What is unique about the IB CP and what are its greatest strengths?

While the IB CP is the youngest of the IB programmes, it is a very important and fresh addition to the continuum of education.  The IB Diploma offers a widely recognized, rigorous and well-rounded qualification for students at this age but it does not meet the needs of some students who have already identified their passions and know what path they wish to take.

Martin Keon, Deputy Head of Secondary School , MYP and  CP Coordinator answered our questions about the IB CP and explained how the Programme offers to  students the flexibility in the subjects they wish to focus on and how it allows them to gain a practical grounding in a career pathway that interests them.

Could you tell us what is the CP?

  • How is it taught ?

The CP comprises of three essential elements.  A student will take a number of Diploma courses with other DP students in the usual setting, they will then supplement this with a careers-related study in a professional field and complete a CP core which consists of a reflective project, service learning and a course on personal and professional skills. The careers-related study and the core are taught in a very practical way which applies a student’s learning to the chosen career path.  Students can select the subjects that are most useful or relevant to their career pathway.

  • How is it assessed? What are the criteria?

The Diploma courses are assessed as any other IB DP course is.  The key difference is the careers-related study.  In our case, we have BTEC courses which are assignment based and moderated by BTEC.  The core component is moderated by the IB.  Students are expected to gain a grade 3/7 on each of their DP courses and at least a grade C on their reflective project.  For the BTEC courses they must gain a Pass/Merit/Distinction on assignments to gain the required credits. Most CP students would exceed these requirements.

  • How is it related to the DP?

The IB CP shares several DP characteristics.  First and foremost, IB CP candidates take three DP courses at standard or higher level.  Normally our students will take at least one course at higher level.  These courses are assessed the same as for DP students.  The CP and DP also share a similar structure for service learning and many of the approaches to teaching and learning.  The key differences are in the core.  Where DP students take theory of knowledge and an extended essay in a subject they study, CP candidates take a personal and professional skills course that builds on careers-related soft skills and a reflective project (same assessment criteria as the DP extended essay) but it is focused on an ethical issue relating to their chosen pathway.  The remaining difference is the CP careers-related study and work experience placements that are completed at the time that DP students have three additional subjects.

Who is it for ? Is it more suitable to a specific student profile ?

  • How do students choose it ?

Our admissions tests for the IB DP and IB CP are the same as the DP courses they choose have the same requirements and the exams are the same.  The key difference is the interview for the IB CP explores a student’s choices and motivation for following a specialized pathway.  It is very important that the student makes the right choices for their needs.

  • How many students have started this programme?

We have not yet opened the programme at SISD in grade 11. We will be starting the IB CP in September 2021.  We have already started to offer BTEC courses in the grade 9 and 10 year groups for Business with the plan to offer some additional level 2 courses in other niche subjects which can tailor to our students interests.  These courses will be designed to lead into the CP pathways and students can take them alongside the MYP certificate before making a firm choice to opt for a CP pathway.


The subjects offered by CP have to be adapted to the local context. Could you explain why SISD chose to offer these subjects ?

We adapt the subjects to our student and school context rather than the local context but local conditions do play a part.  We have set up three distinct pathways: sports coaching, business and hospitality.

Our sports coaching pathway builds on the MYP physical and health education subject and has access to a wide range of top quality facilities such as basketball courts, gym, football field with track and field, a climbing wall, tennis courts and lots more so they can take advantage of all the excellent sports facilities we have to a higher level than they can in regular PE classes.  Students in this pathway would likely select DP courses that support their pathway such as biology.

The business pathway supports students who wish to follow this subject area further.  It is taken in combination with DP mathematics, business management and a language and literature subject (English/French/German).  Students taking French or German can qualify for a bilingual CP certificate.

Our hospitality pathway has been designed with a particular connection to Switzerland.  Students take DP courses in language and literature, business management and mathematics as above with a BTEC diploma in hospitality.  The course is structured to meet the requirements of many good Swiss universities and abroad.  We have developed partnerships with some Swiss third level providers also to gain accreditation for prior learning so students enter university with up to one year already complete.

What are the advantages of CP ?

The first is flexibility and personalisation. As previously mentioned, the IB Diploma Programme is a rigorous and well established generalist programme but it does not allow for the flexibility and career focus that the IB CP can offer.  Students who are not sure what they wish to do later or want to follow a generalist pathway will have their needs met by the IB Diploma.  However, those students who may have a better understanding of where their strengths and interests lie and who have a stronger idea of the pathway they want to take will benefit from the IB CP because they can follow pathways that can be tailored to those individual interests/ ambitions.

The second is the practical experience and application that a careers-related study can offer.  Students can apply the soft skills they learn in the personal and professional skills course to real life situations and can benefit from leaving school with the work experience that many university graduates complain they need before they can land a job.  This is not a general exercise in work experience that other programmes can offer. This work experience is directly related to their pathway and designed to practically apply what they are learning in the different CP components.

Lastly, for the students concerned the opportunities to gain accreditation for prior learning (i.e. shortened university time), is a great plus.  Students can often gain university credit for a term or even an academic year, depending on their pathway.  For example, students of our hospitality pathway who complete the requirements can move directly into second year of some university courses on a 2+2 model, so their CP experience of grade 11 and 12 which they need to complete like everyone else is also gaining them their first year in university, so saving them time and money.


Learn more about the CP.


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