In Years 11 and 12, Geelong Grammar School offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme as an alternative to the Victorian Certificate of Education.
Established in 1968, the International Baccalaureate (IB), a non-profit educational foundation based in The Hague and Cardiff, offers the Diploma Programme for students in the final two years of secondary school. There are more than 1,100,000 IB students at 3747 schools in 146 countries in 2014.
The IB Diploma Programme is a rigorous pre-university course of studies, leading to examinations that meets the needs of highly motivated secondary school students between the ages of 16 and 19 years. Designed as a comprehensive two-year curriculum that allows its graduates to fulfil requirements of various education systems, the diploma model is based on the pattern of no single country but incorporates the best elements of many.
The aims of the IB are best expressed by the Mission Statement.
The International Baccalaureate 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 IB’s academic programme aims to awaken the intelligence of young people and teach them to relate the content of the classroom to the realities of the world outside. Comprehensive and balanced curricula coupled with challenging assessments have established the IB as a unique institution in the arena of international education. Beyond intellectual rigour and high academic standards, strong emphasis is placed on the ideals of international understanding and responsible citizenship.
The desired profile of the IB student is that of a critical and compassionate thinker, an informed participant in local and world affairs who values the shared humanity that binds all people together while respecting the variety of cultures and attitudes that makes for the richness of life.
The programme offers special features in addition to the traditional strengths of a liberal arts curriculum: Extended Essay; Theory of Knowledge; Creativity, Action and Service; details of which are found later in this handbook.
Characteristics of an IB Student
The main characteristic of an IB student are embodied in the IB Learner Profile
The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally minded people who, recognising their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world.
IB learners strive to be:
Inquirers: They develop their natural curiosity. They acquire the skills necessary to conduct inquiry and research and show independence in learning. They actively enjoy learning and this love of learning will be sustained throughout their lives.
Knowledgeable: They explore concepts, ideas and issues that have local and global significance. In so doing, they acquire in-depth knowledge and develop understanding across a broad and balanced range of disciplines.
Thinkers: They exercise initiative in applying thinking skills critically and creatively to recognise and approach complex problems, and make reasoned, ethical decisions.
Communicators: They understand and express ideas and information confidently and creatively in more than one language and in a variety of modes of communication. They work effectively and willingly in collaboration with others.
Principled: They act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness, justice and respect for the dignity of the individual, groups and communities. They take responsibility for their own actions and the consequences that accompany them.
Open-minded: They understand and appreciate their own cultures and personal histories, and are open to the perspectives, values and traditions of other individuals and communities. They are accustomed to seeking and evaluating a range of points of view, and are willing to grow from the experience.
Caring: They show empathy, compassion and respect towards the needs and feelings of others. They have a personal commitment to service, and act to make a positive difference to the lives of others and to the environment.
Risk-takers: They approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with courage and forethought, and have the independence of spirit to explore new roles, ideas and strategies. They are brave and articulate in defending their beliefs.
Balanced: They understand the importance of intellectual, physical and emotional balance to achieve personal well-being for themselves and others.
Reflective: They give thoughtful consideration to their own learning and experience. They are able to assess and understand their strengths and limitations in order to support their learning and personal development.
International curriculum planners seek to ensure that the IB’s educational aims are embodied in the structure and content of the programme itself. Subjects are studied concurrently and students are exposed to the two great traditions of learning - the humanities and the sciences. DIPLOMA CANDIDATES ARE REQUIRED TO SELECT ONE SUBJECT FROM EACH OF THE SIX LISTED SUBJECT GROUPS (SEE DIAGRAM). AT LEAST THREE AND NOT MORE THAN FOUR ARE TAKEN AT HIGHER LEVEL (HL), THE OTHERS AT STANDARD LEVEL (SL). HL COURSES REPRESENT 240 TEACHING HOURS, SL COURSES COVER 150 HOURS. BY ARRANGING WORK IN THIS FASHION, STUDENTS ARE ABLE TO EXPLORE SOME SUBJECTS IN DEPTH AND SOME MORE BROADLY OVER THE TWO-YEAR PERIOD. This is a deliberate compromise between the early specialisation preferred in some national systems and the breadth found in others. Distribution requirements ensure that the science-oriented student is challenged to learn a foreign language and that the natural linguist becomes familiar with laboratory procedures. While overall balance is maintained, flexibility in choosing higher level subjects allows the student to pursue areas of personal interest and to meet special requirements for university entrance.
The grading system used by the IB is criterion-referenced. This means that each student’s performance is measured against well-defined levels of achievement consistent from one examination session to the next. Top grades are not simply awarded “on a curve” to a certain percentage of candidates but rather reflect attainment of knowledge and skills relative to set standards equally applied to all schools. Validity, reliability and fairness are the watchwords of the IB’s international examining board.
Responsibility for all academic judgements about the quality of candidates’ work rests with more than 5000 examiners worldwide, led by chief examiners with international authority. A variety of assessment methods is used to value both the content and the process of academic achievement and to take into account different learning styles and cultural patterns
Conventional external examination techniques (essay, short answer, multiple choice, etc.) are complemented by internal assessments of coursework by the teachers responsible for evaluating students over the two-year period. With classroom teachers and international examiners working in partnership, the emphasis is on ensuring that students have ample opportunity to demonstrate what they know and are able to do.
AWARD OF THE DIPLOMA
Each examined subject is graded on a scale of 1 (minimum) to 7 (maximum). The award of the Diploma requires students to meet defined standards and conditions including a minimum total of 24 points and the satisfactory completion of the Extended Essay, Theory of Knowledge course (TOK) and CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) activities. The maximum score of 45 points includes three bonus points for an exceptional Extended Essay and work in TOK.
All students engage in the full programme. Those who fail to satisfy all requirements or who elect to take fewer than six subjects are awarded a certificate for examinations completed. At Geelong Grammar School, examinations are taken in November.
IB Diploma holders gain admission to selective universities throughout the world. In recent years GGS IB Diploma candidates have been offered places at prominent institutions such as Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, London School of Economics and Political Science, School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, Stanford University, Yale and UCLA. Formal agreements exist between the IB and many ministries of education and private institutions. Some colleges and universities in Australia and abroad may offer advanced standing or course credit to students with strong IB examination results. The Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC), which administers the tertiary selection procedures in Victoria, applies a direct conversion from the IB score to the VCE aggregate score in order for IB students to be given a notional Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). The top IB score of 45 converts to a notional ATAR of 99.95, and the minimum IB score for the award of the Diploma, 24, converts to a notional ATAR of 66.10. This means that entrance to all Australian universities is a straightforward matter for IB students who achieve their Diploma.
VCE Credit for Year 11 IB Study
Students who undertake the first year of the IB programme in Year 11 and who then decide to change to study the VCE in Year 12 are given appropriate credit towards their VCE by the VCAA for their Year 11 work. This means that they are awarded an S - Satisfactory completion - for specified subjects. There is no direct contribution to the ATAR for work completed in Year 11 subjects (in either IB or VCE). At GGS, transfer to the VCE occurs at the end of Year 11.
Additional costs involved in undertaking the IB
Geelong Grammar School incurs a number of significant additional costs in offering the IB. These include an annual fee to the IB, student registration fees, examination fees and administrative fees such as registered international postage and the management of the CAS programme. Thus we ask that parents contribute a fee towards the differential in IB costs for Year 12 only. The School will bill this in the form of three instalments as part of Terms 2, 3 and 4 fees in Year 12.