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The Benefits of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme

Stephen Spriggs, Managing Director, William Clarence Education

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma is a two year programme studied by those in the sixth form, ages 16 – 18, as an alternative to the traditional choice of A-levels. An increasing number of UK schools are offering students the choice to study either course or just offering the IB. The IB is a broader course which has huge credibility internationally. It is recognised worldwide and valued by top universities.

Taught in 143 countries, the IB is an educational challenge which provides scope for academic achievement and creative and sporting activity, as well as community service. It is ‘international’ not only because it is accepted worldwide, but also because it is a cross-cultural programme followed by thousands of students who thereby gain knowledge of, and respect for, the cultures of the world. The focus on ensuring students become internationally-minded, with a strong emphasis on language and culture, means that the IB is popular with students and families who move around the globe.

The two-year course is comprised of six compulsory subjects and three core requirements. The compulsory subjects must include one from each of the following groups – Language and Literature, Language Acquisition, The Arts, Science, Maths and Humanities and Social Sciences. Three or four of these must be taken at High Level and the rest at Standard Level. The core requirements include an Extended Essay, which is an independent research essay of up to 4,000 words from the list of approved subjects; Theory of Knowledge which requires 100 hours of instruction, the completion of an externally assessed essay of 1600 words (from a choice of six titles prescribed by the IB worth 67%), and an internally assessed presentation (worth 33%) on the candidate’s chosen topic and Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS). CAS aims to provide students with opportunities for personal growth, self-reflection, intellectual, physical and creative challenges, and awareness of themselves as responsible members of their communities through participation in social or community work (service), athletics or other physical activities (activity), and creative activities (creativity). The guideline for the minimum amount of CAS activity over the two-year programme is approximately 3–4 hours per week. The highest mark possible for a diploma programme student is 45 points, with the top universities like Oxford and Cambridge typically looking for 40 – 42 depending on the course.

Students acquire strong academic skills whilst also developing their emotional and social understanding of the world through language and culture. It is a more holistic approach to learning as skills developed outside the classroom allow students to think conceptually and apply knowledge to various real-world situations rather than theoretically. The IB offers an alternative avenue of education to those who may not be suited to the traditional in-depth A-level courses and who are not ready to specialise. Research by the IB Organisation shows those that partake in the International Baccalaureate end as a better-rounded student who, on average, perform better academically than their counterparts.

The IB is also a great way for students to impress universities as it holds a high level of respect and recognition in Higher Education. Students that have gained the IB qualification already have the skills of independent research and thinking, community involvement and a multicultural understanding of the world around them. These are many of the skills that Universities look for in prospective candidates.

As the popularity of the IB diplomas increases among students, what are the benefits to the schools and colleges that offer the qualification? It is a great marketing tool for your school and could result in an influx of applications. Boarding schools have seen a marked increase in sixth form applications where they are offering IB. As an IB World School, teachers have access to resources giving them fresh, up-to-date content along with events and workshops. Entering the IB teaching community means you connect with an active global group of educators specialising in the same educational system. Sharing knowledge with other educators from across the world can benefit your own development as well as the development of your students.

The IB programme is therefore a modern, forward-thinking qualification that helps the next generation gain interest in and knowledge of the world around them, whilst enabling them to excel academically. By providing such a distinctive qualification, not only will your students benefit from having more choice in their Further Education, but teachers will benefit too. The International Baccalaureate will help raise the profile of your school, give your educators more global experience and provide your students with a desired qualification for them to move forward in academia and into their careers.

Stephen Spriggs, Head of Education, William Clarence Education

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About William Clarence Education: The leading education advisory and consultancy service in the UK. With an unrivalled reach into the UK Schooling and University network, William Clarence offers unbiased advice to students and parents from around the world; at every stage of their academic journey.  From Independent School Application and Placement, full UCAS and University application consultancy, Oxbridge Applications  US College Admission and even Homeschooling programmes, William Clarence Education draws on a deep relationship driven network with schools, Universities and senior education figures within the industry.  By putting the student and family at the centre of the process, William Clarence ensures their clients reach their maximum potential and gain access to the very best of UK education.

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