Once the realm of the world’s elite private schools, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme is being offered for the first time in a systemic Sydney Catholic School, allowing students of more “modest means” to study the internationally-recognised curriculum.
Now known as an accredited IB World School, St Ursula’s College at Kingsgrove has been approved to offer the two-year rigorous course to Year 11 and 12 students from 2023, giving them the option to undertake either the new diploma or the standard HSC.
Each IB Diploma student will undertake six subjects including studies in language and literature, language acquisition, individuals and societies, mathematics, sciences and the arts.
Up to four of these are taken at a higher level while up to three are done at a standard level.
The internationally-recognised qualification gives students advantages by building their critical thinking skills and nurturing their curiosity and ability to solve complex problems.
“College principal Mary Leask said the college was proud to be recognised as an IB World School which … will stretch students to develop a holistic approach to learning that encourages critical thinking, curiosity and independent learning.”
Offered by around 3000 schools globally, it is designed and administered by the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) based in Geneva and may only be offered by schools that have been individually assessed and approved.
College principal Mary Leask said the college was proud to be recognised as an IB World School which she said will stretch students to develop a holistic approach to learning that encourages critical thinking, curiosity and independent learning.
She said it would enable students to choose a pathway to university that best suits their strengths and interests.
“Experience at other schools shows that choice is important to students — they feel empowered and in control of their futures,” she said.
“We believe that through our established and successful Ursuline Learning Framework and strong Serviam [service] culture, our students are well poised to undertake this internationally recognised qualification.
“We are very proud we are able to offer such a prestigious opportunity to students of more modest means … It’s taken around three years to get approved as an IB World School and we are very excited to finalise our first cohort in coming weeks.
“We have also had some approaches from students from other schools interested in it and are in the process of following them up as well.”
Director, Education and Research at Sydney Catholic Schools, Dr Kate O’Brien, said the IB Diploma Programme represents a fantastic addition to the St Ursula’s community.
“The International Baccalaureate will provide students with an alternative, engaging learning experience during their senior years.”
“This is an exciting offering for our students,” Dr O’Brien said.
“At Sydney Catholic Schools, one of our priorities is to build each student’s capacity to continuously reason reflectively, logically and critically. The International Baccalaureate will provide students with an alternative, engaging learning experience during their senior years that will help them prepare for life after school.”
First established in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1968, it has emerged from its beginnings in international schools to become a more mainstream education alternative.
Students undertaking the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme in their final two years at school select core study areas, as well as a CAS component (hours dedicated to creativity, action and service), Theory of Knowledge classes and an extended 5,000 word essay in a subject area of the student’s choice.
All coursework and exams are graded by an international assessment team.