Advantages of the International Baccalaureate VS the British Curriculum

International Baccalaureate Schools – What are the advantages of an IB education?

When choosing what kind of education your child will be getting, there are many considerations to make that will affect how they learn, how they perform, and even the kind of educational future they can look forward to. Making such a decision, you need to be informed as to the quality of the school to which you’re going to send your child, and the curriculum that they’ve adopted.

In this article, we take a look at the advantages of the International Baccalaureate system, and how it stacks up against more traditional frameworks such as the British GCE A Level system. We’ll also be using several statistics from the 2016 HESA report on UK graduates.

Internationally-recognised curriculum

The first and most obvious advantage of the International Baccalaureate is right there in the name – “International.” The IB is recognised all over the world, in over 4,000 schools, while the A-Levels are designed primarily for entry into British universities – though they have certain international recognition as well. Even in the arena of UK university admissions, though, IB Diploma Programme graduates have an advantage – they have a 57% higher chance of attending one of the UK’s top 20 universities than A-Levels graduates do.

Academic success

In comparison to A-Levels students, IBDP graduates are more likely to exhibit improved success in academic fields. 23% of DP students get a first-class degree, compared with 19% of their A-Levels counterparts. In addition, 30% of DP students attend postgraduate studies, in contrast to only 15% of A-Levels students. 

On average, DP students also earn more than A-Levels graduates. One example given is that of Mathematical Sciences degreeholders – DP graduates with this degree earned a salary of £30,000, compared to £22,000 for A-Levels graduates.

Better preparedness for the globalised future

IB students are set to be well-prepared for a future in an increasingly globalised world. This is notable across all aspects of the curriculum. In the International Baccalaureate’s Primary Years Programme (PYP), taught from ages 3-12 years, content in the curriculum is divided into “Units of Inquiry,” which are driven by a Central Idea that engages with real-world issues. This approach develops not only critical thinking and analytical skills, but also a better knowledge and appreciation of world affairs.

Meanwhile, for comparison, the British GCE A Level system was developed for England and is also used by certain Commonwealth countries. It presents a more focused, UK-centric approach to education. Students taking the A Levels will find a more focused curriculum, outlined by taking “Advanced Levels” in each subject for which they desire qualifications. A Levels are typically found to provide more knowledge content than the IB, and feature lots of textbook-oriented learning centered on memorization and examinations. In addition, examinations are administered and graded by external bodies, rather than within the school, which is associated with greater trust of results.

As the A Levels are British-focused, they don’t provide as much of a global outlook as the IB. And even though the IB arguably provides less “knowledge” over the course of an education, it works better with providing students with the faculties for critical thinking and independent inquiry. Furthermore, the value of  memorization, textbook-based learning has been questionable as of late, with formulas, dates, historic events and the like easily searchable on Google.

Open-minded, lifelong learners

Another advantage is that the IB DP program fosters a more open-minded and well-rounded student, through a broad education spread out across six subject groups, as well as a course on the theory of knowledge, a 4000-word essay, and a “Creativity, Activity, or Service” project that has students engage in real tasks outside the classroom. Similarly, the other programs for younger students include a variety of areas of study, as well as a collaborative nature of study, and an objective for students to become internationally-minded.

This broad education has resulted in marked difference in DP students versus A-Level students, as observed in a survey of UK University Admissions Officers.

According to them, the IB Diploma has a significant advantage over the A-Levels in:

  • Encouraging independent inquiry
  • Developing workplace skills
  • Nurturing an open mind
  • Developing self-management skills
  • Encouraging a global outlook
  • Developing intercultural skills

A great IB school in Dubai

Having a solid curriculum isn’t the be-all and end-all of education; it must be paired with a quality school to have the maximum effect on students. At Swiss International School Dubai, we offer the full International Baccalaureate curriculum for ages 3-18, in 2 bilingual English/French or English/German stream, or the English program with additional languages. We provide top-of-the-line facilities for extracurricular activities as well, and feature a diverse multicultural staff who will nurture students in a boarding school held to the highest levels of pastoral care that they’ll see as a second home, preparing them for an international future.


Interested in IB? Learn more about our curriculum.


Related Posts

Final Nord Insights - 2025x2880-100

Written by Jenny Anderson originally published for …

Read More →
Visual Learning – A Detailed Guide

As explained briefly in our blog ‘The …

Read More →
SISD student ambassadors at NAE-UNICEF Summit in Houston

Nord Anglia Education students attending annual Summit …

Read More →
10 reasons to choose boarding at SISD

Deciding where to send your children to …

Read More →

More from Nord Anglia