‘The world needs the International Baccalaureate’

The International Baccalaureate (IB), in its different programmes for different age groups, very quickly became, by a considerable margin, the best school curriculum and assessment system in the world. British education would be immeasurably richer if all schools were to adopt it. Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham and author writes in Tes.

The belief persists that it is an independent school phenomenon. Yet, nearly as many state schools offer IB as independent/international schools.

We need the IB more than ever in Britain, and we need our entire school curriculum, extracurricular life and assessment system to become much more like the IB. Let me explain why. 

Schools have narrowed their focus to the passing of exams that are not attuned to the world of employment that young people will be facing. We know from study after study, most recently the Oxford Martin/Nesta 2018 report, that jobs in the future will be very different, even if we don’t know exactly how. But we already can be certain there will be less emphasis on purely cognitive, “left brain” skills, which are precisely the qualities that the current British exam system highlights and celebrates.

Student Assessment (Pisa), has in the past five years recognised that the literacy, numeracy and science tests on which Pisa has been basing its assessment have been far too restrictive. He has been adapting its testing regimes to put greater emphasis on collaborative working, personal skills and creativity. Again, the IB got there 50 years ago.

The past 10 years have seen an upsurge across the world of interest in the development in schools of character, resilience and grit, associated with the work of Martin Seligman and Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania. They have shown that the skills of character, personal judgement and wellbeing can be taught to students at schools, and in so doing, they make school communities more civilised places; they develop skills that students will need to manage their lives at university and beyond; and skills that will help them at work. Again, with the IB “learner profile”, the IB got there 50 years ago.

If we persist with passive learning, as at present, AI will eat us alive within just a few years. We will rely on the machines to tell us how to think, what to feel, what to do and how to behave. In contrast, the IB, in all its forms, helps young people learn how to think for themselves. Yet again, the IB is ahead.

The IB has proved again and again that it was ahead of its time. It is still ahead of its time. Britain and the world need the IB.

Read more reason why the IB should be adopted ‘The world needs the International Baccalaureate’

What do you think? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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