Celebrating 10 years of the International Baccalaureate at St Leonards

Current students score the IB a perfect 10 as St Leonards marks ten years of offering the IB diploma curriculum
Current students score the IB a perfect 10 as St Leonards marks ten years of offering the IB diploma curriculum

Now that the exam season is over, pupils at St Leonards have marked a special anniversary.

For the school has now been offering its students the chance to complete the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma curriculum for 10 years.

To the majority of people here in Scotland this is a fairly unknown qualification, as the St Andrews school is the only one north of the border to concentrate solely on the IB diploma.

The IB as a qualification has been around since 1967 and across the globe there are more than two million graduates. It’s popular in England and Wales, and increasingly so in Scotland.

Headteacher Dr Mike Carslaw said a substantial number of parents relocating to Fife, for instance, for their work or lifestyle are opting to come to St Leonards specifically because it offers the IB.

So why does St Leonards follow this qualification for its students in their final years at the Abbey Walk school?

Dr Carslaw explained: “We followed the English curriculum of As Levels and A Levels to our sixth form students until 2006, and today we still have our younger pupils doing GCSEs.

“However my predecessor felt that A levels and Highers were going through yet another major change and that we needed to do a much more stable qualification that wasn’t subject to being changed regularly.

“The underlying principals of the IB are very well established and don’t get changed much, so it was felt to be the better option. You don’t need to worry so much about what’s going to happen to the curriculum next year.”

And the course provides them with not only academic skills and learning but with something extra in terms of life experience and skills.

“It’s a very rounded qualification and very much lined up with what people need to do well in life,” he continued.

“It’s about life skills as much as it is about academic learning. Pupils study six subjects but at the same time the boys and girls have to get involved in the school and the wider community and learn about what’s going on.

“There’s an element of the diploma that involves creativity, activity and service, which is almost as important as getting the academic grades.

“It’s a two year course and one of the big advantages is you’ve got those two years to really grow in yourself as a person, because you are only really assessed at the very end.

“It means the students can develop their qualities and find out what their strengths, and for that matter weaknesses, are in a really caring environment. It’s about finding out who you are and not closing off options too early. Sometimes you find with other qualifications that pupils are choosing subjects steering them towards a particular career path and university course, but this qualification enables people to continue to the right kind of level that’s suitable for them, suiting their strengths and weaknesses, so they have got a qualification in each subject and it keeps options open for them.

“Our pupils that have completed the IB will not look back later in life and think ‘I wasn’t able to do that because...’ in relation to their subject choices.

“It’s a great privilege for me to be part of the school and able to offer the opportunity of completing the IB to pupils.

“We’re preparing boys and girls for life and it’s something we are all proud of here at St Leonards.”