When most people hear that a school offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum they are curious about what that means. If you’re wondering if the IB curriculum is really that different, it is. The IB curriculum focuses on teaching students to think critically and independently, and how to inquire with care and logic. The IB believes that asking the right questions is a crucial skill. And because the IB curriculum is taught in many countries around the world, there is a great deal of similarity between what is taught at all of the IB schools, especially as it relates to the Diploma Programme.
Here is what the Peel District School Board says about the IB programme:
The IB Diploma Programme is a rigorous pre-university program leading to assessments in six subject areas. IB offers a challenging curriculum, taught by accredited IB teachers. The program is noted for its depth and its international perspective. The IB Diploma provides a coherent and demanding educational experience across the full curriculum and requires IB students to engage in community service, individual research, and an inquiry into the nature of knowledge.
An International Baccalaureate Diploma is a document recognized around the world as a symbol of high academic standards. Often issued as a supplemental graduation certificate by International Baccalaureate schools, the IB Diploma is particularly valuable when it comes to applying to universities. Many universities put IB Diploma students in a special category that gives them an advantage over other students looking to attend the same university. Again, quoting the Peel School Board, “The IB Diploma is accepted as an admissions credential at universities in 102 countries. In addition, high scores on IB exams often entitle students to transfer credits, scholarships and admissions into highly competitive programs at university.”
How, then, does getting this diploma work? The key is to find a school that offers the IB curriculum. There are several public and private schools in Mississauga that offer IB, but there aren’t as many IB schools in Brampton. In fact, I’m not aware of any private schools in Brampton that offer the Diploma Programme (grade 11 and 12) but Turner Fenton Secondary School and Harold Brathwaite Secondary School offer it. There are private schools near Brampton that offer the Diploma Programme as well.
If your child hasn’t been enrolled in a school with the Primary Years Programme (PYP) or, more importantly the Middle Years Programme (MYP – grades 6-10) then your child may be required to enter a screening process to make sure that your child has the academic rigor to be able to succeed in the programme for grade 11. There is a comprehensive exam at the end of the program, and globally, only about 78% of Diploma candidates pass the exam, which makes screening important.
Many people expect that if they send their child to a public school that they will get the same education as at a private school for free. Unfortunately, while the curriculum is very similar, it is rarely the case that there are no fees. Most public schools charge parents for the IB Programme since there are hard costs that the school has to pay to IB for each child. Make sure that you check any private school that you are considering for IB-specific fees as well. Sometimes the IB fees are included in the tuition, but that isn’t always the case.
If you’ve found an IB school in your area you’ve crossed the biggest hurdle. If you’re lucky enough to live in Peel region there are several IB schools available to you. The next thing to consider is whether you want to focus only on the Diploma Programme for the final two years of high school, or if you want to enroll your child in a school that embraces the IB curriculum earlier (MYP and PYP) to help ensure that they will be able to enroll in the Diploma Programme when they get there. Usually, the public schools only offer the Diploma Programme, not the MYP or PYP curriculum. After that, it’s really a matter of school atmosphere and price, since the exam at the end is similar for all applicants.