The IB explained
For over 40 years the IB Diploma Programme has been the gold standard in international sixth form education. It was developed in 1968 for schools in Britain and Geneva, and since then has flourished as an international, non-governmental, non-profit making organisation, remaining independent of governmental policies. It continues to grow, having developed programmes for students from three to 18, which are now delivered to nearly one million students across the world in some 4000 schools. Throughout, it has maintained its close links with the UK where its Curriculum and Assessment offices are located. The Diploma is an excellent preparation for, and passport to, leading universities and top jobs across the globe.
Breadth and depth
The IB’s distinctive feature is its view that for students to be successful in a changing world, they must have a wide range of skills and abilities to take on new challenges. All IB pupils develop this breadth by studying six subjects: English, mathematics, a science, a humanities subject, a modern or classical language and a creative arts subject.
Universities unanimously praise the IB; they appreciate the breadth, the rigour of the material and praise the students for their ability to manage themselves, their independence of thought, their ability to immediately shift into the higher-order thinking required at university.
Director of IB, Sevenoaks School
While gaining expertise in this broad range of subjects, students also have the opportunity to specialise in a subject of their own choosing, drawing on their personal strengths and interests. For instance, students choose three of their subjects to study at Higher Level and three at Standard Level; as part of this, they may opt for a second language, science or humanities subject instead of a creative arts subject.
All students write a 4000-word Extended Essay on a topic of their own choosing. This is a key feature of the IB Diploma and allows students to develop as independent learners in a genuine and meaningful way. Through coursework choices students can also make further forays into a deeper understanding of particular subjects.
In addition, IB students pursue a course in critical thinking called Theory of Knowledge. As such, students emerge both literate and numerate, linguistically and scientifically able. Ask any employer, and they will tell you that these are all complementary rather than contradictory talents in today’s world.
IB students also extend their learning out of the classroom and into the community through the completion of the creativity, action and service (CAS) programme.
A coherent set of values
The Diploma enjoys a coherent set of values. At its heart is a Learner Profile, which encourages students to be open-minded inquirers, reflective learners and intellectual risk-takers, as well as caring citizens of the world. With its emphasis on independent and lifelong learning, and with internationalism as a central ethic, it has drawn support from an increasing number of state and independent schools here in the UK.
Is the IB for everyone?
The short answer is ‘yes’. It suits the intellectually curious, those who want to develop not just academically but also personally, and for those who are versatile or ambitious – which, we believe, describes any young learner, provided they are inspired and engaged by the instruction they receive. In the variety and excitement it offers and the rewards it yields, the IB Diploma Programme at Sevenoaks School has no rivals.