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To IB or not to IB?

You may have heard the acronym ‘IB’ in passing conversation and wondered what it actually means. Or perhaps you haven’t come across it previously, but are a parent who wants to make the best, most informed decisions about your child’s education. If either of these descriptions sound like you, read on.

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Here we dispel some myths and provide some real explanations about the International Baccalaureate (IB) and what it can mean for your child and their future.

What is the IB?

The IB is a non-profit education organisation founded in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1968 and was first authorised in Australia in 1978. It comprises four programmes: the Primary Years Programme (PYP) for students aged 3 to 12, the Middle Years Programme (MYP) for students aged 11-16, the Diploma Programme (DP) for students aged 16-19, and the Career-related Programme (CP) which features a more vocational orientation for students aged 16-19.

All IB programmes emphasise holistic, reflective education and focus on developing the skills necessary to facilitate lifelong learning and global citizenship. If you like the sound of this, then IB might be for you.

The Diploma programme

Offered as an alternative to the local curriculum in some schools, the DP is completed in the two final years of schooling. The DP course requires the completion of six traditional subjects from subject areas including languages, mathematics, sciences, individuals and societies, and the arts. A key point of difference between the DP and other state credentials is the DP ‘core’ of creativity, action, service (CAS), theory of knowledge (TOK) and the extended essay (EE), all of which aim to cultivate students’ critical skills and personal growth.

One of the major benefits of completing the DP is that it is an internationally recognised qualification. The DP also translates into high ATAR scores for university entrance. For example, a score over 40 out of 45 in the DP equals over 99 out of 100 as an ATAR.

How do I know if the IB is right for my child?

Good question. If they intend to stay in Australia for university or want to go straight into a trade or business, then possibly not. Similarly, if they want to specialise in sciences in their final years of high school or struggle with learning languages, the IB may not be the best fit.

Bear in mind, the IB is only offered in a select number of schools and, unlike local examinations, students must pay a registration fee and then an additional fee for each examinable subject. Some schools will cover the cost of these fees, but most will not.

If your child is interested in completing their university studies abroad and wants to commit to a more academic course of study, then the IB could be a good choice for them. If service activities are important to them, they are keen on language study and would like the challenge of writing a university level paper, then the IB could be a great fit. The first step might be to talk to School Places who can assist in finding a placement for them at a school that offers the IB.

While the IB is not for every child, it undoubtedly offers many students a fantastic pathway not only to university, but also to international mobility and global mindedness.

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