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The IB Difference

04 February 2018

In his second article on the International Baccalaureate Diploma, our Head of Senior School Mr. Kenning looks at some of the reasons for the respect that the qualification has earned worldwide.

  • ib

What is it that makes IB so valued?  What exactly is the IB difference?

For me, more than anything, it’s all about the IB philosophy at the heart of which is one key aim: to create a better world through education. This sounds ambitious, perhaps lofty to some, but the IB takes the issue of its mission statement very seriously indeed, so much so that schools who run their programmes are measured against it as a standard every five years.  In our upcoming evaluation, we will need to show that we strive to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people and encourage our students to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.  Our latest inspection feedback, in which we were praised for being a ‘kind and loving school’, seems to suggest that we are very much on track.

‘So what!’, you might think, ‘philosophies are all well and good but they don’t put grades in a student’s transcript.  Where’s the substance? How does this impact results?’  Putting aside the temptation to debate the value of the IB’s aims, I’ll answer instead by arguing it is the philosophy and mission statement that are directly responsible for student achievement in the Diploma Programme (DP).  Engendering a love and enthusiasm for learning is the greatest gift that we can offer our students, ensuring as it does that they become independent and self-reliant in their day to day studies, developing in the process the skills that get them their grades at then end of the programme, and guarantee a seamless transition to study at university. 

Big claims indeed but ones that are borne out by the evidence.  Various studies conducted by organisations in countries across the world have revealed that DP students are not only better at independent learning, they are also more academically resilient, more likely to go on to achieve first class honours degrees and have research and academic skills that put them well beyond counterparts from other systems.  Students who have left BIS-Abu Dhabi have verified that in the past two years, with some of them acting as mentors to students who have not, for example, learned how to cite sources and reference correctly in academic papers.  Several have claimed that they feel more in control of their learning than classmates and the confidence which that brings has had a telling impact on their grades.

And there is yet more, much more.  In the next post, I’ll explore that claim with a focus on CAS, the Creativity, Activity and Service elements of the IB that are a part of the Core experiences that all students go through.  In the meantime, the following below links might be of interest.

Andrew Kenning, Head of Senior School