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International Bac

(50 Posts)
margotfonteyn Sun 02-Aug-09 20:16:15

I see some parents are up in arms because their school brought in the IB and now the pupils haven't done v well and haven't got into their top two university choices. Is this because it is harder than A levels, and the school hasn't, yet, worked out how to get the pupils up to the top grade? Or it is much easier to get 3 As at A level than it is to get the top grade in the IB? Thus proving that some pupils from some schools aren't actually brilliant but have just been taught to pass the exams up to an A grade (my DCs included!)

Personally, I think it would be a good thing to bring it in to the education system, state and private, as it would possibly sort the 'men from the boys' in the plethora of A grades that are given out.

Judy1234 Sun 02-Aug-09 20:30:25

It looks like that school messed it up. I think my dauger's older school North London Collegiate now does it and they have done tremendously well with it without any problems at all.

It looks like those chidlren where the boy was objecting were not really at the very bset of private schools and the teachers changed a lot and there were other problems.

I was more than happy to get down just to 3 subjects at A levels and I'm not against that A level specialism at all. I found it wonderful at the time.

margotfonteyn Sun 02-Aug-09 20:43:35

I think doing just three or four subjects is better but I think the present A levels should be more rigorous. The IB, as I understand it, covers a lot more but in less detail. I do think that some schools have got A level teaching down to a tee and therefore it is difficult to tell who is really bright and who has just done what is required to the highest level, if you see what I mean. Perhaps the IB actually makes the pupils think a bit more.

Yorky Sun 02-Aug-09 20:47:24

I would rather my kids did IB than A levels. When I worked in Lux the kids there were doing it and writing essays longer than anything I'd done before uni, which equals better preparation in my book. Also 3 subjects is a bit narrow as I believe most 18yr olds do not know what they want to do with their lives, quite apart from the 'softening' of the syllabus/marking/results improvement seen year on year

margotfonteyn Sun 02-Aug-09 20:51:03

Well, I think its quite nice after GCSEs to drop subjects you don't like. But, for the sake of intellectual rigour, may be one should continue with subjects one doesn't actually like but can possibly do.....

CherylCole Mon 03-Aug-09 08:51:35

Wasn't the IB said to be better preparation for university though ?

bloss Mon 03-Aug-09 09:14:56

Message withdrawn

PortAndLemon Mon 03-Aug-09 09:36:56

There are some interesting points in the Times article on this -- particularly interesting is that universities seem to be routinely disregarding the published UCAS points tariff for IB and demanding far higher standards from IB students than they are from A-level students. That does seem extremely unfair. And there should be a big question over the ease with which the schools in this case were authorised by the IB organisation as exam centres when it should have been patently obvious that they were not properly trained and prepared.

I can't help thinking in a slightly evil way that anyone who actually believed assurances that there was no risk whatsoever in being part of the first cohort can't be all that bright...

BonsoirAnna Mon 03-Aug-09 09:41:17

"The IB, as I understand it, covers a lot more but in less detail."

This is a popular misconception that the British love to adopt about all school leaving certificates that cover more subjects that A-level.

You actually need to look at some of the very rigorous studies that have been done comparing A-level with IB, EB, French Bacc, German Abitur etc etc to understand that A-levels are not always as rigorous as other systems on a per subject basis. A-level mathematics, for example, aspires to very little in comparison to the French bacc, for example! Even though a child taking a French Bac S (maths and sciences) will be taking many subjects simultaneously.

thedolly Mon 03-Aug-09 09:52:23

Do you have a link to any of those studies Anna?

BonsoirAnna Mon 03-Aug-09 09:53:32

I would be extremely reticent myself about entering my child for the IB in an unproven environment. And, although the IB has a worldwide strategy of extending the examination to more schools in the maintained sector, I think that it is probably very hard indeed for maintained schools to have sufficient resources to support an entirely different syllabus to the standard national one, especially where that syllabus has more rigorous academic standards in many subjects that the national exam.

BonsoirAnna Mon 03-Aug-09 09:57:02

None of the ones I have in English are on-line any more (I just checked), unfortunately.

BonsoirAnna Mon 03-Aug-09 10:01:34

The mega specialists in this area are Cambridge Assessment

LIZS Mon 03-Aug-09 10:01:48

I think, in this case, it is in the implementation and inexperience on the school's part in teaching and assessing to the curriculum. Children were predicted grades on the basis of coursework that they did not achieve when exams and moderation occurred. There is a lot to be said for the IB syllabus but Universities still have reservations particularly for more traditional vocational courses such as Medicine, where competition for places is fierce.

Changing attitudes to learning and teaching any different syllabus and resources takes some time to become embedded and the learning curve for all concerned can be quite steep.

llareggub Mon 03-Aug-09 10:03:21

I was in a similar position 16 years ago where I part of the first intake to undertake the IB at a state school. I really did quite badly in one of the subsidiary subjects, which meant I didn't make my first choice offer. At the time my Russell Group university took me anyway, telling me that they rather liked the IB and thought it an excellent preparation for university.

Remarkable really that the IB is still misunderstood 16 years on.

margotfonteyn Mon 03-Aug-09 10:06:43

It was a private school, not a maintained school, who had the problem.

BonsoirAnna, I was not saying that I thought the IB was easier, far from it.

I think that getting top grades at A level at some schools has become so easy that they probably thought the IB would be a breeze. I suspect the pupils got the correct results for their ability.

BonsoirAnna Mon 03-Aug-09 10:08:41

I'm not sure that the IB is misunderstood in a big way by British universities. The thing is, British universities are a follow-on from A-levels, and most students will have done A-levels in subjects and to a level that prepare them for their first year at university.

The IB may be a much better, more rounded qualfication per se than A-levels, but university admissions tutors will still be trying to assess whether an individual IB student is prepared for a particular university course.

Anyone applying to university with non-national qualifications (as I did, many years ago) encounters this sort of problem. You may have done a better qualification, but its syllabus might tie in less closely with the university course you are applying for.

PortAndLemon Mon 03-Aug-09 10:21:42

margot -- the school in the Times article I linked to was a state school.

BonsoirAnna Mon 03-Aug-09 10:33:24

I strongly believe that everyone should study mother-tongue and mathematics until 18. Literacy and numeracy are the building blocks of all learning and, in England, it is far too easy to abandon study of those building blocks too soon.

BonsoirAnna Mon 03-Aug-09 10:33:26

I strongly believe that everyone should study mother-tongue and mathematics until 18. Literacy and numeracy are the building blocks of all learning and, in England, it is far too easy to abandon study of those building blocks too soon.

BonsoirAnna Mon 03-Aug-09 10:33:29

I strongly believe that everyone should study mother-tongue and mathematics until 18. Literacy and numeracy are the building blocks of all learning and, in England, it is far too easy to abandon study of those building blocks too soon.

margotfonteyn Mon 03-Aug-09 10:34:38

The one I read about was a private school.

It still highlights the same problem, except I suppose the parents at a private school have a bit more clout when it all goes wrong. The school I read about is offering the pupils the chance to do an extra year and re-take the whole thing, and the school will pay for the examination re-sits etc. (Can't remember where it was, but the Head had to leave Wimbledon, where he was watching the men's final, to meet angry parents!)

duchesse Mon 03-Aug-09 10:37:17

Sensible UK universities love the IB. There are perfectly good sets of equivalencies published for various global qualifications including the IB. Only admissions tutors lacking in imagination would reject an IB candidate because they did not know the content/ equivalence of the course.

ZZZenAgain Mon 03-Aug-09 10:37:51

This is so interesting. I ws planning on dd doing the IB. Had not crossed my mind that the teaching might not be effectively geared towards it tbh.

BonsoirAnna Mon 03-Aug-09 10:42:11

duchesse - what confidence!

However, I know many children who have applied and are applying, in an ongoing way, to British universities with EB, IB and French bac, and many schools that are faced with helping their pupils with this, and it is not nearly as easy as you suggest. A handful of British universities are really savvy about alternative qualifications. But only a handful. Many schools supply documentation to detail the differences in syllabus between the alternative qualification and A-level in order to help their pupils, and every year teachers work through the summer holidays in order to negotiate with admissions tutors post-results.

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