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International baccalaureate

(22 Posts)
TooBusyByHalf Wed 12-Mar-14 08:28:49

Views? How good or worthwhile is it? Choosing between 2 schools, one of which offers IB and the other doesn't. No idea at 10 whether DD will want or need to take an IB route, but how much weight would you put on the fact that the school offers it?

ThatBloodyWoman Wed 12-Mar-14 08:32:20

Our local school does it but I have no idea what it is .
Sorry, no help.....

callamia Wed 12-Mar-14 08:48:25

I love it. It offers a broad, Gove-free curriculum. Universities are often keen on it too. However, not doing it is unlikely to disadvantage your daughter in any way. A Levels etc are still well considered and done by the majority.

I did IB years ago, and I loved the fact that I didn't have to narrow my options. It allowed me to pick up a career in science that I wouldn't have considered had I done A levels. I'd also be keen to look for an IB option for my son, but it's not necessarily for everyone. Do the school have any preconditions for taking IB v A Level?

crazymum53 Wed 12-Mar-14 10:59:26

Do they offer both IB and A levels alongside each other or just the IB?
One of the schools (second choice) for dd offered the IB when we applied for Y7 entry but it looks as if the school no longer offer it now, so no guarantee that this will still apply when you child reaches sixth form. The main deciding factor though was that our first choice school was closer to home.
If your dd is a good all-rounder then the IB will suit her as she will be able to take more subjects than at A level - you need at least one language (English and MFL), one Science, Maths and two other subjects which may be an Arts or Humanities or a second Science subject.
Advantages it is an international qualification and has not been subject to "grade inflation" and curriculum changes, if you are considering studying at an overseas uni then it is more widely accepted than A levels. Know of IB students who have studied in Australia for example. It is accepted by UK universities for all courses including Medicine etc and have received feedback that degree students who have taken the IB may be "ahead" of students who have taken A levels. Studying the IB involves a more intensive timetable than A level though.

TooBusyByHalf Wed 12-Mar-14 15:58:51

Thanks. Yes I think the IB route is a sideline for the brightest kids - most at the school still do A levels. Spoke to a young woman on the IB course today - she loves the breadth but says it is much more hard work.

Jinsei Thu 13-Mar-14 00:20:38

I did the IB years ago myself. I love it, and think it's an excellent qualification, but it does require a lot of work and it only suits students who are pretty good all-rounders.

Stressedbutblessed Thu 13-Mar-14 01:52:47

We have just gone through this and switched from an IB school to A levels with Dd y7.
Dd academic all rounder but having followed with interest the university points requirements and final destinations there does seem to be a disparity between A level requirements and IB - IB at near top points of 42-44 being the equivalent of 3A* at A level and 2 A's.( 5 /6 alevels) you take 3 subjects at higher level and 2 or 3 at standard level. Maximum score is 7 per subject. Plus the amount of CAS hours required .( community service) and compulsory theory of knowledge extended essay. Almost all of the students and parents we have spoken to have said the workload is far greater than A levels.
As we see it the upside is a far broader range of subjects and would be very good option for students without a clear career path. Good for students who struggle in exam situations because project work accounts for a large portion of marks. Very practical based learning.
Down side for us was - not all subjects carry the same amount of marks available so although in theory you can have a broader range , in reality students tend to opt for the subjects that have a higher weighting of marks- Geography for example can be a higher weighting than a language( now doubting myself will recheck this)
Also not a good option for students with strengths in 1 area such as Sciences or Arts.
Lastly the depth of the subjects studied appear to be more fully covered by A levels.
Having said all above after speaking with a group of Uni lecturers their feeling was the IB students are far better prepared for University study than A level students because the breadth of study had encompassed more than text book learning.
Maybe we were wrong to opt out of the IB programme will find out in years to come!!

Stressedbutblessed Thu 13-Mar-14 05:16:50

sorry missed whether its worth considering a school that offers it - yes IF they allow you to choose after GCSE whether to follow A level or IB your dd is only 10 then its currently difficult to say whether 1 will be more suitable than the other. Not many schools offer both options.

anotetofollowso Thu 13-Mar-14 06:34:50

I only have experience of IB in the lower classes (we were at an international IB school for a time). But I though the curriculum was superb, and bred a love of learning in the children that more conventional schooling does not. Based on that experience I would jump at the chance for the DCs to be in an IB school.

I know that some of the graduates from the IB school were allowed to skip some credits at the universities they went to (in Canada) as the IB is regarded as so strong.

AtYourCervix Thu 13-Mar-14 07:00:27

D2 is just coming to the end of IB. I think the range of subjects is great, the community work, theory of knowledge and extended essay all a great preparation for the next stage (university).

I particularly think studying maths, english and a language at a higher level is such a benefit.

D1 however is feeling hard done by and overloaded. It is much harder work than A levels. Her friends have twice as many free periods a week. But this week Art is finished so she'll have a few more hours free.

But.... she'l be finished by mid-may and will get her results in july, so will have sorted out her university entry before A levrl results are out in august.

TooBusyByHalf Thu 13-Mar-14 13:23:32

Thanks everyone, very helpful.

Jinsei Thu 13-Mar-14 17:55:53

Not really sure what stressed means about the unequal weighting of subjects. All carry an equal weighting of 7 points as far as I know. It was sometimes said to be difficult to get 7s in certain subjects, but this wasn't borne out by my experience.

It's definitely worth considering if you might want to look at universities in the US - it is extremely well regarded there.

basildonbond Thu 13-Mar-14 19:50:18

Ds in first year of IB and it's bloody hard work but the curriculum is really enjoyable

Ds is a true all-rounder - had been struggling to whittle down subject choices for A-levels - so the IB suits him, however ds2 is much stronger in maths and science than English and essay-based subjects so suspect he'll be heading down the A-level route

Scholes34 Thu 13-Mar-14 20:25:40

Excellent for all-rounders, but not so good if you want to specialize in sciences. I don't think you could do all the sciences and maths, as you need to do a language, English and humanities.

It's a decision best made when you're in Year 11.

JumbledAndTumbled Sat 15-Mar-14 00:48:31

DS1 did the IB and DS2 did A levels a year later.
My DS did well on the IB and got 41 points but it is a lot of work compared with a levels and the results are more unpredictable. There were a lot of surprise results in my sons year. confused.
Uni's don't seem to have a consistent view of how many IB points to ask for when they make their offers. Sometimes they seem to ask for unreasonably high IB points.
The 50 hours x 3 CAS requirement can be very onerous for some DC. My DS had no problem with his sport and voluntary hours but really struggled to find something he felt worthwhile for his creative CAS hours.
The wider range of subjects is good. My DS would never have chosen to carry on with English and French if he was doing a levels but ended up enjoying them and, surprisingly for him, being good at them.

One advantage of the IB is that they get their final results much earlier than students who are waiting for their A2 results. It's a big help if things don't go to plan.

Stressedbutblessed Tue 18-Mar-14 05:45:08

@jumbled - Would be really interested to hear if you think in retrospect the IB finally provided more opportunity for your DS?
I've really struggled when finally deciding to switch DD to A levels from IB and agree with everything you have written. The main reason truthfully for us was simply the number of friends DC who have had IB targets set much higher than the equivalent A level requirement for UK Uni courses. The US Unis however are much more in tune with IB. Im now worrying that having to choose effectively your Uni course before choosing A level subjects really narrows choices?

totallyuseless Tue 18-Mar-14 08:12:45

Offer failure rate
 5% fail to reach A level offers
 20-25% fail to reach IB offers


JumbledAndTumbled Tue 18-Mar-14 09:58:48

My DS only chose the IB because he didn't have any GCSE's or equivilant qualifications as we had previously lived abroad. The IB meant that he ended up with proof of a rounded education.
If he had GCSE's he wouldn't have done it. We think 3 or 4 A levels are less work for a more guaranteed result. Had my DS had GCSE's I don't think the IB gave my DS any more opportunities than if he had decent A level grades.
I do remember one Uni admissions person saying they were more likely to be lenient if an IB'er missed their grades than if an A level student missed their but I can't remember who or where I heard that. confused confused
Another point to consider is the school record on IB results. Maybe other schools teach the IB better than my sons school did. I know there are some private schools that average some impressive average IB scores.

He is studying medicine and has said that the first couple of years of medicine were less work than his IB - confused

totallyuseless Tue 18-Mar-14 10:15:23

Apparently IB top grades are equivalent to 6 top grade A levels. It just doesn't make logical sense to put a child through that when the odds are better at A level.

Having said that if everybody did a IB style curriculum it would be better than the current system. All children should continue the core subjects until they are 18 IMO, but until that day I will continue to advise my children to do A levels.

Stressedbutblessed Thu 20-Mar-14 05:16:15

Thanks for the feedback - supports my conclusion.. although Jumbled - it didn't turn out badly at all if DS is studying medicinesmile

have4goneinsane Thu 20-Mar-14 05:41:44

I did IB and loved it - was so glad that I'd done it and enjoyed it immeasurably more than my friends who did A-levels.

I couldn't narrow down my subject choices and the IB meant I didn't have to. I also enjoyed that the Maths was very down to earth and real - lots of statistics which has stood me in good stead for my career without my having to do a full Maths A-level. I think the breadth of the Theory of Knowledge and Extended Essay and CAS prepared me well for later life.

almost 20yrs ago it was not as well known as it is now and I remember being given a very high offer by my first choice university - I actually negotiated with them and they changed the offer, in the end I achieved the original offer anyway, but certainly then there was a certain flexibility.

Eldest DC is at a school that offers IB and I can really see it suiting him well.

coffeeaddict Fri 21-Mar-14 08:35:50

We moved DS precisely because we didn't want him to do IB. I think it is v hard work, under appreciated by universities and penalises you in some areas. e.g. maths and science, because you can't do enough or get high enough in those subjects. A mathsy child doing A Levels can do maths, further maths, stats, etc etc. That is what the top universities want: specialisation. They don't care that you did a module in Italian. And if you flunk your Italian in IB then your whole point score is brought down and you lose your place, no matter how brilliant you are at maths.

BUt I'm sure it is a brilliant qualification and would be ideal if you didn't have to think ahead to university entrance/if the whole country did it.

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