The International Baccalaureate (IB) is an alternative to A Levels that is accepted and highly regarded by all universities including Russell Group and Oxbridge, and employers worldwide.
Collectively, in 2020 students achieved an average score of 36.4 points, placing them above the global average of 29.9 points according to TES. Furthermore, over half of the cohort achieved 38 points or above, and three students gained very high scores of 39 points.
Based at our Taunton campus, you study six subjects: three at Higher Level (HL) and three at Standard Level (SL). HL subjects receive 4 hours of tuition per week and SL subjects are taught for 2.5 hours per week. Subjects are chosen from six groups, along with a core programme of TOK (Theory of Knowledge), an Extended Essay and CAS (creativity, activity and service).
Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS)
CAS is at the core of the IB and provides an important addition to the qualification. You are expected to complete the equivalent of two to three hours a week of CAS activities throughout the duration of the programme. You can continue, or develop, existing activities that you are involved in, but it is expected that you will try something new. CAS activities can be specifically tailored to match your needs, tastes and aptitudes. The strengths developed through the experiential learning involved in CAS, such as reflection and self-awareness, are highly valued by university admissions tutors and employers. There is an optional CAS expedition.
Creativity includes a wide range of creative activities, as well as the creativity that students demonstrate in designing and implementing service projects or in developing new skills. Students have kept creative journals, learnt instruments, applied henna designs and made films; they have also taught and learnt new languages including Arabic, Latin and sign language.
Activity can include participation in individual and team sports or physical activities, as well as taking part in expeditions and local or international projects. Previous projects have included fitness classes, playing for sports teams, teaching dance and helping at Scouts or Brownies.
Service encompasses a host of community and social service activities such as working with children, the elderly, people with learning difficulties and those who are new to the country. Project work, forms a central feature of the Service element.
The Extended Essay
The Extended Essay is an in-depth study of a focused topic chosen from the list of approved IB subjects, normally one of the student’s HL subjects. This leads to a major piece of formally presented, structured writing in which ideas and findings are communicated in a reasoned and coherent manner, appropriate to the subject chosen.
The Extended Essay promotes high level research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity. It can take the form of a traditional essay or an evaluation of an experiment. University admissions tutors are particularly impressed by the research and analysis skills developed through the Extended Essay. Previous examples have included considerations of whether Richard III deserves his villainous reputation in history and the use of robotics in curing cancers.
Theory of Knowledge
This is the flagship element in the IB. It encourages critical thinking about knowledge itself and tries to help students make sense of the world around them. The content focuses on questions such as: What counts as knowledge? How does it grow? What are its limits? Who owns knowledge? What is the value of knowledge?
In Theory of Knowledge you have the opportunity to step back from the relentless acquisition of new knowledge, in order to consider knowledge issues. Assessment is through a presentation and an applied philosophical essay. Strengths are developed through the consideration of abstract and theoretical propositions through a reflective and self-aware approach; these critical thinking skills are highly valued by university admissions tutors and employers.