On Wednesday evening I went to an event in London celebrating the 50th anniversary of the International Baccalaureate (IB). I was very proud to be in the audience and very proud to be a Head of an IB school. I felt privileged that we were part of an educational family whose philosophy is “to develop young people…to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect”. Never before have I felt this philosophy so apt in a world that is becoming increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.
The IB has a distinct pedagogy and at BGS we embrace this in all our teaching, not just in the diploma lessons. A pedagogy that focuses on concepts, issues and ideas that cross disciplinary, cultural and national and geographical boundaries. An education that is challenging, internationally focused and balanced, equipping students with the academic skills needed for university, further education and their chosen profession. An education that supports the development of values and life skills needed to live a fulfilled and purposeful life.
As a Head, I am always asked why I support the IB so much. Why would I not? Why would I not support an education that is framed by educational research and underpinned by a defined set of principals; an education that is free from political interference, an education that develops not just subject specialists but also competent and active citizens?
Over the years, I have become increasingly concerned by the UK education system. A system which seems to value more the jumping through of exam hoops, a system that encourages teachers to teach to the test, a system that encourages pupils to hoover up information rather than to question it, to be shoe horned into answering questions in a specific way that meets the examination criteria rather than to think laterally or creatively. An examination system that does not prepare them for the world they are moving into, instead a system that is rewarding a skill set that will make them increasingly unemployable.
Having been in schools where there has been no alternative to the A Levels it is a pleasure to be in a school where we can offer our students a model that frees them from these shackles. As Anthony Seldon said at this 50th anniversary the IB offers its students a much greater educational emphasis upon individual initiative, personal responsibility, imagination and problem-solving, all skills future employment will require. It teaches students how to become human beings, to have a soul, emotionally, creatively not just cognitively.
The IB, although 50 years old, is still ahead of the game. It becomes the beacon that others follow. I am just delighted that we are part of an education system that is leading the way and I will continue to champion it.