ICSE, CBSE or IB? How to Choose the Right School Board for Child?
Created by Ankita A Talwar Updated on Sep 28, 2021
How does one go about choosing the right board, perhaps even before looking at various schools for one’s child? The first time, this dawned on me was when my daughter turned 30 months. I realized that, when it comes to choosing a school for your child, perhaps, one crucial aspect to be considered is, choosing the right board for your child—ICSE, CBSE, IB, or SSC? I then met friends and experts, and of course have now got an interesting summary of my understanding from all my research on various boards. We bring to you a lowdown on each of these boards, with their pros and cons. Read here and I hope this shall help you in making the right choice.
What Are School Boards in India?
Here are recognized school boards from which you choose for your child. Read pros & cons & more here.
SSC board is primarily syllabus focused and the entire curriculum is driven to complete the syllabus. It has its own limitations such as limited infrastructure, low on technology resources and physical infrastructure but this also makes it a reasonable choice from the point-of-view of fees. On the flip side, it lacks flexibility in cases of change of location/state/city. Also, in competitive exams, SSC becomes a bit of adjustment upwards.
This is also referred to as the State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education. Each state has their board examination which is run in private as well as state-run institutions. The curriculum is based on the ideology to incorporate the entire syllabus through rote learning and often lacks the idea of experiential learning. They bring the freshness of regional language which gives your child the required mileage if they aspire to appear in civil services examination conducted by PSC (State run service commission) and UPSC (Union Public Service Commission).
This is the largest education board in India and is has been flaked in the past to have been highly focused on syllabus coverage. But, offlate CBSE has got a new assessment called CCE-wherein they are trying to change and become project-oriented and continuous and ongoing in their assessment of the child in both- scholastics as well as coscholastics. It also has now tweaked its curriculum to incorporate a balance between scholastics and co-scholastics. While the intent is great, it has been meeting its own challenges in reaching an ideal state. A big advantage with CBSE is that it has maximum number of schools and hence the standardised syllabus enables easy movement for a child between cities and schools within India.
ICSE is a board focussed on project-based learning and understanding concepts right from the beginning. It is not much biased towards syllabus completion, but at the same time is competitive enough. The assessment framework of ICSE has been focused on academic as well as extra-currics. It also has a good balance between science subjects and arts, in fact at times has been blamed to be biased towards an excessive focus on language learning. ICSE is about electives and therefore gives a child the freedom of choice to nurture his/her interests. But on the other side, it is a smaller community of schools compared to CBSE and is clustered in prominent places within the town area of India in Southern and Northern States like Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Kolkata, Karnataka, Delhi, Chandigarh, UP, MP, AP and Telangana. The availability of ICSE-run schools has grown multi-fold in urban India over the past few years.
IB— International Boards
This is a concept that is gathering a lot of steam recently. The schools that choose to go in for IB board have to follow stringent rules for correct infrastructure, extra-curricular activities, teacher training, staff and even curriculum. These criteria have been set by international universities. IB gives children a very good edge when it comes to preparing for an education abroad as the model is loosely based on international education structure. Students are required to give dissertations, more MCQ and concept-based exams and are judged heavily on projects. It is very hands on too that helps strengthen the foundation of concepts. With the introduction of smart board education, most of the IB Board schools are offering tablet as the basic hardware for the Middle Years Programme (Class 6-10) and the Diploma Programme (Class 10-12) On the flipside, it is an expensive affair and most schools that go in for IB have very high fees. Also, if you want your child to take on Indian competitive exams it might not be a very wise choice.
Indian Board Curriculum Comparision
Here's an extensive breakdown of the ICSE, CBSE, SSC and IB board and answers to all your important questions. Read more.
|Academics/syllabus focus||Moderate, project based||Moderate, Moving to project based||high||Moderate, practical learning, smartboard based|
|Exam-focused||yes||Used to be high, now changed to low in primary and middle school||Yes||Dissertations, Exam focus in higher classes|
|Infrastructure prerequisites||Moderate enforcement||Moderate enforcement||Low enforcement||Very stringent|
|Geographical movement||Not easy; lesser cities with ICSE schools||Very easy, largest education board by schools in India||Not easy||Not easy when moving within India to Tier 2, 3 towns. Very easy when moving globally|
|Teacher Training||Average training, Moderate enforcement||Below average training, Moderate enforcement||Below average training, Low enforcement||Exhaustive & regular training, Strict enforcement|
|Fees||moderate||Low to moderate||Low||High|
|Preparation focus for competitive exams||high||high||high||Low for Indian competition, High for entry into global universties|
|Flexibility for the learners to choose subjects as per interests||Moderate, you could choose a mix of art & science too||Moderate||Moderate||High|
Beware of Some Fake Indian Boards Operating in Delhi
While you explore the aforementioned boards to pick the right one from, for your child, it is imperative that you are aware of some fraudulent boards running in smaller institutions in the national capital, Delhi.
In one of the recent reports published in TOI. There are 12 boards which have been declared as fake by DoE (Directorate of Education, Govt. of Delhi). Here goes the list.
- Urdu Education Board
- Gramin Mukth Vidhalyai Shiksha Sansthan,
- Delhi Board of Secondary Education
- The Central Board of Higher Secondary Education
- National Open School
- Board of Secondary Open Education
- Higher Secondary Education Board of Delhi
- State Council of Secondary Open Education
- Delhi Board of Senior Secondary Education
- Board of Higher Secondary Education of Delhi
- Council of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education, Delhi
- The Central Board of Higher Education Delhi
| Dec 05, 2014
I want to know the basis of this topic. How much data was collected to derive to a conclusion? I stay in a city where most of the IITians are from SSC board, as their MATHS, SCIENCE is strongest. The teachers are trained to take a separate class to bring the CBSE, ICSE students to the SSC level MATHS, SCIENCE. It's not the board, but how you decide the curriculum is important. Most of the schools now are mixed curriculum where they take the best syllabus from each boards ( CBSE, SSC, ICSE,) to teach the children but exams will be from respective boards. This way it is ensured the child learns the best. Coming to practical education comparison, all the boards have smart classes now, so all boards are equally inclined to practical education. Moreover it's not the board, but your child's capability to learn decides their foundation.
| Jan 14, 2015
Hi Ankita ..thanks for writing & sharing the info with us its really helpful. I would like to request you to also help parents like myself in deciding which board to take in class 11th & 12th .My daughter appears for her class 10th this year but i'm completely lost as to where to put her as she also has L. D. (Learning Disability) and wants to take up Arts in 10+2 so what would you suggest please... thanks
| Jan 15, 2015
hi PRATIMA CHOPRA - we would work on your suggestion, and work on a focused blog on the area soon. Meanwhile, we would also try and help you address the current dilema. Would need more details though, could you email us in detail on helpdesk@parentune. com and we shall do our best to help.
| Jan 26, 2015
| Feb 15, 2015
That was a great info... wish you added more about the Cambridge board too... the Cambridge board is a great way of learning as it starts from primary where it is Cipp and then a child gives checkpoint at class 8 and then 10... after cambridge I would suggest The Ib DP board at the 11 and 12th... most of the schools say it is an IB board but for parents it is very important to ask the school whether it is a full IB programme. The whole IB program is Pyp(kg- gr 5th) MYP ( 6th -10th) and then DP(11th-12th).. most of the schools in India are not complete IB they only follow the DP. So parents pls ask schools about this information too.
| Feb 28, 2015
Hey parents, Despite being a teacher i also am confused which syllabus wud gv an overall dvlpment for my child. We live in saudi arabia where i hav a choice between cbse, igcse and american curriculum. Planning to put my son in the american school n send him for higher studies to US or UK. What are your suggestions regarding this. Please help. Incase if he has to settle in india inbetween will it be easier for him to adapt to indian curriculum? Any experiences pls share.
| Mar 01, 2015
my son is studying in grade 8 in IGSCE board. I wld like to know whether he wld be able to persue Chattered accontany or MBBS in India. Being frm IGCSE board wld it be possible for him to appear for any professional course after 12 in India. As we dont intend to send him abroad for studies. I choosed IGCSE board bcoz i liked the concept of teaching as compared to our Indian boards. As this board is based on how to learn method n application method rather than parrroting method of indian boards. So pls suggest
| Mar 02, 2015
My daughter is in icse board in her boarding school but from 11 onwards she is coming back home which board she should opt then as mostly schools are with cbse board also my son is going in IB board ... Really confused as u mentioned it will be difficult for an ib student to get through Indian universities like IIT .. Shall we shift him to cbse after 5 grade ... So pls suggest...
| Mar 03, 2015
Hi carol, my daughter is giving her class 9 final exams right now n will go to class 10 soon in a CBSE board. She is very good in drawing n drama n not so academically inclined. I researched that the best is IB for art n drama as CBSE is not so good? My query is will she able to cope with an IB board and since u would like her to go abroad, is IB a better choice than CBSE ?
| Mar 20, 2015
Hi ankita, my daughter is appearing for her class 10 th exams thru icse board. I am lil confused whether to continue with the same or change it to cbse as everyone around is insisting that icse has a vast syllabus which is irrelevant for her entrance examinations for engineering, pls help....
| Mar 31, 2015
Sonal - hi! It's not true that ICSE syllabus is not relevant for competitive exams Sonal. Also, this would be an important time for your daughter to excel in her chosen electives, so I would not advocate a change of board unless you are missing something very important at your child's current school.
| Apr 20, 2015
Heyy i stay in ahmedabad my child is 1 yr old.... whch will b the be the best board for him in future years ... i m a little more inclined towards IB or ICSE ..... as he would b gnig for bachelors outside india... i dnt want him to get into the typical result n board percentage oriented syllabus.... instead it shld b focused on learning ... from base to output... plz help
| Apr 20, 2015
I would suggest go for IB only if you are 100% sure that you want the child to pursue higher education abroad. In the preschool phase, it is very child friendly though. Their results are declared late and are not compatible with Indian systems. ICSE is very English literature centric, Shakespeare oriented etc. Though they assign bombastic projects, only the top 5-10% in the class learn. They are impractical projects which parents need to do. CBSE curriculum gets updated with the need of the hour, once in 2-3 years. Very compatible with national level competitive exams in all fields. Now their assessment methods are also changing, increasingly more concept oriented and projects that the child can do her own.
| Apr 21, 2015
That's a good piece of information at least to basically help and decide .....however I have recently shifted to Mumbai and have got my son admitted to an ICSE sch... promoting to 4th std.... before the sch starts I got him books of 3rd std to have an idea... as this is a change from CBSE to ICSE.... the idea has worked well and he is finding it comfortable now... and will be ready to atleast face the change ....
| Apr 21, 2015
Hi My daughter is in Grade 8 IGCSE board .....and she wants to pursue Arts as in try for FIT , NID, NIFT etc..... and otherwise if she goes for normal college ..I would want her to go for liberal art colleges in India ......so shld I shift her to CBSE in 9th... will it be difficult to cope up ...or shld I change in 11 the ..where she gets to choose 5 subjects only and won't have to study SST and science ....very confused
| Apr 21, 2015
Hi Carol, could you please explain about Montessori schools? Is it possible to put my child in Montessori school for her kindergarten and shift to CBSE from first grade?