Differences and similarities between the IB and the CfE in terms of Primary Education
IB PYP and CfE both aim to help children develop into independent and successful lifelong learners who respect and value opinions of others. Both curricula encourage learners to be active, creative and determined to achieve their goals.
Not only teachers but children as well are part of the learning process and can have an impact on what they learn and how. Teachers collaborate and work together to create engaging, relevant and challenging lessons.
On top of that, IB is internationally-focused and aims to educate learners in such environment that provides opportunities to understand different cultures and languages.
The IB Primary Years Programme identifies 6 subject areas:
- Social studies
- Personal, social and physical education
They are discussed via 6 transdisciplinary themes:
- Who we are
- Where we are in place and time
- How we express ourselves
- How the world works
- How we organize ourselves
- Sharing the planet
Whereas, in the CfE, there are 8 subject areas:
- Social studies
- Religious and moral education
- Health and wellbeing
- Expressive arts
What children should learn in each subject area (in the CfE) is described in Experiences and Outcomes documents. These documents specify what knowledge and skills should be developed throughout each school year. It is divided into three levels – early, first, second. This allows the interconnection of information and building of knowledge. Benchmark documents explain this even more allowing teachers to fully understand what concepts should be discussed and what knowledge and skills should be acquired. Furthermore, in the Curriculum for Excellence, literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing are considered to be responsibility of all teachers.
Whereas, the IB is known for its transdisciplinary-themed curriculum and making links and connections between subject areas. Knowledge, skills and concepts are acquired through six themes mentioned above. However, some subjects may be studies separately e.g. Physical education or Music Education. This International Primary Years Programme focuses on acquiring knowledge, skills, concepts, attitudes and action. The curriculum is inquiry-based meaning children themselves create a hypothesis about a picture/information and by finding out further information themselves, they learn about the topic/issue and slowly develop into and become critical thinkers. A huge focus is on learning through exploring big ideas and larger concepts from various points of view, which help students understand the world around them. An emphasis is then placed upon reflection on children´s learning.
CfE as well encourages and implements interdisciplinary learning for children to develop the ability to apply knowledge and skills in other contexts.
In the CfE, there are also seven principles for teachers to consider when planning lessons:
- Challenge and enjoyment
- Personalisation and choice
From my point of view, CfE as well as IB curriculum allow teachers to prepare such lessons that are engaging, challenging and relevant for the pupils in a way that best suits them. Teachers can and are encouraged to get to know their students as much as possible which then enables them to fully understand how they learn best and plan lessons accordingly. Experiences and outcomes documents that are part of the CfE help teachers to understand in detail what it is that need to be taught at each grade. I enjoy the flexibility of the Curriculum for Excellence. It is up to the teacher how a concept will be learnt. This allows teachers to create lessons according to their learners´ preferences, which help students feel they also play a part in the learning process and their ideas are valued and possibly taken forward.
I really enjoy the fact that the IB curriculum is international inviting all people from various cultural background to become a part of this learning community. It brings people together, which, I believe, could also become an element of the Scottish education, for example in the form of partnership and projects with other schools. It is incredibly important to understand other cultures in order to become a critical thinker and have a general overview of the world and what is happening around us.
I am really looking forward to learning more about the IB Primary Years Programme.