When International Baccalaureate students reach Grade 10 of the Middle Years Programme (MYP), they are required to undertake a Personal Project (PP), an independent extended project carried out over several months under the guidance of an individual supervisor. The Personal Project builds on the Primary Years Programme (PYP) Exhibition, developed in Grade 5, and the Community Project, in Grade 8; thus, part of a continuum of learning for the IB student. It also provides students with the skills necessary to undertake the IB Diploma Extended Essay and ultimately any research skills for university.

The PP is an important part of the IB curriculum, it consolidates learning throughout the programme. It also enables examiners to formally assess students’ approaches to learning skills for self-management, research, communications, critical and creative thinking. The PP therefore is descriptive of the students’ learning journeys, celebrating the successful completion of the final year of the MYP study in Grade 10.

At Southbank International School, a PP Coordinator is appointed from among the MYP faculty to provide support for teachers and students, and to liaise with the school community. The Coordinator ensures that each Grade 10 student is provided with a supervisor whose interests reflect the student’s area or topic of their PP. The role of supervisors is to give students formative feedback on their work, guide them in planning and research, encourage them to meet deadlines, encourage them to test and develop their ideas, and assess the final PP. Students can submit their individual PP report in written, oral, visual, or multimedia form. Midway through the process, students present their PP in an exhibition, presented to students, staff and parents; here, they receive feedback, enabling them to reflect on their product, as well as actively practice their communication and social skills.

The PP stands out compared to GCSE coursework, because both the approach and procedure demonstrate research, thinking, communication, social and self- management skills. The PP report reflects the student’s knowledge, understanding, and development as an IB learner. It defines clear and challenging personal goals, within a relevant global context. The experience lets students recognise and appreciate their strengths, limitations and achievements as individuals and they’re not judged against the performance of the class.

Unlike GCSEs, PPs cover a wide range of topics, from those raising awareness about global issues, to those focused on specific personal goals and issues within the school community. 

The practice of reflection in PP is significant. As the philosopher John Dewey commented, learning cannot take place without reflection. The practice of reflection in the PP enables MYP students to apply the fundamentals of experiential learning: learning through reflection on their actions. This makes their learning more meaningful, personal and enduring.

A Grade 10 Student commented, ‘The Personal Project has been a fantastic experience for me as I was able to choose a topic I was really passionate about and create a product, transferring some processes that I knew and loved (such as writing) into a new format so that I could develop my skill-set. What’s more, I have decided to pursue the topic as a career.” 

Southbank International School