How the International Baccalaureate Programme Can Help Students

For nearly fifty years the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) has been instrumental in helping international students gain a better education. Although you’ve probably heard of this qualification, you might not actually understand exactly how the International Baccalaureate can improve education.

The IBO was founded in 1968 by a group of Swiss schoolteachers under the name ‘International Schools Examinations Syndicate’ (ISES). The curriculum is designed to assist education by providing four educational programmes for children aged from 16-19. However, an IB learning experience differs from that of regular education. Here are some reasons why:

What is an IB school?

Any school that offers an IB programme is referred to as an ‘IB school’. The IB programme was only taught at a few locations in Britain until recently, however, it is now fast becoming a popular alternative learning choice at state schools. As of 2014 there are 190 UK schools offering the IB programme.

IB courses lead to an IB Diploma qualification at the end of the course. This is an internationally recognised award ideal for students planning international university study.

So what’s involved?

The IB is widely considered a difficult award to achieve, but it makes up for its difficulty by offering a more comprehensive learning programme than regular A level awards do.

From an assessment perspective, IB students will undergo conventional coursework and presentation challenges during their studies, with written exams being included at the end of the programme. However, there is a considerably broader focus on independent thought as students are encouraged to be creative with their work by exploring international cultures and assessing their own national and personal identity.

This is reflected in the following three core study areas that structure the IB:

1. Creativity, action and service
Intended to emphasise the creative aspect of the IB, this element actively challenges students to make artistic contributions in their studies. The most common means of expression include performing arts like music and acting. However, both sporting achievements and acts of community service are considered relevant to this style of learning.

2. Theory of Knowledge

The TOK element of study aims to explain how knowledge is shared and analysed so that students can successfully form opinions that assist their theoretical arguments.

3. Extended Essay
As part of the IB, kids are expected to explore a subject that interests them via a 4000 word essay which critically examines the motivation for their interest.

Other study criteria
Students will not miss out on the experience of undertaking A level subjects, as there are a number of traditional topics to study in addition to the core IB elements.

There are six subjects to study in order to complete the IB; three of them are at standard difficulty level while the other half are at a higher level.

Each of these six assessments is marked from 1-7 points with an additional 3 points for the extended essay for a total of a potential 45 points. University entry is most often given to students who achieve 24 points and above.

These six subjects are rigidly structured and consist of the following different subject areas:

• An artistic medium, like film or music
• A socially relevant subject, such as psychology or history
• Maths and computer science
• A scientific subject, such as physics or chemistry
• First language study (ie. English for native speakers)
• A second language of the student’s choice

The International Baccalaureate programme is offered by Sidcot School, an independent school in the Mendip Hills near Bristol.

Photo Credit: Fahda Al-Mugairen  via Compfight cc

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