Do you want to study a broad range of subjects and acquire a diploma highly regarded by universities around the world as an excellent preparation for further study or employment?
Some current second year students
The International Baccalaureate Diploma is an exciting and rigorous alternative to A levels, which is taught and recognised world-wide. It meets the needs of highly motivated and well-organised 16-19 year olds who wish to progress to university. Students wishing to study at university abroad should check country-specific requirements and the entry requirements of individual universities on the IBO website.
Link to Independent article on 'Why schools love the International Baccalaureate'
The IB Diploma offers at least the depth of A levels whilst encouraging students to continue with a broad range of studies and activities post 16. Wherever possible, the subject matter of each course is approached with an international perspective. You choose six subjects, studying three at Higher Level and three at Standard Level. All courses are two years duration.
You choose one course from each of six subject areas, three at Higher Level and the rest at Standard Level.The content of Standard Level courses is smaller than that of Higher Level courses, generally, Higher Level is more academically challenging.
|What Subjects are on Offer at Varndean College?|
|1. Language A1||Literature||✓||✓|
|2. Second Language||French||✓||✓|
|Spanish for beginners ('ab initio')||✓||✓|
|3. Individuals and Societies||History||✓||✓|
|4. Experimental Sciences||Biology||✓||✓|
|5. Mathematics||Mathematical Studies||✓|
|6. The Arts or a further subject||Visual Arts||✓||✓|
*SL Students who want to study Maths, Physics, Engineering or Economics at university, or have an interest, can also be entered for A Level Maths.
What my timetable might look like
The Diploma also offers special features in addition to your chosen subjects. Everyone also follows the Core Programme. This is made up of:
The Extended Essay
You will write an extended essay of 4000 words which researches a topic of particular interest to you in any subject. A teacher will work with you individually to help you prepare, write and present your project. The essay is externally assessed and counts towards your final mark.
Theory of Knowledge
This is a course in which you study the foundations of knowledge in your subject areas and beyond.
Creativity, Activity, Service
This is a central, worthwhile and exciting part of the IB programme. You will complete about 150 hours of extra-curricular activity, made up of a mixture of components: creative activities (drama, music, dance, art, writing, etc); sport, very broadly defined; and service in the community (working with small children, the disabled, on environmental projects, etc.). The balance of the activities – and exactly what you do –will be down to you, but we will make available a wide range of opportunities inside and outside of college. You will complete a log recording your time and your experiences.
There are no external examinations at the end of Year One. All the written exams take place in May of Year Two and the results are published in July. In many subjects there is a substantial amount of coursework and assessed oral presentation. Theory of Knowledge is assessed by an externally marked coursework essay. The maximum possible score is 45. In order to pass the diploma, you need a minimum of 24 points and must meet certain other conditions.
The IB is graded very differently from A levels. With number grades for each subject (1 - 7), and further points awarded for the extended essay and TOK, you finish with a total point score. A grade 3 is broadly comparable with a pass grade at A level and grade 6 is comparable to a good A grade. To earn the Diploma you need a minimum of 24 points over all and only a very small number of students world-wide ever achieve the maximum of 45.
Holders of the IB Diploma are favoured by many universities world-wide or in Britain, including applicants for subjects such as Medicine, Law or Engineering. Universities welcome the additional breadth as well as depth of study provided by the IB programme. British universities typically look for a points score of 28-37, whereas Oxford or Cambridge may generally require 38-41.
The International Baccalaureate Diploma requires grade 5 in both English and Maths GCSE plus four other subjects at grades A* - B, including Core and Additional Science (or individual sciences). In addition, certain subjects at Higher Level have particular subject requirements. For these, see the specific subject sections in the booklet.
Varndean College also welcomes an increasingly large number of students from all over the world. International students should provide evidence of qualifications gained over the last two years and will then be interviewed by the College. They should have an IELTS score of 6.5 in all components if English is not their first language.
Some very good reasons why the IBD might be the right choice for you
Isn’t it like doing six A Levels?
No. You do three subjects at Higher Level, and three at Standard Level, where the subject content is less than A Level. It is more work than A-level, but we think it's more fulfilling educationally.
Do IB students have more or less full timetables?
No. IB students have a slightly larger timetable than A Level students, but it should be borne in mind that they have a lighter tutorial programme.
If I do the IB won’t I have to do one or two subjects I’m not interested in?
Not everyone is equally keen on every course in the Diploma, but that’s because we all have strengths in particular subjects. IB students feel that the benefits of the whole diploma outweigh that factor.
If I fail one or more of the courses will I end up with nothing at the end of the two years?
No. It is quite hard to ‘fail’ individual subjects, but students who do not pass the whole Diploma can still be awarded ‘IB Subject Courses’. This means that the International Baccalaureate Organisation award certificates for the subjects passed. These certificates can be recognised for university entrance. But failures are very rare indeed at Varndean College.
So what are the benefits?
Are the IB students a bit cut off from the rest of the college?
No. The Creativity, Activity and Service part of the programme integrates students into Varndean’s extension activities and NUS in a very successful way.
What if I gave up Languages at Key Stage 3?
You can start afresh with Spanish ab initio (as a Standard level course) and find that language learning can be fun after all!
What if I'm not great at Maths?
Maths Studies is designed for students who don' t want to take Maths further. It' s designed to be ‘user-friendly' and bring your Maths up to a good standard.
What if I' m not really a science person?
An understanding of the scientific method is essential for the Diploma but you only need to do one science subject and this can be at Standard Level.
What if I want a wider choice of subjects?
If there are subjects that you really want to do and are not offered within the IB then the traditional A level route may be better for you.
What if I can' t decide between the IB and A levels?
We would prefer you to make a decision before you submit your application. However if you need to talk it through with us further, you may list both the IB Diploma and a proposed A level programme on your application form. When you come for an interview we will help you choose the programme that best suits your needs, interests and aspirations.
For a link to the university places won by Varndean IB students in October 2015 click here.
Varndean is the only state-funded college or school offering the IB Diploma in Sussex.
For further information about the IBO and the Diploma Programme, visit www.ibo.org.