Choosing the right curriculum for your child can be quite a challenge. Here is a quick guide to the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme to help you decide if it is the right choice for your child at 16-19 years old.
What is the International Baccalaureate?
Commonly referred to as the IB, the International Baccalaureate is a comprehensive and international curriculum that takes a holistic approach to education, fostering intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills. It aims to develop ‘inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who are motivated to succeed’.
There are three programmes for students between 3-18 years old:
- The Primary Years Programme (PYP) for students aged 3-12
- The Middle Years Programme (MYP) for students aged 11-16
- The Diploma Programme (DP) for students aged 16-19 and grants entry to universities around the world
Schools around the world can choose to offer all of these programmes or combine them with other curricula. Some schools opt for a common bilingual curriculum until grade 10. Students wanting to do an IB Diploma will then enter a specially-designed pre-IB programme in grades 11 and 12, and begin the IBDP in grade 13 and 14.
In many ways, the IB is ideal for the expat family. Thousands of schools worldwide currently offer the curriculum meaning students can easily transition back to their home or another country. It is therefore also simple to evaluate them on a standard, universal scale.
The curriculum is also popular with parents seeking a well-rounded and international education for their children.
What is the IB Diploma?
The IB Diploma Programme, or IBDP, is for students aged 16-19 and is based on the philosophy that students should always question the subjects they learn and apply critical thinking skills to real-world situations. The IB Diploma offers a broad range of subjects for students to study so that students can personalise their learning.
The IBDP Curriculum is composed of six subject groups; students must normally study one from each group, three at higher level and three at standard level over a two-year period:
- Studies in Language and Literature – often mother tongue language
- Language Acquisition – usually a foreign language
- Individuals & Societies – subjects include business and management, economics, geography, global politics, history, information technology in a global society, philosophy, psychology, social and cultural anthropology, world religions
- Sciences – subjects include biology, computer science, chemistry, design technology, physics and sports, exercise and health science
- Mathematics – subjects include mathematical studies, mathematics, further mathematics
- The Arts – subjects include dance, music, film, theatre and visual art
In addition to the six subject groups, IB Diploma students study the IB core – three required components which broaden their experience. The three core components are:
- Theory of knowledge – students reflect on knowledge and question/challenge what we know
- The Extended Essay – an in-depth self-directed 4000-word research paper in an area of their choice
- Creativity, activity, service – students participate in various purposeful and personally challenging activities related to these three subjects, with significant outcomes
How does the IB Diploma curriculum differ from other curriculums?
The IB Diploma curriculum offers an international focus and emphasis on self-directed, independent learning through research and applying problem-solving skills to real-world issues. The certification requires students to engage in a wide variety of activities and places equal weight on learning inside the classroom as well as outside the classroom.
The IB Diploma also offers students the opportunity to study a broad range of subjects. This is compared to say A-levels, which encourages students to become specialised in a few subjects which they study in-depth.
What are the benefits of studying the IB Diploma?
- Universities around the world hold the IB Diploma in high esteem – The best colleges and universities accept IB Students
- Emphasizes independent and self-directed learning. Focuses on social and emotional development – for example being a world citizen with universal values
- Encourages a global perspective – for example, students must master a foreign language, learn about other cultures and political systems among other things.
- It’s an international qualification so especially useful for students who plan to study or work abroad
- The IB is a popular curriculum in international schools. It is useful for expat students because they can transition easily to many other countries.
Why might another curriculum be a better choice for my child?
Many students describe the IB curriculum as challenging, but rewarding. Students who would prefer to focus on fewer subjects to create an area of specialism may prefer to opt for A-levels rather than the IB. Students may also wish to consider where they would like to continue their education, for instance, if you wish to study in Switzerland the Swiss Maturité may be more appropriate or the French Baccalauréat.
Written by Nord Anglia Education.
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