International Baccalaureate

The International Baccalaureate is fast becoming the most popular option for
students. JESS sixth-formers Sarah Walling and Pooja Beri tell us why


What exactly is the International Baccalaureate?
The IB comprises of six subjects and a core programme covering theory of knowledge, creativity, action and service, and the extended essay. We are currently nearing the end of our IB year one and we think it safe to say that it has definitely surpassed our expectations.

We hear it’s a very tough course. Is that true?
You often hear rumours about the IB leading students into an overworked state of mind. It really doesn’t – and you can quote us on that. The International Baccalaureate is not out to get you. Instead, the programme is designed to help you explore your inner strengths and make the most of them. By doing six subjects (instead of the UK’s standard three or four A-levels), you give universities a chance to see the breadth of your academic abilities. And, now that it’s internationally recognised, the IB has become prominent in the academic world as a programme that brings out the best in students.

Does it prepare you well for university?
Academically, the IB is a very challenging course. But theory aside, it also teaches students organisational skills and study dedication. This makes it a good choice for those who want to go on to university and other post-school study programmes. Achieving success in the IB Diploma Programme shows that you are an independent and resourceful student who is both focused and determined to succeed. Universities are exceptionally keen on IB students as we promise a level of maturity that is uncommon to those on other courses.

What are the other advantages of the IB?
The best part about studying the IB is that the teachers are willing to let you make your own mistakes. Yet, if you get into difficulties, they provide you with a strong support system. We’ve found that the course is constructed so that it makes the most of our strengths; indeed, the programme seems almost moulded to suit students’ individual needs.

Is it purely about academics?
Studying the IB has advantages beyond academic achievement. It’s designed to develop students holistically, and that means maturity, responsibility and social interaction are all part of its agenda. For example, at JESS, we have a common room which provides us with a work space so we can use our non-contact time productively. However, we can also relax on the sofas, or make much of our own food in the kitchen. As a Sixth Former, we have certain privileges such as going to Le Marché for lunch, enjoying free periods and following a professional dress code rather than a uniform. We feel we gain from this as it gives us a sense of what the working world would be like. A break from the school scene means we have to become skilled at managing our time and be more independent. Although these skills may seem small, we think they are important for working life.

So you reckon it’s a good, all-round course then?
It’s hard work. And we can safely say that committing to the IB means being ready to commit to study. However, many of us still manage to maintain a work-life balance. This is important for our health, and it facilitates our academic progress. CAS (creativity, action and service) plays a major role in this as it’s a compulsory part of the IB Diploma Programme. CAS helps us organise areas outside the classroom that everyone should be a part of, such as sport, charity and helping others. The IB is not for the faint-hearted or a test you can just bluff your way through. It takes hard work, concentration and commitment to succeed in it. At JESS we work hard to achieve our goals. But the sense of satisfaction we receive makes it all worthwhile. The great thing about the IBDP at JESS is that it is unique as you are not made to fit a programme; the programme is made to fit you.
For details of the IBDP programme at JESS call (04 361 9019).

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