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International baccalaureate for average child?

(38 Posts)
Gunznroses Mon 24-Nov-14 20:17:27

We are considering schools for ds, whose academics have been up and down a lot due to medical issues. Recently we have been considering a number of schools but recently saw one we like very much for him (senior school) but they only do IB or Cambridge Pre U. Looking forward I don't see DS doing the pre-u but wondering how challenging he might find the IB, we know very little about it, he is not a straight A student, we're confident he'll be able to get into the school but just not sure about the tail end of it. Can anyone advise?

MerdeAlor Mon 24-Nov-14 20:37:03

Gunz I'll be watching this with interest.

My DS is 11 but is at a school that only does the IB. Speaking to mums with olders DCs, they seem to think the IB is harder than A levels. In addition to that I believe it covers 6 subjects and the child has to pass all subjects to pass the IB. One fail and no IB.

One mum in particular said that generally in the UK only the very academic privately schooled children opt for the IB over A levels and are expected to get excellent results. Universities will compare IB results, so your DS may be competing against the top achievers from private schools.

It certainly made me wonder about our choices. My DS holds his own - with support but academic he is not. Trouble is we are expats so our choices are limited.

I'd be interested in other peoples experiences and I think it is wise to start thinking about these things now.

MerdeAlor Mon 24-Nov-14 20:40:57

One more thing whilst this is in mind - lots of parents in our school with less academic DCs are taking their DCs out of school after their GCSEs. Then getting them into non IB schools in the UK for A levels. I thought that spoke volumes.

Flingingmelon Mon 24-Nov-14 20:46:59

Don't know all the details but both my cousins did / are doing IB. One is a classic academic brain box and thrived, although she said it was very difficult. The other, whilst capable, has a fairly lax attitude to studying, her parents and the school are pretty sure she'll fail. She got all a's and a*s at GCSE.

Gunznroses Mon 24-Nov-14 21:24:43

Merde DS is at a prep at the moment, so I don't know if it won't matter once he's in, but he does struggle. I didn't know about the one fail and no IB shock

flinging can you clarify, you're saying your cousin got all A's at GCSEs but is predicted to fail IB?

Flingingmelon Mon 24-Nov-14 21:49:28

She did. But then a health issue and boys came along and the world now hates her. I think my aunt would say it's a great qualification to separate you from the pack, but it's bloody hard work, there's no room for teenage angst.

summerends Mon 24-Nov-14 23:08:16

Gunznroses if you think the school will accept your DS and your opinion is that it is a good school, then they must have experience in managing the best academic outcome for DCs like your DS whether through preUs (for the specialists) or IB for those who are all rounders and are happy being busy. It is a longtime in the future before he gets to that point and he will have changed a great deal. He would also have the option of switching sixth form if absolutely needed. I am not sure if preUs are harder to get normal grades, my understanding is that the questions are less formulaic than A levels and the syllabus is more flexible.

Bonsoir Tue 25-Nov-14 07:48:08

IMO, looking at this from a distance as none of my own DC have done IB (though many friends and family have), IB is a good choice for DCs whose strengths lie in MFL/literature/humanities. DC who grow up trilingual and love reading and debating are better served by IB than by A-levels.

Needmoresleep Tue 25-Nov-14 09:06:29

A friend of DDs has just switched from IB to A levels. She is not particularly academic but has other strengths and is aiming for a well regarded vocational degree at a new University. IB was pretty full on and meant she was not able to focus on subjects including a more vocational one, which reflected her interests and abilities. Plus she as been able to free up time for Extra Curricular which will support her University application.

How is your son's health now? Might he benefit from the greater flexibility offered by A levels. (Though obviously some is about to be lost.) IB is quite prescriptive in the you have to carry a number of subjects and so hard work. Is he an all rounder happy continuing with Maths English and a language, or will he do better focussing on humanities or science.

For many children we know, the decision is based on whether they will be applying for Universities in the UK or elsewhere. Other educational systems have more breadth and so the IB is a better fit.

basildonbond Tue 25-Nov-14 09:25:58

Ds is doing the IB - it is hard work, relentlessly full-on ... It suits organised, academic all-rounders (unfortunately while Ds is a very academically able all-rounder he has the organisational skills of an amoeba)

If he'd realised quite how much work was involved I suspect he'd have stuck to A-levels (he left the house this morning muttering furiously about how unfair it was that his friends doing A-levels had more free time than him)

Gunznroses Tue 25-Nov-14 10:01:05

Reading all your comments thank you. The more I'm reading the more it seems IB may not be for ds, which is a shame as we really like the school. It's difficult to say which group he will fall into, Ds loves sciences, and loves reading books but his maths isn't great and he easily gets fed up, doesn't like long winded essays and responds better to simple straightforward questions. So you see it's all very mixed at the moment. We have just days left to register him at the school if we are to go with it.

Gunznroses Tue 25-Nov-14 10:26:51

Bonsoir could you expatiate more on why strength in languages will lend more to IB?

Clavinova Tue 25-Nov-14 11:59:54

The exams taken at the school might change by the time your ds reaches the sixth form. KCS Wimbledon (just named Independent School of the Year) has recently re-introduced A Levels to run alongside its long standing IB programme.

vixsatis Tue 25-Nov-14 13:15:51

I don't think one is really "harder" or "easier" than the other. It's a question of whether your child is a natural specialist or a generalist. If his/her talents fall largely in one area (arts/sciences/languages) or if there is a particular area in which they are weak and need to avoid or in which they are strong and want to develop as far as possible, then A levels will be the better choice. If, on the other hand, he/she is at about the same standard in everything and wants to keep his/her options open I would say that IB would be a good choice. We have avoided IB schools because my son is very able at English/history etc but he is terrible at maths and would be dragged down by it at IB

TalkinPeace Tue 25-Nov-14 16:16:29

The other issue with the IB to bear in mind is that if your DS is science / engineering / maths bound after school, the IB can be seen as a bit heavy on the humanities and light on the maths for some courses.

Near here, Brock College used to do it and for those aiming for Law / Politics / Business degrees it was fantastic, but for Mech Eng less so

I believe its narrowness when linked to the RG facilitating subjects list made it less useful to too many of their students

and YYY to being willing to wait and see what 6th form exams a school does as the A levels are about to have a mahoosive upheaval of uncertain outcome depending on the Election result next may just what we parents need NOT

HeleneCixous Tue 25-Nov-14 16:24:48

IB is excellent for humanities/MFL students IMHO
Ds' school only does the IB and carefully chosen Standard levels can help you keep the hardcore maths and science to a minimum if those are not your child's strongest subjects. IB allows you to do two MFL as well as four other subjects, and one of those can be ab initio. Brilliant for children whose aptitude for languages has developed since the age of 11
Ds' HoY says that Mathematical Studies is only slightly harder than GCSE and studied by about 75% of the students at the school. It is only the 25% who want a science/maths based degree/career who bother with maths SL or HL.

Bonsoir Tue 25-Nov-14 16:27:17

gunz - a linguistically oriented pupil can do HL English MT, HL French (almost bilingual level) and another MFL at HL, plus - say - history, maths and a science at SL. That is a better education for a linguist than three or four humanities A-levels.

Gunznroses Tue 25-Nov-14 16:30:47

Thanks again for the comments, please keep them coming. Perhaps we might just register him anyway just to see what next year brings in terms of exams like Talkin and Clavinova said. It's a difficult one.

Gunznroses Tue 25-Nov-14 16:33:33

I should say I'm struggling to get my head round the exam structure for IB. How many subjects are required for IB? And which ones are compulsory?

TalkinPeace Tue 25-Nov-14 16:37:14

peppermum Tue 25-Nov-14 16:43:36

What is he planning to do post 18?

If he's planning to go to a UK university there seems to me to be no advantage of putting yourself through the extra demands of the IB. A levels are much more straightforward and uni offers much more straightforward as a result.

Bright daughter of a friend came unstuck with the IB Maths - some of her uni offers were asking for level 7, and although she met her offer on overall points (37 I think) she didn't get the level 7 in Maths so was rejected by her first choice. I have a feeling she would have done better at A levels with the slightly narrower focus. The family regret the decision now.

If you want to leave him at his current school, I'd be asking about where the leavers go, particularly those who are not in the top few, and how many missed out on their first choice!

Gunznroses Tue 25-Nov-14 17:04:57

Peppermum ds in still in prep, yr 6, so although we're planning ahead, we haven't got as far as where ds would like to attend uni.

Gunznroses Tue 25-Nov-14 17:08:01

talkin thanks for link.

peppermum Tue 25-Nov-14 17:09:23

You are thinking ahead!

If you (and he) like the school for 11 - 16 and think it would suit him then I would go for it and reassess your options at 16. It's a long way off and things can change so much in that time.

dodo3 Tue 25-Nov-14 19:07:37

One thing I have learnt is you have to look ahead. If you want to find a good prep you have to look at the secondary schools it feeds into. Its the same with IB and A levels, look at Universities and see the grades expected from IB compared to A levels.
Without a shadow of doubt UK unis prefer A levels, it would make a mockery of our own exam system if they didn't.

One weak subject at IB can dramatically drop their final score.
Sorry to hear your son has been ill, I hope he makes a speedy recovery.

Another option is to accept the school now and move for 6th form.

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