International secondary education at Zlatarski School
More students aged 14-18 and their parents choose the international programmes International Baccalaureate (IB), IGCSE and A Levels due to the excellent academic reputation, the different programmes and most importantly due to the opportunities when applying to a top university in the world. Founded in 1995, Zlatarski School has established a reputation of a serious international school, which is an achievement for the whole school community – teachers, students and parents. The school offers the international programmes, which are integrated in the English language high school – the British Pre-IGCSE (8 grade), IGCSE (9 and 10 grade), International Baccalaureate/A Levels (11 and 12 grade). Graduates of Zlatarski School receive two diplomas: the Bulgarian Diploma za Zavursheno Obrazovanie and the International – IB and A Levels.
What are the requirements of the top universities in the United Kingdom?
The most popular university programmes in recent years have been economics and finance, law, architecture, interior design, medicine and computer science. In order to be successful in their application to the most prestigious British universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, King’s College, UCL, Imperial College, Warwick, York, St Andrews, students are often required to have successfully completed the International Baccalaureate or A levels (16-18 years old) with good results in IGCSE (14-16 years old). For example, at the London School of Economics around 96% of the undergraduate students have completed either the International Baccalaureate or A levels with excellent results, i.e. over 38 points in their IB Diplomas or marks A, A, A at A levels. To achieve such high results, of course, students need a solid preparation at school. Zlatarski School in Sofia offers its students these international programmes and students in Bulgaria have the opportunity to receive the required university preparation as those in the UK.
The beginning of the International Baccalaureate in Bulgaria
The idea of Zlatarski School to introduce the International Baccalaureate (IB) in Bulgaria was born in the year 2000. Representatives of the International Baccalaureate in Geneva visited the school for the first time in 2002. In 2003 Zlatarski School completed all programme requirements and thus it was authorized as the first International Baccalaureate World School in the country.
Successful integration of the IB in a Bulgarian school
The preparatory work around the integration of the International Baccalaureate in the curriculum of a Bulgarian English language school continued for several years. The school received the support and authorization by the Bulgarian Ministry of Education. Thanks for the international cooperation with schools in Norway, Great Britain, France, Italy and Greece, Zlatarski School started teaching and administering the International Baccalaureate programme. The school has taught the International Baccalaureate programme for more than 10 years. More than 40 teachers have been sent abroad to receive their international qualifications and more than 180 students have received successfully their IB Diplomas. Teachers are certified abroad, the school laboratories are equipped according to strict regulations and the textbooks and school materials are ordered from the UK. So far, Zlatarski School has earned the reputation of the most established and most academically successful International Baccalaureate school in Bulgaria.
Launch of the British IGCSE and A Levels in Bulgaria
Candidates are better perceived by top universities if, in addition to their excellent results in the IB or A levels (11 and 12 grade), they have also completed the programmes IGCSE (9 and 10 grade) and Pre-IGCSE (8 grade). Zlatarski School established contacts with Cambridge and it started work on the integration of the British IGCSE and A Levels in Bulgaria. Therefore, in January 2010 Zlatarski became the first Bulgarian school, which teaches the IGCSE and A Levels.
Applying to a top university in the United Kingdom
A very important role is played by the student’s motivation essay and, more importantly, the school’s reference. To apply to a prestigious university in the UK, a student has to use the UCAS system. Schools in the UK have school UCAS accounts and this way, in addition to the student application, the school sends its recommendations. In 2008 Zlatarski School was linked to UCAS and it received a school UCAS account. This way the school is part of the British application system and students’ applications are sent with a teacher’s recommendation and a head of school recommendation. This helps the students, especially when it matters which school the student comes from. Zlatarski School also administers the admissions tests for Oxford and Cambridge in Bulgaria. Since 2011 the school launches a specific preparatory programme for those planning to study medicine, pharmacy and biotechnologies in UK universities.
Results of Zlatarski School students in comparison to students around the world
The 10 years of experience Zlatarski School has, as the first international school in Bulgaria, contributes to the high results achieved by students. For example, students of Zlatarski School with results of 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42 points in their IB Diplomas are currently studying at Oxford, LSE, King’s College, University College London, Warwick, Durham, Bath, etc. Clearly, to achieve such a high standard, a school needs a lot of time, energy and devotion by the school administration, teachers and students. It is an achievement for the school to offer students in Bulgaria the international programmes IB, A Levels and IGCSE, and to help them achieve excellent results, which then leads to a successful admission in some of the most prestigious universities in the UK.