On Monday 9th May, the International Baccalaureate Schools and Colleges Association (IBSCA) organised and held a meeting for the heads of IB schools in the UK at the Royal Society. It was attended by over 50 heads from the state and independent sector and from international schools in the UK as well as by officials from the International Baccalaureate Organisation.
The keynote address was delivered by Dame Sue John, Executive Director at Challenge Partners and a member of the Royal Society’s Education Committee. In that address she emphasised the importance of a ‘rich and rounded’ baccalaureate-style education for all students over 16. She highlighted the Royal Society’s recommendation to the government of compulsory science and Maths for all and the need for a long-term strategy to ensure that there are the teachers in schools to deliver this vision.
In 2014 the Royal Society produced a major report on the issue of 16+ education, ‘Vision for Science and Mathematics Education’ in which the first recommendation was:
"to ensure young people have a broad and balanced education through to 18, baccalaureate-style recommendations should be introduced. Inspirational science and mathematics curricula should be placed at the heart of these, and should emphasise practical work and problem-solving. The new frameworks should incorporate subjects in the arts, humanities and social sciences and place equal value on vocational learning."
Dame Sue John emphasised the importance of such a project in the UK where only 13% of students study Maths beyond 16 and where one in four adults are estimated to be functionally innumerate.
Pauline Bullen, the Chair of the IBSCA Steering Group, added that there were very close links between the nature of the IB’s provision and the Royal Society’s vision. She said,
"In the IB Diploma, every student is required to study Maths and a science and their own language and a foreign language and a social science and this provides exactly the kind of breadth that the Royal Society advocates. In the same way, the Royal Society is in favour of giving greater prestige to vocational education and the IB Careers Programme does precisely that. In a world where science and technology will provide the solutions to many of our greatest problems, in a world where employers want employees who can solve problems and communicate, the IB Diploma and Careers Programme could be vital to the development of this country’s education system."
The meeting was also an opportunity for the heads to talk about the future of the four IB programmes, the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP), the Diploma Programme (DP) and the Careers Programme (CP). The last of these provides a curriculum that bridges the gap between the academic and the vocational. Paul Luxmoore, the Executive Head of Coastal Academies Trust in Kent talked of the success of the pilot that was taking place with nine schools in Kent and the plan to have 20 more schools introducing the programme in September 2017.