Welcome to the Key Stage 4 course guide. We expect that you’ll have many questions about what happens next in your education, and we’ve written this guide to try to answer as many as possible.
Here at Haileybury Astana School, we follow the UK education system, although we change it in places to make sure it is right for people living and working in Astana. The UK system divides your time at school into sections, called “Key Stages” (KS for short), and, if you’re in year 9, you’ve been working your way through the last year of KS3 up to now. You’re about to start KS4. Which is the name given to years 10 and 11. It marks an important time in your education, as – in many countries – it’s the last two years of compulsory school. Most pupils are 14 at the start of year 10 and 16 by the end of year 11, although many students are a little younger or older too.
KS4 is probably the first time you’ve had much choice in the subjects that you’ll study. You don’t get a completely free choice: there are still subjects that everyone takes, but you’ll have the chance to choose some courses because you are interested in them, and you’ll start the process of taking responsibility for your own education that will continue into IB courses and then as you go on to university.
Your study over these two years will lead to important examination at the end of the course. These are not just school examinations: they are recognized qualifications that will help you on the way to a succesful career in the future. These exams are called IGCSEs, and you’ll take them in all your subjects except games. We believe that the best choices come after listening to good advice, and we very much hope that you will read this guide with your parents and discuss your choices with your teachers too.


IGCSE – short for International General Certificate of Secondary Education – is the international version of the GCSE exam taken by all students in the UK at the end of year 11.
You’ll take IGCSEs in a range of subjects, and you’ll find details of the subjects that we offer here in this course guide. You will take the exams offered by Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) who are part of the University of Cambridge. They are also the world’s largest provider of international qualifications to school age students. At the end of your two year courses, after succesfully passing the exams, you’ll be awarded these world-recognized certificates in each of your subjects, ready for the next stage in your education.
IGCSEs are graded from G, which is the lowest grade, up to A and then A+, which is the highest grade you can get. Although getting any of these grades means that you have passed the exam, many universities and employers regard getting a C or better in a subject as important. We would expect out students to be capable of getting C grades or better in their exams, and this is a good target for anyone here to aim for. Many students gain much higher grades than this, with a number gaining all A and A+ grades across a wide range of subjects.
In Key Stage 4 everyone takes English, Maths, Biology, Chemistry and a Modern Foreign language, and all Kazakh passport holders must also take Kazakh.