When deciding on a structure for their curriculum and the learning experiences they offer, international Primary schools have a range of educational programmes from which to choose. The International Baccalaureate (IB), for example, offers the PYP (Primary Years Programme) as part of its suite of programmes (which includes the Middle Years Programme and the Diploma Programme). Alternatively, a number of international schools offer national or even state-based curricula. Some offer newer programmes of a more speculative nature.
What, then, are the key competitive advantages of the PYP?
Firstly, the PYP is supported and maintained by an international organization of the highest repute, creating a stable, secure and well-resourced foundation for the programme. The IB is a global organization specializing in international education. It is an integral part of a global community of schools and educators. As of 2016, 1,266 schools are offering the PYP in 106 different countries worldwide.
The IB is a reliable and prestigious brand in international education, and is well known to universities throughout the world. Part of its reliability emerges from the rigorous processes of accreditation and authorization that schools must undertake before they are able to offer the programme. Accreditation ensures that the standards of education by candidate schools are both high and globally uniform. It provides quality control and gives parents the stability and certainty their children need in an education system.
A second advantage of the PYP is the edge it gives students academically. Research has demonstrated that the PYP provides significant educational advantages to students throughout the world. For example, a recent study of PYP and MYP Student Performance on the International Schools’ Assessment (ISA) examined the performance of IB students in Mathematics and literacy tasks compared to their non-IB peers across Asia, Oceania, Europe, Americas, and Africa. The ISA assesses math literacy, reading, and narrative and expository writing among international school students in Grades 3 to 10. The study demonstrated that “IB students tended to outperform their non-IB peers on the ISA across all domains in a majority of grade levels”.
Research has also demonstrated that some of the key components of the PYP – inquiry-based learning, international mindedness and action orientation – are the elements that provide an advantage for students over other programmes. Inquiry-based learning prepares students for the future, creating flexible, ethically aware thinkers. The PYP nurtures independent learning skills, encouraging every student to take lifelong responsibility for their learning.
A third advantage, particularly for globally mobile families, is that the PYP is also transferable: while its implementation may differ from school to school, the central structure and ethos of the programme remain constant. This provides parents and children with a vital continuity of learning, providing reassurance, certainty and stability when changing countries.
A final advantage of the PYP is that the programme is underpinned by extensive and continual research into curriculum and pedagogy. The PYP is informed by global best practice in teaching and learning. Teachers in the PYP programme engage in ongoing professional development globally, to ensure best practice and to maintain the highest standards of education.
The PYP is one of the foundations of the education offered at IB World Schools like the Inter-Community School (Zurich). It provides a rigorous programme that focuses on developing the potential of each child. Undertaking the PYP brings international students into a truly global community of learners and educators.