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Beginner's Guide to The Primary Years Programme (PYP) of IB Education

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Guides, IB, PYP
Beginner's Guide to The Primary Years Programme (PYP) of IB Education
  1. Introduction About International Baccalaureate(IB)

The International Baccalaureate (IB) is a non-profit educational foundation, motivated by its mission, focused on the student.

The International Baccalaureate (IB), formerly the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO), is an international educational foundation headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. Founded in 1968 in Geneva, IB offers three educational programmes for children ages 3–19. Consequently, "IB" can refer to the organization itself, any of the three programmes or the diploma or certificates awarded at the end of the diploma programme.

IBO currently work’s with 2,827 schools in 138 countries to develop and offer three challenging programmes to over 778,000 students aged 3 to 19 years.

In 1994, the IB added the IB Middle Years Programme, for students between the age group 11 to 16. Also known as the MYP, the middle years programme consists of eight subject areas and five areas of interaction. In 1997, the IB added the IB Primary Years Programme for three to ten year olds. Also known as the PYP, the primary years programme is inquiry-based, and consists of six transdisciplinary themes supported by six subject areas.

To maximize the benefit of professional development, the IB has established the professional development division (PDD). Its role is to formulate and coordinate an organization-wide PD strategy

For instance taking the scenario of BRIC countries, there are 16 IB World Schools in Brazil offering one or more of the three IB programmes. 6 schools offer the Primary Years Programme, 2 schools offer the Middle Years Programme and 13 schools offer the Diploma Programme. The first school was authorized in 1980. Russian Federation has 18 IB World Schools in Russian Federation offering one or more of the three IB programmes. 5 schools offer the Primary Years Programme , 8 schools offer the Middle Years Programme and 13 schools offer the Diploma Programme. The first school was authorized in 1993. In India there are 71 IB World Schools offering one or more of the three IB programmes. 20 schools offer the Primary Years Programme ,7 schools offer the Middle Years Programme and 67 schools offer the Diploma Programme. The first school was authorized in 1976. There are 53 IB World Schools in China offering one or more of the three IB programmes. 17 schools offer the Primary Years Programme , 17 schools offer the Middle Years Programme and 45 schools offer the Diploma Programme. The first school was authorized in 1991.

 

  1. About Just International Schools

Just International Schools was started with an aim to make life simpler for parents. It started with a common goal of providing in-depth, relevant and true information about international schools in India, to all parents of school going children. JustInternationalSchools.com offers various online and print publications & services to international schools in India. JustInternationalSchools.com provides a unique platform for parent-school interaction. One among the various educational boards covered by Just International Schools, IB programme is more practical and application-based curriculum.

Ambarish Verma, Proprietor of eduFYI, the parent company of JustInternationalSchools.com says “Today parents are in a dilemma regarding the choice of an international school where their child is imbibed with good values and learns to play and interact with other children. As well as an international school which contributes and nurtures the overall growth and development of their child. IB programmes continue to imbibe international mindedness in students and educators through the IB learner profile. In the 21st century students are faced with the challenges of learning about an interconnected world with ever changing growth opportunities. International School education not only limits itself in the confines of the textbooks but is also taught in an interesting and interactive manner preferably with the help of tools and practical aids” adds Ambarish.

JustInternationalSchools.com will be coming up with information directory services and would be adding different service verticals in near future. JustInternationalSchools.com plans to cover all international schools in India by 2010 year end. We will be discussing “The Primary Years Programme” in detail in this beginners guide, a programme aimed for pupils aged between 3 to 12 focused on the development of the whole child in the classroom and in the world outside.

 

  1. Affiliations

The IB is a non-governmental organization (NGO) of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and has collaborative relationships with the Council of Europe and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF).The IB's alliance with UNESCO encourages the integration of its educational goals into the IB curriculum.

The IB diploma prepares students for entrance into universities in many countries, since it is equivalent to the British ‘A' levels, the Australian Higher School Certificate, the German Abitur, the French Baccalaureate and other similar examination-based systems. Schools recognised by the International Baccalaureate Organisation and offering the IB curriculum are known as IB World Schools. The IB Programme is recognized by all the leading foreign Universities & the association of Indian Universities. IBO accreditation is proposed for the Diploma Programmes of Singapore International School.

 

  1. IB Grants

The International Baccalaureate (IB) provides short-term grants for schools experiencing temporary financial challenges or schools that are demonstrably increasing access to IB programmes.

Who can apply?

This fund offers grants to schools or education districts in two categories.

Category 1: IB World Schools experiencing temporary financial difficulties owing to unpredictable circumstances beyond their control

Category 2: IB World Schools or Implementing Schools that can clearly demonstrate that they are significantly widening access to IB programme’s and/or that they will be significantly contributing to a more diverse, inclusive IB Community

Nature of the grants

Grants are short term, valid for one year with a possible extension to two years maximum. Funds can be used for the training of teachers and administrators, the payment of the IB annual school fee for one or more programmes, or to support creative schemes to widen access and diversity.

Grants will take the form of a credit to the school's IB account. This will enable a rebate in annual fees or payment of workshop expenses in lieu of reimbursement of costs incurred through schemes to widen access and diversity. Schools will be expected to submit a report after the funds have been expended.

The ongoing sustainability of an IB programme in the school is a key consideration in the award of a grant. Schools will not normally be eligible for more than two awards.

Applications

The deadlines for receipt of applications are 30 September 2010 and 30 March 2011.

The application form should be completed and emailed to the Access and Advancement Office in the Singapore Global Centre at ibgrant@ibo.org.

 

  1. IB Curriculum and its Subjects

IB has a broader spectrum of subjects that lead to all-round development. IB examinations test students' knowledge, not their memory and speed. There are no examinations till the Middle Years Programme (Class 10). The focus of the IB pedagogy is on 'how to learn' rather than 'what to learn'. There are no prescribed textbooks; students can choose their own books. The purpose of IB is to produce global citizens. But sometimes, the IB programme does use the local curriculum as a base. For example, Marathi can be offered as a second language in the IB Diploma Programme. The IB curriculum is more challenging than educational boards like CBSE and ICSE. But the challenge is in the quality of assignments, not in the amount of work assigned.

This internationally-recognised school system is made up of three educational programmes:

i. PYP: The Primary Years Programme (Kindergarten to Class 5)

For pupils aged 3 to 12 focuses on the development of the whole child in the classroom and in the world outside.

ii. MYP: The Middle Years Programme (Class 6 to Class 10)

For students aged between 11 to 16. It provides a framework of academic challenge and life skills through embracing and transcending traditional school subjects.

iii. DP: The Diploma Programme (Class 11 to Class 12)

For students aged 16 to 19, the DP programme is a demanding two-year curriculum that meets the needs of highly motivated students and leads to a qualification that is recognized by leading universities around the world.

 

  1. The Primary Years Programme (PYP) Curriculum Framework

The IB Primary Years Programme, for students aged 3 to 12, focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside. The annual fee cost for offering the Primary Years Programme (2009/2010) is $7,000 and there is an evaluation fee charged after four years and then every five years.

Six transdisciplinary themes of global significance provide the framework for exploration and study:

  1. who we are
  2. where we are in place and time
  3. how we express ourselves
  4. how the world works
  5. how we organize ourselves
  6. sharing the planet.

Teachers are guided by these six transdisciplinary themes as they design units of inquiry that both transcend and articulate conventional subject boundaries.

The Subjects in the Primary Years Programme (PYP) are:

  1. Language
  2. Social Studies
  3. Mathematics
  4. Science and Technology
  5. Arts
  6. Personal, Social and Physical education

These themes are about issues that have meaning for and are important to all of us. The programme offers a balance between learning about or through the subject areas and learning beyond them. The six themes are of global significance, they create a trans-disciplinary framework that allows students to "step up" beyond the confines of learning within subject areas.

The Taught Curriculum

The six trans-disciplinary themes help teachers to develop a programme of inquiries–in-depth investigations into important ideas, identified by the teachers and requiring a high level of involvement on the part of the students. These inquiries are substantial, in-depth and usually last for several weeks.

The programme can be illustrated by a hexagon with the six transdisciplinary themes surrounding six subject areas:

 

Exhibit 6.1 – The Primary Years Curriculum Framework                                 Source: IBO Website


 

The transdisciplinary themes and subject areas outlined above form the knowledge element of the programme.

The Assessed Curriculum

Assessment is an important part of each unit of inquiry as it both enhances learning and provides opportunities for students to reflect on what they know, understand and can do. The teacher's feedback to the students provides the guidance, the tools and the incentive for them to become more competent, more skilful and better at understanding how to learn.

Any school wishing to offer the Primary Years Programme and attain IB World School status must first go through the authorization process. The requirements for authorization are the same for all schools, even though the process is administered slightly differently in each IB region. The process is designed to ensure schools are well prepared to implement the programme successfully.

This is a challenging programme that demands the best from both motivated students and teachers. Schools can access an extensive package of IB professional development for teachers and administrators and commit to ongoing professional development. Teams from the organization visit IB World Schools from time to time in order to support an ongoing process of review and development, using standards and practices that apply to all IB World Schools.

Five essential elements

The five essential elements—concepts, knowledge, skills, attitudes, action—are incorporated into this framework, so that students are given the opportunity to:

  • gain knowledge that is relevant and of global significance
  • develop an understanding of concepts, which allows them to make connections throughout their learning
  • acquire transdisciplinary and disciplinary skills
  • develop attitudes that will lead to international-mindedness
  • take action as a consequence of their learning.

Under certain conditions, schools may deliver the programme in any language, although the IB provides services in:

  • English
  • French
  • Spanish

 

  1. Core Requirements (TOK, EE and CAS)

To be awarded an IB Diploma, a student must fulfil three "core requirements," in addition to passing his or her subject examinations:

  1. i. Extended essay (EE). Student’s must write an independent research essay of up to 4,000 words in a subject from the list of approved EE subjects. The student’s may choose to investigate a topic within a subject they are currently studying, although this is not required.
  2. ii. Theory of knowledge (TOK). This is a course that aims to encourage students to be critical thinkers and to teach them basic epistemology. It is claimed to be a "flagship element" of the Diploma Programme, and is the one course that all diploma student’s are required to take. TOK requires 100 hours of instruction, the completion of an externally assessed essay of 1,200–1,600 words (from a choice of ten titles prescribed by the IB), and an internally assessed presentation on the student's chosen topic.
  3. iii. Creativity, action, service (CAS). CAS aims to provide student’s 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 (action), and creative activities (creativity). The guideline for the minimum amount of CAS activity over the two-year Diploma programme is approximately 3–4 hours per week, though "hour counting” is not encouraged.

 

  1. IB Assessment

All subjects (with the exception of CAS) are assessed using both internal and external assessors. The externally assessed examinations are given worldwide in May (usually for Northern Hemisphere schools) and in November (usually for Southern Hemisphere schools). Each exam usually consists of two or three papers, generally written on the same or successive weekdays. The different papers may have different forms of questions, or they may focus on different areas of the subject syllabus. For example, in Chemistry, paper 1 has multiple choice questions, paper 2 has extended response questions, and paper 3 focuses on the "Option(s)" selected by the teacher. The grading of all external assessments is done by independent examiners appointed by the IB.

The nature of the internal assessment (IA) varies by subject. There may be oral presentations, practical work (in experimental sciences and performing arts), or written works. Internal assessment accounts for 20 to 50 percent of the mark awarded for each subject and is marked by a teacher in the school. A sample of at least five per subject at each level will also be graded by a moderator appointed by the IB, in a process called external moderation of internal assessment.

Points are awarded from 1 to 7. Up to three additional points are awarded depending on the grades achieved in the extended essay and theory of knowledge, so the maximum possible point total in the IBDP is 45.

 

  1. Comparison between IB and other programmes like CBSE, ICSE or the Middle Years Programme of the IB
  • The IB programme is more practical and application-based. It has a broader spectrum of subjects that lead to all-round development.
  • IB examinations test students' knowledge, not their memory and speed. There are no examinations till the Middle Years Programme (Class 10). The focus of the IB pedagogy is on 'how to learn' rather than 'what to learn'.
  • There are no prescribed textbooks; students can choose their own books.
  • The purpose of IB is to produce global citizens.
  • But sometimes, the IB programme does use the local curriculum as a base. For example, Hindi can be offered as a second language in the IB Diploma Programme.
  • The IB curriculum is more challenging than educational boards like CBSE and ICSE. But the challenge is in the quality of assignments, not in the amount of work assigned.

Pursuing the IB programme can be very expensive, with annual fees as high as Rs 250,000. But the IBO vigorously maintains that the IB programme is not elitist.  

 

  1. IB Recognition

The rigorousness and high standards of IB ensure that colleges and universities around the worldwide recognise the IB Diploma as a superior academic programme and a strong university entry credential.

Over 50,000 students appeared for the IB Diploma Programme in May 2004.

The Association of Indian Universities (AIU) rates IB at par with Class 12 CBSE, ICSE, NIOS or State Boards. But every now and then, one hears of stray incidents of IB students finding difficulty in getting admission in certain Indian colleges and universities.

 

  1. Parents Concerns: Why should one choose IB curriculum for their children
  1. The IB Diploma has earned universal reputation for rigorous assessment, giving students access to the top colleges and universities in India and the world. IB is fast becoming the programme of choice for Indian students preparing to pursue higher education abroad.
  2. The IB curriculum equips students with the tools needed to succeed in higher education, such as self-confidence, preparedness, research skills, organisational skills and being actively engaged in own learning.
  3. Some universities even offer scholarships to IB diploma holders.
  4. University admissions around the world are getting competitive by the day. Admission officers are increasingly looking for other evidence that a student will succeed in the university - such as exposure to quality curriculum, research abilities, international outlook and social service all enhanced by IB.