- What are the benefits of the following the British system to GCSE, in relation to the preparation it gives students for the IB Diploma (compared with schools offering the straight IB experience from KG to Diploma)?
JESS is a British Curriculum School that sets out to prepare young people to be global citizens. A significant proportion of parents choose to combine the British system to GCSE with the IB Diploma, as a way of remaining true to their British roots, whilst acknowledging that the young people in our care are going to live and work in global economy and need the skills and experiences to be able to do this. Others choose this combination because GCSE is an internationally recognized qualification that provides a useful blend of breadth and specialization. The stretch offered in subjects such as the triple sciences in GCSE and Additional Mathematics prepare students very well for Diploma Higher Level study in these areas. The Language and Literature courses in GCSE English develop the skills for Language and Literature courses in Diploma English. The examination process at GCSE prepares students well for the rigour of IB. Combining the British system of GCSE with the IBDP enables students to tailor their range of subjects at GCSE to discover their strengths and match that of the offerings of IB. JESS’ option areas at GCSE reflect the spread of subjects and disciplines that will need to be taken in the Diploma.
- What type of child/parent/family does this combined system work best for?
The combination of the British system to GCSE with the IB Diploma works best for families who recognise that young people are going to be working in a global economy and want their children to receive an education that combines both traditional and forward-looking aspects. The English GCSE curriculum is respected globally. Good teaching through all Key Stages will ensure that students develop the skills required to study effectively at Post 16. Good teaching and learning is the key to success in any curriculum. The rigour of the examination process at GCSE prepares students extremely well for a comparable two years of study, albeit at a higher level, with terminal examinations. By completing the combined system families have numerous choices of Post 16 pathways if they wish to relocate. If they remain with the IB Diploma they will enhance their opportunities globally in tertiary education which is important in the expatriate environment. The IB Diploma is perhaps the most versatile school leaving qualification both in terms of the skills that it provides and in terms of providing smooth transition to the top university systems around the world. The IB Diploma is increasingly recognized as the best preparation for University study, be that in the UK, Europe, America or in the Southern Hemisphere.
- Briefly explain why it is ideal for students to follow the British system to year 12, then change to IB for the Diploma?
Students will have embedded themselves and proven themselves in two systems which are both recognized globally. They will have succeeded in a GCSE programme that has shown they can succeed in examinations based largely in content and knowledge. The IB Diploma will then compliment this by developing higher level critical thinking and analytical skills. Admissions officers in the UK and around the world rank the IB ahead of other systems in encouraging independent study, developing work place skills, nurturing an open mind and self-management. The preparation of IB students for university (and the work place) is second to none.
- Are there any negatives you see in this combined British/IB system which parents should be aware of?
We are not experiencing any negatives relating to the combined British/IB system. The IBDP, like A-level, is capable of providing a very broad curriculum, or a very specialized one. The key advantage of the IBDP over A-level is that the nature of the courses means that students develop a much broader skills base. The IBDP allows students to specialize at Higher Level, whilst maintaining a broad and balanced range of learning skills. For example, a student specializing in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) will have the ability to write coherently and use appropriate analysis.
- How ideal is this combined system for ex-pat children, who are often expected to relocate throughout their school years?
Relocation mid-way through a two year course, be that GCSE, A-level or IBDP, is never ideal. GCSE courses are generally available around the world. The IBDP is a truly international qualification and there are now many schools in the UK who offer it. One of the key advantages of the IBDP is that it aligns more closely to the educational systems in Europe, America, Australia and South Africa than A-level.
- What do you see as the post school-benefits of a combined British/IB curriculum? (university/employers/etc.)
The British curriculum Pre 16 is tried and trusted and the internationally recognized assessment at 16 comes at a pivotal time for many families. University admissions are increasingly looking back at GCSE grades. By being in the combined system students then have the advantage of being to undertake the IBDP widely recognized as superior by both University Admissions officers and employers.
As far as UK university entry is concerned, statistics reveal that
+ acceptance levels are actually higher for IB,
+ the drop-out rates are lower for IB,
+ IB students are more likely to achieve first and upper second class degrees.
- How can parents assess the suitability/success of any combined British/IB school before enrolling? (Accreditations/published exam results/reporting etc.)
Parents wishing to research the relative benefits of schools should:
a) visit the school and meet the students – they are the best indicator of a good school – well beyond reading a bunch of statistics or an inspection report. SJO] In reverse order.
b) study the destinations of students after 18.
c) scrutinise examination results whilst bearing in mind the profile of the school intake and admissions policy.
I am grateful to Shane O'Brien, Head of Secondary at JESS for his help drafting these responses.