Why you need to know about the International Baccalaureate

Scotch College students in the Mathematics and Commerce Building, photograph: Andrew Pritchard

How do you prepare students for life?

In primary and secondary education, this question is a constant. 

We need to recognise that today’s young people need to be independent thinkers, imbued with a curiosity that is all their own.

At Scotch College, one way we do this is through the International Baccalaureate Diploma – a global curriculum that is offered in more than 5,300 schools in 158 countries.

Unlike the West Australian Certificate of Education, which Scotch is also proud to offer, the IB encourages breadth over specialisation and its value is well recognised by the tertiary sector.

IB Diploma students study courses from six defined subject groups, including humanities, sciences, mathematics and languages. They undertake a 4,000-word research essay; investigate the nature of knowledge, focusing on how evidence is gathered and used in a contemporary setting; and participate in creative, physical and service activities.

The IB is about learning to learn. It is a curriculum that provokes curiosity. 

It is question-orientated, emphasises method and skills, and is steeped in current educational research. The student is at the centre of this process and the teacher’s aim is to intrigue, excite and inspire independence and a sustained passion for learning.

In 2020, the University of Oxford demonstrated that IB students develop significantly higher critical thinking skills than those undertaking a state-based equivalent curriculum.[1] In other words, it enhances students’ ability to analyse, synthesise and evaluate information.

The IB is not only valuable for its ability to impart an independent appetite for knowledge, but it is well respected by business leaders.

Past Scotch parent and chairman of Qantas, the AFL and Woodside, Richard Goyder is a strong supporter of the IB. 

“If the aim of our education system is to turn out well-rounded, inquiring, broad-thinking students, the IB does that. Business leaders who know the IB rate it highly, and it is a universal when benchmarking education,” Richard says.

“Through the breadth and quantity of subjects – rather than students being driven to a narrow set just so that they and the school can achieve a higher ATAR – the learning process and international benchmarks, my experience is that students who have completed the IB are incredibly well placed for the next part of their life journey.”

At Scotch College, we take immense pride in the breadth of education we offer, not simply through the IB, but through our equal focus on academics, service, wellbeing, sport and arts across Pre-Kindergarten to Year 12.

The College offers three clear choices for senior students: ATAR and VET, both of which are part of WACE, and the IB Diploma. All of these programs are offered as cross-campus classes in collaboration with our sister school Presbyterian Ladies’ College.

Scotch’s three curriculum streams recognise that young people have different interests, dreams and needs. But for those seeking a university education, there is no doubt that the IB enhances the playing field.

Students who completed the IB Diploma at Scotch College have gone on to study internationally at some of the world’s most esteemed universities.

In 2020, William Steinberg received a perfect score of 45 points, a result achieved by 0.2 per cent of IB Diploma students globally and has been accepted into Cambridge University to study Mathematics. Another of his cohort, Charlie Radici will be reading English Language and Literature at Oxford University, while others in recent years have gone on to study at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School, Stanford University and Imperial College London.

Scotch also offers the IB Primary Years and Middle Years Programmes, making the Diploma a natural learning extension for the College’s junior and middle students. 

The IB is designed to create global citizens – students who are well rounded, with a strong international perspective and understanding.

Understanding other cultures, global issues and how the rest of the world operates, is an essential part of being human in the 21st century.

It is this knowledge that will, I hope, contribute to a just and safer world. 

Discover more about studying the International Baccalaureate at Scotch College.

[1] http://www.education.ox.ac.uk/study-suggests-ib-students-hold-an-advantage-in-critical-thinking/

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