IB program drives the curious minds - The Australian

Interesting article that explains how the IB programs set themselves apart from other curricula by focusing on critical thinking, values and attributes, as opposed to testing students’ on rote memorisation and regurgitation of information.

By Christopher Niesche

June 14, 2023

Australian schools are adding International Baccalaureate programs to their offerings because of the global education program’s international recognition and reputation for academic rigour, Stuart Jones, head of IB World Schools says.

First introduced to Australia in 1978, there are now 215 schools offering IB programs and a total of 2421 students sat IB examinations in November 2022.

“IB programs set themselves apart from other curricula and regimes by focusing on critical thinking, values and attributes, as opposed to testing students’ on rote memorisation and regurgitation of information,” the Singapore-based Mr Jones says. “The structure of IB programs encourage students to make connections between their instincts and what they are learning; and for them to develop a balanced, holistic, and deep education.”

Canberra Grammar has been offering students the IB Diploma since 2012 and now about half of the school’s students undertake the program instead of the ACT’s own end-of-school curriculum.

Graham Maltby, assistant director of academic education (IB Diploma Program) at the school, says the IB program encourages students to think critically, analyse information, and solve complex problems.

Simone Reilly, Caulfield Grammar SchoolSimone Reilly, Caulfield Grammar School

“These skills are highly transferable and valuable in various academic and professional contexts,” he says, adding that IB is suited to any student who is engaged in their learning.

“There is the capacity to specialise or to stay as a generalist in the framework. There is traditionally a view that an IB program in Australia is for the academically elite. However, we are seeing benefits to the whole range of our students that apply themselves to the program as curious, creative, confident, compassionate citizens of the world.”

Mr Maltby says the IB prepares students better for life past school, and for this reason the ATAR university admission scores have tended to favour IB students. Universities recognise that students who have done the IB are at less risk of performing poorly.

While the IB Diploma is its best-known program in Australia, the Geneva-based educational organisation offers programs for students aged 3 to 19.

Caulfield Grammar School in Victoria offers IB programs to primary and middle year students, but not to seniors.

Simone Reilly, head of the school’s Malvern campus, describes the IB as a three-dimensional curriculum that gives the students “fantastic” questioning skills.

“The students learn how to be learners. They learn how to critically evaluate the world around them. They understand the why behind what they’re learning,” Ms Reilly says.