The International Baccalaureate was established in 1968 by a group of educators with the support of the World Bank. The reason for its establishment was to develop a truly international university entrance curriculum that could be studied throughout the world.
The official administrative office of the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) is in Geneva, Switzerland. The Curriculum and Assessment Centre (IBCA) is based in Cardiff, Wales.
The Diploma Programme is a two year course, based on a model of subject choice giving it the strength of a broad curriculum. Students choose a subject from each of six curriculum areas as shown below or an extra subject from Groups 2, 3 or 4 if Group 6 is not chosen. It also has three important additional features, shown at the centre, Theory of Knowledge, The Extended Essay, and Creativity, Activity and Service.
The International Baccalaureate Diploma
Subjects are generally offered at two levels, Standard level (SL) which are designed as 150 hour courses and Higher level (HL) which are 240 hour courses. Students must choose three (occasionally four) subjects to study at Higher level, with the balance of the six subjects at Standard level. Students are thus able to explore some subjects in depth and others more broadly, a deliberate compromise between the early specialisation of some national systems and the breadth found in others. The science-orientated student is challenged to learn a foreign language and the natural linguist becomes familiar with laboratory procedures. The subjects are continually reviewed and revised to meet contemporary needs.
The examination sessions are held each year in May and November with St Margaret’s College being a November school. The International Baccalaureate Diploma is examined in three languages, English, French and Spanish. At St Margaret’s the language of instruction is English. Each of the six subjects is graded on a scale of 1 to 7. In each subject, 20% to 50% of the grade derives from work completed during the two-year course, with the balance from the November examinations.
In assessing student work and awarding the Diploma, classroom teachers and IB examiners work in partnership to ensure that students have ample opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned. Grades reflect attainment of knowledge and skills relative to set standards applied equally to all schools. Top grades are not, for example, awarded to a certain percentage of students.
The Diploma Co-ordinator offers guidance to students with subject choice and progress as well as administering the rules and administration involved in undertaking the Diploma. The Co-ordinator can also answer general, as well as specific, questions regarding the detail of the Diploma Programme.