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IB PYP vs British Curriculum Schools

(23 Posts)
TheBossOfMe Sat 17-Nov-12 09:12:52

Does anyone have any experience of the IB PYP programme? I have a 4yo DD who is outgrowing her very small British Curriculum based school in Bangkok, and there isn't another one near us. There is a large IB school, NIST, which has excellent extra-curricular sport, music, drama and art facilities, which is very appealing, as well as the undoubted attraction of a zuperb Modern Languages programme as part of the IB Primary Years programme (8 hours of teaching per week in a 2nd language of our choice from age 5, 13 different language on offer, all teachers native speakers)

There is an excellent (and terrifyingly expensive) BC-based school in Patana, but we would have to move from our very central location and stunning apartment to a dull house in the boondocks, which would mean a long commute for both myself and DH, so a huge upheaval. One we are willing to go through, but only if the advantages are really there. Pros that I can see are much more rigorous drilling in the basics, Cons, not quite so good ECA programme, and no modern languages until aged 8, which is v late IMO, and then only for 2 hours a week.

With IB, I'm slightly worried that the IB programme can overlook fundamentals such as reading, writing and basic numeracy - have heard lots about parents needing to supplement learning in these areas at home because children don't specifically focus on learning things such as times tables, for example.

So two questions, I guess:

1. Does anyone have experience of this being true or not (IB being weak on fundamentals)?
2. If it is true, would you chpose the school that is lacking in the fundamentals but better in all other areas on the basis that you can easily teach fundamentals at home?
3. Or would you go for the school that is a huge upheaval because its better in the fundamentals and supplement the weaknesses with paid for out of school activities at Alliance Francaise, for example

Have also posted this in Education - just though overseas parents might have more experience of IB PYP for obvious reasons.

LIZS Sat 17-Nov-12 11:18:42

ds did PYP from (US) Preschool to Grade 1 and for him it would have been better to be more grounded in the basics first and he isn't a natural linguist, whereas it might have suited dd better. I think it all evens out in the end though so it may depend on your longer term plans. ds had a tricky few years on our return to UK at aged 7, particularly with maths and spelling.

TheBossOfMe Sat 17-Nov-12 12:03:38

Thanks lisz, that is very helpful, and backs up what some other parents have said.

Bonsoir Sat 17-Nov-12 12:06:27

The execution of the PYP programme varies hugely from school to school. My sister's DC have all done PYP, at two different schools (ISMadrid and ISAmsterdam) which are both OK but not stunningly academic. I think that if you ensure your DD does a lot of reading at home you will probably find it OK.

TheBossOfMe Sat 17-Nov-12 12:56:13

Bonsoir, given you probably know your nieces quite well, do you think they gained benefits from PYP that they might not have done in a more rigid curriculum? One of the things that struck me was that the children I saw were uber-confident, engaging and interesting - more so than at the BC schools I've seen.

DD has a fairly extensive programme of both formal and informal activities to support her learning - on of the realities of life as an expat seems to be needing to access a out-of-hours extracurricular programme to supplement in school learning. I think the experience in France is similar, isn't it?

We read with her every day, in fact, she was reading simple books and blending more complex phonics into words at home well before she arrives in reception. So I'm fairly confident we can continue to support this learning at home in the basics. I perhaps need to ask on the home ed boards about online resources I can use for this. But I don't want to do this if there isn't a clear benefit to PYP; I may as well send her to the BC school and let them do that job.

Obviously the languages programme is appealing. DH is French in origin, but we don't practise OPOL at home, mainly because his French is so old fashioned after 40 years out of the country that we don't want to risk DD sounding out of date. So it would be very difficult for us to teach a 2nd language well at home. But we could support the in-school learning of a language at home, just not teach it from scratch ourselves.

Bloody hell, who knew the choice would be so difficult!

Bonsoir Sat 17-Nov-12 13:21:07

"One of the things that struck me was that the children I saw were uber-confident, engaging and interesting."

Yes, I would say that is a pertinent description of my sister's DC. They are not arrogant, but very self-confident and interested and informed about the wider world. If your DD is already reading, you can probably take that as a signal that she won't have issues acquiring the basics (won't need endless repetition of phonics, number bonds, times tables etc) and will benefit from a curriculum that is theme rather than skills focused. PYP is definitely better for bright, engaged children with supportive families than for slower children who benefit more from drilling.

TheBossOfMe Sat 17-Nov-12 13:28:36

Thanks bonsoir, that is really helpful. I hadn't realised when we moved abroad how much we would end up obsessing over and analysing every aspect of DDs education. Although knowing me, I would probably be the same back in the UK, obsessive over-analysis is one of my less endearing characteristics. If DD inherits that trait, perhaps IB is for her after all!

Bonsoir Sat 17-Nov-12 19:28:34

The other issue to consider, of course, is that all IB schools are not equal. Some parents are very "in the know" about IB schools in a particular region because they have had children in more than one as they move around for work - my sister knows a lot about IB schools in Europe as the families at her children's schools have given her the low down about many of them. You need to find some parents who are in the know about the schools in your region and grill them!

FuckingWonderwoman Sat 17-Nov-12 23:57:58

Bonsoir, does your sister know anything about the London IB schools, and which are better than others? (One refused to give me their diploma results when I asked, merely saying that they were "better than expected!")

Bonsoir Sun 18-Nov-12 09:25:16

I can ask her again - I know she went around International School of London and wasn't very enthusiastic. There are lots of IB schools in the UK, hence lots of competition for the best pupils, and most British parents want their DC to do GCSEs so don't like IB MYP.

If you don't mind your DC doing a reverse commute out of London, both Sevenoaks School (private) and Tonbridge Grammar School (state) have IB sixth forms.

FuckingWonderwoman Sun 18-Nov-12 13:21:25

Unfortunately DD1 will be going back too late to do GCSEs. We're having a look at ACS Cobham and Marymount in the first instance.

Bonsoir Sun 18-Nov-12 16:20:19

The older sister of a little girl who is in my DD's year at EaB is going to board at Marymount in London from next year, in preference to staying on at EaB Lycée. Her father talked about it with huge enthusiasm.

FuckingWonderwoman Sun 18-Nov-12 16:34:25

Yes - DD1 has a friend who has just gone there. It is top of my list, I have to say, and they could commute from where we live quite easily. Unfortunately, both DD1 and DD2 are viewing it with huge distaste as it is a) Catholic and b) has a uniform. Oh and c) is single sex. grin

I am also thinking about sending DD2 off to be a weekly boarder in a "regular" school, as she is young enough not to "need" an IB school (but might like the option of it when she is older). I think she needs more structure in her life, as she is not great at getting things like homework a) done and b) in on time!

natation Sun 18-Nov-12 17:36:24

There are almost 40 state boarding schools in England and Wales, some of which do IB diploma. They vary from 8k to 13k per year, out of reach of some but still much cheaper than the private system. Our 14 year old has his eyes on 6th form in one of them.

Bonsoir Sun 18-Nov-12 17:49:01

Well, Catholic, uniform and single sex would not be my choice either, but if the school was significantly more desirable than all others I would force it!

FuckingWonderwoman Sun 18-Nov-12 21:17:33

My feeling exactly, Bonsoir!!

Natation - unfortunately you can count the number of schools in UK that do the MYP on your fingers though...

Bonsoir Mon 19-Nov-12 11:31:25

A bit of benign bribery might be called for then!

ripsishere Wed 21-Nov-12 04:13:20

Just had another thought. Isn't there a French school in Bangkok or have I imagined that?

fraktion Fri 23-Nov-12 00:48:47

IME when PYP is good it's very, very good and when it's bad it's dire. Unfortunately this can vary depending on a) the management of the section, b) the individual teacher and c) the other children on the class and their parents/external support.

The first 2 you can do your research on although 2 could change with little notice. The third you can only use the current make up off the school as a predictor and see whether you feel you match that.

Also schools can change quite quickly. Many have a flow of teachers with their own distinct style and if that extends to the management as well it can be confusing. New blood and new ideas are always good but for PYP to really work it needs to be proactively managed across the whole programme and the teachers need to be on board. A stunning school can experience as the turnover in a short space of time and end up floundering.

fraktion Fri 23-Nov-12 00:50:00

rip yes, there's the LFIB smile

laptopwieldingharpy Fri 23-Nov-12 01:11:57

Fraktion you sumed it up perfectly with those 3 conditions.

French international schools in Asia usually deliver a sound programme as the IB is loosely modeled on the french baccalaureate.

Having lived in singapore and hong kong, with children enrolled in very selective international schools, I've come to the conclusion that many are all about show. They have the fancy facilities but in early years lack a strong foundation in literacy & numeracy as assessed in the key stage one curriculum.
Parent support is very important.
If you can, at that age, the best thing you can do is be a parent reader (to see how the whole class progresses) and make sure your child is assesed and moving through the reading levels consistenly.

Alex727 Fri 08-Feb-13 08:51:06

[Reposted] I recommend extreme caution with PYP. My child is enrolled in British school that adopted PYP. While independent test show his apptitude is fairly high, his actual maths and writing skills are terrifying. PYP uses little or no textbooks, homework, tests or grades. By their own admission, they don't really "teach". They "inquire" and students teach each other. There are some critical skills that you can only learn while you are young and PYP does not do a good job of teaching those skills. When I asked them to assign nightly math problems in light of his disasterous skills, they flat out said they would not do it. Which leaves me to do the work the school should be doing and I have other work.

Ironically, I think the staff at this school is excellent. They are smart, compassionate, high energy people. The problem is not the teachers it's the system. Also, the 'no bullying' environment they create is good (although I think most schools do a better job on this than before).

To demonstrate I'm not an IB basher, one of my best friends (politically center right, wealthy entrepreneur) sent his kids to expensive conservative catholic grade schools, then to IB high school then back to catholic colleges. They loved all three. They thought IB was great. I was visiting when his daughter was doing her "portfolio." She was fully engaged and turned on and obviously having a great experience. At the high school level it's different. You get out of it what you put in. For motivated and well prepared kids who already have the basics, "inquiry" can work at the HS level. If you don't like it, one single lost year is less critical when you are older. A bad one-year experiment with IB in high school might overall be a good experience in figuring out what type of college program you want. But at the early elementary level, PYP is just a disaster. Brings me to tears seeing the lack of progress and lack of any kind of remedial help even when requested. If your child is not very academic then the best solution is a softer approach to the basics but the program MUST teach the basics. PYP emphasizes "respect" but your kid won't get any in the real world if she can't read and write. At a minimum understand what you are getting into and expect to do a lot of the actual teaching yourself. PYP is an intellectually stimulating, high quality day care center. It is not an academic program and should not be marketed or used as such.

laptopwieldingharpy Fri 08-Feb-13 09:02:09

Alex, this has been my experience exactly with DS now grade 3/ year 4.
A lot of self congratulary gloating about turning kids into "global citizens" but poor foundation skills.
We end up having to do more at home too.

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