Senior study choices and IB Diploma update

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

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

By Lindy Braithwaite, Senior Studies Co-ordinator

IB Diploma preparations
Momentum is building as we reach the business end of the authorization process of the IB Diploma (IB DP). A range of documentation and planning will be submitted as part our application due in April, that will then be rigorously evaluated before our onsite assessment in June. We will have the opportunity to further enhance elements of the application before accreditation can be granted, but preparations have been thorough and far-reaching. 

In the past week, teachers across all the IB DP curriculum areas have completed drafts of their specific subject outlines that detail the concepts, sequencing, resources (e.g. text books) and more, for the two-year program. These are to be reviewed, with feedback for refining, by our external experienced IB consultant. It does not stop with the documentation though: over the last two years, we have also fostered excellent relationships with other schools and subject-specific teachers in the IB DP community. On Friday we hosted 25 coordinators from across the ACT and NSW.  As part of this community, we will have the opportunity to participate in a number of annual support and sharing workshop days run by experienced teachers (often chief examiners) with groupings in everything from Maths to CAS. As a result, with the long lead time, and a plethora of resources due to the international curriculum, our teachers will be well-prepared to hit the ground running in 2019 and have a network around them well beyond this date. 

External evaluation is a fabulous opportunity for self-reflection and renewal. It has been a pleasure to work with a range of our internal Communications and IT talent in the last few months to reimagine our handbooks, guides and other related publications. We are in the process of developing user-friendly and multi-modal information that will facilitate an understanding of what we have to offer, the policies we work within, and advice we can give from long experience. 

Choosing a study program in the Senior School
While mostly focusing on the IB Diploma as a new offering, last Wednesday night’s information session marked the beginning of the journey for Year 10 students, and their parents, as they contemplate what their Senior School program may look like and where that might lead after completion of their secondary education. Teaching a Year 10 Careers class for the first time for several years has reminded me of the excitement, trepidation and angst that can be felt at this time (not least by the parents). Students are currently completing their career genealogy and career testing which will ask them, perhaps for the first time, to reflect deeply on what they like, what skills and talents they have, and how this might relate to a life beyond school. The headline is that for most, there will be no epiphany and, if there is, it may well change, but please don’t be concerned by this.

In May we will host our Year 11 2019 information evening. On this night you will hear about each of the three study pathway options – BSSS Tertiary (ATAR), BSSS Accredited (often vocational) and the IB DP, and have the opportunity to ask questions and get a greater understanding of subject offerings. Following this, the students will have an individual interview to counsel them, focusing on their strengths and aspirations. With their tutors as additional support, they will then make their selections and our timetable will be constructed. Unlike many schools, we build our timetable around student interest, not with predetermined ‘lines’, so within practical constraints, we will do our best to accommodate student preferences. The IB DP offerings in the most part, will mirror what have historically been our more popular BSSS subjects and the curriculum is very similar, hence students at schools such as Narrabundah being able to simultaneously complete both IB DP and BSSS requirements successfully. It is likely that some classes will be composite, rather than restrict choices, just as they are now for BSSS Accredited and Tertiary subjects.

Tertiary admissions
The landscape of admissions to tertiary education is changing. Indeed, ANU will announce very shortly their new plans which will recognise co-curricular and service activities as part of holistic student activity in addition to academic requirements, from 2019. Direct entry and early offer schemes are on the increase across all tertiary institutions, and ensuring our students have the best access to this is a priority. Offering the IB DP as a new study pathway packages the achievements of the well-rounded student in a familiar language for tertiary institutions locally and across the world. At Radford, high participation in co-curricular and service is the norm, hence the IB DP is a good fit. But enhancing this for all students in the Senior School is also on our agenda. More details on what this will look like will be available later in the year. 

No matter which program students decide to choose, they will be valued and well-supported. The team of people from Year 10 to 11, expands from their very experienced Head of Year, Mrs Kath Notley and tutor, to include the Head of Student Pathways Suzanne Rentsch, and Senior Studies Co-ordinator (me, Lindy Braithwaite) and we are already working closely. As mentioned at the IB DP information session, there will be a parent workshop later in the year to assist you also to be better prepared to provide support. Similarly, we will have other specific sessions such as an Australian school-based apprenticeships (ASBA) breakfast.

For those who were able to attend last Wednesday’s information evening, I hope you found it useful, in particular the student ambassador sessions. These students volunteered their time for no payment and were just asked to share their story. For those unable to attend, the video is now available, as is the flyer of FAQs. Similarly, the presentation from last year on the IB DP is still available. Please look out for the release of the new handbook and guides and contact me, if you have further questions. 

IB in the news
Please see a recent article including an interview with former Radford College Head of High School, Lisa Moloney, who is now Principal at MLC in Sydney.



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