc. After obtaining the EC construction must begin within 3 years or it expires. As education industry is characterized by its non –profit facet, the land being bought for the school building construction can be obtained from an agency at highly subsidized rates after a letter of sponsorship is acquired from the municipal authority.

For the convenience of school promoters an online school land and Infrastructure portal, “SchoolProp.com is available, schoolprop.com facilitates the listing of land, Infrastructure and school buildings suitable for establishing schools ranging from playschool to senior secondary schools.

4. School Master Plan and School Architecture

School building plan must be approved by the state board and if the plan is to gain national board affiliation, respective bye-laws must be kept in mind. The specifications pertaining to the school architecture include the number of classrooms, library, offices, assembly hall, labs, facilities, auditorium and area of the playground/play area, for CBSE and ICSE schools the minimum land area is specified.

The blueprint of the school building facade and interior must be complete when the application for the state board affiliation is made.

5. Defining Mission and Vision of the School

There must be a clearly defined and drafted institutional mission and vision. The guiding principles and philosophy of the new school are outlined in the vision and mission statement clarifying the relevance of the school in terms of community wherefrom the students are drawn. The educational outcomes envisioned by the school and the curriculum orientation must be clearly delineated along with the method of assessment of the scholastic development of the students and school’s effectiveness. It is customary to define the social goals of the private school as an enterprise in the educational sector is seen in terms of its social dimensions.

6. Applying for Recognition and Affiliation

It is mandatory for a new school to have State Board recognition/affiliation. State board affiliation is granted if the NOC to use the land for the educational purpose, school infrastructure, amenities for children and staff as recommended are in place.  After the school is operational an application for provisional affiliation can be made to CBSE. In case an ICSE affiliation is desired, the time passed after school establishment and state recognition is more. The process of applying for affiliation must be according to the bye-laws of the board to which the application is to be made. A list of licenses and approvals that are to be annexed with the application can be obtained from the board’s website.  Initially, provisional affiliation is granted after an inspection by the inspection committee of the board visits the school and makes recommendations. In case any deficiency is found in the school, time is granted to remedy that. In case the affiliation is not granted, a reapplication has to be made after a year or more, depending on the board. We have written separate articles on how to secure affiliation from CBSE and ICSE. For knowing the procedure for starting a CBSE school, click here.


Know the procedure for starting a CBSE school


For knowledge of the process of starting an ICSE school, click here.


Know the procedure for starting a ICSE school


In case the school promoters want to start an international school i.e. IB or Cambridge read our posts How to start an IB school anywhere in India? Or How to start school and get IGCSE affiliation?’


How to start an IB school in India?


How to start school and get IGCSE affiliated?


7. Drafting Financial Plan for the School Project

Financial plan of the new school is primarily for the master plan efficacy, establishment of the school and its operation. The plan contains the assessment of the feasibility of the school project. It contains the school setup outlay, details of the investment and revenue projections.

While drafting the business plan attention must be paid to the effect that every section of the financial plan must have its rationale in terms of academic goals and educational outcomes.  The financial plan also includes the breakup of costs. The sections which comprise the financial plan include land investment; infrastructure costs etc. school financial plan will also include the planned budget, organizational structure, and details of the administrative costs and the prospective board of affiliation.

Sourcing the investment is crucial. The investment can be acquired from banks for opening a school but that requires a perfectly drawn plan to convince the bank of the soundness of the idea. Every aspect is inspected by the prospective funder of the private school which can be a donor; private company etc.

It must be understood by school promoters that when you run a school you are essentially running various complimentary businesses like conveyance, canteen, stationery, books, and uniforms to name a few. The scenario obviously calls for a financial plan and expert resource planning. In all financial plan will need constant evolution so that School Feasibility Report remains as intended throughout its operational course.

8. Constituting School Committee

The school founding committee must comprise of efficient members who can rise up to the occasion of managing the school and manning the core management body that would evolve with the school’s progression. The body needs to have experts, preferably people with vision and experience in the area of education. Besides educationists, people with knowledge of legalities, accounts, business, and architecture will prove to be of a great resource for any private school.

9. Hiring of Teachers and Staff

The qualification and professionalism of the Your next teacher hire is here! teachers and staff is of central importance for a school’s success. The qualifications of the Principal and other academic staff are stipulated by the boards of affiliation. Besides that, accountant and administrative staff need to be hired.  Vacancies must be posted and Interviews must be conducted for academic and non-academic staff’s recruitment.

School Serv has led the way by establishing an online teachers’ repository named educatOrone.com which is an exclusive recruitment platform for schools ranging from primary to senior secondary.

10. School Promotion and Launch

In the final stages of new school establishment process comes the promotional advertising. To begin with the marketing plan, idea of a brand needs to be evolved. A constant influx of marketing ideas for the new school is desirable. A thorough study of the school’s catchment area and the competition around is critical for effective promotion. It is indeed easier if the help of school marketing consultant is sought after the consolidation of the idea of starting a private school.

The brand management of the school is a research-backed and specialized process. Promotional media campaign must be executed to this end. The brand strategy must be designed to reach out to the parents whose preferences are researched beforehand. Parent’s preferences primarily include the curricular affiliation and affordability. The premium must be put on online promotion and new school’s directory presence must be ensured. Then there arises the need for attention to the result of the promotion namely, the admissions. The rate of initial enrollment must be maximized. Enrollment details and procedures must be published online on the newly created dedicated website.

The competition needs to be assessed well. The upcoming private school will naturally face competition from the existing schools of repute. A distinct identity and niche carving must be strategized accordingly. This does not happen overnight and is a protracted process requiring consistent effort.

After sequential and planned efforts the school project materializes. There is no doubt about the good business prospects of a well-founded and well managed private school. Indian school education ecosystem has distinctive features. The emphasis placed on quality and competition among private schools drives innovation and best practices.  The success of the school, keeping all this in view, depends upon the ability to upgrade, adapt and the choice of solutions and school solution providers.

Comparing IB and IGCSE

Posted on December 20, 2017 | by Vinod Kakumanu

International Baccalaureate® (IB) and International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) are the two International school education programs. IGCSE is also an examination conducting body.  The IGCSE is controlled by a department of the University of Cambridge and IB is an education foundation with headquarters in Geneva.


International Baccalaureate® is an International education foundation which runs four educational programmes namely Primary Year Programme (PYP), Middle Year Programme (MYP), Diploma Programme (DP) and Career-Related Programme (CRP). IGCSE is administered by a separate department at the University of Cambridge, UK.

IB prescribes an educational framework whereas Cambridge provides a designed curriculum. IB does not conduct assessment exams but provides certifications to the grades acquired by students studying the curriculum in a school which reach a certain standard.

The IGCSE, also known as Cambridge board is basically a class X level certificate exam after which the students can opt for A and AS level exams, Cambridge Pre U exams which have class XII equivalency. IGCSE students can also make a transition to IB Diploma Programme for class XI and XII. The choice, therefore, is between Cambridge A, AS level or IB Diploma Programme.

IB programme has to be implemented by school administrators and teachers well oriented in the IB framework with excellent comprehension of demands of a curriculum centered on targeted skills in every subject.

Cambridge provides curricular guidelines whereas IB gives the schools running its programme the liberty to design and enforce a curriculum. The curriculum designed by the schools must be attuned to the criteria including scientific knowledge, communication, scientific inquiry, scientific attitudes etc. of assessment prescribed by the IB.

IGCSE has a diverse International curriculum, international in orientation but adapted to national context offering around 70 subjects to be followed by Cambridge International schools. IGCSE keeps assessment as a pivotal factor in its programme.

We have provided condensed information about the advantages and limitations of both the IGCSE and IB. These are based on the observations after the study of the programme structure as well as the school’s experience

IB’s advantages

  • The teachers have a big role to play in establishing a curriculum and as they are closest to the students they can personalize the implementation of the curriculum according to the student’s socio-cultural context.
  • The absence of a strict curricular design can promote teacher’s imagination and translate into better learning outcomes.
  • The IB system allows space to several different curricular designs and can adopt the best of every proposed way within the framework.
  • The skill centered approach is more engaging than content-based approach and encourages the development of multiple intelligences.
  • IB offers a genuine and complimenting mix of national and international viewpoints in education.
  • Entrepreneurs globally have shown a preference for IB school students as skilled employees and this is a boost for IB school promoters.
  • IB education provides increased prospects of settling internationally

IB’s limitations

  • The teachers’ and administrators’ error in judgment or approach can affect the efficacy of curriculum in achieving the skill set required for qualification.
  • Teachers may feel overburdened by the work of providing inputs for curriculum.
  • IB expects the revision of curriculum quite frequently. This can prove challenging for school promoters.
  • IB schools need more resources to implement the IB Programme effectively. The fee also increases as a direct result.
  • IB requires teachers to attend a lot of workshops for skill enhancement and programme comprehension. This might come as a challenge for the school management.
  • Schools in India find it difficult to implement all IB programmes. Some schools have PYP, MYP, and DP. Some have only DP. This can result in a break of the continuum which is ideal for IB programme.
  • There are no Career Related Programmes running in India as on date.
  • Student’s level of knowledge in PYP and MYP may vary from school to school.
  • IB schools have to bear the responsibility of assessment and assistance provided by the IB school community may seem insufficient in this regard.


How-to-START-an-IB-School-in-India (2)


IGCSE’s advantages

  • IGCSE students get a fixed idea as to what their future course should be.
  • The curriculum is structured and global in perspective while being nationally relevant at the same time.
  • The assessment is credible and makes students more focused.
  • Teachers are not burdened with curriculum designing that is something teachers in India are not used to doing.
  • It does not require teachers to attend workshops as frequently as IB which reduces cost.
  • An examination provides fixed assessment criteria and grades attained by the students makes it possible to compare the results of schools internationally.
  • Parents prefer the arrangement of fixed external exams in India.
  • IGCSE precedes IB in India and teachers are more easily available than for IB schools which requires curriculum design.

IGCSE limitations

  • IGCSE restricts the engagement of teachers and their creativity is not employed so much.
  • IGCSE curriculum is international but the attitude of teachers towards imparting education remains traditional, totally focused on exams.
  • IGCSE encourages rote learning and is very fact-based.
  • Assessment of classwork and homework assignments is not incorporated in the final assessment in IGCSE.
  • The IGCSE culminates in class X and the Cambridge advanced is to be chosen which the students find difficult to cope with. The students can opt for IB diploma programme but are sometimes not capable enough to meet the challenge.
  • IGCSE syllabus remains fixed and is not revised according to the needs of the new batch of students, unlike IB.


How-to-START-School-and-get-IGCSE-affiliation (2)


Both of the international educational programmes (IB and IGCSE) are especially beneficial for the emerging global needs and are capable of developing the skill set in students which are internationally comparable and equipped for higher studies and research work. They can complement the Indian education systems making it complete, given the human resources are available and school promoters turn out to be as progressive as both of these systems of pedagogy demand them to be.

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CBSE, ICSE vs IB, IGCSE; Which is Better for Indian Students?

Posted on December 10, 2017 | by Vinod Kakumanu

School Education in India is witnessing a dynamic shift with the introduction of International programmes like IB and IGCSE curricula in Indian schools. It can be argued that the international education is years from catching up to the levels achieved by countries in Western Europe and Americas but it can hardly be denied that it has changed the educational ecosystem of the schools that have opted for it. At any rate, the change is significant enough to spark a series of comparisons between CBSE, ICSE and the international IB and IGCSE education. The questions asked about the international education systems are generally regarding its suitability in the Indian educational context.


Let us see how IB and IGCSE fare in comparison to the CBSE and ICSE boards, which are the leading established school education systems being run by the best of Indian Schools. Some say that the International schools are better versions of our best schools, few believe that the two are entirely different education systems. Answering these questions requires a rather complex analysis of both the international and national educational systems. We have tried to point out the major differences and also the questions that are asked by the parents and school promoters, accustomed to CBSE and ICSE, about the IB and IGCSE.

CBSE has an extensive Science and Mathematics syllabus and conventional teaching methods coupled with laborious self –study produces good results. The arts and humanities are not as intensive as their science counterparts. The revised NCERT books, especially those of social sciences, have been designed to make classes more interactive and chapters have been designed thematically to bring out imaginative faculty in children. The issue remains that the exam centered approach makes the change in teacher’s attitude hard to come by and especially when it is giving fairly ‘good results’. The question which needs to be asked is whether the best scoring CBSE students are as competent as their IB or IGCSE counterparts.

CBSE has also brought out The CBSE international (CBSE I). CBSE I is believed to have a global tilt and a proximity to the international curricula. It is opposed to the theoretical intensity of the CBSE national syllabus and has more space for analytical and practical learning skills. We see on closer inspection that there is indeed a difference between IB, IGCSE, and CBSE I mainly in terms of pedagogy and methodology of education.

Coming to the ICSE, it has a clear advantage over CBSE in areas of arts and humanities syllabi, language acquisition and emphasis of practicals in science. Although we can say that these ICSE schools are better in terms of infrastructure and educational facilities not to mention extracurricular activities but that cannot be taken as a difference as CBSE inherently does not restricts infrastructure development etc. yet on the ground, the situation is that generally, ICSE schools are better in terms of teaching facilities and innovation. Some CBSE schools are exceptions. Now the question is whether  IB and IGCSE schools better than ICSE also.

Some of ICSE students have made a transition to IB at class XII level i.e. they have opted for IB Diploma Programme instead of opting for ICSE certificate examination. The experience of these students is very useful in understanding the difference between national and international education system. Now, there are some quite particular reasons for deciding to shift from ICSE to IB. These include the international recognition that comes after subscribing to IB. The IB curriculum is customized to the need of the target students and teachers are much more engaged in framing such curriculum.

The points that come out in favor of international education programme of IB are–

  • It has been seen that students have developed a genuine interest in subjects in which they were not originally interested thanks to the teaching methodology which makes them more receptive.
  • The teachers share their experiences with other IB teachers around the world and are better placed to reinvent their teaching styles.
  • The students have a lot of activities besides the regular classroom attending drill that engages them more intently with academics.
  • There is no particular reason why IB students cannot fare better in Indian competitive exams given their good subject knowledge.

There are certain questions that remain in the minds of the parents and school promoters about IB education in India.

  • IB is marketed on many themes one of them is the ‘continuum’. The question remains that if the Indian students who have studied in CBSE and ICSE boards in their early school years or sometimes as long as class X will ever become the beneficiaries of this much-publicized continuum.
  • Is it equally easy for the teachers of the IB schools to adapt to such big a change in their role? Can they really be comfortable with playing a major part in curriculum design? Do they have necessary skills for the job? Do the workshops, training programmes they attend suffice in this regard?
  • Do the expenses that are incurred by the parents by getting their children IB education act as a deterrent for many? Are the expenses really commensurate with the said up gradation in the quality of education?
  • IB does not have a centralized examination conducting body although it decides the education framework. It provides certification to the students graded by the schools that follow the assessment guidelines. So, are the assessment exams taken by the schools well calibrated and are the school grades objectively comparable globally?
  • Do the career options in the country require the much publicized international perspective in education? Will they leave enough time for the students to compete with the students from ICSE and CBSE in competitive examinations?

Coming to the IGCSE, run by Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE), a department of the University of Cambridge, the IGCSE or the Cambridge board is the other international education programme that is adopted by Indian Schools that makes them a part of the global community of Cambridge Schools. IGCSE has a class X equivalent certificate examination conducting body incorporated within it. The certification provided has international as well as national recognition. The IGCSE students have to take Cambridge A and AS level exams to gain class XII equivalency. The students can also opt for IB Diploma Programme after IGCSE. Cambridge programmes have a designed curriculum and assessment is rigorous which is central to the programme. It has subjects like Development Studies, Indian Studies etc. in the social science curriculum besides languages like Sanskrit and foreign languages. It also has a course titled Global Perspectives besides conventional subjects. The syllabus is comprehensive and is said that it inculcates an affinity to learning and discipline required for higher studies. It is believed to link academics to the global trends and incorporates revisions informed by educational researchers and adds additional courses to the curriculum.

The questions that generally crop up with regard to Cambridge board are—

  • The curriculum is fixed and examination centered approach makes them analogous to the national boards
  • There is a clear proximity to UK’s school’s curriculum which may be undue and does not make it “International”.
  • The “rigor” of the curriculum enforcement may be excessive to the teachers and students.

When compared to the national education boards IGCSE and IB appear to have an advantage as they have an international orientation in addition to the ingredients for subject knowledge building. The emphasis on language acquisition also gives them an edge over CBSE, and to a lesser extent, over ICSE.

School promoters and parents have to scrutinize the curricula comparatively to check the compatibility of the international educational programmes with Indian schools. There are views suggesting that as IB and IGCSE, that have been adopted fairly recently, are in “experimental stages”. However, some see their international school experience and success as enough to consider them reliable. If trends are anything to go by, we can see that the popularity of IB and IGCSE is growing. CBSE and ICSE are well grounded and are undergoing changes themselves, there are new avenues also opening for an interface between the two groups constituted by National and International education systems. With time the distinctions will become more vivid and the choice will become clearer.

Our Story

Posted on December 9, 2017 | by Vinod Kakumanu

School Serv, an enterprise that has grown to be a leading K-12 School Lifecycle services company is an idea of change brought to life. It embodies an ambition of reimagining education by bringing school services expertise close to educationists. The need for founding an agency that can bridge the gap between the learned and the learner, between the result and the potential, dawned upon its founder Vinod Kakumanu when he navigated through his own academic journey and stepped into the real life.


Reflecting on the questions like what part of him as a person is informed by school education? What dimensions of life did school education initiate him into and what avenues could have remained unexplored? Which potentials of his fellow students remained unidentified? What are those factors that hamper original initiatives in education? What resources provided by the science of the time could have remained inaccessible to students and why? These personal meditations coupled with national facts shaped his vision.  The vision came to life in the year 2009 in form of School Serv. A vision to help visionaries and leaders reform education.

It will be useful to share our perspective here.  We are a nation of one of the world’s youngest population. To translate this opportunity into a developmental advantage, a school education that prepares the child for life in the modern world is fundamental. Our school education scenario leaves much to be desired however.

There are lots of studies that reflect on our school education standard. Some of the recent ones, national and international don’t paint any prettier picture. Program for Student Assessment or PISA tested the scholastic progress in a study of two Indian states finding it 109th, out of 110 countries. Another study done by Pratham, published in its Annual Status of Education Report, states that three-fourths of all students of class 3rd, half of class 5th  students, and one-fourth of class 8th  students cannot read text meant for class 2nd.  We know that there is no denying that we are faced with a chronic problem. We find it quite an anomaly when we see that how good learners Indians prove to be when they emerge as internationally leading scientists, technocrats, business administrators, entrepreneurs, academicians, innovators, litterateurs and help create knowledge economies.

We have set out to play our part in remedying that. With an array of planners, expert academicians, and subject matter experts, we have reassured educationists who want to venture out to become eduprenurs but are deterred by the complexity in starting a school and bureaucratic hassles they come across in founding and operating a school. We have kept our promise by supporting their vision with comprehensive school consulting services.

Along with school promoters, we started building schools on different scales and began operating them. We, in all cases, made a point to design perfect learning spaces equipped with most suitable infrastructure. We facilitated it all, including school architecture, teachers, school consultants, administrators; curriculum design leaving nothing substandard or unplanned. And so we built, and continue to build, opportunities both for students and teachers and we are helping our schools to succeed and sustain throughout.

One only has to take a look at School Serv’s realized projects with highly defined educational environments to know what distinguishes us from others as a comprehensive K-12 school lifecycle services provider.

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