As a continuation of our at-a-glance references for explaining the vocabulary associated with gifted and talented education, we look at the Baccalaureate qualification

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme is an internationally recognised qualification for students aged 16 to 19, currently available in more than 70 schools and colleges in the UK, both state and independent. The programme leads to a single qualification, rather than separate qualifications for individual subjects. However, students who don’t achieve the full diploma can be awarded a certificate for each subject taken.

The IB usually takes two years to complete and is based around detailed academic study of a wide range of subjects, including languages, the arts, science, maths, history and geography and is designed to encourage students to:

  • learn how to learn
  • ask challenging questions
  • develop a strong sense of their own identity and culture
  • develop the ability to communicate with and understand people from other countries and cultures.

The programme is made up of a compulsory ‘core’, plus six separate subjects where students have some choice over what they study (see box). Most of the assessment is done through exams, marked externally. However, in nearly all subjects, assessment also involves teachers’ marking of coursework. Most students who take the programme go on to higher education; the qualification is recognised by universities in more than 100 countries.

Compulsory core

1.    Theory of knowledge:  learning about the bases of knowledge, and how to analyse evidence and express rational argument; students are also encouraged to draw on experiences gained outside the classroom. 2.    Creativity, action and service: this encourages involvement in theatre or music activities, sports and/or community service. 3.    Extended essay: students investigate a topic of interest and write a 4,000 word essay about it.

Optional subjects
As well as the three core elements, students select one subject from each of the following six areas:

1.    First language (normally mother tongue). 2.    Second language (this could be a language already studied, or a new one). 3.    Experimental sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, design technology). 4.    Mathematics and computer science. 5.    The arts (visual, music and theatre).

6.    Individuals and society (history, psychology, geography).

Read A-Z of G&T education (3): Breadth