Principles of the IB Programme

An IB Diploma opens many doors. It has become the gold standard for university entrance. Universities aggressively recruit IB students for very good reasons: IB students already know how to work hard and manage their time; they already have university-level skills and knowledge; they bring a global perspective to their studies; and they contribute to their university and wider community. Because they value the Diploma Programme so much, universities not only often grant first year credit for Diploma courses, but also offer important benefits such as early registration, placement in dormitories, and academic advising – to say nothing of generous entrance scholarships.

The IB Diploma Programme is more than a collection of courses. The Diploma is synoptic by design. In other words, the six academic subjects are meant to work together. Although students rigorously learn the particular language, concepts, and methods of the various academic disciplines, the Diploma is inherently interdisciplinary. Teachers and students are invited to make connections between their academic subjects – a process formalized by Theory of Knowledge (ToK). The other core requirements – the Extended Essay (EE) and Creativity, Action, and Service (CAS) – allow students to extend their learning beyond the classroom into individual research and personal action.

The IB Diploma Programme is intended to be balanced. Classroom learning in the six academic subjects is balanced by the experiential learning of CAS, ToK, and the Extended Essay.

The IB Diploma Programme is a two-year endeavour. The programme is designed as a two-year educational experience and most DP courses will be completed over a two-year period. When students embark, they are committing themselves to two years of concentrated and connected study. Activities such as the DP Retreat, the mock exams, and the internal assessments are landmarks on this journey, one where Grade 11 and 12 blend into one another – not the normal high school experience at all.

The IB Diploma Programme allows ample choice. The Diploma Programme is not meant to be a monolith. Although we face some constraints at Stratford Hall because of our size, we are still able to offer an impressive array of courses, including: three different sciences at the higher and standard levels, math courses designed for arts or science students, three different levels of language instruction, and a variety of classroom and online electives. The vast majority of students find that they have ample opportunity to pursue their interests and to play to their strengths.

The DP exams are rigorous, fair, and internationally recognized. Perhaps the best part of the Diploma Programme is that we are all in it together. The assessment is comprehensive, transparent, and largely external. Students produce work to publicized standards, and are graded by expert IB Examiners. Teachers see the results of their instruction in measurable terms, and adjust their practice accordingly. The quality and nature of external assessment takes a great burden off staff and student alike. No one is trying to guess the criteria for success, and there is no question of favouritism. Teachers become more like guides and mentors than dispensers of knowledge, as they work with their students to achieve a common goal.