IB schools in Bangkok quickly gained popularity in the early 2000’s, and you’ll note that it’s not always easy to get a spot in the 3 full IB schools of Greater Bangkok: Concordian, KIS and NIST International Schools. If you are a traveling family that moves every few years for work reasons, IB may seem like a good choice as you will have continuity in your child’s education. If you enjoy having your child study in International Baccalaureate’s units of inquiry, a Bangkok IB school might be the right choice for you as well. With close to 5,000 schools worldwide, the IB Diploma is accepted at universities across the world. There is an interdisciplinary focus to the program, letting students see how their subject classes overlap with one another.
What are Full IB Schools?
This term refers to the schools have all three programs:
They all follow the IB Learner Profile, which aims to have the students follow a set of learning outcomes:
Inquirers: They develop their natural curiosity. They acquire the skills necessary to conduct inquiry and research and show independence in learning. They actively enjoy learning and this love of learning will be sustained throughout their lives.
Knowledgeable: They explore concepts, ideas and issues that have local and global significance. In so doing, they acquire in-depth knowledge and develop understanding across a broad and balanced range of disciplines.
Thinkers: They exercise initiative in applying thinking skills critically and creatively to recognize and approach complex problems, and make reasoned, ethical decisions.
Communicators: They understand and express ideas and information confidently and creatively in more than one language and in a variety of modes of communication. They work effectively and willingly in collaboration with others.
Principled: They act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness, justice and respect for the dignity of the individual, groups and communities. They take responsibility for their own actions and the consequences that accompany them.
Open-minded:They understand and appreciate their own cultures and personal histories, and are open to the perspectives, values and traditions of other individuals and communities. They are accustomed to seeking and evaluating a range of points of view, and are willing to grow from the experience.
Caring:They show empathy, compassion and respect towards the needs and feelings of others. They have a personal commitment to service, and act to make a positive difference to the lives of others and to the environment.
Risk-takers: They approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with courage and forethought, and have the independence of spirit to explore new roles, ideas and strategies. They are brave and articulate in defending their beliefs.
Balanced: They understand the importance of intellectual, physical and emotional balance to achieve personal well-being for themselves and others.
Reflective: They give thoughtful consideration to their own learning and experience. They are able to assess and understand their strengths and limitations in order to support their learning and personal development.
The IB Primary Years Program (PYP)
The Primary Years Program, or PYP, is for children ages 3-12. Though it prepares children for the Middle Years Program, it is not a prerequisite.
The PYP subjects are science and technology, social studies, mathematics, language, arts, and personal, social and physical education. There are a series of transdisciplinary themes through which the curriculum is arranged. This allows the teachers to use this structure and framework and apply it to the material that they want to cover in class.
Who we are: An inquiry into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities, and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human.
Where we are in place and time: An inquiry into orientation in place and time; personal histories; homes and journeys; the discoveries, explorations and migrations of humankind; the relationships between and the interconnections of individuals and civilizations, from local and global perspectives.
How we express ourselves: An inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.
How the world works: An inquiry into the natural world and its laws; the interaction between the natural world (physical and biological) and human societies; how humans use their understanding of scientific principles; the impact of scientific and technological advances on society and on the environment.
How we organize ourselves: An inquiry into the interconnections of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment.
Sharing the planet: An inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things; communities and the relationships within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.
The end of the PYP has what is called the PYP Exhibition. This is a culmination of many different aspects of the PYP Program and what was learned during that time period.
The IB Middle Years Program (MYP)
The Middle Years Program, or MYP, is for students ages 11-16. Just as the PYP is to the MYP, the MYP is not a prerequisite for the DP. It should be noted, however, that the MYP program is a great way to prepare your children for the Diploma Program. In Greater Bangkok, there are currently only 3 MYP programs running.
There are 8 subject groups in the MYP:
- Language and Literature
- Language Acquisition
- Individuals and Societies
- Physical and Health Education
There are 6 Global Concepts that the program follows:
- Identities and relationships
- Personal and cultural identity
- Orientations in space and time
- Scientific and technical innovation
- Fairness and development
- Globalization and sustainability
The end of the MYP has the Personal Project. This is also a culmination of the student’s learning journey throughout the time that they spent in the MYP. The students are required to choose either a non-academic or academic topic or subject for their Personal Project. This is something that they work on and complete over the course of the academic year. They will work one on one with an advisor on the project throughout the year. This is typically one of the most memorable projects through an IB learner’s education.
The IB Diploma Program
Without a doubt the most well known of all the IB Programs, the IB Diploma has a reputation for being engaging, challenging, and highly respected. It is accepted at universities all over the world, and in some instances it is the preferred diploma. The ages of students doing the IB Diploma typically range from 14-19. As with all of the IB Programs, the IB Diploma is well known for it’s interdisciplinary approach to learning. Students see subjects as overlapping and working together with each other, rather than just as stand alone subjects. In Thailand, many schools offer only the IB Diploma Program for the final two years or they offer the IB Diploma as an option to another curriculum’s diploma equivalent.
The Diploma students must take one course from groups 1-5 below plus one course from group 6 (or a permitted substitute course):
- Group 1: Studies in language and literature. Taken at either SL or HL, this is generally the student’s native language, with over 80 languages available. As of courses starting in summer 2011, there are two options for Language A (previously A1): Literature, which is very similar to the old course, and Language and Literature, a slightly more challenging adaptation of the former Group 2 Language A2 subjects, which have been withdrawn. The interdisciplinary subject Literature and Performance can also be taken at SL.
- Group 2: Language acquisition. An additional language, taken at the following levels: Language B (SL or HL), or Language ab initio (SL only). Latin and Classical Greek are also offered and may be taken at SL or HL. Following the replacement of the Language A2 option with the Group 1 Language and Literature offering for courses starting in summer 2011, the Language B syllabus was changed: the coursework is now more rigorous, and at HL, there is the compulsory study of two works of literature (although this is for comprehension rather than analysis and is only assessed through coursework). In addition, B SL students can study one of the texts as a replacement for the optional topics.
- Group 3: Individuals and societies. Humanities and social sciences courses offered at both SL and HL: Business Management, Economics, Geography, History, Information Technology in a Global Society (ITGS), Philosophy, Psychology, and Social and Cultural Anthropology and Global Politics. The course World Religions and the interdisciplinary course Environmental Systems and Societies are also offered at SL only.
- Group 4: Experimental sciences. Five courses are offered at both SL and HL: Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Design Technology and Computer Science. The course Sport, Exercise and Health Science and the interdisciplinary courses Environmental Systems and Societies and Nature of Science are offered at SL only.
- Group 5: Mathematics. In order of increasing difficulty, the courses offered are Mathematical Studies SL, Mathematics SL and HL, and Further Mathematics HL. The computer science elective courses were moved to Group 4 as a full course from first examinations in 2014. In 2019, major changes to the IB Math curriculum will remove all previous Math SLs and HLs and replace them with Mathematics: Applications and Interpretation SL and HL and Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches SL and HL, with Mathematics: Applications intended to be similar to Mathematical Studies and Mathematics: Analysis to be similar to Mathematics, with Further Mathematics being dropped entirely.
- Group 6: The arts. Courses offered at both SL and HL: Dance, foreign languages, Music, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Film. In lieu of taking a Group 6 course, students may choose to take an additional course from Groups 1–4 or either Further Mathematics HL (if already studying Mathematics HL) a Computer science course from Group 4, or a school-based syllabus course approved by IB. The interdisciplinary subject Literature and Performance is also offered, although currently only at SL.