Upper School

Ready for take-off.

Students prepare for their final examinations and entry into universities and colleges across the world.

“The bond between the school, the teachers and the students is outstanding.”
Mr Shah


Our Upper School curriculum offers a challenging and balanced academic education, equipping students for the opportunities and demands that they will meet in the future. Our committed teaching staff utilise a range of teaching styles to deliver a broad-based curriculum, with most students taking 9 IGCSEs and going on to take between 4 and 5 A Levels.

We work closely with educational and industrial partners to provide students with a broad and varied perspective, in addition to their academic work. Class sizes are restricted to ensure that all students receive individual support. All Upper School students are personally mentored through careers advice sessions in selecting and applying to universities and colleges around the world.

“Da Vinci is bringing out my son’s full potential.”
Mr Vaughan


Click here to read about our examination results.



GCSE/IGCSE subjects are examined by one of the following four examination boards: AQA, CIE, Edexcel or OCR.

Combined Science: Synergy

Information Communication Technology
Media Studies
Physical Education – non-examined


A Level subjects are examined by one of the following four examination boards: AQA, CIE, Edexcel or OCR.


Upon successful completion of their GCSE/IGCSEs, students follow the A Level curriculum in Years 12 and 13, choosing a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 5 subjects. Students are able to select subjects from the list below:

Applied ICT
English Language

Media Studies
Science (Chemistry or Physics)
PE – compulsory non-examined subject

The range of subjects may change, depending on the needs and interests of the students. Please consult the school for further information.


A Levels are recognised throughout the world as being the Gold Standard for entrance to university. University life can be both exciting and challenging. Studying A Levels prepares students well for this transition and ensures that they have the tools they need for success in the wider world. Today, A Levels continue to be the most popular route to university for international students.

“We believe that the A Level curriculum best meets the requirements of our individual students and puts them in a better position when it comes to applying for their chosen university course.”

Capitalising on students’ interests and strengths

Students are able to pursue their own interests and capitalise on their own strengths when selecting their A Level subjects. This ensures a greater chance of success and gives students an unrivaled depth of knowledge which is internationally acknowledged by universities around the globe. This approach offers a combination of subjects that bests suits each individual student. At Da Vinci, we build our timetable around the option choices that our students make, ensuring that most get the combination that they want.

“A Level courses examine subjects in depth, which is a definite advantage prior to studying specialist academic subjects at university.”

A Levels rather than the IB

The differences between the traditional A Level curriculum and the newer International Baccalaureate is currently a very hot topic in the media. Having considered the pros and cons of each course we believe that the A Level curriculum best meets the requirements of our individual students, prepares them better for university life and gives them the best chance of securing their preferred university choice.

“The success rate for A Level applicants in securing places at their first or second choice universities is 81%, compared to 69% for those studying the International Baccalaureate.” 

(Source: The IB Statistic Bulletin May 2013 Examination Session)

Why we favour A Levels:

  • The majority of international students still take A Levels and university admissions tutors and employers understand the system well.

  • A Levels allow students to specialise in subject areas that are relevant to their chosen Higher Education courses. They can also drop subjects that they are weaker at. Year on year, the vast majority of our students choose A Level options that are specific and related to their chosen university degrees.

  • There is more breadth at A Level than there used to be; students can take a fourth AS Level which can complement their main three A Level choices.

  • There is also more stretch and challenge; the recently introduced A* grade is now harder to achieve than the top IB mark.

  • A Level courses cover subjects in more detail, which is a definite advantage prior to studying specialist academic subjects at university.

  • North American universities offer students who have done A Levels university credits in their first year.

  • Universities normally base their offers of a place on just 3 A Level subjects and typical offers from prestigious universities are in the range AAA to ABB. To specialise in 3 subjects is a rigorous, proven preparation for the challenges of university study which also offers a level of academic and intellectual challenge which is not possible in the IB system.

  • A Levels give students an opportunity to specialise which in turn helps their applications to universities that demand evidence of skills in a specific subject.

  • The A Level system allows the school to have a high degree of predictability about a student’s eventual exam performance, which helps to inform decisions about university choices.

  • In fact, our A Level students have a 100% success rate for being accepted by one of their chosen universities.

Why we do not offer the IB:

  • The spread of subjects would not suit most of our students, as they prefer to specialise at this stage.

  • The fact that all six IB subjects have to be studied and students are required to produce a 4000 word extended essay as well as follow an addition theory of knowledge course means that a weaker subject can pull down the overall IB score.

  • This restriction of choice leads to an increase in uneven, unpredictable performance which subsequently makes it difficult to select the right university course. This is also the reason why many IB students wait for their results before applying to universities.

  • A poor showing in one area of the IB curriculum that a student is not actually very interested in could cost the student their university place.

  • This fundamental weakness of the IB is backed by data showing the success rates of students gaining their first or second choice university places: for A Level applicants there is an 81% success rate, but for the IB it is only 69%. It should also be noted that just over 15% of IB candidates score less than 24 points, which means no diploma and no university place!

  • Studying the IB takes up a great deal of time. This can then detract from time spent participating in sport, extra-curricular activities or gaining important work experience. Therefore, instead of the IB being a “broader” curriculum, it can actually leave little time for other important experiences.

  • There is evidence to show that students who go on to study at university do less well if they come from an IB experience. For example, first year medical students who have taken the IB route are more likely to struggle due to the fact that they have not studied science subjects in sufficient detail and depth.

Beyond A Level

At Da Vinci, our A Level programme is supplemented by additional learning and extension opportunities that are flexible, current, topical and challenging. All our A Level students attend English classes in order to maintain their comprehension, note-taking, summary and writing skills at the  highest  Level. They  also  attend  Physical  Education  classes  and  all  are  obliged  to perform in-school community service as well as participate in the English @ Work programme.


Our young scholars and aspiring professionals experience the wider world through company visits and residential trips, which take our students beyond Belgium’s borders.