Preshil has now completed its successful transition to the International Baccalaureate across the secondary school, with our first Diploma cohort well on the way to graduation. All our students now complete the Middle Years Programme in preparation for undertaking the IB DP, ensuring they are thoroughly prepared and ready for this challenge. They will leave school genuinely prepared to compete in the future world of tertiary study and employment. 

The IB has meant that we are no longer locked into a competitive system which demands standardised learning, focuses on lower order thinking skills and pits students against their classmates to achieve a higher ranking.

It is very comforting to recognise how closely aligned the IB is in meeting the urgent calls for change to the education system expressed by educational leaders such as Sir Ken Robinson and, closer to home, the key message of the Foundation for Young Australians’ latest report. I have included a long extract and a link – essential reading for educators and parents: www.fya.org.au/report/the-new-work-smarts/

To prepare for these changes the Australian education system will need to equip young people with the skills and capabilities required in the era of the ‘new work smarts’. It needs to ensure that young people not only acquire foundational and technical skills, but that they are able to deploy those skills in an increasingly enterprising way – as active problem solvers and communicators of ideas, equipped with a more entrepreneurial mindset and appetite for ongoing learning. Young people today will need to develop their cognitive and emotional skills to a much higher level.

We must grapple with the potential shortcomings of our education system – a system which continues to formally assess based on an old understanding of ‘smart’. The looming changes to work will affect all jobs, regardless of the qualifications they require, and we must ask whether our current education systems equip young people with the skills most needed to thrive in the new work order. For example, we now know that problem solving will be used for 12 hours a week at work in 2030, but do our schools, vocational and training institutions and universities spend enough time teaching and assessing this skill?

Around the world, the most progressive education systems are focusing on developing the ‘new work smart’ workforce of the future. They offer immersive, project-based and real-world learning experiences that go beyond the classroom environment, such as working with local businesses or facilitating art and film projects in local communities. These learning experiences are best suited to developing the future-proof enterprising and career management skills that will be most in demand and most highly portable in the future of work, and instil in young people the enthusiasm for ongoing learning that will be critical for their future success.

The IB ‘Learner Profile’ underpins the curriculum, requiring schools to specifically address these essential capabilities for future success.

  • Inquirers – students develop their natural curiosity. They acquire the skills necessary to conduct inquiry and research and show independence in learning.
  • Knowledgeable – students 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 – students exercise initiative in applying thinking skills critically and creatively to recognise and approach complex problems, and make reasoned, ethical decisions. IB students contribute to discussions in a meaningful way. They do not shy away from challenging questions and, once they know the answer, follow up by asking “why?”
  • Communicators – students understand and express ideas and information confidently. They work effectively and willingly in collaboration with others.
  • Principled – students act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness, justice and respect for the dignity of the individual, groups and communities.
  • Open-minded – students understand and appreciate their own cultures and personal histories, and are open to the perspectives, values and traditions of other individuals and communities.
  • Caring – students 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 – students approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with courage and forethought, and have the independence of spirit to explore new roles, ideas and strategies.
  • Balanced – students understand the importance of intellectual, physical and emotional balance to achieve personal wellbeing for themselves and others.
  • Reflective – students 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.

These are the qualities that will enable IB students to stand out in a world that no longer needs humans to amass the specialist knowledge that may have led to success last century.