IB – the education you would want for yourself

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Author: Jeremy Lewis

Head of School at ACS Egham

“The world no longer rewards people for what they know – Google knows everything – but for what they can do with what they know. Because that is the main differentiator today, global education today needs to be much more about ways of thinking, involving creativity, critical thinking, problem solving and decision-making; about ways of working, including communication and collaboration.” [1]

Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

The education you would want for yourself

What could I say which is more powerful than this?  Isn’t this what you would want for your child’s education, or for yourself – to learn a range of skills including how to be creative; to collaborate; communicate well with others and take your place comfortably in the world?

We all know the world is changing very rapidly at the moment.  There is wonderful technological advancement and beautiful human kindness and endeavour all around us, but in the midst of this also change, anger and bewilderment.

Education as a preparation for success in life 

Education is about preparing our children to thrive in this rapidly changing world, and equipping them to play a part in shaping it for the good. As the OECD Director of Education has so eloquently described, it has to be about so much more than learning a subject and passing exams.

Of course exams are important. Coping with an exam situation develops a useful set of skills in its own right, but it is only one element of the skills we hope to develop in our students.

More confidence, more learning

The more safe, secure and comfortable you feel at school, the better you are able to learn. This has been proved many times over in a wide range of academic studies. You can find a useful list of these research sources in this pdf from John Hopkins University [2]. That confidence is exactly what we aim to deliver at ACS, and that warm welcome, where we help families from the UK and all over the world to settle in and feel at home quickly is something, as an international school, that we specialise in.

But what about all those other skills, of creativity, problem solving and so on? I’m delighted to say that the most recent research, commissioned by ACS International Schools, has proved that the IB Diploma Programme is the pre-eminent exam system for developing these skills.

A picture paints a thousand words

Rather than write a thousand more words, I’d ask you to look at an infographic which I hope will make the case for me, drawing on what 100 university admissions officers from the UK and US have said:

WhatUnisWant Infographic 2016 - with BTEC copy

Look at the block of circles on the right hand side.  University admissions officers were asked to rate how well they think different exam systems develop a range of skills.

You can see their views on A levels.  They are considered excellent for developing in-depth subject expertise (the blue circles).

The red circles shows how the BTEC is rated.  It is considered outstanding for developing workplace skills.

Only the IBDP is considered to develop a wide range of skills as you can see from all the green circles.

All round skills base

The IB has the most large circles in green because it is the most highly rated in so many areas. This includes in-depth subject expertise but also adds in creativity, communication skills, self-management skills, intercultural skills and so on.

You can see how it is the only exam system to have a well-balanced skills profile.

So, if you are worrying about the world this summer, or wondering about what school or exam system to chose for the best, I recommend you read the results from the University Admissions Officers report, or watch this video to see the highlights.

Best preparation for university

It will show you that at ACS, by following the IB Diploma programme at ages 16 – 18 you will be following the course rated the best preparation for higher education. One which 96 per cent of admissions officer say is a sign of somone who is highly likely to complete their degree and which 93 per cent say is the sign one which someone who has the ideal skills to thrive at university.

You will be getting an ideal the education for the 21st century.

An ideal blend of qualities

I’d like to end by sharing some words with you from Sandra Morton, Chief Executive of the IB Schools and Colleges Association (IBSCA.)

ACS commissioned the survey of university admissions officers jointly with the IB and IBSCA this year, and Sandra’s view on the IBDP and especially the IBCP will be interesting to anyone considering their school and exam options at age 16:

“It is clear that the IBDP is developing in students the attributes needed to thrive at university and equipping them with skills to play a positive part in our global society, as well as the workplace.

“Pragmatic skills are just not enough – where is the creativity, the enquiry, the need to understand what it means to be operating in a global market place?

“It was to address these concerns that the IB career-related Programme (IBCP) was developed. Students can combine their vocational courses with individual, complementary subjects from the prestigious Diploma Programme so giving them the best of both worlds.”

[1] http://bigthink.com/big-think-gesf/educating-for-the-21st-century-2

[2] http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/military-child-initiative/resources/Best_Practices_monograph.pdf

Jeremy Lewis

Head of School at ACS Egham

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