Looking Up and Standing Out

The Diploma Programme helps both Tonbridge Grammar School and its students to grow and be the best they can be.

An all-girls environment presents special challenges for a school. Knowing that many girls lack self-confidence, the response of Tonbridge Grammar School (TGS) in Tonbridge, Kent, United Kingdom, is to provide the Diploma Programme. “We find that the Diploma gives a way to get students to be the very best they can be by meeting the challenges the DP set s them,” says deputy head teacher Pauline Bullen. 

“It’s a ‘high aspirational’ programme. It sets you up for success at university and life afterward.” Alumni know that they are capable people who have completed an academically challenging programme, Bullen explains.

In addition to developing academic knowledge, the DP develops skills and emotional intelligence, she says. “It’s not a qualification but a programme with a philosophy.”

However, making the switch from offering A levels and the DP to only the DP was not simple. The school had to overcome a lack of awareness of the International Baccalaureate, work with parents who wanted to stay with the familiar national system and address the perception that the DP is more difficult than the A levels. There were only 30 to 40 students in the first DP classes when most students continued to choose A level...

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