Introduction to International Baccalaureate

This post covers my reflections upon the first online module for the International Baccalaureate elective, comparing  the IB Programme to the Curriculum for Excellence.

Reflective Activity 1:

How do the IB aims align with the main aims of CfE?

The aims of CfE focus upon providing students with the knowledge, skills and attributes necessary in the modern world. Furthermore, CfE focuses upon creating lifelong learners beyond the school walls and interdisciplinary learning in order to bring together all aspects of knowledge. These aims mirror much of the IB aims, sharing a focus on equipping students with skills as well as knowledge to thrive in the global community. Furthermore, IB encourages lifelong learners and forms links in students’ learning.

Have you experienced any aspect of the IB aims when working with children or in your own education?

During my placement I saw an emphasis on intercultural understanding and respect within the school, The subject of PSE was used effectively each week to help the children understand and celebrate their differences. The children were confident in sharing their cultures and experiences, as well as being keen to learn about other cultures. This created an environment in which everyone felt comfortable and could therefore thrive.

Reflective Activity 2:

Compare and contrast the IB Learner Profile attributes with CfE’s four capacities. What are the similarities and differences?


  •  Openness to new thinking and ideas – IB attribute: Open- Minded , CfE capacity: Successful Learners.
  •  Development of respect and responsibility – IB attribute: Principled , CfE capacity: Responsible Citizens.
  • Importance of physical, mental and emotional wellbeing – IB attribute: Balanced , CfE capacity: Confident Individuals.
  • Building confidence in communicating – IB attribute: Communicators , CfE capacity: Effective Contributors.


  • IB’s attribute of ‘Communicators’ includes the ability to communicate confidently in more than one language. Where as the CfE do not include this skill within their capacities for young people. The learning of a language in CfE often depends upon the resources of the school and course choice in older years.

Reflective Activity 3:

Within the document The History of IB (IB, 2017), focussing on Educational Trends (page 3) – which of ‘progressive’ trends align with CfE?

The following of the ‘progressive’ trends align with CfE:

  • Critical analysis – The CfE has moved away from the traditional memorisation of knowledge and facts. There is now a focus on using creative and relevant ways to learn, adapting the learning to suit the children.
  • Transdisciplinarity – CfE holds a great focus on interdisciplinary learning, providing a well rounded and connected education.
  • Range of skills testing – CfE recognises the importance of skills as well as knowledge and therefore ensures a variety of styles of testing to evaluate both.
  • Child- centred – The CfE holds great importance on revolving the education around the child.  Teachers are encouraged to involve pupils in decisions in the classroom and their personal education.
  • Education of the whole child – CfE also grasps onto this notion that education must go further than that of knowledge. Education is seen in CfE to cover the mental, physical and emotional aspects of the child.

Reflective Activity 4:

Reflect upon the similarities and differences of Primary Years Programme (PYP) and CfE.

Both PYP and CfE share many similarities:

  • Relevance to local and global community – Both curriculums incorporate the children’s own local and global surroundings into their education. Moreover, they aim to incorporate relevant issues from the world around them into their education. PYP looks at this under the theme of Where are we in place and time, while CfE shows this focus in the principle of Relevance.
  • PYP and CfE are both flexible and aim to use what the children are interested in doing to inform their education. This creates engagement and interest in learning. This is shown in CfE in the principle of Personalisation and Choice.
  • PYP teaches topics which are interdisciplinary and creates fun ways to cover a wide range of subjects under one topic or issue. CfE also highlights the importance of this in learning, identifying Interdisciplinary Learning as one of the four contexts for learning.

A difference between PYP and CfE is the level of self discovery and joint learning between teacher and pupils. The PYP gives great levels of independence to pupils to discover knowledge for themselves and create their one way to learn. The CfE also aims to create pupil involvement in their own learning under the principle of Personalisation and Choice, however pupils are still very much reliant on learning from the teacher. Personally, I feel the CfE could have more of a push on children learning and discovering knowledge and concepts for themselves.


International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) (2017) The history of IB. Available at: (Accessed: 8/8/18).

Scientific Literacy

We were set the task, as a group, to write a short essay on the topic of scientific literacy and it’s importance in education. It was interesting to read into this topic as in school my science teachers really focused upon the importance of creating fair experiments and taught us the skills needed to critically review articles we read in both science and an everyday context.

Below is the essay that our group has written on the topic.

Scientific Literacy and Education

Scientific literacy is becoming a prominent feature within education. In the Science Principles and Practice section of the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) (2010) there is an emphasis on this area and that we, as teachers, should be developing scientific literacy within our pupils.

When first being introduced to scientific literacy our thought was that it was based upon knowing a range of scientific language and being able to use them appropriately, but that is the complete opposite of the true definition of scientific literacy. After doing some reading (W. Harlen and A. Qualter, 2009), it was clear that scientific literacy is more than simply understanding scientific language. The definition of scientific literacy is connecting the knowledge children have in science to real life events, so they can analyse and evaluate science based articles to ensure what they are reading is scientifically accurate. Therefore, they will be able to understand that they should not always believe what they read about science in the media. This is a very important aspect we should be teaching children as previous media reports have shown how the public can be easily led by “scientific based” news stories.

The knowledge of scientific literacy is extremely important, especially when you look at examples of when the lack of knowledge has been proven to be dangerous in society. In 1998, a doctor named Andrew Wakefield released a paper on the research he had been doing about the link between the MMR vaccine and autism. As this research was released by an extremely respected medical journal, Lancet, editors and members of the public started to panic. Suddenly anti-MMR stories started to be printed by many other newspapers as people were coming forward with their stories. The country begun to think they had been lied to by the medical authorities and turned to the government for reassurance. The press asked the prime minister at the time, Tony Blair, what his thoughts on the vaccine were and if he would give it to his son, Leo. He refused to answer and this lead to many stories on the MMR scare being about his son in 2002. Thankfully, an investigation in 2004 led to Lancet coming forward and admitting that the research by Andrew Wakefield was improper and inaccurate. Unfortunately, even after all of this, people still doubted the vaccine and this is all down to the lack in knowledge of scientific literacy. If the public had been scientifically literate, they would have been able to analyse the article and realise for themselves that it was based on inaccurate research and was an unfair experiment. Therefore, it is important to teach scientific literacy within school, through teaching things like fair testing.

Fair testing in science is the process of carrying out a controlled investigation in order to answer a scientific question. Children need to understand that a test is only fair if only one variable is changed during the experiment. Pupils will experiment in science the whole way through school. Therefore, they will develop their skills and knowledge of fair testing and why it is important. It is essential that teachers understand fair testing themselves so as to explain the terminology and concepts of a scientific experiment to pupils. (The School Run, 2018). Scientific literacy is not knowing lots of scientific facts. It is instead an understanding of how science actually works. It is important for children to have good scientific literacy as they progress through school and into further life. Practicing fair testing during school will help them explore science rather than simply learn and retain facts. It is therefore essential as pupils will learn the proper ways to test in science and will be encouraged to answer questions and discover for themselves. Using fair testing through experimentation could create a more positive attitude towards science and improve pupils’ scientific literacy through enjoyment (Durant, J. 1994).

Thus, a focus upon scientific literacy must be emphasised within schools to ensure a new generation of scientifically literate children who do not believe everything they read. This can be done through teaching fair testing and making science relevant to real life.


Durant, J. (1994). What is scientific literacy? European Review, 2(1), 83-89. doi:10.1017/S1062798700000922

The Scottish Government (2010) Curriculum for Excellence: Sciences principles and practice. Available at: on: 8th February 2018)

Harlen and A. Qualter (2009) The Teaching of Science in Primary Schools. 5thedn, London: Routledge

What is a Fair Test? (2018) Available at: (Accessed on: 10/02/18)








A Semester of Change

Semester 1 has been a whirlwind of new experiences, people and knowledge. The blink of an eye and I am half way through my first year at University. How did that happen?

Semester 1 has undoubtedly had a huge effect on my social skills, forcing me to start conversations and build new friendships. Throughout my years at school I very much stuck to my close group of six friends as we understand each other in a way that I don’t think many people are lucky enough to experience. I still consider these girls my closest friends as they are my childhood and my family, however I have embarked on so many new, amazing friendships. My flatmates and I are already such great friends, having had so many unforgettable memories throughout semester 1. Furthermore, I have made strong friendships with course mates who have kept me laughing through hard days and we have built a great support system. Being able to meet so many new people within such a short amount of time has made me realise what I look for in a friend as I make an effort to ensure those whom I surround myself with have a positive light in my life. Semester 1 has instilled in me the importance of taking chances, starting conversations and moving on.

A key moment for my professional development in semester 1 was discovering and challenging my personal values through the ‘Values: Self, Society and the Professions’ module. Prior to semester 1, I had never fully explored my values or the reasons for which I have certain values. I am now aware of the values which hold the most importance to me and take the much needed time to reflect upon these values. My eyes were opened to unconscious bias that lies within me due to the society in which I was raised.

Reflection is becoming a really important aspect of my learning. As I learn new things, I now find a need to reflect upon what this means to me and how I can use this knowledge to benefit myself on both a personal and professional level.


It’s Time to Reflect

Our second seminar was all about reflection – reflecting on our thoughts, questions, and opinions from the past few weeks. Carrie asked us all to discuss questions that we have regarding the topics we’ve learnt about so far and the various tasks we have completed. Straight away our group jumped to the last seminar about resource allocation. This had a significant impact on each of us and was a stand out moment which made us really think about equality and how we can be so blind to those who are less fortunate than us. Other groups highlighted that the recent lectures had made them realise the shocking extent of racism which is unconsciously embedded within our society.

There was one key thing missing from the room, making our group completely unbalanced in terms of society. Within this huge group of students, there was not a single male. This is a key example of gender roles within our society, primary teaching is seen to be a female role and ‘un-masculine’. This prompted discussion into why this gender role is so prominent – thinking about the history behind it, as well as the clear stereotypes.

We then moved onto reflect upon our feelings towards homophobia – watching ‘Panti’s Noble Call at the Abbey Theatre’ where Panti states her belief that we are all homophobes.

Carrie asked us to discuss what we thought of that statement and whether or not we agree with it. My group and I were clear on the fact that we agreed with this statement, we agree that we are all slightly homophobic. Although usually unconsciously, we can all be homophobic in our daily lives through simple things that we may not have previously realised as homophobic. We all discussed the fact that we almost automatically recognise homosexual couples in the street, where as we wouldn’t necessarily notice every heterosexual couple we pass. Furthermore, we talked about homophobic statements and phrases that we all unconsciously use. Another example that many of us hadn’t thought of was that people are seen to have to ‘come out’ as being anything other than heterosexual as that as seen as the ‘typical’ behaviour. We are all seen as being heterosexual unless other wise stated, why is this? We did all conclude that progress in society is evident as our generation is overwhelmingly less homophobic than generations before us and we are now recognising the need to recognise homophobia from an early age and open the minds of children.

Our last discussion point revolved around gender stereotypes, particularly revolving around a BBC experiment which was done to show how we treat boys and girls differently. In the experiment, boys were dressed in typically ‘girl’ clothes and vice versa with the girls. Adults were then asked to come in and play with the kids using a selection of various toys on the floor. In every case, the adults automatically picked up the pink fluffy stuffed animals and dolls for the kids in ‘girls’ clothes, while the kids in ‘boys’ clothes were given puzzles, ride on cars and robots. We discussed how girls were being disadvantaged in terms of mental and physical development as the toys they were given weren’t mentally stimulating or challenging. We raised questions as to why toy shops have such clear divides between toys for specific genders? Why has our society become so focused on the idea that pink represents girls, while blue represents boys? (being seen recently through the current trend of gender reveal videos on social media). Why must companies, for example Lego, bring out girl versions?

This seminar really challenged us to think deep into our views and challenge our views and beliefs. We were able to discuss all the topics that we had learnt about in the past few weeks and share our own interpretations of what we’ve learned. Through discussion, we stimulated each other to think of things we hadn’t previously thought about. This was a great change from the usual lectures and we all left feeling like we had gained a lot.


Resource Allocation Workshop

“Equal opportunity means everyone will have a fair chance at being incompetent” – Laurence J. Peter

No matter where we come from, when given a task we should start with a clean slate. The door should be open to make an impression for ourselves , show our talents and prove our competence. After our resource allocation workshop on Tuesday, I now believe this more than ever.

The task given to us in Tuesday’s workshop was to create something that would be useful to give to a student starting at the University. Each group was given a big brown envelope with the resources in it that we were allowed to use to create our product. As the envelopes came round, the first one hit the group’s table with a bang, while ours slowly floated down onto our table – straight away we could see that we had been disadvantaged in terms of our resources. While the group next to us marvelled at the mini art shop inside their envelope, we pulled out a single sheet of paper, a few paperclips, a pen, a couple of rubber bands and two post it notes. Although disappointed at our lack of supplies, we saw it as a challenge to make the most of what we had.

Still in high spirits, we began thinking up our ‘grand plan’ of an essentials pencil case made out of our single piece of paper. We were eager and ready to share our idea to the class and begin creating our product. However, this enthusiasm was promptly crushed as the only response our tutor gave our idea was ‘done?? is that it?’. She went on to suggest that some groups (clearly hinting at us) may want to change their ideas in light of the incredible, creative ideas of the other groups. Our group all looked at each other with the same look of both defeat and annoyance. We were certain on the fact that she hated both our idea and our group.

Our frustration continued as while we all made our products we were given no encouragement or assistance while our tutor sat down with the other groups helping them in every way possible. We found this unfair as we, with such limited resources, were the ones who needed the help and attention. Our group were very happy with our end product, having added a timetable to the front of our essentials case and hints and tips to the other side. Although lacking in the vibrant colours the other groups’ products had, our product was purposeful and made use of everything we were given.

Once again, each group presented their product and our tutor gave verbal feedback and a score out of ten. The change in the tone of her voice and enthusiasm was evident as she moved to our group, she had no hope that we could make anything worthwhile. Hardly paying attention to what we were presenting, she simply rolled her eyes and gave us a 1/10. We put so much effort into our product and to have someone disregard it so quickly was really upsetting. We had no intention of listening to anything else she had to say or engaging in the rest of the workshop. However, our tutor then revealed the true purpose of the task.

Our tutor was purposely disregarding and paying no attention to our group; while she was being overly helpful and encouraging to the other groups. This task was all about showing that all too often those who have everything they could ever need get all the attention and praise for their effort and work. However, those who have little are pushed to the side and given little encouragement or praise for their work; even though they had to put a lot more thought and effort into creating something out of so little. This was a great way of showing this scenario and teaching us how it feels to be on either end of the scale. The groups who had it all found it a very enjoyable task, while the groups who had few resources found it frustrating and difficult. It really helped to open my eyes to how a teacher should and should not act and the implications a teacher’s attitude can have on a child. It is often easy to marvel at the most colourful and elaborate design. However, we need to also look at those who are struggling with their designs, giving them the support and praise they need to create something wonderful. Furthermore, the other groups admitted that they hadn’t really noticed our lack of supplies or how hard the task was made for us. They felt guilty as while we were using everything we had, they had piles of unused resources on their tables. This is an important example of how we are often so concentrated on our own aims and success that we don’t realise what’s happening around us. We are often blind to the struggles of those around us and it is only when we too experience these struggles that we realise the need to help. I found this workshop really worthwhile and I will always remember this lesson when I go out on my placements and into the teaching profession.


Welcome to your WordPress eportfolio

Welcome to your ePortfolio. This is where you will document and share your professional thoughts and experiences over the course of your study at the University of Dundee and beyond that when you begin teaching. You have the control over what you want to make public and what you would rather keep on a password protected page.

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Teacher, Lorraine Lapthorne conducts her class in the Grade Two room at the Drouin State School, Drouin, Victoria

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