More than simply a qualification, the IB provides a broad and balanced educational experience for Years 11 and 12 students at Somerset College. It allows them to study a wide range of subjects, while giving them the freedom to choose which subjects to study in greater depth. These opportunities allow IB Diploma students to develop the ability to take on new ideas from across the disciplines and utilise them throughout their lives.
The IB Diploma’s distinctive feature is its view that for students to be successful in an ever-changing world, they must have a wide range of skills and abilities to take on new challenges. All IB Diploma students develop this breadth by studying six subjects: English, Mathematics, a Science, a Humanities subject, a Modern Language and a Creative Arts subject.
While gaining expertise in this broad range of subjects, students also have the opportunity to specialise in a subject of their own choosing, drawing on their personal strengths and interests. For instance, students choose three of their subjects to study at Higher Level and three at Standard Level; as part of this, they may opt for a second course in Modern Languages, Science or Humanities (instead of a Creative Arts subject).
All students write a 4,000-word Extended Essay on a topic of their own choosing. This is at the core of the IB Diploma and allows students to develop as independent learners in a genuine and meaningful way.
In addition, IB students do a subject called The Theory of Knowledge. A critical thinking course from which students emerge both literate and numerate, linguistically and scientifically able. In a 2007 survey of 400 hiring executives of major USA corporations quoted in both The Global Achievement Gap (Wagner, 2010) and 21st Century Skills (Trilling & Fadel, 2009) asked what knowledge and skills they were looking for in potential future employees. The results were, in priority order:
- Oral and written communication skills
- Critical thinking and problem solving skills
- Professionalism and work ethic
- Collaboration across networks
- Ability to work in diverse teams
- Fluency with information technology
- Leadership and project management skills
Knowledge of mathematics came 14th on the list just ahead of science knowledge and foreign language comprehension. (A Literature Review of the Key Skills of Effective Learning, Lance G King. May 2013)
IB Diploma students also extend their learning out of the classroom and into the community through the completion of the creativity, activity and service (CAS) programme.
The Diploma enjoys a coherent set of values. At its heart is the Learner Profile, which encourages students to be open-minded inquirers, reflective learners, intellectual risk-takers, as well as caring citizens of the world. With its emphasis on independent and life-long learning, and with internationalism as central.
Is the IB Diploma for everyone? The short answer is “yes”. It suits the intellectually curious, those who want to develop not just academically but also personally, and for those who are versatile or ambitious - which, we believe, describes any young learner, provided they are inspired and engaged in their education. In the variety and excitement it offers and the rewards it yields, the IB Diploma is for everyone.