Updated: Jun 25, 2020
Bennett International Education Consultancy's CEO, Elizabeth Sawyer joins us for an informative session explaining the in's and out's of the International Baccalaureate (IB) educational system from a Global Mobility perspective! Tony Entwisle, our Director of Client Relations, leads the interview. Here are clips of the video recording, along with full transcripts of highlights from the conversation.
Tony: Elizabeth, You've been having these "Porch Talks" lately - you've spoken to Grant Calder about COVID-19's impact on US colleges, you've spoken to Erin Brady about the current New York private school admissions cycle. I was wondering if we get you in the hot seat, what's on your mind?
Elizabeth: Well, I would like to talk about the IB or International Baccalaureate, because we get a lot of inquiries from our Global Mobility Partners about whether or not they should pay for IB in different parts of the world for different assignees. I think it could be a helpful topic for them.
Tony: Thank you!
The International Baccalaureate, or IB - what exactly is that?
Elizabeth: So, there are actually four programs within the IB. There's the PYP (Primary Years Programme) for younger kids. There's the MYP (Middle Years Programme) for kids up through 15 years old. There's the CP (Career-related Programme), a career preparation program for kids 16-19, and then there's the IBD (IB Diploma Programme).
When people are talking about IB and how they "really need to do an IB somewhere", they're usually talking about the Diploma Programme.
What's the value in an IB Diploma; what sets an IB Diploma apart from other graduation certificates?
Elizabeth: The value of an IB Diploma is that it is more widely accepted than, for example, the graduation/leaving certificate or document of individual countries. So for example, if you come out of the US with a high school diploma and you want to go to school in England, for example, the US diploma alone isn't really worth very much. You have to have lots of testing in addition to that, and it's quite the same between many countries - one country's individual diploma doesn't necessarily have value if you want to go to another country for university. The IB is a program that establishes a benchmark for universities all over the world.
You mentioned the International Baccalaureate's exams. Global Mobility is not going to be taking them, so what is it that they need to know?
Elizabeth: Good question! The first thing to know is that the IB Diploma Programme is a two-year program - the last two years of secondary school - which culminates with a set of exams that will determine a student's candidacy for University. And where a student begins the IB Diploma Programme, they should finish it. People often think, "well, it's IB, you can start it here, pick it up there, and that should be fine." But that isn't the case at the Diploma level. Courses don't necessarily align school-to-school. And so it really is a big ask of a student to say, "can you move in the middle of an IB Diploma?"
So if you are an assignee or if you have an assignee and you're relocating them somewhere and you're thinking "well, will it be a one-year, two-year, three-year assignment?", if a student is doing that IB Diploma Programme, they should not be moved during those two years that they're doing it.
If a student has begun the IB Diploma Programme and they're in the last two years, is it impossible for them to change schools?
Elizabeth: It depends. It's certainly not ideal. Sometimes if, for example, we're working with a family and Global Mobility or the family says, "look, we know ahead of time that this program is going to get interrupted," then there's a chance, depending on where the family's going and what the student wants to study within the Diploma Programme, that it can be made to work. It usually involves getting IB coordinators to make a long-term roadmap for the student before the student even begins the Programme.
We know that International Baccalaureate is offered in international schools. We also know that international schools are costly for families or corporations. When is it critical for a student to be enrolled in an IB Program?
Elizabeth: Good question, and that's really why we were having this talk, right? The first thing that I would say, and this is important, is that every student is different and every student situation is different - where they're coming from, where they're repatriating to, and so on. So what I say is really a generalization and should not be taken as an official recommendation for every student.
First of all, I would distinguish between the IB Programmes for younger students. So, the PYP and the MYP, versus the Diploma Programme. For PYP and MYP, I think it's very understandable why a family might prefer to have their child enrolled in one of those Programmes, especially if they foresee that years later their child is going to do the Diploma Programme, maybe in a different school or a different country. The reality, though, is that most IB Diploma Programmes do not require that a student has been enrolled in a PYP or an MYP in order to do the Diploma Programme. So that can be very reassuring for families who are trying, understandably, to make a road map - whether its a financial roadmap, or whether their employer is making the roadmap - that it is nice preparation for eventually doing a Diploma Programme, but probably not required.
In closing, is there anything that you haven't gotten the chance to say about the International Baccalaureate?
Elizabeth: I would just say that it's a wonderful program and that it's fantastic that something like this exists for all those kids out there who are the "global nomads", the internationally mobile kids who may go to, you know, six or seven schools between Pre-K and when they graduate from high school - and that there is a program out there that can serve them and that can enable them to go home and to university when the time comes.
Bennett International Education Consultancy works directly with hundreds of families each year across the globe. We support families by guiding them towards making informed decisions and finding the best-fit schools for their children. Our consultants specialize in counseling families and helping them to find and secure placement for their children in preschools, private day schools, boarding schools, colleges & universities, or schools with particular program offerings, such as special needs support.