International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme

Lindy Braithwaite, Dean of Senior Studies, Years 11–12

Lindy Braithwaite, Dean of Senior Studies, Years 11–12

By Lindy Braithwaite, Senior Studies Coordinator

Radford is fortunate to have access to the world-class education system run by the ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies. As history shows, universities and employers regard our students favourably. That said, in a changing world, the ability to be able to offer another world-class program in the form of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme would further empower our students to shape their futures.

International Baccaluareate World SchoolThe IB DP, which turns 40 in 2018, is offered in 3,100 schools across 147 countries. Of those, 68 are Australian and include government, Catholic and Independent schools. The growth of the program sits at nearly 40 per cent over the last five years, with Japan alone aiming to have 200 schools offering the program before 2018. This extraordinary growth is, perhaps, a reflection of globalisation, which sees benefit in a student’s essay, submitted in Australia and containing local context, being marked in Ecuador, and a subsequent exam undergoing assessment in the United States using universally agreed standards and ethos. Either way, higher education bodies value it.

The Group of 8 (Go8) universities in Australia state on their recruitment website, ‘the International Baccalaureate Diploma is a comprehensive and challenging program. The program’s international flavour, academic rigour and emphasis on inquiry based learning means that IB Diploma students enter university with a global outlook, an excellent work ethic and the critical thinking skills to ensure they achieve great results’.

The IB DP is unique in that, as well as requiring a broad education (see the six groups of subjects), it explicitly incorporates key skills and experiences that empower students to achieve beyond secondary school. These include Theory of Knowledge (critical thinking skills), the Extended Essay (an independent, self-directed research essay) and Creativity, Activity and Service. There is vast research both worldwide and within Australia that consistently reveals the longitudinal benefits of such a program; for example, in increased university engagement and completion of qualifications.

Universities – including Canberra’s own ANU – already recognise that the ATAR is only one measure of secondary school achievement, and they are increasingly looking for alternative or additional attributes. The IB DP takes what many Radford students are already doing beyond the classroom through the College’s extensive co-curricular and service program, and adds not only worldwide recognition but expands their skills in this area with individual and group projects. Significantly more universities are valuing not only the preparation of the IB DP curriculum but are also offering graduates of the program credit in a variety of degrees.

Perhaps you are wondering why – given Radford already offers an excellent education that is internationally minded and enjoys significant academic success – we are adding the IB DP? There is no desire to replace the BSSS Senior Secondary Certificate. The IB DP is not for everyone, however, it provides another option for our students.

On a personal note, I sent my children to Radford College as I valued the inclusive community, pastoral support and, most of all, developing of the whole child in an atmosphere of truth, compassion and wisdom. Beyond school they have taken different pathways but have maintained community service as an important aspect of their life.

Similarly, each year, Radford supports students who are enrolled in Australian School-Based Apprenticeships (ASBA), those that will pursue vocational training and those who move into a range of tertiary studies. We are a non-selective school, and all students are valued in the Radford community.

The benefits of the IB DP, however, will be felt across our community – this has been repeated to me anecdotally by every diploma coordinator that I have met, and a recent article in the Australian Financial Review presents the same perspective. Teaching staff will receive professional development and be supported by a worldwide network. Having taught in five jurisdictions, I have been energised by the common language, extensive resources and general enthusiasm of IB teachers. The IB approaches to learning are likely to ripple through the school and it is my desire to offer parallel programs for non-IB DP students.

We aim to have the IB DP available for delivery in 2019 and are currently in the process of developing policies and training our staff in subject-specific areas. We hope to provide a preliminary information session for current years 8 and 9 parents and students soon, so we can establish your needs and unpack a little more about the IB DP. Watch this space!

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