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.
The IB Diploma as a qualification
The latest University Admissions Officers' Report concludes that the IB Diploma Progamme is the best preparation for workplace and university
ACS report, June 2015
The IB Diploma is recognised by all UK and US universities, and in surveys Admissions Tutors regularly support the claim that the IB provides an excellent – and better – preparation for university and the world of work. Leading universities like the fact that the IB results allow them to discriminate at the top end and that, unlike other qualifications, there has been no grade inflation over the last 20 years.
Research into the success of IB Diploma graduates
In 2016 the Higher Education Statistics Agency conducted and published research on the relative success rates of IB students and concluded that:
- IB Diploma Programme (DP) students have a 57% greater likelihood of attending one of the top twenty UK universities than students who study traditional A Levels
- IBDP students have a larger probability of achieving both a first and second class degree compared to their A Level peers - 23% of DP students achieve a first-class degree compared with 19% of A Level students
- IBDP students are considerably more likely to be engaged in further study, such as a Masters or PhD after leaving higher education, while A Level students are more likely to enter the world of work - 30% of DP students participate in postgraduate study compared to 15% of A Level students
- IBDP students have greater post education prospects, on average earning more than their A Level counterparts. The highest median salary for a Diploma Programme leaver who holds a degree in Mathematical Sciences is £30,000, compared to £22,000 for A Level students who graduate with the same degree
- 18% of IBDP alumni are employed in professional, scientific and technical activities, compared to 13% of A Level students.
Sevenoaks IB graduates were significantly more likely to obtain a 1st or 2:1 than other undergraduates.
Study by Dr Gerda Frank-Gemmill, 2010
Further research conducted by Dr Gerda Frank-Gemmill based on 823 IB students who left Sevenoaks School between 2000 and 2007 and graduated from a UK university, showed that:
- They were significantly more likely to attend top universities when compared with the overall undergraduate population (96% went to Russell/1994 Group vs 36% of all students and 35% vs 4% for the top five universities in The Times ranking).
- They were significantly more likely to obtain a ‘good honours degree’ (first or upper second) than other undergraduates (88% vs 51% of all students and 72% of all Russell/1994 Group graduates).
- At Oxford and Cambridge their degree results were markedly better when compared with those of the overall student population. At Cambridge, 94% of Sevenoaks students obtained a first or upper second compared to 85% of all students, while at Oxford the figures were 98% and 91%, respectively.
The study firmly supports the view that the IB is an excellent preparation for university.