International Baccalaureate: Everything You Need To Know

International Baccalaureate

We Asked Some of the Best International IB Schools in the World About What Makes The IB International Baccalaureate Stand Out! Let’s See What They Had To Say.

One of the most well-known and longest-running systems of international education is the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. Founded in 1968 in Switzerland, the IB programme is now taught at more than 3,000 schools across more than 140 countries worldwide. The International Baccalaureate system is based on a student-centered approach to learning that is guided by experts and emphasizes both creativity and critical thinking skills.

The International Baccalaureate curriculum is one of the most popular education systems globally and is based on well-defined standards and holds students accountable for their work. The IB programme is highly transferable across countries and is recognized by top universities across the globe.

Schools from Madrid to Manila choose the International Baccalaureate Curriculum because they see it as the best choice for providing their students with a first-class education. Parents from around the world seek out IB schools to prepare their children for success at universities and beyond.

But for many parents trying to find the best school for their children, understanding the details of the International Baccalaureate Curriculum and what sets it apart from the other excellent international curricula can be a challenge. 

This is why we brought together experts from some of the top international schools who use the International Baccalaureate Curriculum to help you understand what makes this curriculum unique and whether it may be the perfect fit for your child.

What Is the International Baccalaureate Curriculum and How Does It Work?

The IB organization was originally founded as a response to the lack of flexibility in the different school systems around the world. Today, the IB education system is recognized in more than 140 countries worldwide, and many of the major UK and North American universities hold students who have earned an IB diploma in a very positive light.

One of the first steps in selecting a great school for your family is understanding the curriculum they follow. There are several great options to choose from and each has amazing benefits for the students who study under that system.

Let’s take a look at what the International Baccalaureate curriculum looks like and how it works:

IB headquarter Geneva
Founded in 1968, the International Baccalaureate is is a nonprofit foundation headquartered in Geneva
The IB organization was originally founded as a response to the lack of flexibility in the different school systems around the world. Today, the IB education system is recognized in more than 140 countries worldwide, and many of the major UK and North American universities hold students who have earned an IB diploma in a very positive light.
Schools that follow the International Baccalaureate curriculum are known as IB world schools. Educators are required to work closely with an IB consultant before qualifying their school as an IB World School. The process involves schools submitting an application of candidacy, which outlines a school’s commitment toward upholding the IB world school standards, along with legal school documentation and budget breakdowns. The school submits the relevant documents to IB with an application fee. The IB team subsequently works with the school to offer feedback on their application while offering support throughout their candidacy. Schools are charged a yearly candidate fee during this period.
During the candidacy, schools will receive consultation from the IB team through a set number of remote sessions and site visits. A comprehensive report is prepared by the IB team at the end of a candidacy period, which assesses the level of preparedness before IB world school authorization. Once a candidate school is ready, an application for authorization is submitted to the IB in finalizing the process.
Once the application is accepted, IB will conduct a verification school visit by experienced educators from the IB educator network (IBEN). The verification visit is followed up with a detailed report on the findings of the team. If there are no further matters to be addressed, the Director-General of the IB team authorizes the educational institute to teach all relevant IB subjects.

The International Baccalaureate Program is a curriculum framework that consists of four programmes of education, offered in schools all around the world to children from 3-19 years old.

With a rigorous, balanced approach, IB programmes aim to prepare students for the social, emotional, and intellectual challenges of a college education. Therefore, schools following the IB curriculum not only deliver content, but they also focus on developing vital skills in areas such as critical thinking and problem solving in order to make students successful learners and well-rounded people who are prepared for today and the future.

The International Baccalaureate curriculum is made up of three educational programmes:

  • The Primary Years Programme: ( PYP – Kindergarten to Class 5)
  • The Middle Years Programme: (MYP – Class 6 to Class 10)
  • The Diploma Programme: ( DP – Class 11 to Class 12)
What Top IB Schools Answer:

The International Baccalaureate (IB) is an international, transferable, common framework focussed on inquiry and driven by skills. The IB programmes develop students who are well-rounded by placing equal emphasis on development of the academic and personal.

The IB Curriculum offers a continuum of international education for students aged 3 to 19. It is taught in thousands of international schools in popular relocation destinations worldwide, including many independent and international schools and some state schools. The IB Curriculum is probably best known for its two-year Diploma Programme (DP), which is studied internationally by students between the ages of 16 and 19. More than 5,000 schools so far have chosen to teach International Baccalaureate® (IB) programmes.

The International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) is one of the world’s most innovative educational courses. It focuses on personal, professional and academic development and is globally recognized by universities for the holistic and rigorous education it provides.

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What Are the Benefits of The International Baccalaureate?

There are many benefits of the International Baccalaureate Program for students, here are a few of the key benefits:

Having seen how the International Baccalaureate curriculum is structured, it is important to understand how this system can benefit your child. Each system of education provides unique benefits to learners based on the explicit and implicit goals of the educational framework.
There are many benefits of the International Baccalaureate Program for students, here are a few of the key benefits:

Focus Beyond the Classroom to Real-world situations

The International Baccalaureate programme provides an educational framework that is broad and balanced, conceptual and connected and that stimulates students to develop critical and analytical skills in order to apply them in ‘real life situation’. The IB learning strategy is based on real-world situations which not only makes learning more interesting but also helps students understand the relevance of what they are learning.

Holistic Approach to Education

The IB curriculum takes a broad view of what ‘education’ is about. Focusing not only on core competencies such as math or language skills, but also developing ‘soft skills’ such as problem solving, empathy, and an international mindset.

Highly Recognized Credentials Accepted at Universities Around the World

In an article featured in The Telegraph, John Claugthon, retiring Chief Master of King Edward’s School, sheds light on some of the reasons why schools all around the world choose to offer the IB Diploma Programme. He points to the breadth of the programme as one of the key motivations: “IB schools believe that the old dispensation to the narrow world of specialisation won’t do any more.” Many universities world-wide follow this line of thought, and an increasing number of them are revising their admissions criteria to attract more IB graduates.

IB King's College London
At King's College London, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world, 20 percent of the university’s new undergraduates are IB students

Among other examples, Claugthon mentions King’s College, London, and points to the fact that 20 percent of the university’s new undergraduates are IB students. If you are looking for an education that stimulates and challenges you but also requires hard work, then the IB is the perfect place for you. 

What Top IB Schools Answer:

We at BEPS International School believe that a major difference between the IB Curriculum and other international curricula lies in the way you apply the IB curriculum. In our approach, our attention is heavily focused on offering meaningful and authentic learning to students. We place great emphasis on making sure students understand the importance of what they are learning and that they can link it and apply it to the outside world, into which they will eventually integrate.

The IB Programmes have been developed for and by international schools, and it is very important to us that the curriculum we adopted for our Secondary school was in line with our vision to develop students into global citizens.

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Is the International Baccalaureate Curriculum Recognized Globally and Is It Transferable?

The International Baccalaureate curriculum is now taught in more than 3,000 schools across more than 140 countries worldwide. This global reach means that credentials earned at an IB school can be easily transferred to another school and are highly recognizable to universities around the globe.

Whether you plan to stay in one place for the remainder of your children’s education, or foresee your family moving several times before graduation, knowing that the education your child has received will be applicable, and transferable to other schools—and universities—is crucial to ensuring educational outcomes.
Let’s take a look at the transferability of the International Baccalaureate curriculum:
Founded in 1968 in Switzerland, the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum and the IB programme is one of the most well-known and longest-running systems of international education. The International Baccalaureate curriculum is now taught in more than 3,000 schools across more than 140 countries worldwide. This global reach means that credentials earned at an IB school can be easily transferred to another school and are highly recognizable to universities around the globe.
What Top IB Schools Answer:

The IB curriculum places a high importance on developing skills and attitudes. When students are regularly transferring from one school to another, the content (even within the same curriculum) may not always be the same, but the ability to think critically, to learn independently, to work together with others, to analyse research, to solve problems, and to take responsibility for their own learning are all transferable and allow easy transition from an IB school into any other school.

For example, here at BEPS we have had students arrive from locations as diverse as Gabon, Hong Kong, and Colombia and have had leaving students successfully join IB schools in other countries. We also see students reintegrating into local schools in their home country. Our IB coordinator has worked with students who have gone on to higher education locally in Belgium, in the UK, and across Europe, Australia and Asia.

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Which Schools Can Offer the International Baccalaureate Curriculum?

All schools interested in offering one or more International Baccalaureate (IB) Programmes must complete a two- and three-year authorization process. This way IBO is able to guarantee that each IB World School is held to the same high standard.
Part of what makes world-class curriculums so sought after is that they are trusted by parents, universities, and employers around the world. This trust is often based on strict accreditation and rules governing the way students are taught, meaning not every school can teach whichever curriculum they please.
Let’s see which schools are able to teach the International Baccalaureate curriculum:
All schools interested in offering one or more International Baccalaureate (IB) Programmes must complete a two- and three-year authorization process. This way IBO is able to guarantee that each IB World School is held to the same high standard.
What Top IB Schools Answer:

Only school who are authorised are eligible to deliver any of the programmes. Candidate PYP and MYP schools can use the framework before authorisation but are not considered IB world schools and their students are not eligible to take part in external assessments. Schools must be authorised before offering the DP or CP.

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What to Look for In A Great International Baccalaureate School?

There are 3 Important Things to Consider When Looking for an IB School:

The popularity of many internationally recognised curriculums means that for each system, there are often several schools in a given region to choose from. Whether you have decided on the specific curriculum that is right for your child, or you are still in the process of deciding, it may be helpful to know whether the schools you are considering provide the best possible outcomes based on the curriculum they follow.
This is what you should look for in an outstanding school following the International Baccalaureate curriculum:

1. Accreditations

An IB World School accreditation proves that a school has achieved the IBO high standard in education and is always trying to uphold this standard. Before anything else, check to see that the school has the appropriate accreditation. A true IB school has to be authorised for each IB programme it provides. If a school is authorized, it is a sign that it meets the high standards of the IB worldwide curriculum. You may find that not all IB schools offer all programmes, so a child who enters an IB school may be taking IB courses during certain years, but not others.
For example, a school may offer the British Curriculum up to Year 11 (Grade 10), followed by the IB Diploma in Years 12 and 13 (Grades 11 and 12). While the school is considered an IB school, if your child is not in Year 12 or 13, they are not learning in an IB programme.

2. Resources

All schools offering one or more IB Programmes have to be well-suited to offer an international education. An exemplary International Baccalaureate school will have systems in place for assessment, language placement, and curriculum planning for students.

Effective IB school are well resourced and offer many options to meet the diverse needs and interests of their students.

IB Students Interests STEM
Most IB schools offer many options to meet the diverse needs and interests of their students.

3. Global ranking

When choosing an IB school it might be useful to check its average point score for the last academic years and compare them to the global average score, and the average grade. When comparing IB Schools, look for rankings to see where they fall in relation to other schools and to the world average. The best IB World Schools have test scores the fall above the international or regional average.
What Top IB Schools Answer:

When looking for any school it is important to identify what you consider to be most important in education. Are you focussed on results, on holistic development, a content focus, or skill development? You will find IB schools which range from the traditional to the innovative. Look around and find something that fits with you.

Often when we plan a particular learning experience, there are multiple levels on which the students learn. One aim of BEPS Secondary School is to develop transferable skills through ‘hidden curriculum’ like collaboration and time management and make them explicit. We aim to create environments where learning is visible on multiple levels and for multiple goals; academic, personal, social, and emotional.

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Is the International Baccalaureate Curriculum Right for Your Child?

If your family is looking for a globally-focused education that will prepare your child for university and beyond, the International Baccalaureate Curriculum can be a great choice.
Above all—more important than transferability, more important than any specific factor—what truly matters is whether the curriculum is right for your child. While each child is unique and has specific needs and learning styles, there may be some common threads that make a curriculum better for your child.
Here are some things to consider when deciding if the International Baccalaureate curriculum might be a good fit:
IB Expat Family
If your family is looking for a globally-focused education the International Baccalaureate Curriculum can be a great choice

The International Baccalaureate Curriculum is a fantastic choice for many students; however, the choice of which school and which curriculum is the best is a very personal one. In general, if your family is looking for a globally-focused education that will prepare your child for university and beyond, the International Baccalaureate Curriculum is a great choice.

What Top IB Schools Answer:

This is a highly subjective question but given that the IB curriculum prides itself on being inclusive and broad as well as holistic in nature we believe that all students will benefit from an IB education.

IB students develop strong academic, social, and emotional characteristics. They are also likely to perform well academically – often better than students on other curricula.

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In the end, although all major international curricula offer an excellent education for students, each curriculum has benefits and drawbacks that can affect whether it will be the right choice for your family and your child.
Don’t hesitate to contact our educational experts if you need any support.