International Baccalaureate: International Education Explained

The International Baccalaureate (IB) is a globally recognised educational programme that offers four high-quality international education programmes to more than one million students in over 146 countries. It is designed to develop the intellectual, personal, emotional, and social skills needed to live, learn, and work in a rapidly globalising world.

Established in 1968, the IB has a hard-earned reputation for high standards of teaching, pedagogical leadership and student achievement. It works with schools, governments and international organisations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.

Programmes of the International Baccalaureate

The IB offers four educational programmes for students aged 3 to 19. Each programme is designed to help students develop the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to excel in their studies and their personal growth.

The four programmes are: the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP), the Diploma Programme (DP), and the Career-related Programme (CP). Each programme is unique, but they are all united by the IB’s philosophy and approach to learning.

The Primary Years Programme (PYP)

The PYP is designed for students aged 3 to 12. It provides a nurturing and challenging environment where students can build a strong foundation in all major areas of knowledge. The PYP focuses on the development of the whole child, addressing social, physical, emotional and cultural needs as well as academic ones.

Through the PYP, students develop an understanding of important concepts, acquire essential skills and knowledge, develop particular attitudes and learn to take socially responsible action. The programme encourages students to become active, caring, lifelong learners who demonstrate respect for themselves and others and have the capacity to participate in the world around them.

The Middle Years Programme (MYP)

The MYP is designed for students aged 11 to 16. It provides a framework of academic challenge and life skills, achieved through embracing and transcending traditional school subjects. The MYP encourages students to make practical connections between their studies and the real world, preparing them for success in further study and in life.

The MYP aims to develop active learners and internationally minded young people who can empathize with others and pursue lives of purpose and meaning. The programme empowers students to inquire into a wide range of issues and ideas of significance locally, nationally and globally. The result is young people who are creative, critical and reflective thinkers.

Assessment and Examinations in the International Baccalaureate

The IB assesses student work as direct evidence of achievement against the stated goals of the programmes. All students have the opportunity to demonstrate their learning through a variety of assessments and examinations.

These assessments and examinations are designed to support and encourage positive student learning. They provide regular feedback, which helps students to improve their learning strategies, and they also provide a reliable and valid measure of student achievement and progress over time.

Assessment in the PYP and MYP

In the PYP and MYP, assessment is carried out by teachers and is based on the criteria established by the IB. Teachers use a range of assessment strategies and tools to assess students’ understanding, knowledge and skills. These may include observations, performance assessments, process-focused assessments, selected responses and open-ended tasks.

The aim of assessment in the PYP and MYP is to guide students in their learning, provide feedback on their learning process, and measure their level of understanding and knowledge. Assessment is integral to all teaching and learning within these programmes.

Examinations in the DP and CP

In the DP and CP, students take written examinations at the end of the programme, which are marked by external IB examiners. The students also complete assessment tasks in the school, which are either initially marked by teachers and then moderated by external moderators or sent directly to external examiners.

The DP and CP are rigorous and challenging programmes that require students to demonstrate a high level of understanding, knowledge and skills. The examinations and assessments are designed to assess students’ abilities to apply and use what they have learned in new and unfamiliar contexts.

The International Baccalaureate Learner Profile

The IB learner profile represents 10 attributes valued by IB World Schools. These attributes, which describe the type of learner the IB hopes to develop, are at the heart of the IB’s philosophy and are integral to its programmes.

The learner profile aims to develop learners who are: inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced, and reflective. These attributes are designed to inspire, motivate and focus students, provide them with a sense of direction and purpose, and prepare them for life beyond school.

Inquirers and Knowledgeable

Inquirers are curious and enthusiastic learners. They develop their natural curiosity and love of learning. They acquire the skills necessary to conduct inquiry and research, and they actively enjoy learning. Knowledgeable students explore concepts, ideas and issues that have local and global significance. They acquire in-depth knowledge and understanding in a broad and balanced range of disciplines.

Thinkers use critical and creative thinking skills to analyse and take responsible action on complex problems. They exercise initiative in making reasoned, ethical decisions. Communicators understand and express ideas and information confidently and creatively in more than one language and in a variety of modes of communication.

Principled, Open-minded and Caring

Principled learners act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness and justice, and with respect for the dignity and rights of people everywhere. They take responsibility for their own actions and the consequences that accompany them.

Open-minded students understand and appreciate their own cultures and personal histories, and are open to the perspectives, values and traditions of other individuals and communities. Caring learners show empathy, compassion and respect. They have a commitment to service, and they act to make a positive difference in the lives of others and in the world around them.

Risk-takers, Balanced and Reflective

Risk-takers approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with courage and forethought, and have the independence of spirit to explore new roles, ideas and strategies. They are brave and articulate in defending their beliefs. Balanced learners understand the importance of intellectual, physical and emotional balance to achieve personal well-being for themselves and others.

Reflective students give thoughtful consideration to their own learning and experience. They are able to assess and understand their strengths and limitations in order to support their learning and personal development.

Benefits of the International Baccalaureate

The IB offers a number of benefits for students, schools and communities. For students, the IB provides a rigorous and high-quality education that prepares them for success in higher education and life in a global society. For schools, the IB offers a framework of best practice and a community of passionate educators and learners.

For communities, the IB contributes to a better world through education, fostering understanding and respect among young people, and creating a more peaceful world. The IB’s programmes are recognised worldwide and ensure an increased adaptability and mobility for IB students.

Benefits for Students

IB students are given a unique education that develops their intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills. They are taught to think critically, to challenge assumptions, to consider both local and global contexts, and to be reflective thinkers who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

IB students are also encouraged to be active in their communities and to take their learning beyond academic study. The IB’s programmes are designed to make students internationally minded, preparing them for the future in a globalised world.

Benefits for Schools

For schools, the IB offers a curriculum that is broad and balanced, conceptual and connected. The IB helps schools to develop students who will build a better world through intercultural understanding and respect.

The IB’s programmes are recognised worldwide for their innovative approach to education. They are rigorous, consistent and have a strong emphasis on encouraging students to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners.

Benefits for Communities

For communities, the IB offers a model of education that is inclusive and flexible, and that puts an emphasis on the all-round development of students. The IB believes that every student can succeed, and it offers a range of resources and support to help students do so.

The IB also contributes to a better world by creating a global community of learners who understand and respect each other’s cultures, languages and views, and who are committed to making a positive difference in the world.


The International Baccalaureate is a comprehensive and rigorous international education programme that prepares students for the intellectual, personal, emotional, and social challenges of a globalised world. It offers a unique approach to education by focusing on the development of the whole person, and it is recognised worldwide for its high standards of teaching, learning and assessment.

Whether you are a student, a parent, an educator or a community member, the IB offers a wealth of opportunities to learn, grow and succeed. It is more than just an education – it is a philosophy of life that fosters understanding, respect, and a desire to create a better and more peaceful world.

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