IB and CfE: Aims.

Upon researching the International Baccalaureate (IB), I quickly released that its aims aren’t too dissimilar to those of the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE).

The aims of IB are that it centres on learners, develops effective approaches to teaching and learning, works within global contexts and explores significant content (IB, 2013). Whilst the aim of the CfE, is to help children and young people gain the knowledge, skills and attributes needed for life in the 21st century, including skills for learning, life and work (Education Scotland, 2019).

Both curricula appear very similar in terms of their aims. The two provide learning useful to life beyond the school environment. IB explores significant content (Cambridge High School 2015), meanwhile the CfE provides us with Skills for Learning, Skills for Life and Skills for Work (Education Scotland, 2019). These aims twin each other; content taught in both of the aforementioned curricula will be relevant, significant and useful for later life. This also aligns with the CfE curricular principle of design; relevance.

The similarities continue as I delve deeper into research and observe that both curricula are child-focused. IB centres on learners (Cambridge High School, 2015). Similarly, the CfE ensures the child is at the centre of all learning that goes on in the classroom, and wider school. For example, the introduction of the principles of design, most specifically ‘personalisation and choice’, encourages individual learners to work at their own pace and not that of the teacher.

Upon reflection of my experiences with the CfE, I can confidently say that many of aspects of the aims of IB shine through. For example, a core value of IB is that learners must be open minded, understanding and respecting their own and others’ cultures. A large part of the Advanced Higher French course that I completed not too long ago, focuses on cultural appreciation. After studying this, I believe to be much more open minded and I can absolutely see the value of this for all learners. Whilst on placement, I then shared my knowledge with my Primary Five class, during a ‘Scotland vs. France’ topic. Whilst I used French as an example, it is not the sole subject to immerse and educate learners in others’ cultures and beliefs. RMPS, Geography, Modern Studies and Spanish are other subjects I have studied which have allowed me to be more acceptant of the wider world.

Pupils following the IB curriculum are aiming to be “knowledgeable learners who explore local and global significant ideas” (Cambridge High School, 2015). My placement class achieved this aim whilst watching Newsround every morning. I also quizzed them on ‘current affairs’ each week, broadening their awareness of the world around them. This encouraged them to be ‘inquirers’ (Cambridge High School, 2015), curious, enthusiastic, analytical and excited to learn relevant content.

Thus far, I have not come across any major differences between the two curricula and it would, so far, seem that most content could be interchangeable.


Cambridge High School. (2015) What is an IB education? Available At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZPi2-x0zkc (Accessed: 10/08/19)

Education Scotland. (2019) What is Curriculum for Excellence? Available At: https://education.gov.scot/scottish-education-system/policy-for-scottish-education/policy-drivers/cfe-(building-from-the-statement-appendix-incl-btc1-5)/What%20is%20Curriculum%20for%20Excellence (Accessed: 10/08/19)

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