What makes the IB Primary Years Programme (IB PYP) such a popular choice for so many international families here?
Is it the inquiry-related aspect of the curriculum that trains students to explore knowledge instead of memorising facts? Is it the transdisciplinary learning approach, which makes every topic more interesting and personalised for learning styles? Or is it the engaging, hands-on nature of the programme? We caught up with Adrian Deller, Senior Coordinator of One World International School’s Suntec Campus (OWIS Suntec), which is an IB PYP Candidate School. Adrian throws light on the salient features of the programme, how it’s implemented at OWIS and what makes it so beneficial for children.
What benefits for children does OWIS see in the IB PYP?
The IB PYP supports the whole child, nurturing students’ academic, social and emotional development. At OWIS, we value international-mindedness, and the PYP is an excellent framework that helps students to develop universal values and the key characteristics of dynamic citizens and leaders.
With the use of the IB programme, we are preparing students to be lifelong learners and not just merely memorise facts or study topics in isolation. This should prepare them for their future in an ever-changing and dynamic world. Students are also given the opportunity to make strong connections to their own knowledge and understanding to promote inquiry that leads to solving real-world problems.
What subjects does OWIS offer in the IB PYP curriculum?
We offer Maths, English, PE, Art, Music and Mandarin. We also cover subjects such as History, Geography and Science through the Units of Inquiry. All subjects are taught using a transdisciplinary approach and so students are encouraged to draw on their knowledge in other subject areas to help develop understanding. ‘
Through our Social Studies programme that is integrated into each unit of inquiry, students are being prepared to become global citizens. With the use of the key concepts, students develop skills such as collaboration, open mindedness and reflection.
How does the inquiry aspect of the IB PYP work?
The Inquiry Cycle encourages students to formulate questions and explore possible solutions. Although the process is similar to scientific inquiry, it can be applied to a variety of other subjects, too. These basic skills learnt within the Inquiry Cycle are easily transferable between subjects.
Using the inquiry cycle, teachers tune into students’ thinking and activate their prior knowledge by designing appropriate tasks. Then, students analyse, sort, and categorise information, identifying patterns and creating meaning. They are then encouraged to take their inquiry further by investigating areas of personal or shared interest that will often be student-driven and will demonstrate student agency.
After going further with their inquiry, students will be given time to draw conclusions and make connections between ideas and contexts. Finally, they reflect on their new learning and how they can take action for personal or shared reasons. Throughout the process, teachers encourage students to apply their learning to new contexts, share with others, and connect with real-life situations.
Where does collaborative learning and creativity fit into this approach?
Collaboration is hugely important in the PYP. The experience the students gain from learning to work together to share their knowledge allows them to form new understanding based on shared experience. Collaboration also forms an integral part of the planning process with teachers working together to create engaging learning experiences for the students. It is this constant modelling by teachers that encourages students to collaborate and see the benefits of drawing on each other’s skills.
Creativity is enabled throughout the inquiry process. The opportunity of agency and choice allows students to be creative and use a variety of different ways to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding. Critical thinking activities also encourage creativity as students look to real life problems and find ways to take action.
The transdisciplinary aspect of the IB PYP makes it very relevant, doesn’t it?
Yes, the use of a transdisciplinary approach by looking at each subject through a theme enables students to make connections and draw on prior knowledge to better understand their learning.
For example, during a unit that focuses on government systems, students will inquire into those in place around the globe. They will link their English studies to writing persuasive speeches and the language associated with it. Their Maths focus will be on the different systems of measurement used globally and how they are influenced by a country’s history and culture. These can all be studied through the lens of function and how something operates in the way that it does, looking for similarities and differences.
How are students assessed in the IB PYP framework?
Assessment takes place in a variety of ways to ensure that all learning styles are recognised and rewarded. The Primary school focuses on formative assessment opportunities during all learning engagements. There are four assessment points during the academic year for summative assessments to take place. These can include quizzes, oral presentations, written reports, teacher observations or small group tasks. These assessment weeks are on the primary calendar and they serve as a chance for students and teachers to reflect upon learning and progress, to update formative assessment tracking and to set targets for ongoing assessment and continuous feedback.
What other aspects go into the success of the IB PYP, which are being considered at OWIS Suntec?
At OWIS Suntec, we have developed innovative and creative spaces that include discovery zones for inquiry and play. The large classrooms are ideal for carving out spaces for collaborative learning and on-task, hands-on learning, all of which are integral to the success of our IB PYP curriculum. Our teachers are IB-trained and this gives them the behavioural tools and mindset to guide learners to attain meaningful outcomes.
To learn more about OWIS Suntec, the vibrant Kindergarten to Grade 5 international school campus in Central Singapore, you can join the Virtual Open House, which is held on Saturday mornings, or get in touch with the friendly admissions team.
OWIS Suntec Campus, Email: [email protected], Tel: (+65) 69147240, 1 Raffles Blvd, Suntec City, Level 3, Singapore 039593