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The IB & Me: 20 Years of the International Baccalaureate

As Oakham School celebrates 20 years of offering the IB Diploma, the latest edition of The Oakhamian Magazine explored what the qualification means to current and former pupils at different stages of their life and education.

Oakham has always been at the forefront of pedagogical development, being one of the first independent schools to move to co-education 50 years ago and one of the first schools to introduce the IB Diploma Programme alongside A-levels. This anniversary marks a major landmark in how the School has continued to innovate its curriculum over the last two decades to offer the best education for our pupils – both inside and outside of the classroom.

Hearing from Oakhamians past and present about how studying the IB Diploma has influenced their lives demonstrates how the IB Diploma is more than just a qualification; it provides a holistic education and teaches skills that stay with people throughout their lives.  

Despite only recently starting his IB studies, current Form 6 pupil Aashish shared his views on what prompted him to follow the IB Diploma route.
 

He said: “I chose the IB Diploma over A-levels because it enabled me to pursue a wide range of subjects I'm interested in, in a manner that is designed to be holistic. For me, A-levels are more broadly an opportunity to specialise into three or four subjects in preparation for university, whereas the nature of the IB and the combination of subjects means that I can study Maths, English, Science, a language etc; each of which I wanted to do.”

“The IB offers a challenge that requires managing time better and being organised; trying to develop these skills in the context of a small number of wide-ranging subjects that I'm interested in is somewhat enjoyable.”

“I will almost certainly want to go to university, and the IB will be necessary to meet entry requirements, with the skills I’m developing during the qualification giving me a well-rounded education.”

It was in 2001 that Oakham was officially accredited to offer the IB Diploma, and over the years the School has become recognised as one of the leading IB Diploma Programme schools in the UK and the world. As Form 7 pupil Annie is well aware, the IB can open doors to many different career paths and opportunities and is a great pathway for pupils with ambitions to study subjects like Medicine. 

She said: “I chose to do the IB because I really liked the breadth of the qualification, and the focus that it had on global perspectives, as this is something that really interested me. I wanted to be able to take subjects that would allow me to continue to keep an open mind about not only what I wanted to do in the future, but also the world around me, and mean that I could keep doing all the subjects that I enjoyed.”

“I think that my teachers not only provide me with a huge amount of support, but they embrace the way that the IB Diploma has a broader focus on global appreciation and as a result they make the most of the content that they are teaching.”

 

As well as academic excellence, the diverse curriculum includes key aspects, such as problem-solving through off-timetable skills days – meaning that Oakham’s IB Diploma students have left School with key attributes for future success – including collaboration, taking the initiative, perseverance, and decision making.

 

Former pupil Benedict, who successfully completed his IB Diploma this summer, added: “Studying the IB Diploma at Oakham has been a formative experience, inspiring in me a love of learning. The IB’s rigorous curriculum and coursework have forced me out of my intellectual comfort zone and helped me to develop resilience and flexibility; qualities that I believe are more important than academic achievement in the long run. IB students don’t only learn for good grades; they learn for life.”

 

 


Millie, who left Oakham in 2018, reinforced this viewpoint saying: “I enjoyed the IB, because it was so much more than just reading and writing; it involved field trips, meeting and working with new people from all over the world, and being involved in so many different aspects of School.”

“The IB allowed me to develop in many different areas, both academic and practical, that have helped me in life and at university. Writing skills involved in coursework and the extended essay, presenting skills required in speaking assessments, and questioning skills developed throughout the Theory of Knowledge lessons have all been crucial throughout my time at university to aid my learning; skills I've noticed other colleagues have to learn at university. Furthermore, the IB can be quite full on at times meaning that time management, organisation and independence are vital skills to develop in order to stay on top of everything and allow yourself to get the most out of the programme. These are skills I've been grateful for at university and when at work."

Find out more about the IB Diploma at Oakham School. 

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