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They say the road less travelled makes all the difference, and this seems to be the case with education these days. So is there an alternative?

WORDS Rebecca Lawson

As the world becomes more global, so too do the education needs of our children. Many school graduates don’t realise that the Australian and New Zealand Higher School Certificates are not accepted in all of the world’s top tertiary educational institutions. That is why many students are choosing to study a curriculum that is internationally accepted – cue the International Baccalaureate, otherwise known as the IB.

The International Baccalaureate is an organisation headquartered in Geneva. It was founded back in the late sixties and offers programs for children aged from three right up till 19. The IB curriculum focuses on teaching students an ‘international-mindedness’ and encourages them to relate subject matter back to ‘real life’ situations, helping students understand the relevance of their studies. The aim is to produce graduates who have well developed communication, inter-cultural and social skills, so they are equipped to prosper and adapt in a rapidlychanging global workforce.

The education standard in schools that offer the IB is second to none. This is established by the rigorous authorisation process the school must go through before being accepted to the program. All aspects are evaluated including resources, teacher training and the institution’s commitment to the international principles of the IB. This process is ongoing which ensures the school’s resources are kept current and cutting edge.

This continuous assessment of IB institutions is necessary because one of the main drawcards of the program is that its curriculum is the same in IB schools around the world, no matter which country or even continent your child is studying in. This means that not only are students learning from a globally-strong and internationally-focused lesson plan, but those who are part of families that move often are able to adapt academically into their new environment much faster.

Main image: Boys from Newington College, Sydney
Lindfield Campus K-6, Stanmore K-12. 
Above: Somerset students benefit from a sprawling
campus in the centre of the Gold Coast.
Reception boys at St Peter's College, South Australia

" The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. "


Above: Students at Annesley Junior School, Adelaide
explore their world through hands-on learning.

The IB is split into four age-appropriate programs, rather like preschool, primary school and high school. The focus of the Primary Years Programme (PYP) is very much on the development of the ‘whole child’. Young students are encouraged to be inquisitive and confident in all environments. From age 11, students are part of the Middle Years Programme (MYP) where they must study two languages as well as other general subjects including technology and humanities. The Diploma Programme (DP) is geared towards preparing students for university and life in general. It is for students from 16 to 19 years and all aspects of their personal growth are addressed, from ethical and emotional wellbeing to academic and physical development.

Finally, the Career-related Certificate (IBCC) is a local-based qualification addressing issues relevant to careers unique to the individual lo-cation of the school. It focuses on community related careers and language development.

One of the subjects that is perhaps most unique to the IB is the unit known as ‘Theory of Knowledge’ (TOK). This subject is compulsory for all IB diploma students and is directed towards understanding knowledge itself, thereby gaining a greater understanding of the most efficient ways to approach learning – to sum up, it basically teaches students to think for themselves. Individual topics addressed include Emotion, Reasoning and Sense Perception. There is also a focus on understanding the ways different subjects relate to each other – maths is closely related to natural sciences which is closely related to human sciences which is closely related to arts, and so the merry-go-round goes on.


Five star facts

tick International Baccalaureate is the name of both the curriculum and the organisation that developed it.
tickThe organisation is non-profit and based in Switzerland.
tick The curriculum's main philosophy is of international-mindedness, continuum of education and teaching an inquisitive approach to learning.
tickThe IB is offered in four programmes for students aged from three to 19 years old.
tickThe program is offered in 3,569 schools in 145 countries to approximately 1,000,000 students.

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