The curriculum standards followed by schools in the UK can be quite bewildering to international parents wishing to send their children to study there. Boarding schools do follow the same general curriculum required by the government, but many of them include other areas of study to supplement the standard. This way, children have a better opportunity to reach their full potential.

A Level is the most common UK senior curriculum, typically taken over a period of 2 years. There are over 40 different A Level subject choice, but most of the top boarding schools in England focus on 20-25 subject areas. International Baccalaureate studies are taken by an increasing number of international students. In the last decade, more boarding schools have been including an IB Diploma Programme into their curriculum offerings, because it is a highly rated international qualification by the UCAS. Another appeal of the IB curriculum is the fact that, it is transferrable from one country to another, given they follow the same syllabus.

Pre-U is another diploma programme offered in boarding schools. This is a good choice for those who want something less generic than A Level or IB courses. The main difference of a Pre-U diploma programme to IB and A-Level programmes is that it gives students total freedom with their choice of subjects to take. The Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers curriculum are equivalent to (although roughly) the AS and A2 programmes, both of which are valid for University entry.

There are also foundation programmes, which are post-age 17 programmes that are offered by sixth form colleges as well as universities. Foundation programmes are a fast-track entry into Uni, taken over 12 to 18months. These programmes, however, are not as robust as other curriculums like the GCSE or the IB Middle Years programme, among other national curriculum programmes.