Before I had Suri and had to worry about schools I could never imagine that the Education system here in the UK could be so different from the one we have in Portugal.
From the age we start school to the teaching methods everything here it’s new and so complicated for me, not to speak about finding a suitable school and being accepted in it.
Suri is now in Year 1, she is 6 years old and only started school with almost 5 because she was a September baby.
Until a couple of weeks ago I thought that the normal British system was the only one available, until I heard about the International Baccalaureate® (IB).
But what is the IB?
The International Baccalaureate® (IB) aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.
To this end the IB works with schools, governments and international organisations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.
These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.
The International Baccalaureate (IB) is comprised of three academic programmes; the Primary Years Programme (for students aged 3 – 11), the Middle Years Programme (for students aged 11 – 16) and the Diploma Programme (for students ages 16 -18). The IB is an inquiry based programme that encourages students to think critically and be the masters of their own learning.
In an ever-changing world, where fact and fiction can be manipulated with ease, the IB prepares its students to ask the questions that matter, ‘how do I know that?’, ‘why do I think that?’ ‘where do I fit in to that?’ At each stage of a student’s learning journey, the IB equips them to develop not only their academic capabilities, but also their capacity to positively influence the world around them through being reflective, open-minded, and truly global individuals.
(Source and more information: https://www.southbank.org/our-school/international-baccalaureate/)
Sounds good, right? I was quite curious to know more but as I never heard of this locally I though that we didn’t have any IB school around. Gladly I was wrong, Southbank International school, despite the name, has campus in three locations two of them being very local to us, one in Kensington/Notting Hill and the other in Hampstead. I decided to book a visit to the Notting Hill one to have a look and understand a bit more how is the IB different from other curriculums.
I don’t want to bother you with details and I highly recommend you to read more on their website and book a visit but the first word that comes to my mind to describe the school it’s creativity, at all levels, arts, music, dance and even digital (The school has a Mac-based IT Lab and computers and Smartboards in all classrooms. ICT (Information Communication Technology) is seen as an integrated tool that helps students both develop and express their understanding.). The second word it’s international, you can clearly see from the books or artwork on the walls that it’s an international school and that incentivises different languages. In fact the Kensington campus has children from almost 40 different nationalities, in total they have 70 different nationalities across all the campuses.
One of the aspects that impressed me the most was the fact that the students are incentivised to think, yes, I wrote think. Think critically, understand what they are learning and why, do their research to know more and understand the why and how of things, and above all make an informed opinion about a fact, not because someone told them it’s like that and that’s it now memorise it. Social skills, leadership, being inquisitive, critic and curious, these are crucial skills that anyone needs to be successful these days, the world has changed and it keeps changing at an unimaginable speed, school needs to adapt and develop with those changes, it certainly cannot be seen like 30 years ago. I saw that adaptation and development here.
I took Suri with me to see her reaction visiting the school and she was amazed by the all the activities they had in school, all the art on the walls, the kids on the computers, the classrooms, overall she really enjoyed it and found it so different from her own school.
During the visit I also found out that Southbank International School is the first school in the UK authorised to offer all three International Baccalaureate programmes: Primary Years Programme (5 to 11 years), Middle Years Programme (11 to 16 years) and Diploma Programme (16 to 19 years). They also have an Early Childhood Curriculum (3 years and 2 months to 5 years).
I have to admit that this visit got me thinking about Suri’s education and her future, will keep you posted 😉