International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme
The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB) was created in 1968. Its aim is to provide 16-19 year old students with an enriching breadth of education that allows them to gain a rigorous qualification that possesses the ultimate level of portability in a world where national boundaries are increasingly becoming less significant. IB opens up endless possibilities for students to study at universities around the world. Equally, the qualification is highly-valued by UK universities - IB students do not need to take A Levels for university entry.
The objective of the IB Organisation is therefore to equip students with the ability to not only be international in their outlook, but also develop independent learning and life skills that will enable them to acquire an all round educational benefit.
IB at Plymouth College runs alongside A Levels. Diploma programme students have their own lessons, but all other elements of Sixth Form life such as the tutor group system, assemblies, games and extra-curricular activities are fully integrated. The primary differences between an A level and an International Baccalaureate course of study come in the number of subjects studied and how the two years of the Sixth Form are structured. Unlike A levels there are no modular examinations spread throughout the two years of study. Instead IB is assessed through a combination of coursework and a set of final examinations which take place in May of the Upper Sixth year. Thus, the summer term in the Lower Sixth will be a full teaching term for IB students with no study leave.
Since IB is committed to providing students with true breadth of study, a student has to choose six subjects from the "outer hexagon" as well completing a satisfactory course of study in the elements which make up the "inner hexagon" or core part of the qualification. The core of IB has three elements Theory of Knowledge, Extended Essay and Creativity, Action, Service. These areas very much drive the IB ethos for encouraging an understanding of other cultural perspectives, developing independent learning and life skills and fostering students' awareness and appreciation of life outside the academic arena. More details about the subjects available can be found in the curriculum section.
Each student's performance is measured against well defined historical measures of performance which are consistent from one examination year to the next. Therefore grades are awarded on ability and achievement rather than on the basis of the need to award a certain percentage of students a particular grade. As a result, IB Diploma grades are immune from the annual "grade inflation" debate that takes place every August in certain sections of the media.