Young girl attending online school

The Cambridge learners who choose to learn online

Over the last few years, many schools have realised the benefits of online learning, leading some to rethink their teaching models.

Some physical schools have been inspired by the growing numbers of fully online schools entering the education landscape, who offer a different kind of education for students working remotely. These schools can reach more learners and cater to specific needs more effectively.

At Cambridge International we are now welcoming registrations from schools that want to work with us online and have already registered several quality online schools.

But why would a learner choose to study online?

Advantages of online learning

  • Learners have the freedom to study wherever they are – they just need to be able to sit their exams at a registered Cambridge exam venue. Students who travel around a lot – due to their parents’ jobs or their own commitments (such as sport, music or acting) – choose to study online so their education is not disrupted.
  • Learning can be more easily targeted to each learner’s needs. Classes are usually smaller, offering more opportunities for one-to-one support. This can help teachers to focus on learners’ particular needs and learning styles.
  • Some students benefit from being able to focus on their learning without the noise and distractions of a large physical classroom.
  • Students have more control over the pace of their learning during the day, which can free up more time for extra-curricular activities.
  • Students who do not have a Cambridge school nearby, or live in a remote area, can still access a Cambridge International education.
  • Learners who are not able to attend a physical school – either permanently or temporarily – for medical or wellbeing reasons can still access their education in a way that suits them.

  • Students have access to a wider curriculum, as online schools can often provide subjects that may not be available at a local school.

Type 1 – the fully online school

To become a Cambridge International school – registered as online, schools are required to meet specific quality standards. These are similar to the standards our physical schools must meet – they cover things like the school’s mission, management and leadership, and quality of teaching and learning.

We also ask schools to prove they meet our requirements for online provision – like making sure they provide safe and secure conditions for learning.

Once an online school has completed our approval process to become a Cambridge school, they are eligible to offer some or all stages of the Cambridge Pathway online.

Type 2 – the physical school offering online programmes

Physical schools that are already registered with us can also apply to offer our programmes online. These schools already meet our quality standards as physical Cambridge International schools, but we also ask them to show that they meet our requirements for online provision.

Cambridge is developing and trialling digital high stakes assessments, but for now students at Cambridge Upper Secondary and Cambridge Advanced stages still need to physically sit their exams. Students at fully online schools will be entered as private candidates and sit their exams at a registered Cambridge International school or another exam venue in their local area. Students learning online via a school with a physical campus will sit their exams there.

Hybrid approaches

No two schools are the same. Some schools offer blended or hybrid learning that includes face-to-face meet-ups alongside the online teaching. Other schools may decide to take a completely online approach – although they may still choose to offer face-to-face opportunities for extra-curricular and sporting opportunities. We give online schools the flexibility to decide which approach works best for their learners.

To learn more about some of the online schools we already work with, read our school case studies.

Same high standard of Cambridge education

While physical schooling continues to be the norm for most Cambridge students, we believe that   online learning can be an equally effective and rewarding experience.

A successful online education should provide opportunities for active learning, and for both collaborative and individual work. It should also cater for individual learner needs, use formative assessment to help learners progress, and prioritise wellbeing.

Our registration process gives parents the reassurance that online schools match the standards of physical schools so that students experience an excellent Cambridge education, regardless of how they learn.

Find out more about delivering our programmes online.

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Matt James
By Matt James

Matt James has over 20 years' experience of working with schools and educational organisations around the world, developing strategy, implementing change, developing and delivering products which positively impact teaching and learning. After an early career in radio broadcasting, he taught English, Media and Film Studies in the UK and has held leadership roles at the International Baccalaureate, Fieldwork Education as well as Cambridge University Press & Assessment, where he has led work on professional development, teacher support and assessment. In his current role as Head of Online Education, he oversees Cambridge International's work with online schools.

View all posts by Matt James