The International Baccalaureate (IB) is an international approach to delivering high-quality education to students attending IB Schools around the world.

The IB offers four, age-based programmes:

The four programmes form a continuum, and the curriculum of each extends beyond expert instruction in academic subjects, emphasising intellectual, emotional and social development. has published an article describing the International Baccalaureate (IB) and its four programmes here.

IB programmes are currently offered in more than 4700 schools worldwide and may be an attractive option for expat kids and their families. Here is SchoolViews’ take on four key advantages of pursuing an IB education:

1.  The International Baccalaureate (IB) strives to develop independent thinkers

The IB teaching style and curricula are student-centred and strives to help students develop into knowledgeable, principled, caring, open-minded independent thinkers by promoting self-directed inquiry. Students drive their own learning by collaborating to conduct inquiry into real-life issues (PYP Programme), seeking out community projects that meet their interests and promote service learning (MYP), developing independent research projects (DP), and reflecting on how to incorporate the values outlined in the IB learner profile into their lives to challenge them to become more well-rounded world citizens.

2. The IB promotes cultural awareness

The IB promotes cultural awareness through offering students an opportunity to learn a second language. IB programmes are currently offered in English, French, and Spanish, but offer second language instruction in a host of modern languages as well as classical and Greek. IB is offered at some sites in Singapore as a bilingual programme.

The PYP is available as a bilingual programme, and also offers support for students who are new to the language of instruction (a situation some expat kids may find themselves in). The MYP and the DP may be available as bilingual programmes, and both include a core subject called Language Acquisition that requires students to study a second language, including its cultural origin. Keeping with the philosophy of the IB learner profile, students are empowered to choose from an extensive list of second languages. Courses are available for beginners, as well as for students who have some prior experience with a second language.

3. IB students have an academic edge

There is evidence to suggest that IB students and graduates often outperform their peers in some forms of academic achievement. A 2009-2010 US study compared maths and science performance of students enrolled in the MYP at five IB World Schools to that of students attending five non-IB schools.  Results showed that a higher proportion of MYP students performed at a proficient or advanced level.

A study conducted by the Australian Council for Educational Research examined international student performance on the International Schools’ Assessment in the categories of maths, reading, and expository and narrative writing. Performance of IB students enrolled in the PYP and MYP was compared to that of their non-IB peers, and results showed that IB students outperformed their non-IB peers in all categories and across multiple grade levels.

A UK study compared post-secondary enrolment and achievement of a matched cohort of DP and A level students.  Data indicated that DP students were more likely than A-level students to attend a top 20 UK university, and more likely to earn a first-class honours degree.

Data from the US showed that 83% of DP students who enrolled in post-secondary institutions in the US graduated within six years, compared to the 2009 national average of just 56%.

Clearly, IB programmes set students up for academic success.

4. An IB education meets the needs of third culture kids

Third culture kids have relocated at least once or maybe more. Although there is a plethora of opportunities associated with moving abroad, there are also challenges, one being the disruption it causes. The International Baccalaureate (IB) may be a good fit for an expat child because it is based on international standards, and the curriculum will be similar at all IB World Schools. This means that if a child is enrolled in an IB programme in Singapore, and then moves to the US or elsewhere, they have the opportunity to enrol in a local IB programme, allowing them to avoid a major disruption in their education.

IB programmes strive to develop graduates who are internationally minded and independent, who have the intellectual, emotional, and social skills necessary to thrive in a globalised world. This mandate suits the needs of expat children who are integrating into new countries; it also meets their future needs, in that many will grow into adults who are open to opportunities outside the country of their birth.


There you have it, SchoolViews’ take on four of the advantages of the International Baccalaureate (IB).  We encourage expat families to consider these benefits, and to consult our other articles in the IB series for more information.

By – Sandra Parsons