High School - IGCSE


Anja Merilainen - Secondary School Principal
Anja Merilainen - Secondary School Principal

Welcome to the International School of Havana’s Secondary School! Our goal is to foster in our students a love of learning that is lifelong, an approach to learning that is self-directed, and an understanding of learning that reflects the fact that every learner is unique. Our students’ safety and well-being are a primary focus, and we believe that parents, students, and teachers make up a community of learners who must work together in realizing a collective vision of education characterized by equity, inclusivity, and personal growth.

Students at ISH engage with a challenging academic curriculum that aims to foster individual learning while encouraging them to connect what they learn with the world they experience. As an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, research and enquiry are core aspects of the curriculum, as are intercultural understanding- encouraged through seeking and evaluating a range of viewpoints- and reflecting on one’s learning. In their academic classes, students are guided to ask meaningful questions and develop the capacity to seek the answers through training in critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills, as well as project management capabilities.

Students in Grades 11 and 12 study the IB Diploma Program, as well as work toward the ISH High School diploma. Students in Grades 9 and 10 are enrolled in the Cambridge International Education IGCSE programme and our students in Grades 6 to 8 follow the Cambridge Lower Secondary curriculum framework in their core subjects.

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At ISH, we believe that one of the core purposes of education is to empower students to engage deeply with the world around them, and we embrace the idea of ‘Class Without Walls’. Our students take part in a rich co-curricular program, including arts and sports programming; service learning in the community; a student leadership program; and edifying field trips.

Our aim is to equip our students with the knowledge, skills and competencies they will need as healthy, happy adults who make a positive contribution to the world, and we live our mission of Learning to Make a Difference every day. We hope you join ISH and become an integral part of our vibrant community!

Anja Merilainen
ISH Secondary Principal


At ISH, we offer the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) program for students in Grades 9 and 10. The IGCSE is a comprehensive two-year program that is based on the British curriculum (GCSE) and modified by individual schools to suit their local requirements and unique student populations. Recognized by schools and universities across the globe, the IGCSE is followed in in over 145 countries and by more than 6,100 schools worldwide, and is reputed to be the world’s most popular international curriculum for students aged 14 to 16.

Promoting a balanced mix of practical experience and theoretical knowledge, the Cambridge IGCSE curriculum is designed to be accessible to students of a wide range of abilities, including those whose first language is not English. Each course focuses on developing skills in creative thinking, enquiry and problem solving, and its application-based, hands-on approach to learning lays an excellent foundation for students who wish to continue with the IB Curriculum at the pre-university level.

Cambridge IGCSE develops learner knowledge, understanding and skills in
• Subject content
• Applying knowledge and understanding to new as well as familiar situations
• Intellectual enquiry
• Flexibility and responsiveness to change
• Working and communicating in English
• Influencing outcomes
• Cultural awareness.

Cambridge IGCSE Subjects at ISH
The IGCSE curriculum is divided into five subject-area groups. Students in Grades 9 and 10 are required to study subjects within each subject-area group, but they have some choice as to which courses to select, ensuring an individualized program is created for each learner based on their interests, skills and strengths.

Group I Languages
• English as a first or second language
• Spanish as a first or second language, or French as a second language

Group II Humanities and Social Sciences
• World Literature or Spanish Literature
• History, Business, Economics or Global Perspectives

Group III Sciences
• Coordinated Sciences – Physics, Chemistry and Biology

Group IV Mathematics
• Mathematics

Group V Creative and Vocational
• Art, Drama, Music or Physical Education

At the end of the two-year IGCSE program, students are assessed both internally and externally in ways that measure individual performance against stated objectives for each subject. The Cambridge ICE (International Certificate of Education) is the overall certificate awarded to acknowledge success in the study of subjects drawn from the five different subject groups. It recognizes the achievements of students who pass in at least seven subjects, including two languages and one subject from each of the other four subject-area groups.

Transitioning from IGCSE
The IGCSE curriculum is designed as preparation for further international study, such as the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP), as well as entry to international universities. At the same time, it’s made to be accessible to learners of almost all ability levels; learning tasks are differentiated to meet the needs of both the most capable students and those who find academics challenging. At ISH, students have the option, in Grades 11 and 12, to pursue an IB diploma or a less academically demanding ISH diploma. Regardless of the path each individual student selects, the knowledge and skills they gain through the successful completion of the IGCSE program will set them up for success as they continue with their high school studies.