9 Things That Make the IB Programme Different from Other Academic Programs

9 Things That Make the IB Programme Different from Other Academic Programs

The Swiss-based International Baccalaureate’s (IB) International Baccalaureate Programme (IB Programme) has been widely touted as one of the best pre-university educational systems available. In recent decades, the IB Programme’s uniquely cosmopolitan approach to education has received significant attention in Singapore, thanks to the country’s growing number of expatriate families. This is especially notable as expat families in Singapore have a wealth of high-quality educational options available to them. In addition to Singapore’s world-leading mainstream schools, expat families in Singapore have many other excellent international schools to choose from. However, interest in international schools that specifically offer the IB Programme is strong, thanks to key qualities that set it apart from other schools in the country.

Here are 9 things that make the IB Programme different from other academic programs available to expatriate children:

1) The IB Programme Emphasizes Soft Skills

Mainstream school systems are often criticized for emphasizing measurable skills over equally important, though immeasurable, soft skills, such as leadership, critical thinking, and communication. The result, critics say, is that students who are adept at memorization lack the skills needed to create innovations and lasting value.

In contrast, the IB Programme is well known for inculcating important soft skills in students. The top IB schools in Singapore offer students a unique, self-driven approach to academics as well as a variety of extracurricular activities. They give students plenty of opportunities to practice problem-solving, critical thinking, and social skills needed to thrive in an increasingly complex world.

2) It Has a Values System That Emphasizes Global Citizenship

Mainstream school systems typically inculcate values that help countries meet their national goals. While there is nothing wrong with this, international families may find that some mainstream school systems have values that run counter to their own. 

The IB, on the other hand, emphasizes global citizenship and ethics as part of its core values. This means “Third Culture” children in expatriate families may find IB schools more accommodating to their unique experiences than mainstream or other international schools.

3) It Offers a Robust Language Learning Component

While there is no shortage of mainstream schools that offer excellent foreign language instruction modules, IB schools are particularly well-known for their quality foreign language instruction. Additionally, the international focus of IB schools means that expatriate students can learn languages that are not commonplace in their host country, should they choose to.

4) The IB Programme Is Developed Separately from Government and National Systems

Related to the second point, the IB Programme is developed independently from those of host countries’ school systems. This means that IB schools are freer to offer broader international perspectives, particularly in subjects covering history, languages, and civics. This can also be advantageous for students from families that need to move countries frequently, as they won’t have to spend time on subjects that are geared specifically toward the host country’s more localized needs.  

5) It Encourages Students to Think Critically and Ask Questions

The International Baccalaureate encourages students to find the answers to their own questions by understanding how knowledge is gained and validated. This is in contrast with the more traditional approach to education, which has students memorizing facts that are given to them. The approach the IB takes to develop critical thinking is often considered critical in having molded many young individuals into leaders and innovators later in life.

6) The Program Uses Quality Research to Inform its Pedagogical Approach

Unlike many other school systems, the specific approaches and strategies used by the International Baccalaureate are not static. Rather, they are the result of continuous improvement based on the latest research as well as direct experiences from all over the global IB community. Thanks to this approach, IB schools are consistently able to remain ahead of the curve in delivering high-quality education.

7) The IB Approach Is Supported By Decades of Studies

While there are many alternative school systems, not all of them have been around long enough to show proven results. In contrast, the IB’s approach to international education is thoroughly validated by several scientific studies over the past several decades. Parents who want their children to excel through a scientifically-grounded pedagogical system should, therefore, strongly consider IB schools.

8) It Teaches Students Skills Needed in College and Professional Life

While IB students do perform better than students from non-IB schools at standardized university admissions tests, this is not because they are taught how to excel at test-taking. Rather, it’s because IB schools provide a solid knowledge framework that could be applied anywhere else in life.

Where many schools focus on teaching students how to score highly on standardized tests, standardized tests by themselves are not particularly important for schools accredited by the International Baccalaureate. Rather, the IB is focused on helping students excel in college as well as outside the school system. This approach is generally regarded as one of the reasons IB students enjoy excellent long-term outcomes.

9) The Program Is Generally Regarded as More Challenging than Comparable Systems

Children who find their current school boring may benefit from the challenging environment typical of IB schools. Students that have tried otherGCE A-Level systems usually report IB as being more challenging.

These specific qualities allow the IB Programme to give young individuals a quality educational experience that simply would not be possible in most other mainstream and international school systems. While the excellent mainstream Singaporean school system is a great fit for many local families, the IB Programme’s combination of cosmopolitan values and academic rigor usually makes it a better choice for expatriate families. Furthermore, the unique curriculum and its focus on soft skills make the IB worth considering for parents who want their children to become leaders and innovators in a highly globalized world.

07 Feb 2023
SG Expats