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What are the issues with a school offering both A levels and IB in the sixth form?

(9 Posts)
timmytoes Wed 03-Oct-12 14:43:17

Hi, we are looking at potential secondary schools for DS with one of the possibilities a school that offers both IB and A levels in the sixth form. Does anyone have any experience of such in practice and does it really work given the difference in syllabus and quantity of work required. Is it better to go for a school that offers one or the other rather than both ?

crazymum53 Wed 03-Oct-12 15:25:43

So many pupils move school at sixth form stage that I am not sure this is worth worrying about. The other problem is that you cannot guarantee that this system will still be in place when your dcs reach Y12.
IB does require students to study more subjects than A levels. At A level students usually study 4 subjects for AS and 3 for A2 and students can choose within the timetable constraints. IB students have to study Maths, one Science subject, one language and then 3 more subjects so it's 6 subjects altogether.
The main thing that I would look for is a good range of subjects offered and good results. Larger sixth forms tend to offer a better range of subjects than smaller ones. HTH

timmytoes Wed 03-Oct-12 15:46:07

Given DS is taking CE at 13, I really do not want to move him 3 years later at sixth form- given IB is an international qualification i think its here to stay but I have heard of schools having to change their entire time table to cope with the additional breadth required at IB. Does anyone have any experience of a DC at a school that offers both ?

Sabriel Wed 03-Oct-12 16:02:23

My DS took the IB in the first year his school offered it. They ran A levels as well. Didn't seem to cause the school any problems. The classes aren't mixed, if that's what you are concerned about. They run separate A level and IB classes in each of the subjects they offer. Some of DS's classes were very small but others - like English and Maths- were larger than the A level class.

timmytoes Wed 03-Oct-12 16:11:04

Thanks, why out of interest did your DS choose IB compared to A levels and did he find the syllabus of the higher level IB modules very different from those sitting the A level in the same subject ?

Sabriel Wed 03-Oct-12 16:42:25

With IB you do a range of subjects. For what he wanted to do he needed maths and science and geography and drama and figured that he'd be better with the IB than having to specify just 4 subjects for A level.

He found the work load high but not excessive and he certainly enjoyed it. He also liked the element of service and other extras they had to do (our weekly ballroom dancing class counted towards that grin ). I can't remember how the exam structures worked (it was a few years ago) but I do know he was quite cocky when his friends were stressing about AS levels and he didn't have to do them.

Maisycat Wed 03-Oct-12 22:46:05

I really wouldn't worry. We offer both IB and A Level in our sixth form. I am in charge of IB and also teach A level in my subject. We don't teach A level/ IB together, but the students share some areas of study, i.e. they all have to take academic skills classes.

milkshake3 Wed 03-Oct-12 23:05:55

From what I understand looking around secondary schools is that it is expensive to offer both IB and A levels as the classes are taught differently and that at the schools we've been to see A levels are still way more popular with only 10-15% of pupils taking up the IB. How sustainable this is is anyone's guess. In addition some schools have reintroduced A levels as the level studied at IB for some of the sciences was not high enough for certain degree courses. It's horses for courses.

Kez100 Thu 04-Oct-12 07:54:47

Two of our three sixth form colleges offer both. They are quite big institutions. I think I would look at results and, if they hold up, take that as some evidence the sixth form handles it well.

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