By Marilyn Smith
I recently returned from a three-day International Baccalaureate Asia Pacific conference, full of renewed confidence and enthusiasm for Preshil’s implementation of the Diploma and Career-related Programmes.
These IB conferences are inspiring for many reasons, not the least of which is the vibrant atmosphere created by approximately 500 passionate and committed educators from across the whole Asia Pacific region gathered to learn from experts and each other, share new research and form strong international connections. The quality of the workshops is outstanding; they focus on participants interacting and contributing in challenging and demanding sessions.
While the participants come from schools and institutions all across Asia and the Pacific region they have, in turn, come from countries throughout the world so the ‘international’ aspect of the IB comes into sharp focus when you are working alongside a leading educator from Scandinavia or Scotland who is now working in a school in Japan or India. And while this international network is committed to the continuous improvement of the quality of their teaching, it is also visibly committed to promoting peace through global citizenship and inter-cultural understanding. I felt very proud to represent Preshil in this forum.
One of the aspects of this conference which has struck me very forcibly is that the whole suite of IB programmes is extremely rigorous for teachers, more so, I would contend, than for students. The expectations of highly developed pedagogical knowledge and practice are far beyond any other professional development I have experienced in my own long career.
The effect of this also means that there are outstanding and very attractive career pathways for teachers within and across the IB international profession. As we progress with our implementation of the IB we will benefit immeasurably from partnering with schools throughout the world and being a part of a network where outstanding teachers want to work.
This is also a compelling reason to encourage our own students to think seriously about teaching as a career path, with countless opportunities for advancement and career growth, not just in teaching but in educational research and teacher training in every part of the world.
Understanding how the IB Career-related Programme could benefit our students was the reason for going to this conference and I am more than ever convinced that this strand, equal but different from the Diploma, will enable us to cater very specifically for those students who already have a very clear career pathway in mind and who need to put all their energies into preparation for gaining entry to highly competitive specialist courses, both in Australia and overseas.
From this trip we have the opportunity to develop partnerships with a small school in India, the Mahatma Ghandi International School, and with the much larger School of the Arts in Singapore. Both offer the IBCP and both have much to offer Preshil, as we design and embed our own version of this exciting new IB course into our senior studies. As soon as authorisation is completed we will join the 60 schools world-wide who now partner with tertiary institutions to establish alternative paths that bypass the ATAR system into tertiary places preferencing IB students. This is the way of the future and is a part of the culture of ‘disruption’ to traditional systems that an increasing level of global connectedness is making possible.
I invite you to familiarise yourselves with the IBO website which offers a thorough introduction to the four IB programmes and to attend one of the information sessions that we will run to explain the details of the Career-related Programme and what it might offer to your daughter or son.