The IB diploma is without doubt the most academically rigorous and challenging pre-university course in the world. So why are schools not turning to ‘easier’ alternatives as an access route to tertiary level education? The answer lies in the breadth of challenge that the Diploma course offers and the simple fact that it is the best preparation for university of any of the courses currently on offer globally. Where other programmes might teach a syllabus focused on a body of knowledge and narrow skills focused around a particular subject, the IB diploma strives to help students understand how to learn, through a body of transferable skills that acknowledge the significance of research, communication, creativity and personal challenge to success at University.
By not narrowing study to a small pool of subjects too soon, the Diploma programme provides a platform for students to consider a greater breadth of career pathways. Whilst rigorously academic, the Diploma also develops the whole person: the CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) programme encourages the student to look beyond the confines of the classroom and recognise that learning can take place at any time, in any place. In a similar vein, many aspects of the IB assessment focus on interpersonal skills as well as academic knowledge. The Group 4 science project is a good example of this, where students are asked to develop a scientific experiment in a rural environment, and part of the assessment focuses on how the group work together as a team to overcome obstacles. This range of approaches to assessment – through oral as well as written communication, for example – means that every student is given the opportunity to demonstrate their ability in a medium that suits them best – and every student is challenged.
The global perspective of the Diploma (it is delivered to students in over a 100 countries around the world) means that students are actively preparing for a Global future. Ask an IB student whether their first year at university was a challenge, they might still say yes – but with a 4,000 word Extended Essay already behind them they will know exactly how to get the best from their time and thrive.
Simon Miller, Assistant Head, Regents International School Pattaya