Comparing IB Primary Years Programme to Curriculum for Excellence

From my understanding of the two education systems so far, it is clear that they both have much in common in terms of their core values and how both have progressed to steer away from the more dated system of learning, where each pupil was given the same work so that they could be easily compared in their progress.

Both the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) and Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) pride themselves on being an improvement on the older education system as they value pupil’s opinions and are concerned with ensuring each pupil is able to achieve on their own learning journey. I agree that both programmes have pupil’s best interests at heart and I have grown to form my own philosophy of education with similar values to both programmes.

The PYP and CfE are similar because they both encourage transdisciplinary learning in order for pupils to understand that that is how the real world works, and few professions or subjects involve only one discipline. In CfE, this is often encouraged through outdoor learning and exploring nature, not only using biology but also maths and English to make sense of the world around us. I think this is a great example of transdisciplinary learning that advantages pupils as they are able to independently make links between the subjects to form a more complete understanding.

The PYP also highlights six specific transdisciplinary themes that ensure the curriculum is creating global learners. These are:

  • Who we are
  • Where we are in place and time
  • How we express ourselves
  • How the world works
  • How we organise ourselves
  • Sharing the planet

(The IB Primary Years Programme, 2014)

While it is clear that CfE shares many of the same themes through promoting transdisciplinary learning, these themes are specifically highlighting in the PYP Programme as being core to pupil’s understanding of the world around them, and form the basis on which transdisciplinary learning exists in the PYP.

Furthermore, both curriculums aim to include pupils as much as possible in their own learning, by asking them what they would like to learn, which ensures pupils are engaged throughout a topic. This is an advantageous approach as learning is more enjoyable and pupils are able to see a purpose to the learning because they have used their own inquisition to think of what they want to learn about the world around them.

By valuing the input that pupils can have in their own learning journey, both programmes are working towards creating responsible and valued future citizens of the world, who are able to make their own decisions and views based on the knowledge they have acquired. Both programmes also ensure that learning is a journey that is never finished, encouraging pupils to never stop being inquisitive and challenging themselves, so that they can see the purpose of what they are learning for themselves.


The IB Primary Years Programme. (2014). The International Baccalaureate Organisation. Available at: file:///C:/Users/julia/OneDrive/Documents/University/MA2/IB/IB%20Primary%20Programme%20Brochure.pdf (Accessed 20/8/19).

One Reply to “Comparing IB Primary Years Programme to Curriculum for Excellence”

  1. Some interesting and valid connections being identified here. We will explore the differing definitions of transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary during our elective.

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