Headmaster, James Priory with speakers Professor AC Grayling and Maddy Farnworth

IB Perspectives – an evening of information and reflection on the International Baccalaureate Diploma

The evening was introduced by the Headmaster with a warm welcome to the audience pupils, parents and staff and to the highly-regarded line-up of speakers.  The Headmaster also spoke of the achievements and success of the IB Diploma as a Sixth Form option at PGS, do click here for more information.

Professor Jeff Thompson, University of Bath
(Click here for biography)

• Asked two questions: What is the IB diploma? and What are the benefits of studying it?
The IB Diploma originated in Geneva in 1968 to provide an internationally recognised ‘passport to university’ that could be followed by students of any nationality. Since then it has developed as an outstanding and celebrated programme of education: one of transferable skills; incorporating a wide range of knowledge and skills; emphasising the importance of independent learning, time-management, personal responsibility, community participation and a willingness to explore ideas. Professor Thompson outlined the structure of the IB Diploma which involves core components and in-depth subject-based studies at Higher and Standard levels.

Professor A.C. Grayling, The New College of the Humanities
(Click here for biography) 

• Prompted discussion on what are we using education for. What is it that children now in education are going to be asked to do in ten, twenty, thirty or forty years’ time? Their future time will be occupied with things that haven’t yet been invented, solving problems we don’t know exist. Whilst we can’t train them specifically for these activities, we can equip them to deal with them. What do we want at the end of an educational process? Lifelong curiosity; a capacity to master new challenges; to see whole horizons and give learners a sense of the connectedness of things. Professor Grayling discussed the problems of over-specialisation and praised the IB’s Theory of Knowledge component, as well as the way in which it marries in-depth study with intellectual training of clarity and depth. He also outlined the vision and style of learning at The New College of the Humanities, together with the opportunities available to its undergraduates.

Dr Peter Fidczuk, IB
(Click here for biography) 

• Reflected upon the rich and balanced curriculum of the IB, explaining the research to support its strong advocacy amongst universities and employers for its capacity to prepare learners for success at degree level and in employment. The CBI states that businesses need young people who are rigorous yet rounded, and who having experienced a holistic education incorporating a variety of skills. Data suggests that many employers are least satisfied with the precise areas that the IB champions (linguistic skills, self-management, problem-solving, international cultural awareness) thereby making IB graduates highly employable. He then showed data illustrating that IB Diploma students have had, and continue to have, much success in attaining university places both in the UK and overseas, including on the most competitive courses; there was also evidence that they performed very well whilst there.  Please click here to view Dr Fidczuk’s presentation.

Maddy Farnworth, Old Portmuthian
(Click here for biography) 

• Talked, as a graduate of the first cohort of IB students at PGS (in 2011), about her love of the IB – in spite of being highly sceptical of taking it up in the first place! After two enjoyable years in the Sixth Form, studying the Diploma, Maddy found herself well prepared for her degree and graduated from Warwick University in 2014. She is currently an event manager with the Nuffield Trust. She referred to the importance of two extra years study in subjects that may not always be an ideal fit, but which nevertheless are required elements of graduate training courses and employer expectations – numeracy and language skills, critical thinking and in-depth research skills. Maddy said that she wouldn’t be where she is today without the IB.