Forty years of the IB

2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the International Baccalaureate Diploma at Sevenoaks School.

After its introduction to Sevenoaks by Headmaster Alan Tammadge in 1978, the IB steadily became the qualification of choice by students and parents, and replaced A-levels completely nearly 20 years ago.

This year also marks the 50-year anniversary of the conception of the IB. Designed to promote a global perspective, understanding and communication, the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme’s (IBDP’s) values and identity have remained consistent, and now, more than ever, Sevenoaks believes it is the best education for the modern world. The programme encourages students to value conflict resolution, to respect cultural heritage and the environment and to develop an attitude of responsibility to the wider community.

Worldwide, the IB Diploma is now taken by nearly 142,000 students in over 2400 schools worldwide. Students take six subjects, including their native language and one other, Mathematics, and at least one science and one humanity. They take a theory of knowledge course developing critical thinking and reasoning skills, and they follow a creativity, action and service programme in sport, the arts and voluntary work.

The breadth of the Diploma programme, with its requirement of six subjects, including languages, Mathematics, and at least one science and one humanity, encourages an interdisciplinary style of learning. Students develop expert knowledge in the topics that most interest them, but are also encouraged to look beyond the traditional boundaries between academic disciplines, think critically across the curriculum and to appreciate and analyse multiple perspectives. Additional in-depth scholarship comes with the Extended Essay, an independent, 4000-word project on a subject chosen by the student, with a tutorial-style model of supervision. It fosters independent learning and is a superb preparation for undergraduate essays.

“The IB is the best curriculum in the world right now. It combines academic rigour with real-world skills in a global context.”

Lord Knight, former education minister

This strength of breadth and depth is one of the reasons why IB students are very effectively prepared for university and for the future workplace.

Universities therefore really like the IB; by maintaining its standards, free from state interference, the IB has succeeded in achieving a consistency of assessment unparalleled elsewhere. Its 45-point scale enables universities to make more nuanced offers than are possible under other schemes. IB students start their undergraduate careers with numeracy, literacy and language competency, a broad understanding of a range of disciplines, and strong employability skills such as teamwork and problem-solving. They are experienced at managing a varied workload and can question, reflect and think critically.  

Sevenoaks has been a flagship school for the IB for many years. The IB provides access to top universities and develops impressive students and well-rounded, resourceful employees – but just as importantly, it encourages inquiry, reflection and delight in learning. Students leave us with a modern and international worldview and with a desire to shape and to improve the world.

Tim Jones
Deputy Head Academic