IB World School > The IB Primary Years Programme

IB World School – The IB Primary Years Programme (IBPYP)

Based on the IB booklet, A Basis for Practice

  • The PYP promotes the construction of knowledge
  • The PYP promotes inquiry as a pedagogical approach
  • The PYP creates a concept-driven programme
  • The PYP strikes a balance between the transdisciplinary programme of inquiry and traditional disciplines
  • The PYP promotes international-mindedness
  • The PYP requires valid and varied assessment

“The origins of the PYP
The Primary Years Programme (PYP) was developed as a result of the vision and the effort, sustained over the last ten years, of the former International Schools Curriculum Project (ISCP).

The ISCP was an independent, grass-roots movement of school teachers and administrators in international schools. Its purpose was to produce a common international curriculum which promoted and developed international-mindedness in its students.


The PYP promotes the construction of knowledge

The philosophy and practices of the PYP have been substantially influenced by the acknowledgement that the learner constructs understanding based on personal experience. The PYP stresses the importance of determining the existing knowledge that the child brings to new experiences as it is critical to allow children the opportunity to make connections between their previous and current perceptions. Children are encouraged to build meaning and refine understanding, principally through structured inquiry. Attempts at making sense of the world we live in are essentially social acts of communication and collaboration.

The PYP promotes inquiry as a pedagogical approach
Inquiry is recognised as the leading but not exclusive pedagogical approach in the PYP. Inquiry is the process initiated by the learner or the teacher which move the learner from his or her current level of understanding to a new and deeper level of understanding. It involves an active engagement with the environment and is most successful when based on children’s genuine curiosity.

An explicit expectation of the PYP is that successful inquiry will lead to responsible action, initiated by the children as a result of the learning process. This action may extend the child’s learning, or it may have wider social impact, and will clearly look different within each age range.

The PYP creates a concept-driven programme
The PYP is a programme which emphasizes meaning and understanding through the exploration of a core set of concepts. These concepts are important for two reasons. Firstly, they provide consistency among PYP schools. Secondly, they have relevance in all the traditional subject domains and influence the planning and delivery of the entire programme. Expressed as open-ended questions, they provide the initial momentum for the transdisciplinary exploration of content. The concepts shape and extend the units of inquiry which are distinguishing features of the PYP.

The PYP strikes a balance between the transdisciplinary program of inquiry and traditional disciplines
The PYP acknowledges the importance of the traditional disciplines. The knowledge and skills from these subject domains are documented in detailed documents (scope and sequences). However, the PYP also recognises that educating children in a set of isolated subject domains, while necessary, is not sufficient. Of equal importance is the need to acquire skills in context, and to explore content that is relevant to children and transcends the boundaries of traditional subjects.

The programme defines transdisciplinary themes that identify areas of shared experience and have meaning for individuals in different cultures. Within these transdisciplinary themes, children acquire and apply a set of transdisciplinary skills. These skills are valuable, not only in the units of inquiry, but also in all subject domains and in events experienced outside the classroom.

The PYP promotes international-mindedness
By developing the transdisciplinary themes and addressing the various needs of the child, the PYP ensures that the learning is significant, relevant, engaging and challenging, so that the child can reflect on the connections between life in the school, life at home and life in the world. By helping the child to make these connections and see that learning is connected to life, the PYP establishes a strong foundation for future learning.

The transdisciplinary themes have global significance. They promote an awareness of the human condition and an understanding that there is a commonality of human experience. The children explore this common ground collaboratively, from multiple perspectives of their individual experiences and backgrounds. This sharing of experiences is central to the programme and a critical element in developing an international perspective, which must begin with the ability to consider the point of view of someone else in the same class.

The PYP aims to develop international sensitivity through the key questions derived from the concepts and through the content of the written curriculum, such as the requirement that all students receive instruction in a language other than the language of instruction. One of the goals of exposing children to languages other than their mother tongue is to provide an insight into and an appreciation of other cultures, and an awareness of other perspectives. In addition, this sensitivity is enhanced through development of the behaviours listed in the PYP learner profile and through the attitudes that are an explicit and essential element of the programme.

What then is a PYP school? It is a school that, regardless of location, size or constitution, strives towards developing internationally-minded people. It nurtures the kind of person who understands that other people, with their differences, can also be right and develops the kind of person who actively demonstrates the attributes of the learner profile.

The PYP requires valid and varied assessment
The prime objective of assessment in the PYP is to provide feedback on the learning process. It stresses the importance of both student and teacher self-assessment and reflection. The assessment strategies and tools proposed by the PYP are designed to accommodate a variety of intelligences and ways of knowing. Where possible, they provide effective means of recording children’s responses and performances in real-life situations which have real problems to solve.

In its approach to assessment, the PYP recognizes the importance of assessing the actual process of inquiry as well as the result of inquiry and aims to integrate and support both.

In the final year of the PYP, the children participate in a culminating project, the PYP exhibition. This requires that each child demonstrates engagement with five essential elements of the programme.”

Based on the IB booklet, A Basis for Practice

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