Parents, of course, want their children to have bright futures. One of the ways they can ensure that their children succeed is by providing high-quality education from an early age.
Many countries in Europe already offer excellent education in their public school systems. In fact, according to the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), conducted in 2015, students in the Netherlands performed better than the OECD average across the subjects of science, mathematics and reading, as did many other countries in western Europe. However, even with these high scores, some parents, especially those that have relocated to a new country, instead opt for schools that offer the renowned International Baccalaureate education — even for younger children.
International School Almere, an official International Baccalaureate World School, explains the IB Middle Years Programme and how it set students up for success.
About the International Baccalaureate
The International Baccalaureate is a non-profit organisation that was founded in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1968. The organisation offers four educational programmes — the Diploma Programme, Middle Years Programme, Primary Years Programme and Career-related Programme — to authorised schools in over 100 countries. Its goal is to develop not just students’ knowledge but their emotional and social skills, helping students become well-rounded citizens in an increasingly globalised world.
The first programme to launch was the Diploma Programme, developed for students ages 16 to 19 years old. Over 25 years later — after seeing the success of the Diploma Programme — the International Baccalaureate began offering the Middle Years Programme, developed for students ages 11 to 16. The Primary Years Programme (for children ages 3 to 12) and the Career-related Programme (ages 16 to 19) followed in 1997 and 2012, respectively.
The Netherlands was one of the first countries to begin teaching the IB curriculum, joining in 1979. Now, the country is home to 20 IB World Schools, 13 of which offer the IB MYP.
The IB Middle Years Programme curriculum
The IB MYP was designed as an introduction to the IB Diploma Programme; it was updated in September 2014 to improve upon its flexibility. In the curriculum, students study eight different subjects, including the standard education fields of science, mathematics, art, physical and health education and language and literature, but also the more modern, forward-thinking areas of design, individuals and societies, and language acquisition.
The programme generally lasts five years, but some international schools may modify the programme to shorten its duration. Each year, students are engaged in at least 50 hours of educational time in each subject area, and must also take part in an interdisciplinary unit that involves two or more subject areas. Students in the Middle Years Programme must also complete long-term projects, either a community project or a personal project done in years 3, 4 or 5.
The MYP not only prepares students for the IB Diploma Programme, but sets the groundwork for them to develop into independent, curious and compassionate citizens.
Benefits of IB MYP for students
At an official IB school in the Netherlands, learning happens inside and outside the classroom. The Middle Years Programme helps students to apply their knowledge and skills in unfamiliar situations. This approach helps them prepare for their journey towards world citizenship.
The International Baccalaureate continuously seeks out or commissions research to support the efficacy of its programmes. According to various studies since the Middle Years Programme’s inception, the educational programme has real, proven benefits in terms of student attitudes toward learning and their performance.
In a 2015 study comparing students in MYP schools with non-MYP schools in the United States, those who completed the Middle Years Programme were 34 percent more likely to take at least one Advanced Placement (AP) or DP exam, and they were also more likely to achieve a “college-ready” score on college preparatory exams. Students, therefore, seem to be more driven to further their education on their own, rather than doing only the bare minimum.
Another study showed that students who had been enrolled in a Middle Years Programme had greater levels of “global-mindedness,” meaning they had a sense of responsibility for the global community and its citizens. Students that can better understand and appreciate other cultures may be more prepared to live and work in a world that is becoming more connected.
A 2011 study showed that MYP students performed better in mathematics and science than non-MYP students, and yet another showed significant differences, according to the teachers and the students themselves, in analytical and inquiry skills. The IB also commissioned a study in 2009 to analyse the performance of MYP students on the International Schools’ Assessment; the review indicated that globally, MYP students performed better than students from non-IB schools in math, reading, and expository and narrative writing across all grade levels.
There are far more studies that compare the education and outcomes of schools offering the Middle Years Programme, many of which conclude with the proven benefits of IB MYP. Though education in European countries is generally excellent, parents that wish to broaden their children’s horizons — and ensure they step foot on the path to becoming global citizens — may look to international schools offering the Middle Years Programme.