As schools and students celebrate A-level results, we musn’t forget the thousands of students around the world who received their IB Diploma results recently, with a global average score of 31.98.
In many schools, including at Southbank International School where I teach, this was the first time the Diploma had been assessed through time-conditioned exams since the start of the pandemic.
Despite the obstacles of the last few years, we must be enormously proud of the students, who have shown resilience and strength when faced with these challenges. This year’s IB Diploma results celebrate all that they have achieved, and show the breadth of learning that the IB provides for young people.
“There was a real imperative to ensure a smooth transition back to face-to-face learning.”
National – and indeed international – debate has primarily focused around how to make up for students’ “lost learning” after months of remote learning. However, this was not our concern at Southbank International School where I teach; due to our 1:1 device programme we were able to smoothly transition to online lessons without much disruption to students.
However, what became apparent once the school opened its doors again was that we needed to provide the support we had planned for students as they transitioned back from laptops to the classroom. This was the main challenge that our school, and many like ours, faced. And for students approaching their final year in particular, there was a real imperative to ensure a smooth transition back to face-to-face learning.
For all the benefits that technology brought when schools were shut, learning behind a screen led to students adapting the ways in which they engaged with their lessons, with their teachers and with their peers. Teaching methods were reshaped, assessments were done differently and students, while they could be more creative, were also given longer to complete assignments, without always having to show how they arrived at a particular answer.
“Students had to learn anew how to study and revise, how to retrieve and apply their knowledge of their subjects.”
When we took away the screens, in many instances students had to re-learn how to engage actively in the classroom, working together in groups and carrying out tasks collaboratively. This required talking to one another as opposed to communicating via a computer.
The absence of time-constrained assessments for the previous two years meant that students had to learn anew how to study and revise, how to retrieve and apply their knowledge of their subjects.
Exam preparation is no easy feat. It takes months of practice papers and rewriting the same essay in order to get it right, learning how to manage time, and how to structure an essay. Sitting exams is also in itself a skill, which students get better at over time and after continued practice. If you remove that training for one – or two years – it becomes a steeper hill to climb.
“Transitioning back into the classroom was a smoother process due to the communication skills that the IB nurtures.”
Furthermore, when you consider the months of uncertainty around how they would be assessed this year before the exam dates were actually confirmed, the journey that students had to undertake in order to get themselves exam-ready was something of a rollercoaster.
Yet, despite these challenges, the IB curriculum is unique in the way it supports young people to develop the necessary skills to succeed. Transitioning back into the classroom was undoubtedly a smoother process due to the communication skills that the IB nurtures – something that is instilled right from the youngest age.
With a focus on academic excellence, the IB is a distinct framework that equips young people with the confidence to work independently, to be inquisitive and to think critically, never afraid to challenge the status quo, which are all important attributes when preparing for assessments.
The achievements of the IB students across the world have been remarkable and they must be applauded for their successes. Whatever path they choose to pursue beyond school, be that at university, at college, carving out a career or exploring the wider world, their experiences from the past few years will set them in good stead.
Through the IB they are equipped with life-long skills – independence, adaptability, creativity, resilience and strength, to overcome any challenges they may face, giving them the best possible start in life.