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International school choices: The primary years programme (PYP) advantage

Last update on November 19, 2018

International primary schools have many choices when choosing a curriculum structure, and the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) has particular advantages.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) offers the Primary Years Programme as part of its suite of educational programmes, which includes the Middle Years Programme and the Diploma Programme. Alternatively, a number of international schools offer national or even state-based curricula, while some others offer newer programmes of a more speculative nature.

Key competitive advantages of the PYP

The Primary Years Programme is supported and maintained by an international organisation of the highest repute, creating a stable, secure and well-resourced foundation for the programme. The IB is a global organisation specialising in international education. It is an integral part of a global community of schools and educators. As of 2017, 1,472 schools offer the PYP in 109 different countries worldwide.


Recognised brand throughout the world

The IB is a reliable and prestigious brand in international education, and it is well known to universities throughout the world. Part of its reliability emerges from the rigorous processes of accreditation and authorisation that schools must undertake before they are able to offer the programme. Accreditation ensures that the standards of education by candidate schools are both high and globally uniform. It provides quality control and gives parents the stability and certainty their children need in an education system.

IB education: proven benefits

A second advantage of the PYP is the edge it gives students academically. Research has demonstrated that the PYP provides significant educational advantages to students throughout the world. For example, a study of PYP and MYP student performance on the International Schools’ Assessment (ISA) examined the performance of IB students in mathematics and literacy tasks compared to their non-IB peers across Asia, Oceania, Europe, Americas, and Africa. The ISA assesses math literacy, reading, and narrative and expository writing among international school students in Grades 3 to 10. The study demonstrated that “IB students tended to outperform their non-IB peers on the ISA across all domains in a majority of grade levels.”

Research has also demonstrated that some of the key components of the PYP — inquiry-based learning, international mindedness and action orientation — are the elements that provide an advantage for students over other programmes. Inquiry-based learning prepares students for the future, creating flexible, ethically aware thinkers. The PYP nurtures independent learning skills, encouraging every student to take lifelong responsibility for their learning.

IB education

Transferable to other schools in other countries

A third advantage, particularly for globally mobile families, is that the PYP is also transferable: while its implementation may differ from school to school, the central structure and ethos of the programme remain constant. This provides parents and children with a vital continuity of learning, providing reassurance, certainty and stability when changing countries.

Supported by ongoing research and development

A final advantage of the PYP is that the programme is underpinned by extensive and continual research into curriculum and pedagogy. The PYP is informed by global best practices in teaching and learning. Teachers in the PYP programme engage in ongoing professional development globally to maintain the highest standards of education.

The PYP is one of the foundations of the education offered at IB World Schools such as the Inter-Community School (Zurich). It provides a rigorous programme that focuses on developing the potential of each child. Undertaking the PYP brings international students into a truly global community of learners and educators.