Heard about ‘IB’ but no idea what it stands for, or what it really means? International Baccalaureate is an educational programme that fosters creativity and imagination. Here’s where to find it in Singapore!
We hear you, mama: with so many education philosophies and curricula out there, it’s hard to keep them all straight. One that seems to dominate on the international school scene (with good reason!) is the International Baccalaureate (IB). We get down into the real nitty gritty to let you know what sets IB apart, its unique benefits, and whether it’s a good fit for your child. Let’s break it down! And for comparison’s sake, you can always check out our Ultimate Guide to Montessori in Singapore and our comprehensive Guide to the Best Preschools in Singapore!
Founded in 1968, the International Baccalaureate (IB) offers high quality, challenging educational programmes at three different levels in Singapore: the IB Diploma Programme (DP), for students aged 16 to 19; the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) for students aged 11 to 16; and the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) for students aged 3 to 12. There are over one million IB students at 4,000 schools in 147 countries across the world!
IB is renowned for its high academic standards and helping to develop truly global, 21st century citizens who will create a better, more peaceful world. The curriculum places great emphasis on creativity and imagination. Students are encouraged to take a truly global view in every sense: learning is about considering the nature of human thought and developing the skills not just to remember facts, but to analyse one’s own thinking and effort.
So what sets IB apart?
At the heart of the curriculum are the principles of inquiry, action and reflection. All the while, students develop core skills for thinking, working with others, communicating, self-management and research. So basically, the skills you need not just to succeed in school, but in life!
To that end, the culminating IB Diploma Programme (DP) is academically challenging and balanced, with final exams that prepare students for success at university and beyond. It all starts with the PYP, which focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, not just in the classroom, but in the outside world a well. We all know kiddos ask lots of questions; the IB PYP plays to that strength with its powerful emphasis on inquiry.
Meanwhile, it’s in the Middle Years Programme (MYP) that the IB framework encourages students to become creative, critical and reflective thinkers, with a real emphasis on intellectual challenge. Kids at this stage start making really powerful connections between their studies and real-world subjects, all the while boosting their communication skills, intercultural understanding, and global engagement.
In short, IB is a perfect fit for students in a globalist, multi-cultural environment like Singapore! It’s also very transferable if you make an international to move, given its truly global reach.
What are IB’s unique benefits?
- IB encourages both personal and academic achievement
- In IB programmes, students learn how to learn (hint: it’s not with lots of memorization!)
- IB programmes encourage students of all ages to consider both local and global contexts
- IB programmes develop multilingual students
- IB programmes are developed independently of government and national systems, instead incorporating best practices from research across a global community of schools
Finally, IB schools are particularly known for producing inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people. That’s not to say kids in other curricula can’t fit that bill, but there’s a real care and emphasis placed on this outcome, to which we say, Bravo!
IB Schools in Singapore
The various levels of IB can be found at the preschool, primary and secondary level across Singapore. We’ll focus on IB preschools in a follow-up article, but check out our gallery of IB schools at the international early years, primary and secondary level, along with a snapshot of each school’s distinct philosophy. On the local front, Anglo Chinese School International Singapore and Hwa Chong International both offer the IB Diploma at the secondary level.
“The Australian International School is an IB Primary Years (PYP) and Diploma Program (DP) school for children aged 18 months-18 years. The PYP, underpinned by the Australian Curriculum, is offered from age 3 to Year 5 and provides the school’s young learners with an inquiry-based program which is unique to the School. The IB PYP is a wonderful framework for learning that celebrates and values the many ways young learners work together to construct meaning and make sense of the world. At the other end of the School, the IB DP is one of two curriculum pathways offered for the school’s eldest students (the other is the Australian Higher School Certificate). With 91% of AIS students scoring above the IB world average in 2015, the DP provides AIS students a pathway to top universities worldwide. It engages learners with a curriculum that is broad and balanced, conceptual and connected and provides opportunities for rich understanding.”
– Andre Casson, Principal
Australian International School, 1 Lorong Chuan, Singapore 556 818, Tel: (+65) 6664 8127, www.ais.com.sg
“CIS is one of only a few international schools in Singapore to offer all three International Baccalaureate programmes. This not only gives our students a coherent and continuous educational framework for their entire schooling, it also prepares them thoroughly for their IB Diploma. To date, over 200 leading universities globally have offered places to our IB Diploma graduates.”
-Dr Glenn Odland, School Principal
Did you know that EtonHouse International School at Broadrick (East Coast) is one of the oldest IB Primary Schools in Singapore, mama? Today, EtonHouse has three International School campuses in Singapore offering the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) – Broadrick, Thomson and Sentosa. The EtonHouse IB primary years programme supports students to take ownership of their own learning, putting the spotlight on their ideas, concepts and creations. EtonHouse was also the first international school in Singapore to offer a primary dual-language programme in English and Chinese, plus a strong second language programme in Hindi, Japanese and English. After the primary years, students progress to the Secondary school in Broadrick where they are offered the Cambridge IGCSE delivered in an interdisciplinary approach.
EtonHouse International School at Broadrick (East Coast), 51 Broadrick Road, Singapore 439501, Tel: (+65) 6346 6922, www.etonhouse.com.sg
“GEMS World Academy (Singapore) is among only a few schools in Singapore accredited to provide the three core IB programmes, and one of only 2 fully accredited IB World Schools also providing the Cambridge IGCSE programme. We are committed to ensuring that we are able to accept students from anywhere in the world at any time, to provide outstanding certified opportunities to our highly mobile international families.”
– David Edwards, Head of School
“When we came to Singapore 10 years ago the school had just added the IB Programme and this made our decision easy. We are Swiss and our son was already accustomed to the IB Programme, but as a second grader was in need of furthering his knowledge in German both orally and also in his writing/grammar/reading skills. GESS fit our requirements nicely and gave him continuity with a great system he already felt comfortable with.”
– Gerda, a parent
German European School Singapore Pre-School and Primary School, 300 Jalan Jurong Kechil, Singapore 598668, Tel: (+65) 6461 0802
German European School Singapore Kindergarten and Secondary School, 72 Bukit Tinggi Road, Singapore 289760, Tel: (+65) 6469 1131
Global Indian International School (GIIS) offers the IB Diploma Programme for Grades 11 and 12, with faculty providing ample support to complete the rigorous programme. Along the way, GIIS students learn to work independently, become better collaborators, and develop excellent research skills.
In the past ten years, the school has produced an impressive 12 world toppers (who’ve scored a perfect 45/45), plus 20 more students with near-perfect scores of 44/45. In the most recent round of testing in May 2018, GIIS had four world toppers and four more near-perfect scores, and in total an impressive 38% of students scored 40 points or above.
GIIS SMART Campus, 27 Punggol Field Walk, Singapore 828649, Tel: (+65) 6914 7100, admissions.schoolofthefuture.sg
“IB learning experiences at Nexus are personalised to individual needs and provide a catalyst for our learners to take meaningful action in the community. Rigorous academic standards, combined with innovative learning environments and quality teaching, have resulted in a value added success story, year on year. Our latest IBO Inspection Report summed it up: “A well-defined curriculum that has the capacity to prepare the students for lifelong learning”. Nexus students achieve academic success and become globally responsible citizens; we accomplish this by celebrating diversity and challenging minds.”
– Justin Potter, Deputy Head of Primary School, PYP Coordinator & Year 4 Class Teacher
One World International School (OWIS) offers a unique, personalised approach to IB PYP. Their individualised teaching methods and continuous assessment opportunities help to mould young minds into inquisitive thinkers, passionate learners, and confident citizens. The PYP encourages an integrated, trans-disciplinary approach to learning, allowing students to make connections across a variety of subjects and develop an internationally-minded approach. At OWIS, your kiddos will become true global citizens!
“Stamford American is an International Baccalaureate (IB) world school for 2 to 18 years old integrated with American standards, combining educational rigor with holistic programs beyond the classroom which nurtures the whole child. Our curriculum design weaves together two core frameworks that guarantee an aligned academic program balanced with student-centered learning approaches in a caring community. The IB curriculum starts from Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12 and offers two graduating paths. Students choose to graduate with either the IB Diploma or High School Diploma with Advanced Placement (AP) credits, or both. With 40+ IB courses and 20 AP courses to select from, students are set up for university placement and career choices. Enriched, engaged learning – that is Stamford.”
– Christie Powell, Director of Curriculum
“IB values are embedded in UWCSEA’s unique K-12 learning programme, which leads to the IB Diploma. Both campuses have teachers throughout the school who hold senior positions in the IB as examiners, assessors, textbook authors, workshop leaders and curriculum developers. With students obtaining outstanding results, our IB Diploma programme provides an environment to challenge the strongest while supporting those less sure – so all our students discover more in themselves than they believed was possible. The UWC movement continues to be influential in the development of the IB Diploma Programme; UWCSEA has offered the DP since 1981.”
– Nick Alchin, High School Principal and Deputy Head of Campus, UWCSEA East
UWCSEA Dover Campus, 1207 Dover Road, Singapore 139654, Tel: (+65) 6775 5344
UWCSEA East Campus, 1 Tampines Street 73, Singapore, 528704, Tel: (+65) 6305 5344
“Tanglin is unique amongst schools in Singapore in offering students the choice of both A-Levels and the IB diploma. Offering both pathways means we can cater for both kinds of student: the one who knows exactly what they want to study at university and is thus able to specialise by taking A Levels, as well as the more typical student who is not sure of a career path at the age of 16 and is encouraged therefore to maintain the breadth and variety of the IB Diploma. Our main priority is making sure students keep an open mind until they have all the information they need to make the best choice for them as an individual.”
– Julie Barlow, Assistant Headteacher, Sixth form
Other schools in Singapore that offer the IB curriculum at the Primary or Secondary level include:
For more info, you can also visit the International Baccalaureate Office in Singapore; check out their website for lots of handy resources, mama!