The International Baccalaureate Diploma is an increasingly popular post-sixteen qualification, now available at well over 100 independent and state schools in the U.K.
The IB offers prescribed breadth, not the ‘pick and mix’ choice which emerged from the Curriculum 2000 reforms to A Level, so that all IB diploma students study six subjects; three at Higher Level and three at Standard Level. These must include the student’s own first language, a foreign language, a science, a humanity and mathematics. The sixth subject may be a second foreign language, a second science, a second humanity or an elective such as music, art or computer science. Study in these six areas is united by all students studying “Theory of Knowledge” (a course in critical thinking, essentially) and assessment of a 4,000 word extended essay on a topic of their choice.
Over the two years of the course students must also complete a log of a personal programme of activities covering Creativity, Action and Service or CAS (the third element, along with ToK and the Extended Essay, to make up the Diploma’s ‘core’). This recognises the value of the diverse range of activities and experiences to be found in all BSA boarding schools, and that education should not be confined to the classroom. All Diploma students have to complete fifty hours of creative work, of action (sport), and of service to the local or wider community.
The IB Diploma has a coherence and balance, as well as breadth which educationalists and universities applaud. That said, the IB is an unashamedly academic and rigorous qualification, as acknowledged in the recent inclusion of the IB Diploma in the UCAS tariff which equates six A Levels at grade A to 43 out of a possible 45 IB points.
The Diploma is recognised for entry at Universities throughout the world including, of course, all those in the UK.
CREDIT: Image header taken from BSA member school Bethany School