Why is the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme growing in popularity?

As we’ve talked about in previous posts, the IB Programme sets itself apart from other curricula by focusing on critical thinking, values, and attributes, rather than testing students on rote memorisation of information.

SISD is one of the only continuum IB schools in the world. We offer all three IB programmes: the Primary Years Program (PYP), the Middle Years Program, and the Diploma Program (DP). At other schools, students may only have the option of one or two of these programmes.

This blog will discuss the main reasons why the IB programme is growing in popularity.

Holistic education and more learning freedom

The structure of the IB programme encourages students to make connections between their instincts and what they’re learning. They have the freedom to discover what interests and inspires them across various subjects to develop a balanced, holistic, and deep education, compared to other programmes limiting students’ options in subject matter.

In the IB Diploma Programme, students aged 16 who may be preparing for university entrance can take courses across six subject groups:

  • Language and literature
  • Language acquisition (second language)
  • Individuals and societies
  • Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • The arts (this subject is optional and can be replaced with a course in one of the other groups, except math).

Because of the focus on independent learning and research, our students were less affected by the lockdowns incurred by the pandemic this past year.



The IB programme challenges and stimulates students by exposing them to a variety of subject areas and activities, both in and outside of the classroom.

In the IB programme, students can begin learning a second language as early as the Middle Years Programme (ages 11 to 16). A requirement in the IB DP for students ages 16 to 19 is studying in their primary language and at least one other language, preparing them for a profession that may allow them to use their bilingualism.

SISD offers three bilingual programmes in French, German, and Arabic, all taught alongside English. French and German are available for students ages 3 to 18, and Arabic is available up to age 6.

SISD’s Early Years and Primary Years Programmes also offer premium and personalised STEAM lessons, a future-focused and integrated approach to learning using Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student enquiry, dialogue and critical thinking. While every school is different, you’ll likely find similar factors in how others use the IB programme to stimulate their students and keep them engaged in learning.

Quality of educators

Educators who teach the IB programme must be efficient, adaptable, and skilled. SISD has several options in the Secondary School Programmes (Grades 6 to 12) and all schools offering IB must be knowledgeable to effectively guide students through these programmes.

Our bilingual classrooms use a co-teaching approach: we pair teachers together in a classroom to share planning, instructing, and assessing responsibilities. Two teachers speak English and another language in the same class every day, attesting to their abilities.

Skills development for a global worker

The IB programme promotes values and 10 specific learner attributes that hone students’ critical thinking: balanced, caring, communicators, inquirers, knowledgeable, open-minded, principled, risk-takers, reflective, and thinkers.

The IB programme’s mission is to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who can create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. The IB works with schools, governments, and international organisations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment which encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right. We’re aligned with the IB’s mission and both parents and students alike have experienced the benefits of this programme firsthand.

International recognition

The IB programme is accredited and gives students a similar education in any part of the world that offers it. A 2017 study revealed almost half of admissions officers in the UK believed students were not prepared for moving from school to university, citing a lack of independent thinking, and time and workload management skills.

As IB students perform at a higher rate and achieve higher GPAs compared to those at other schools, top universities consistently recognise the programme worldwide. The emphasis on balance, communication, inquiry, open-mindedness, principle, and risk-taking in the IB programme aids students to develop soft skills and academic knowledge that prepares them for life in university and beyond.

At SISD, children can take the full IB programme from age 3 to 18 years. For more information about our IB programmes, contact our Admissions team at admissions@sisd.ae.

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