The Cambridge Curriculum at Nova Pioneer

Nova Pioneer offers the Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) curriculum. The Cambridge Curriculum is designed to teach students how to learn and to go on learning. The Cambridge curriculum is globally recognised for its rigour and high academic standards. It is developed and maintained by the University of Cambridge, a renowned institution with a long history of academic excellence. 

Our role goes beyond helping students achieve good results, and beyond giving students passports for progression to university or employment. We give our students a curriculum that will bring lifelong success in tomorrow’s world.

Nova Pioneer has a track record of strong performance in the various Cambridge International Assessments, across Upper Primary through to A-levels. Our students have consistently exceeded international benchmarks and have been amongst the top performers in the world.

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Cambridge Pathways

Currently, Nova Pioneer offers the Cambridge curriculum in the following pathways:

IGCSE – Grade 9 & Grade 10

AS – Grade 11 & Grade 12

A-Levels (Option for some students) – Grade 13

The AS level (Advanced Subsidiary) is the first stage of A levels and has replaced the HIGCSE course. Cambridge A-Levels are welcomed at the world’s leading universities. Cambridge IGCSE, AS Level, and A Levels are recognised locally by the South African Matriculation Board for entrance into South African Universities. In order to comply with the requirements for Matric Exemption, certain subject groupings are required. We will guide our students in their subject choices to ensure compliance with the Matriculation Board’s requirements should they intend going on to university.

Watch our Nova Pioneer Ormonde Senior Head of School, Theuns Opperman, explain more about the various pathways.

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Equipping students for success

The Cambridge curriculum places a strong emphasis on nurturing critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills. In a rapidly evolving world, these skills are paramount for success. South Africa, with its unique challenges, benefits immensely from a curriculum that encourages students to think critically and creatively. 

One of the lasting impacts of the Cambridge curriculum is its ability to instil a passion for lifelong learning. By promoting a curiosity-driven approach to education, it equips South African students with the mindset necessary to adapt to a continually evolving world.

We, at Nova Pioneer, measure success by the number of our graduates that complete their tertiary education within the prescribed years for the courses they undertake. In a country where first-year university pass rates sit at around 30%, we believe that the Cambridge curriculum places our graduates at a distinct advantage when it comes to tertiary education. Feedback from our alumni in the first-year of university tells us that the AS and A Level courses they completed at Nova Pioneer put them at least a 6 months ahead, in terms of content knowledge and skills, than their peers from other curricula.

Learn more about the Cambridge Curriculum

The Value of the Cambridge Curriculum in South African Education

South Africa is a diverse nation with a rich cultural heritage and a growing emphasis on education. As the country seeks to provide its students with a world-class education that prepares them for the global stage, the Cambridge curriculum has emerged as a valuable asset in achieving this goal. Read more

subject selection

The difference between IEB, CAPS and Cambridge

Our secondary school team has embarked on a #NextLevelCambridge roadshow, taking us to various primary schools across Gauteng. Our mission as a team is to introduce the Cambridge curriculum to students and empower them with the information that they need to make the best decision regarding high school, particularly when considering Cambridge schools. Read more

Nova Pioneer celebrates its Top Achievers

Nova Pioneer Schools, a pan-African independent school group that builds and operates world-class, affordable schools, offering students grades from preschool through to senior school, with established campuses in South Africa and Kenya, proudly announces the noteworthy achievements of their students in the Cambridge A-Level, AS-Level and IGCSE examinations. Read more

Nova Pioneer Student Achieves Top Position in Cambridge International Award

Nova Pioneer is thrilled to announce the remarkable achievement of Kewell Moodley, a Grade 12 student at Nova Pioneer Ormonde, who has secured the top position globally for Cambridge International IGCSE Business Studies in November 2022. Kewell’s outstanding academic accomplishment is a testament to his dedication, perseverance, and passion for learning, filling the Nova Pioneer community with immense pride. As a pan-African network of schools following the rigorous Cambridge International Curriculum, Nova Pioneer is committed to providing a world-class education that empowers students to excel in all aspects of their lives. Read more

Five misconceptions about Cambridge

In our fast and ever-changing world, it is important that children learn a few key skills from a young age, most of which should be taught at school level. A student’s ability to become successful in the real-world (and face the daily challenges presented in the workplace) weighs heavily on their ability to problem-solve and to think “outside the box”. Read more

Difference between AS and A Levels (Grade 13)

Choosing the right secondary education path is a pivotal decision that shapes a student’s academic journey and future prospects. At Nova Pioneer, we offer two distinct pathways to a university exemption for our students: the AS Level (Grades 11 and 12) programme and the A Level (Grade 13) programme. Each programme presents a unique approach to education, catering to diverse interests, strengths, and ambitions. Read more

Why study A-Levels?

One of the reasons that drew me to Nova Pioneer five years ago, apart from the desire to be a member of a team of educational pioneers in South Africa, was the opportunity to teach within the Cambridge system. And five years down the line, I do not regret that decision. What an intellectually and personally rewarding journey it has been for me, and will continue to be. The Cambridge curriculum is still quite an unfamiliar system in the South African context. Read more

5 Things to Consider When Looking for a High School

High school is the final phase of basic education, and the seeds planted in high school will be the fruits that will grow in tertiary. Looking for a high school for your child is no small feat. Parents want to know that their children are well prepared in high school to face tertiary education. Read more

Independent Candidates Looking for a Cambridge Examination Venue

Are you a student studying the Cambridge curriculum through a home-based learning platform and looking for a Cambridge examinations venue in the Johannesburg area? We at Nova Pioneer recognise that there may be a shortage of examination venues and would like to help. We provide, when space allows and on a first come-first served basis, a well-equipped, stress free space to accommodate students for the writing of examinations only. Below are what we offer and the fees. Read more

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the Cambridge curriculum, and how does it differ from other curricula?

    The Cambridge curriculum is an internationally recognised framework known for its academic rigour and holistic approach. It focuses on developing critical thinking, problem-solving, and independent learning skills. In South Africa, it provides a globally relevant education within a local context.

  • Are Cambridge curriculum qualifications recognised by SA universities?

    The Universities of South Africa (USAf) matriculation board has standardised its acceptance of international qualifications including those issued by Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE). All South African universities have established their minimum entry requirements for students holding a CAIE qualification and fully accept them. Students from Cambridge who pass the AS or A level exams with a bachelor’s degree can apply to USAf for a matric equivalence, and students who pass the AS level exams with the equivalent of an NSC or diploma can do the same with South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). Both processes are simple and instant. Many of our Nova Pioneer alumni are already enrolled in South Africa universities and are thriving, this alone dispels this erroneous misconception.(Cambridge A Level qualifications are also recognised and valued by all Ivy League and Ivy Plus universities in the US, all UK universities, as well as those in Australia, Canada, Germany and beyond.)

  • Why study A-Levels?

    There are a few reasons why we encourage parents to strongly consider full A Levels for their children. The first is that it is a well-respected international qualification and students who wish to study abroad will invariably be at an advantage in terms of university acceptance at all the world´s top tertiary institutions. Top South African universities as well have formalized their acceptance criteria for A Level candidates and these students are highly sought after locally as well. Full A Levels also provides another bite at the cherry for students who may not have achieved the university entry requirements in their AS exams. By improving their results in a 13th year, they almost always end up with a very strong university entrance qualification.

  • What subjects are offered under the Cambridge curriculum at Nova Pioneer?

    Nova Pioneer offers a diverse range of subjects in high school, including Maths (Core/ Extended), English, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography, History, Computer Science, Business Studies, Art and Design, Leadership & Innovation. Notably, our first additional language offerings encompass Zulu, Afrikaans, and Setswana, providing students with more options.

  • Are there additional language options available beyond Zulu, Afrikaans, and Setswana?

    Currently, our language offerings include Zulu, Afrikaans, and Setswana, providing a rich linguistic environment for our students.

  • Can my child transition seamlessly between Nova Pioneer and other schools within South Africa?

    Absolutely. Our curriculum aligns with international standards while staying contextually relevant to South Africa. This ensures a smooth transition between schools, particularly up to Grade 10. It's important to note that, starting from Grade 11, students focus on four subjects. While this aligns seamlessly with the Cambridge system, it may pose a challenge when transitioning to non-Cambridge schools that typically require students to have seven subjects.

  • How does Nova Pioneer prepare students for higher education in South Africa and internationally?

    Our curriculum is designed to prepare students for a globalised world. We offer guidance and support in navigating the university application process through our dedicated Post School Success team, ensuring students are well-equipped for higher education both within South Africa and abroad.

Carina Sloane
Carina Sloane, Admissions Associate Manager

Speak with our Admissions team

Our Admissions team gladly welcomes all queries and applications for admissions. We want to assure all parents that each application is handled with care and we endeavour to keep you informed throughout each stage of the admissions process. Once you have submitted your application form, our team will get in touch to schedule you for an assessment day.  Should you wish to speak to an Admissions Associate directly before submitting your child’s application, email us on

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