Frequently asked questions
What if I’m not very good at languages or maths?
As many employers testify, continuing with mathematics and a language gives you a considerable advantage in the workplace. The IBO recognizes that some students may have anxieties about these subjects. Mathematical Studies is designed for those with little innate mathematical ability. Similarly, you can study Spanish ab initio (for beginners). Or, if you prefer your languages dead, there’s Latin (brilliant for training the mind – see, “Why Study Latin?” Guardian, 24 May 2009). You never know when a subject will turn out to be useful to you.
“I wanted to do that [study physics] exclusively, to the
point of ignoring French lessons and failing,
subsequently, O level French, because I felt it was
useless. I’ve now ended up working in Geneva at the
large Hadron Collider at CERN, so it was a mistake.”
Brian Cox (BBC Radio 4, May 2010)
I want to read medicine. Why does the standard IB Diploma not let me do three sciences?
No medical school in the UK requires three sciences for medicine. See UCL Medical School’s entry requirements, for example:
"The usual grade requirement for the International Baccalaureate is 38 points out of 45 overall. The grades for the three Higher subjects must make up at least 18 points out of the overall 38 points. This must include at least grade 6 in Higher Chemistry, at least grade 6 in Higher Biology and at least grade 5 in the third Higher subject."
Indeed, many UK medical schools prefer students to have a range of skills (again, UCL is a good example).
‘Ultimately, the best judges of the diploma must be its students. In March 2010, Taunton [School] surveyed the opinions of its first IB cohort, who studied the programme from 2007 to 2009. All but one said that, if they had their time again, they would still choose the diploma over A-levels. Taunton graduate Kieran Gajraj, now studying medicine at Birmingham University, says: "Had I studied A-levels, I may have been a science and maths kind of person. Instead, I also speak good French, have developed invaluable oral presentation skills, as well as critical analysis and interpretation." In our increasingly demanding, competitive and global education system, these are valuable skills indeed.’
(Independent, 3 February 2011)
"IB students are twice as likely to study medicine or dentistry than A-level students (5.1% versus 2.9%)."
(Higher Education Statistics Agency Report, April 2011)
How prepared are Stonyhurst’s teachers to teach IB?
In addition to staff in-service training days on IB, all teachers teaching the IB Diploma attend an IBO-approved 3-4 day residential course in their subject. All those scheduled to teach IB are experienced A-level teachers, and “up to 80% of the IB subject content overlaps with A-level in the same subject” (Dr J. Rutherford, vice-chair of the IBO examining board). Teachers have considerable recent experience of successfully managing major A-level syllabus changes, too and some Stonyhurst teachers have experience of teaching in IB schools.)
In terms of educational philosophy, the Stonyhurst ethos is already very much in tune with IB [Why is Stonyhurst offering the IB?]. The Stonyhurst Learner Profile has recently been implemented for all year groups at the College, which encourages current students to embrace IB-style learning. In short, both teachers and students will be well prepared.
Given the depth and breadth of IB, how will my son/daughter be able to be in school sports teams and be involved in extra-curricular activities such as CCF, music and school plays?
Extra-curricular involvement – the Creativity, Action, Service (CAS) aspect of the Diploma – is a requirement to pass the Diploma. IB students are as eligible to play in a team as A-level students. As with all students, IB students will be selected for teams on their merits. However, IB students will have three games afternoons rather than four, to ensure that they are not overloaded. An IB student’s participation in drama, orchestra, choir, Arrupe, etc., may form part of his or her CAS programme, and of course will be actively encouraged!