Nigel Haworth, director of the IB at Sevenoaks school, explains why the International Baccalaureate is the best education for the modern world

Last year over 160,000 students from 153 countries took the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP). The IB’s outlook is invaluable, instilling in our young people the capacity to understand and prosper in the global community, as well as providing an outstanding entry to university.

Designed to promote a global perspective, understanding and communication, the IB’s values and identity have remained consistent, and Sevenoaks believes it is the best education for the modern world. The programme encourages students to value conflict resolution, to respect cultural heritage and the environment and to develop an attitude of responsibility to the wider community. 

Students take six subjects, including their native language and one other, Mathematics, and at least one science and one humanity subject. They take a ‘Theory of Knowledge’ course developing critical thinking and reasoning skills, and they follow a ‘Creativity, Action and Service’ programme in sport, the arts and voluntary work.

A key feature of the IBDP is the Extended Essay, an independent, 4000-word project on a subject chosen by the student, with a tutorial-style model of supervision. It fosters independent learning and deep subject knowledge and is superb preparation for undergraduate essays.

Universities really like the IB; by maintaining its standards, free from state interference, the IB has succeeded in achieving a consistency of assessment unparalleled elsewhere. Its 45-point scale enables universities to make more nuanced offers to candidates than are possible under other schemes. IB students start their undergraduate careers with numeracy, literacy and language competency, a broad understanding of a range of disciplines, and strong employability skills such as teamwork and problem-solving. They are experienced at managing a varied workload and can question, reflect and think critically. As a result, a number of universities, including King’s College London, Leeds, Bath and Birmingham have substantially reduced their offers as a deliberate attempt to attract IB students. The offer and acceptance rates for IB Diploma students are notably higher than those for other post-16 qualifications, and in the US, it is a sought-after passport to top universities. 

As Lord Jim Knight, former education minister, recently said, “The IB is the best curriculum in the world right now. It combines academic rigour with real world skills in a global context.”

The IB has equally been endorsed by employers, with Becci McKinley-Rowe, Managing Director at Morgan Stanley, commenting “Managing a wide range of subjects to a high level encourages a mature approach, and the style of the IB programme teaches pupils to take ownership of their own learning. From an employer’s perspective, an applicant who has gone through the IB is already pretty familiar with having to juggle an awful lot, be efficient and prioritise, and that organisational element is very useful for employers.”

Sevenoaks has been a flagship school for the IB for many years. The IB provides what parents, universities and employers want – access to top universities, very impressive students and well-rounded, resourceful employees.

Further reading: The benefits of an IB school