IB stands for International Baccalaureate. It is a Diploma qualification that is designed to deliver a broad, balanced education, with an emphasis on critical thinking. Students study six courses, five of which must be chosen from different subject groups, ensuring a range of experience in languages, social studies, mathematics and the sciences. The sixth course could be an arts subject or a topic chosen from one of the other five subject groups. In this way students have some opportunity to concentrate on areas in which they are particularly interested, although they do not have the same level of choice as they would in an A-Level programme.
IB is intended to encourage independent learning. An important component of the course is ‘The Extended Essay’, a 4000-word, in-depth study of a question related to a subject that the student is studying. The intellectual content of the IB is further strengthened by the course on ‘Theory of Knowledge’, which runs parallel to the other courses, and encourages students to reflect critically on the nature of knowledge and learning.
As well as pursuing their academic studies, students are also obliged to undertake creative or socially useful activities beyond the classroom, grouped under the term ‘Creativity, Action and Service’. For further information on the IB Diploma see http://www.ibo.org/diploma
A-Levels or IB?
The IB is a very stimulating course, delivering a broad education and encouraging creative, independent thought. It also has certain components, such as ‘Creativity, Action and Service’, which do not have any equivalent in other qualifications.
While the IB undoubtedly appeals to certain students, those who have a passionate interest in particular subjects will be able to pursue them in greater depth through A Levels, which also offer a wider range of subject choices. Students at Ashbourne, for example, can choose from over 35 topics, helping to fulfill the College’s aim of providing the educational experience that is best suited to the individual’s needs and abilities.
Ashbourne does not offer the IB.