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How an International Baccalaureate can transform a school


How an International Baccalaureate can transform a school

A growing body of research shows that creating inclusive and differentiated learning environments can offer significant benefits for schools, including improving young peoples’ social and emotional skills, academic outcomes, and preparing them for the workforce.

In a recent webinar hosted by The Educator in partnership with the International Baccalaureate (IB), several experts delved into this increasingly important topic. The webinar, titled ‘Leading the Way: Building an Inclusive and Differentiated Learning Environment,’ featured insights from Rebecca Clements, Nicole Jaggers, and Chris Jones, who have a wealth of educational experience between them.

Nicole Jaggers, Associate Principal at Gold Creek School in Canberra, provided an overview of the IB framework, saying the IB model “places the student at the centre”.

“It focuses on holistic development and international mindedness,” she explained. Jaggers went on to detail how the curriculum is structured around six transdisciplinary themes that support inclusion and student wellbeing, making the framework versatile and comprehensive.

The IB, founded in 1968 in Geneva, is described as a program to achieve the “intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills needed to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalising world” and is designed for students who have “excellent breadth and depth of knowledge”.

The first IB School launched in Australia in 1978 and has seen a steady uptake as the benefits to teaching and learning become clear.

Chris Jones, Principal at Miles Franklin Primary School in Canberra, emphasised the value of the IB community.

“The support we get from our local PYP network and the wider IB organization is incredibly valuable,” he said.

Jones highlighted the extensive resources and professional development opportunities available to IB educators, fostering a collaborative environment that helps them navigate challenges and implement effective teaching strategies.

As the discussion progressed, the presenters explored how the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) promotes student-centred learning.

Rebecca Clements, Principal at Immanuel Primary School in Adelaide, referred to inquiry as “a mindset and approach, and a way of being”. She described how the IB program encourages students to explore significant, relevant, engaging, and challenging topics, teaching them not just what to learn, but how to learn and apply their knowledge in real-world contexts.

Jaggers addressed misconceptions about inquiry-based learning, noting its inclusion of explicit skills teaching.

“You can’t be an inquirer without having explicit skills teaching and the knowledge needed to transfer that knowledge into the real world,” she explained, reassuring that inquiry learning in IB schools involves guiding students to apply their learning meaningfully.

Jones shared how the IB framework supports cultural diversity and a sense of belonging. “We’re involved in a project called Country As Teacher, where students learn from indigenous perspectives,” he said.

“This initiative helps students appreciate cultural diversity and fosters a deeper connection to their community and environment.”

Clements further explained the inclusive nature of the IB framework.

“We value our students’ voices and involve them in decisions about their learning and wellbeing,” she said. She shared examples of how her school uses human-centered design to create a learning environment that meets the needs of all students, based on feedback from both students and teachers.

The webinar concluded with a Q&A session, where the presenters addressed questions about classroom differentiation, staffing pressures, and how pre-service teachers can find placements in IB schools.

“Collaboration and planning are key to catering to all students,” Jaggers said.

“It’s about doing less but doing better quality, not trying to keep doing what you used to be doing. Building a strong culture and selecting the right team members help manage staffing pressures and support collaborative planning.”

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