You would be forgiven for not noticing, but students across the UK, and the world, are receiving their IB exam results today. All of the usual results day emotions are in play – ranging from nerves, anticipation, to excitement, disappointment and elation. And yet, unless you, a friend or family member, or your students are receiving results, the day goes past unnoticed. There is not a joyously jumping student photograph in sight. No fanfare. No front-page news.
We have been offering the IB Diploma since 2001 – and each and every year it goes relatively unnoticed in the wider world – it is the forgotten results day. We don’t get calls from the local paper, nor are we asked to comment about the debatable trends in the data for the national press. There’s no running commentary regarding grade inflation, nor are there opinion pieces about university accessibility or students’ preparedness for the rigour of university life.
The lack of fanfare, or discourse in the papers is, of course, for a number of reasons.
Firstly, there are a far smaller number of students who take the IB Diploma compared to A-levels. There were just under five thousand students (4728) who studied the Diploma in the UK last year (there are substantially more internationally, of course). But when has the total number of anything ever really counted? There are but 11 players on a football team, yet they are getting an inordinate amount of coverage at the moment! Ultimately, there are nearly 5000 students – from both state and independent schools - who have worked exceptionally hard for two long years to reach this, all-important, life-defining, results day.
Secondly, unlike A-levels and GCSEs, the IB is free from political tinkering. The IB Organisation’s goal is to prepare students to succeed in a world where facts and fiction merge in the news, and where asking the right questions is a crucial skill that will allow them to flourish long after they have left school. For the last 50 years and no doubt for the next 50, the IB has been dedicated to developing international education that creates a better world. They have a long-term vision, not a short-term focus on raising a particularly measurable set of standards before the next election. As such, there’s very little the media would want to report on – it’s all too positive. Yet more IB Diploma students have had a broad and rounded education – it’s not a story that’s going to sell any papers.
Thirdly, in terms of university access – IB students are, increasingly, in demand from universities across the UK (as well as the world). Indeed, only a couple of weeks ago, I was speaking about the IB Diploma at the Festival of Education alongside David Howells, the Director of Undergraduate Admissions. He was vociferous in his praise for IB Diploma students. He described how “nice and easy” it was when an IB Diploma student joins university because it is “hard-baked” into them to think across discipline boundaries and to arrive equipped with the skills they need to thrive in academia at this level.
Whilst the IB Diploma results day may never make front-page news - for all those students across the world who have studied it, and are receiving their results today – we are jumping for joy for you. For the results you have achieved, the skills you have acquired, and the exciting future that lies ahead.