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What is the International Baccalaureate?

The International Baccalaureate is a Global Approach to Education. There are many IB schools in Brisbane. In this article, we clearly answer the question – What is a IB school? and which schools in Brisbane run the IB program?

Introducing the International Baccalaureate Brisbane

In our rapidly changing the world, the education choices we make for our children have never been so important. We want to make sure our children have a strong academic footing, but are also fully equipped to be successful in all life’s endeavours.

It can be a minefield trying to sort through all the schools and determine which curricula and programs will give our children the support they need to achieve their potential.

Over the past few years, curricula in Queensland have become more standardised as schools progressively implement the core subjects of the Australian Curriculum. But did you know there is a curriculum alternative?

Several schools in Brisbane are now offering the International Baccalaureate as a way of teaching the Australian Curriculum in a more global context.

International Baccalaureate at IES College

Located in Spring Hill, Brisbane, IES College is a new senior high school for years 11 – 12 and opening in January 2021 for year 11 students.

Authorised as an IB World School and offering the IB Diploma Programme, IES College provides a smaller, more personalised senior high school experience that delivers education in an inclusive environment, where young people from diverse backgrounds and experiences will develop skills and embrace values to create positive change in the world.

What is the International Baccalaureate?

The International Baccalaureate started in Switzerland in 1968, and has expanded to now be taught in more than 140 countries.  The program is designed to promote internationalism and diversity, while catering for student’s strengths and learning preferences.

The IB, as it’s known, is an inquiry-based learning style that focuses on HOW to learn, not merely WHAT to learn. Students are encouraged to think critically and challenge what they are told. The model helps them learn to think, rethink and innovate, making them more flexible and adaptable to change.

The International Baccalaureate is independent of governments and national systems, and is therefore able to incorporate best practice from a range of international frameworks and curricula.

Learning is not restricted to individual subject areas, but rather flows across all subjects in a trans-disciplinary way.  This provides students with a broader framework in which to apply their learning to the real world.

Although the teaching model is different, the learning still aligns with the Australian Curriculum and is endorsed by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) as a well-established framework that allows students to achieve comparable learning outcomes in English, Mathematics, Science and History by the end of Year 10.

How does the IB work?

ib schools brisbane

The International Baccalaureate is broken into four programs:

  • Primary Years Program (PYP) for 3-12 year olds
  • Middle Years Program (MYP) for 11-16 year olds
  • Diploma Program (DP) for 16-19 year olds
  • Career-related Program (CP) for 16-19 year olds.

Primary Years IB Program

The Primary Years Program focuses on the development of the whole child. Students become active, caring, life-long learners who show respect for themselves and others.

The PYP has a framework of essential elements that helps students develop the skills, knowledge and attitudes they need to excel both in their studies and their personal growth. It teaches international-mindedness and builds students’ capacity to make a meaningful contribution to the world around them.

The curriculum is delivered through six trans-disciplinary themes that are relevant to the real world:

  • Who we are
  • Where we are in place and time
  • How we express ourselves
  • How the world works
  • How we organise ourselves
  • Sharing the planet

Through these themes, teachers develop a program of inquiry that requires the students to actively investigate important ideas. Rather than just acquiring knowledge and skills, students develop conceptual understanding and are encouraged to question, consider and refine their understanding of the social and natural world.

The program supports students’ efforts to construct meaning from the world around them by drawing on prior knowledge, providing new experiences, and creating opportunities for reflection and consolidation. From this, students form personal, positive attitudes and develop capacity to take responsible actions.

In the PYP, learning is viewed as a continuous journey. As such, assessment is used to identify what students know, understand, can do, and value to then plan the next stage of learning.

During the final year, students work collaboratively on an extended, in-depth project known as the PYP exhibition. They examine a real life issue or problem, and synthesise the key elements in a way they can share with the whole school community.

Middle Years IB Program

The Middle Years Program is an inclusive, whole-school program that emphasises intellectual challenge and encourages students to make practical connections between their studies and the real world.  Students become active learners who are internationally minded and able to empathise with others.

The program empowers students to inquire into a wide range of local, national and global issues, and builds confidence in their ability to manage their own learning. They learn by doing.

The curriculum framework focuses on developing both subject-specific and interdisciplinary understanding. The MYP comprises eight subject groups:

  • Language acquisition
  • Language and literature
  • Individuals and societies
  • Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • Arts
  • Physical and health education
  • Design

Each year, MYP students take part in at least one collaboratively planned interdisciplinary unit that involves at least two subject groups. This helps them to understand important connections between academic subjects.

Students also complete a long-term project. They decide what they want to learn about, identify what they already know and what they need to discover to complete the project, and then create a proposal for completing it.

After finishing the MYP, students are well prepared for further education opportunities, including the IB’s Diploma and Career-related Programs for 16-19 year olds.

Finding an IB school in Brisbane

St Peters Lutheran College Indooroopilly is an ib schools brisbane

There are several schools now offering different levels of the International Baccalaureate in Brisbane.

Anglican Church Grammar School (Churchie)XX
Aspley State SchoolX
Calamvale Community CollegeXX
Cleveland District State High SchoolX
IES College (Spring Hill)X
Indooroopilly State High SchoolX
Moreton Bay Boys' CollegeXX
Moreton Bay CollegeX
Queensland Academies Creative Industries Campus (Kelvin Grove)XX
Queensland Academy for Science, Mathematics and Technology (Toowong)XX
Rochedale State SchoolX
St Peter's Lutheran College (Indooroopilly)XX

Visit the International Baccalaureate website: www.ibo.org. Click here to find out more about Brisbane schools.

Further information:

Real world applications

Moreton Bay Boys’ College is one school that’s successfully implemented the International Baccalaureate, and is one of only two schools in Queensland that offers both the Primary Years Program and the Middle Years Program.

Their students applied their learning to the design and development of a mountain bike track at the college.  The project spanned subject areas like Mathematics, English, Science and Health.

To create the track, students worked through mathematical equations to formulate the construction of the curves, percentages in the inclines, and the degree of bends in the track. They also focussed on safety and fitness goals, explored language to develop appropriate signage, and investigated ways to minimise environmental impact to the area.

It proved to be a fun and practical means of incorporating several areas of learning under the one theme – “Sharing the planet”.

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Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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