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Putting the “international” in “International Baccalaureate” : What it means to offer a full IB education at St Nicholas Alphaville

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Since the founding of the St Nicholas Alphaville campus back in 2016, the school has gone through successive stages of implementation of the full International Baccalaureate continuum, starting with the PYP authorisation in 2018, followed by the MYP authorisation in 2021, and finally receiving our DP authorisation in May 2024. 

This has been in line with the school’s mission and vision of offering a unique learning adventure to each and every one of its students. Moreover, we are proud to offer to our students an inquiry-based educational framework that values student input, diversity of thought, and commitment to service in line with the philosophy and principles of the IB.

But what does this mean in practice? What does being a truly international IB school look like on a day to day basis? How will parents and students know the difference? 

Let’s explore the ways in which the IB philosophy guides the student experience at St Nicholas Alphaville.

The Diploma Programme as a final step of an IB education

Belonging to an IB continuum school, therefore, means that students enter the Diploma Programme with a well-defined skill set required for success rather than beginning the work on these skills at the very end of their educational journey in secondary school. 

Students begin to engage with the principles of the IB such as inquiry, reflection, collaboration, and demonstration of learning from the age of 3, and continue developing these skills as well as their understanding of the world through a conceptual lens right from the Primary Years Programme, through the Middle Years Programme, and to the Diploma Programme where their work as rounded IB students reaches its destination.

A commitment to international mindedness

Schools do not have to be international to be internationally minded, and international schools are not internationally minded by default, and so we see it as our duty and active responsibility here at St Nicholas to ensure the nurturing of our students’ open-mindedness, and respect for other viewpoints and ways of being, even if they are different from their own. International mindedness is an action and a choice, and we make this choice every day through our daily work at school.

What this means in practice in schools such as St Nicholas is that we welcome a broad and balanced range of ideas, narratives, and voices coming from a diverse learning community, where our students and their families represent various nationalities, cultures, beliefs, and our teachers, who hail from all corners of the world, enrich the learning experience with their unique perspectives, multilingualism, and a different way of thinking and seeing the world. 

Voice, choice, and agency for all of our students

Students entering an IB programme such as the Diploma Programme at a later stage in their education may feel overwhelmed by the choice and independence that goes with the territory, as they may not have been given the opportunity to be in the driver’s seat of their learning journey up until that point. At St Nicholas, we strive to encourage our students to claim ownership of their learning, which includes their learning spaces, ways of expressing their learning, and their input in some key areas of school development through our Student Council, Student Wellbeing representatives, and student-led events, as well as in lessons and learning experiences on a daily basis. This empowers our students to reflect on their choices, and enter the Diploma Programme with a clear and rational vision for their future, honed by years of experience of having their voices heard and owning their choices throughout their school life. 

Inclusive, accessible, rigorous

At St Nicholas we have high expectations for our community and set a high bar in terms of collaboration, communication, and support for all students and families. We are deeply committed to the principles of inclusion and belonging for all students within the IB programmes, as we know that this is not achieved either through exclusion or by compromising on our standards. Instead, it is through consistent investment in and commitment to allowing each of us to reach our fullest potential through the three IB programmes, that we are able to create an environment where all students have the potential to succeed within the three IB programmes. 

In practice this means that we provide personalised support where necessary, educate our community through regular events and workshops, and provide ongoing support and training to our teachers to ensure that we are all working in alignment with the same goal of success for each student on their unique learning adventure. 

We are proud to call ourselves an IB continuum school, and look forward to strengthening our commitment to providing a truly international education to the Alphaville region.