Even before the pandemic, the world was changing in so many ways that will have a huge and exciting impact on the next generation. A shift in the way we live and work will see businesses become global, enabling people to transcend cultural and geographic borders; global movements have set in motion a long overdue shift in our view of the world and the last two years have highlighted the importance of working together to solve the challenges that we face in the next decade and beyond.

With this in mind, educators are now considering how best to equip children to have the mindset and skills to become global citizens. For some independent schools, this has prompted a re-design of their curriculum. One such school is St George’s School Windsor Castle, which is set to become the first standalone UK Prep School to be an IB World School, thus creating a cohesive learner journey for students aged 3-13.

Under its new vision, ‘Real World Ready’ the leading Berkshire school is offering  students the world-class Primary Years Programme (PYP) as part of an innovative approach incorporating the Pre-Senior Baccalaureate for girls and boys in Years 7 and 8

What is the International Baccalaureate?

The IB (International Baccalaureate) is a highly regarded curriculum used by leading schools around the world. Every school authorised to offer IB programmes is known as an IB World School. IB World Schools share a common philosophy – a commitment to a high-quality, challenging and international education, whilst putting global citizenship and international-mindedness at the heart of its approach

Designed and continuously adapted by educators across 157 countries, the IB champions an approach to learning that is aligned with the needs of the global economy. It inspires young people to become creative problem-solvers and independent thinkers – skills that are highly sought after in international careers.

The IB is distinctive in that it focuses on transdisciplinary learning (linking subjects together). An understanding and respect for the views of other people is also a key component, especially important in an increasingly polarised world.  

Composed of four programmes as a continuum for ages 3-18, the IB curriculum is equally enthusiastic about personal development and academic achievement. An IB education promotes diversity, fosters curiosity and creates a lifelong passion for learning.

What is the PYP curriculum framework?

The primary philosophy of the PYP curriculum framework is that students become agents of their own learning. Children are encouraged to build a strong learning community and become aware of contemporary issues around the world to connect and make sense of their acquired knowledge.

Recent studies have shown that the average five year old asks over 100 questions every day, whilst developing and inquiring and curious mind. This is the focus of the Early Years Foundation Stage, but as the child moves on through the education system, this passion for learning is suffocated by a high-stakes, assessment-driven culture.

By prioritising ongoing curiosity and inquiry, PYP students develop skills and knowledge that set them up for life beyond school. These attributes help them to make a difference in their own lives, their communities and beyond.

At St George’s, the PYP has been adopted from Kindergarten to Year 6. Students then move to a dedicated Years 7 and 8 centre for their senior prep years, where the Pre-Senior Baccalaureate is used as an assessment framework for a range of leading senior boarding and day schools

How do senior schools view this progressive framework?

This ‘Real World’ Learning framework engages children to think critically, make connections and take responsibility for their own learning, all attributes that destination schools look for. Commenting on these changes, the Master  of Wellington College, James Dahl, said: “St George’s innovative new curriculum, with its emphasis on knowledge, rigour and problem-solving, is ideally suited to equip pupils with the independence of mind to move confidently forwards and thrive at their senior schools.”

The sector-leading learner journey from ages 3-13 at St George’s School Windsor Castle combines knowledge, mindset and skills to enable their girls and boys to succeed at senior school and beyond. The programme nurtures global thinking, helping students to develop passion and purpose.

St George’s has strong relationships with over 60 destination schools, both locally and nationally. They are passionate that their decision to follow the PYP curriculum will put their students in the strongest position when they consider their future beyond prep school.   

How are IB students better equipped for the real world?

Recruiters are increasingly selecting candidates based on ability rather than a privilege. They are looking for applicants who tackle global problems, present themselves as diverse thinkers, and have a kind and caring attitude: all skills which IB students possess.  

An IB education values independent learning; a risk-taking attitude; and strong communication skills. We are in an age where information can be accessed instantly, and therefore we require critical-thinking skills over knowledge. St George’s School believes that this approach will help nurture the next generation to care about ethical and social responsibility, develop the right attitudes to learning, and foster confidence and self-esteem, both for their own lives and the world they are inheriting.