From the 21/22 academic year, Agora Sant Cugat International School will officially be an IB Continuum school. What is it all about?
After many years of hard work, Agora Sant Cugat International School has become part of the exclusive group of schools offering the IB Continuum. “It has taken us almost ten years to become fully authorised and we are delighted to have finally achieved this goal and we will, of course, continue to be committed to the challenge of continuing to innovate for our students”, says Jordi Ros, the School’s Sub-Director. “We are immensely proud that Agora Sant Cugat International School belongs to the small group of schools that offer the IB Programme Continuum”.
With this challenge achieved, we have now become the second school to offer the IB Continuum in Catalunya and the 23rd school nationally. But what exactly do we mean by the IB Continuum?
Broadly speaking, this is the title that is received by schools that can offer the continuation of at least three of the IB World Programmes. The IB world brings together a continuum of education programmes for children between 3 and 19 years of age. “It aims to help schools develop well-trained students with character; students who can respond to challenges with optimism and an open mind (…); students who are prepared to apply what they learn in the real world and in complex and unpredictable situations”, as stated on the IB webpage.
What is remarkable about these programmes is the teaching and learning methodology that is very different to the traditional education model. Learning is experiential and gives importance to the development of skills and not to the repetition of content and experimental work is very important in each of the different programmes.
Each programme is adapted to the educational needs of each level and, as such, does not receive the same name in all stages. Primary students focus on acquiring sufficient skills and knowledge in the PYP (Primary Years Programme) to move on to the MYP (Middle Years Programme) in Secondary where, in addition to continuing to strengthen students’ abilities, prepares students to face the IB Diploma Programme requirements.
All the programmes are related to each other because they follow the same objectives. They have the same philosophy and are consistent with the teaching values and are the reason why it is important to have the authorisation to teach the IB Continuum. It gives coherence to the objectives we pursue through all the different levels and increases the sense of internationalisation in Agora Sant Cugat International School.
The IB in Infant and Primary
During Infant and Primary, students work through the IB PYP (International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme). In the Infant School (P3 to P5), children complete the PYP in English, as well as choosing to learn German, French or Chinese when they reach Primary. They receive a personalised and individual attention and emphasis on study techniques and habits to ensure their academic success in the future.
One of the most remarkable characteristics of this programme is that students use their initiative to assume responsibility for their own learning. Our PYP Coordinator, Mireia Cuxart, explains, “The educational project in the PYP is based on inquiry, reflection and conceptual understanding. For our students, each unit of inquiry represents a constant challenge and, as they build on their prior knowledge and learning experiences, they develop in local and global contexts. Using the PYP skills and collaborative group work, they solve problems with the help of all the different subject areas since they always work in a trans-disciplinary way. It allows them to be agents of and take action with their own learning and during the four years of experience we have had, it has shown us that it is a very successful path.”
The PYP world differs from the traditional education programme. One of the hallmarks is the assessment and evaluation which is integrated and continuous and is guided through six transdisciplinary themes that accompany students in the different educational levels and look at the following areas:
- Who we are.
- Where we are in place and time.
- How we express ourselves.
- How the world works.
- How we organise ourselves.
- How we share the planet.
These six topic areas include different units of inquiry that contemplate all the objectives and contents of the academic curriculum and integrates all the traditional subjects together. In other words, students will not have a mathematics subject, a language subject and a science subject, but rather, through units of inquiry, they will work on these subjects together.
Middle Years Programme (Secondary)
The International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (IB MYP) is aimed at students between the ages of 11 and 16 and covers all Secondary. It consists of eight groups of subjects:
- Language Acquisition
- Language and Literature
- Individuals and Societies
- Physical and Health Education
In addition to these subjects, students must participate in at least one interdisciplinary unit per year in a group and which must cover at least two groups of subjects. Finally, they will have to complete a long-term project in which they will demonstrate the knowledge they have acquired.
The MYP was the last programme to be implemented in ASCIS and in May 2021 the official authorisation was finally obtained giving us the IB Continuum. The MYP Coordinator, Arnaldo Schapire, shared with us a little about the process, “The implementation of the MYP has been a great challenge for our School community. For over two years, and in the middle of a pandemic, our teachers have trained and worked very hard to face a rigorous external assessment that guarantees our readiness to offer the MYP. As the MYP Coordinator, I am proud to have been given the opportunity and lead this transformation that benefits both students and teachers. It was necessary to generate a coherent link with the PYP and prepare students to meet the academic challenges of the Diploma Programme (IBDP).
International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme
The Diploma Programme replaces the conventional Baccalaureate and is recognised by all the main universities in the world. It allows students to develop unique and vital skills for the projection of an international career. They achieve social awareness, fluency in a foreign language, independent thinking, team work and social commitment; everything that they have been working on since throughout the PYP and the MYP.
The curriculum is made up of:
- A common core that is made up of three core components: Theory of Knowledge (TOK), Extended Essay (EE) and Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS).
- Six subject groups: Studies in Language and Literature, Language Acquisition, Individuals and Societies, Sciences, Mathematics and the Arts. Within these six groups there are other related sub-subjects divided into High Level and Standard Level.
Students must choose a sub-subject from each of the first five groups and, in addition, an Arts sub-subject or a second sub-subject from another group.
The IB Continuum Benefits
There are many studies about the benefits of each of the programmes that make up the IB. On the official IB website a selection of the general advantages can be found and our Diploma Programme Coordinator, Montse Martí (who implemented the IBDP in ASCIS more than 10 years ago), summarised them, “IB students are capable of producing their own knowledge. The programmes intend to arouse curiosity and instruct them in the mechanisms of inquiry and investigation. Complementing all this is the CAS course that allows students to train in non-academic skills (e.g. sports, creativity etc.) and in community service. This helps them to recognise the needs of their environment and gives them the opportunity to become empathetic and committed citizens in their community.”
The IB creates a profile around ten basic characteristics for students to become – inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective. In short, young people capable of building a better world through mutual understanding and intercultural respect.