The International Baccalaureate

The International Baccalaureate (IB) offers four challenging and high quality educational programmes for a worldwide community of schools, aiming to develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better, more peaceful world.

The IB works with schools around the world (both state and privately funded) that share the commitment to international education to deliver these programmes.

Schools that have achieved the high standards required for authorization to offer one or more of the IB programmes are known as IB World Schools. There are over half a million students attending more than 3500 IB World Schools in 139 countries and this number is growing annually.

The Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma Programmes share a common philosophy and common characteristics. They develop the whole student, helping students to grow intellectually, socially, aesthetically and culturally. They provide a broad and balanced education that includes science and the humanities, languages and mathematics, technology and the arts. The programmes teach students to think critically, and encourage them to draw connections between areas of knowledge and to use problem-solving techniques and concepts from many disciplines. They instil in students a sense of responsibility towards others and towards the environment. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the programmes give students an awareness and understanding of their own culture and of other cultures, values and ways of life.

A fourth programme called the IB Career-related Programme (IBCP) became available to IB World Schools from September 2012.

The IBCP incorporates the educational principles, vision and learner profile of the IB into a unique offering that specifically addresses the needs of students who wish to engage in career-related education. The IBCP encourages these students to benefit from elements of an IB education, through a selection of two or more Diploma Programme courses in addition to a unique IBCP core, comprised of an approaches to learning (ATL) course, language development, a reflective project, and community and service.

The IBCP is designed to provide a ‘value added’ qualification to schools that already offer the IB Diploma Programme and are also delivering career-related studies to their students. The IBCP enables schools to widen participation to an IB education. Schools retain the ability to choose the career-related courses that are most suited to local conditions and the needs of their students. Schools gain the added flexibility in direct curriculum development as well as the IBCP core to create an educational pathway that puts a strong focus on individual student needs. All IB programmes include:

– a written curriculum or curriculum framework;

– student assessment appropriate to the age range;

– professional development and networking opportunities for teachers;

– support, authorization and programme evaluation for the school.

The IB Primary Years Programme

The IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), for students aged three to 12, focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside. It is a framework consisting of five essential elements (concepts, knowledge, skills, attitude, action) and guided by six trans-disciplinary themes of global significance, explored using knowledge and skills derived from six subject areas (language, social studies, mathematics, science and technology, arts, personal, social and physical education) with a powerful emphasis on inquiry-based learning.

The most significant and distinctive feature of the PYP is the six trans-disciplinary themes. These themes are about issues that have meaning for, and are important to, all of us. The programme offers a balance between learning about or through the subject areas, and learning beyond them. The six themes of global significance create a trans-disciplinary framework that allows students to ‘step up’ beyond the confines of learning within subject areas:

Who we are.

Where we are in place and time.

How we express ourselves

How the world works

How we organize ourselves

Sharing the planet

The PYP exhibition is the culminating activity of the programme. It requires students to analyse and propose solutions to real-world issues, drawing on what they have learned through the programme. Evidence of student development and records of PYP exhibitions are reviewed by the IB as part of the programme evaluation process.

Assessment is an important part of each unit of inquiry as it both enhances learning and provides opportunities for students to reflect on what they know, understand and can do. The teacher’s feedback to the students provides the guidance, the tools and the incentive for them to become more competent, more skilful and better at understanding how to learn.

The IB Middle Years Programme (MYP)

The Middle Years Programme (MYP), for students aged 11 to 16, comprises eight subject groups:

Language acquisition

Language and literature

Individuals and societies




Physical and health education


The MYP requires at least 50 hours of teaching time for each subject group in each year of the programme. In years 4 and 5, students have the option to take courses from six of the eight subject groups within certain limits, to provide greater flexibility in meeting local requirements and individual student learning needs.

Each year, students in the MYP also engage in at least one collaboratively planned interdisciplinary unit that involves at least two subject groups.

MYP students also complete a long-term project, where they decide what they want to learn about, identify what they already know, discovering what they will need to know to complete the project, and create a proposal or criteria for completing it

The MYP aims to help students develop their personal understanding, their emerging sense of self and responsibility in their community.

The MYP allows schools to continue to meet state, provincial or national legal requirements for students with access needs. Schools must develop an inclusion/special educational needs (SEN) policy that explains assessment access arrangements, classroom accommodations and curriculum modification that meet individual student learning needs.

The IB Diploma Programme (IBDP)

The IB Diploma Programme, for students aged 16 to 19, is an academically challenging and balanced programme of education with final examinations, which prepares students for success at university and life beyond.

IBDP students study six courses at higher level or standard level. Students must choose one subject from each of groups 1 to 5, thus ensuring breadth of experience in languages, social studies, the experimental sciences and mathematics. The sixth subject may be an arts subject chosen from group 6, or the student may choose another subject from groups 1 to 5. At least three and not more than four subjects are taken at higher level (recommended 240 teaching hours), the others at standard level (150 teaching hours). Students can study these subjects, and be examined, in English, French or Spanish.

In addition, three core elements – the extended essay, theory of knowledge and creativity, action, service – are compulsory and central to the philosophy of the programme.

Students take written examinations at the end of the programme, which are marked by external IB examiners. Students also complete assessment tasks in the school, which are either initially marked by teachers and then moderated by external moderators or sent directly to external examiners.

The marks awarded for each course range from one (lowest) to seven (highest). Students can also be awarded up to three additional points for their combined results on theory of knowledge and the extended essay. The diploma is awarded to students who gain at least 24 points, subject to certain minimum levels of performance across the whole programme and to satisfactory participation in the creativity, action, and service requirement. The highest total that a Diploma Programme student can be awarded is 45 points.

The IB Career-related Programme (IBCP)

The IB Career-related Programme, for students aged 16 to 19, accentuates and enhances skill development and the attainment of the competencies relevant to today’s challenging work place. Students are able to develop a specific pathway into higher education in consultation with their school. A specially-designed IBCP core recognizes and emphasizes IB values, missions and the needs of career-related students.

IBCP students study a specialized IBCP core and a minimum of two Diploma Programme courses. The IBCP core consists of the following:

Community and Service: This element of the IBCP core is based on the principle of service learning, which uses community service as a vehicle for new learning that has academic value. The service learning model in the IBCP emphasises knowledge development, civic development, social development and personal development.

Approaches to learning (ATL): This course is designed to introduce students to life skills. At the heart of the ATL model is the learner who uses a range of skills to make sense of the world around them and develops skills with an emphasis on critical and ethical thinking and effective communication.

Language development: Language development ensures that all students have access to, and are exposed to, a second language that will assist and further their understanding of the wider world. Students are encouraged to extend or begin a second language that suits their needs, background and context.

Reflective project: Through a reflective project students identify, analyse, critically discuss and evaluate an ethical issue arising from their career-related studies. The project can be submitted in a variety of formats including an essay, web page or short film. This work allows the student to engage in personal inquiry, action and reflection and to develop strong research and communications skills.

The Diploma Programme courses are assessed in accordance with the standard Diploma Programme assessment process. However, the career-related courses are assessed by the career-related course provider, not the IB. Approaches to learning, community and service and language development are internally assessed by the school, while the reflective project is moderated by the IB.

For more information on IB programmes, visit:
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