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What is it an IB education? And is it better?

Progressive heads are shaking things up – and a Berkshire school is set to become the UK's first Prep to offer an IB education for ages 3-13. Intrigued?

St George's School Windsor Castle boy and girl science skeleton and anatomy model

There’s a lot of chatter about the International Baccalaureate. More and more senior schools offer it alongside GCSEs, but St George’s Windsor Castle is set to become the first prep school in the UK to adopt the IB Programme for ages 3-13.

Head St George's Windsor Castle William-Goldsmith
William Goldsmith, Head of St George’s Windsor Castle

When I first met St George’s Head William Goldsmith he spoke about how outdated he felt some current curricula is. He wanted to honour the traditions of St George’s Windsor Castle but have a more progressive attitude. So shaking things up a bit was always on the agenda to ensure the pupils get a robust education that gives them the skills they’ll need to succeed in life. But what is an IB education and is it better than the status quo? We grilled William to give us the lowdown.

What is an IB curriculum and how is different? 

The IB (International Baccalaureate) is a highly distinctive and regarded curriculum used by innovative and leading schools around the world. Comprised of four programmes as a continuum from aged 3-18, the IB encourages both personal development and academic achievement. An IB education fosters diversity, curiosity and a life-long appetite for learning.

It is different from other curricula in that linking subjects together sits at the heart of the approach, alongside a deep conceptualised understanding. International mindedness is key to the IB philosophy where children develop an understanding of other people’s views.  

Why are you making the change?

We have spent the last two years considering the very best approach to enable our pupils to become ‘real world ready’In a world where asking the right question is now as important as seeking the right answers, we want to lead the way in curriculum change.

Our pupils will grow up with the opportunity to break down cultural and geographic borders like no previous generation have been able to, and therefore need a very special set of competencies, skills and mindsets to thrive in a global world. The pandemic has sharpened this belief, and we passionately believe this is the right pathway for pupils.

What are the benefits? 

Through inquiry-led learning, pupils develop a deep appreciation of critical thinking, they will be able to link their learning to the real world, build connections and themes that transcend subject areas. Pupils will develop their thinking, research and social skills, which in turn, will develop confidence and self-esteem; empowering pupils to take charge of their learning.

How do the destination senior schools view IB and will it effect choices?

We have relationships with over 60 senior schools, both locally and nationally, and there is real excitement about our bold and courageous decision which puts the children first and enables them to develop a love of inquiry and learning. When pupils leave St George’s, they will be equipped with the skills and knowledge to make connections, think critically and steer their learning – all attributes that senior schools look for.

How will you measure its success?

We anticipate a noticeable increase in children’s awareness of themselves and their learning, and a developed desire to problem solve. We expect an increase in their desire to step out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves, and as a result, an increase in our attainment levels.

What will the children get out of it?

The pupils at St George’s will develop even more of an interest and engagement in their learning. They will see connections that they haven’t been able to before, and see an increased culture of experimentation and making mistakes as key to the learning process. Pupils will be prepared for the real world where information can be accessed extremely quickly, and where ethical and social responsibility is key to a better world.

Read the Muddy review of St George’s Windsor Castle, open day Thu 13 May

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