Mimanifesto – Jaye’s weblog

A different way…

Posted on: December 23, 2013

ImageI first came across the International Baccalaureate ten years ago whilst teaching abroad. Its quite a different model from the do or die exams at the end of a two year course advocated by Mr Gove and his cronies at the DFE in England. The mixture of both formative and summative assessment coupled with a broad curriculum including languages, a research piece and critical thinking course all makes for a very rounded two year study period. I’d suggest that this will prepare learners for University much better than spoon-feeding them through courses focussing only on examinable learning objectives and teaching them how to pass the exam, not succeed in their subject choices.

It’s no secret that I’m an admirer of the Finnish system, where continuous assessment is used and the judgement of professional well trained and qualified teachers is trusted. The IB courses, whilst retaining a summative exam element do seem to focus on skills acquisition rather than teaching to the test and relying on memory as the changes proposed by Mr Gove will undoubtedly lead to.

Many independent schools offer the baccalaureate in the final two years as a university entry vehicle, but maybe the Academies might consider the IB 3-18 curriculum rather than going back to the nineteenth century with Gove?

I’ve been doing some work which involves the IB curriculum recently, and the deeper I get into it, the more I like it. Some of the subjects are offered as on-line options,broadening subject choice even more. There is also now an age 16-19 career certificate pathway designed as an alternative to the university entry focus of the main qualification.

My question is – could the IB curriculum become a viable alternative for schools in the UK looking to move away from government controlled structures?  The breadth and depth of the courses together with a focus on critical skills and an examination of the nature of knowledge should be very attractive for schools and academies. Much more so than a restricted teaching -by -numbers approach we are in danger of having to accept.

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