The IB combines academic rigour and breadth, requiring pupils to study six broadly different academic subjects for full two-year duration. The Diploma Programme embraces reflection as well as action, and in addition to the academic disciplines that they study, pupils complete a course in Theory of Knowledge (TOK), write an extended research essay and engage in a range of creative, action and service (CAS) activities. The IB by its very nature offers a holistic approach to education that explores the interconnections between different fields of study and endeavour, acknowledging that the final educational product is much greater than the sum of its component parts.
The IB Diploma Programme is founded on the belief that creativity occurs when people who have mastered two or more quite different fields use the framework in one to think afresh about another. In so doing it is very much in tune with the demands of a rapidly changing, interconnected, globalised world. Employers are looking for applicants with the broad range of experiences and strong lateral thinking skills that the IB cultivates. The IB has a very international perspective. Pupils must master a foreign language, and the study of the humanities encourages pupils to compare similar developments across several different national and cultural contexts. Similarly, service activities may take place locally but often focus on international issues and challenges.
Although the IB Diploma Programme may not be as familiar to pupils as A Levels, the IB curriculum is well established. First introduced in 1968, the Diploma Programme is now over forty years old. There are 4,527 schools offering the Diploma Programme, in 143 different countries worldwide. Within the UK over 160 schools offer the IB Diploma and the qualification is recognised and well regarded by UK universities. Ninety admissions tutors selected the IB Diploma as being the best 16+ qualification for preparation for university study.
STRUCTURE OF THE INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE DIPLOMA PROGRAMME
In the IB Diploma Programme pupils study six subjects for two years. All of the examinations for these subjects take place at the end of the second year of study.
The subjects are chosen from the following groups, though not all combinations may be possible because of timetable constraints:
Group One (Language A): Study of Literature
Group Two (Second Language): ‘Working’ knowledge of a Foreign Language:
French, German, Greek, Spanish, Mandarin and Latin
Group Three (Individuals and Societies): Humanities – Geography, History, Philosophy or Economics
Group Four (Experimental Sciences): Biology, Physics, Chemistry or Design Technology
Group Five (Mathematics and Computer Science): Mathematics or Mathematical Studies
Group Six (The Arts): Visual Arts, Music, Drama or another subject selected from Groups Two – Four
Pupils will take the six subjects concurrently, three at Higher Level and three at Standard Level. In general, the distinction between taking a subject at Higher Level and a subject at Standard Level is that Higher Level study covers a greater amount of subject content. However, Standard Level subjects are as conceptually demanding as Higher Level subjects and should not be equated with AS modules.
The Diploma core involves Theory of Knowledge (TOK), the extended essay and Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS).
Theory of Knowledge is taught approximately one hour a week discretely. It is an interdisciplinary requirement intended to stimulate critical reflection on the knowledge and experience that pupils have gained from the six subject groups and from their activities outside the classroom. It is assessed by a chosen presentation and a 1500 word essay.
The compulsory extended essay enables each pupil to investigate in depth a topic, usually in one of their higher level topics that is of particular interest to them. This aspect of the IB Diploma inculcates in pupils the kind of independent research and writing skills demanded by universities. They should aim to produce an in depth, fully researched paper, comparative to an under graduated assignment. This component is assessed by a 4000 word essay.
Creativity, Activity, Service responds to the IB’s conviction that action and reflection are necessary and complementary activities. It requires creativity developing ideas for original/interpretative products/performances in the arts, physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle and, service including direct volunteering, indirect volunteering, advocacy and research as well as a collaborative project. The focus is as much on what pupils discover about themselves and the world around them and the spirit in which they undertake the component activities as it is about the level of proficiency that they attain.