The International Baccalaureate Mission: 

The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. 

To this end, the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programs of international education and rigorous assessment. 

These programs encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences can also be right. 

What Is the IB Primary Years Program?

The Primary Years Program (PYP) is designed for students aged 3 to 12.  It focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside.  It is a framework guided by six transdisciplinary themes of global significance, explored using knowledge and skills, with a powerful emphasis on inquiry.  

The six subject areas identified within the IB Primary Years Program include language, mathematics, science, social studies, arts, and personal, social and physical education (PSPE).

The IB Primary Years Programme: 

  • addresses students' academic, social and emotional well-being
  • encourages students to develop independence and to take responsibility for their own learning
  • supports students' efforts to gain understanding of the world and to function comfortably within it
  • helps students establish personal values as a foundation upon which international-mindedness will develop and flourish. 

Six Transdisciplinary Themes

The most significant and distinctive feature of the IB Primary Years Program are the six transdisciplinary themes.  These themes provide IB World Schools with the opportunity to incorporate local and global issues into the curriculum and effectively allow students to "step up" beyond the confines of learning within subject areas.

  • Who we are: Inquiry into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities, and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human
  • Where we are in place and time: Inquiry into orientation in place and time; personal histories; homes and journeys; the discoveries, explorations and migrations of humankind; the relationship between and the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations, from local and global perspectives
  • How we express ourselves:  Inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic
  • How the world works:  Inquiry into the natural world and its laws, the interaction between the natural world (physical and biological) and human societies; how humans use their understanding of scientific principles; the impact of scientific and technological advances on society and on the environment.
  • How we organize ourselves:  Inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment
  • Sharing the planet:  Inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and other living things; communities and the relationship within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution

Each theme is addressed each year by all students. (Students aged 3-5 engage with four of the themes each year.)  These transdisciplinary themes help teachers to develop a program of inquiry- investigations into important ideas, identified by the schools, and requiring a high level of involvement on the part of the students.  These inquiries are substantial, in-depth and usually last for several weeks. 

Since these ideas relate to the world beyond the school, students see their relevance and connect in an engaging and challenging way.  Students who learn in this way, begin to reflect on their roles and responsibilities as learners and become actively involved with their education.  All students will come to realize that a unit of inquiry involves them in in-depth exploration of an important idea, and that with guidance from their teacher, they will collect evidence of how well they understand that idea.  They will expect to be able to work in a variety of ways, on their own and in groups, to allow them to learn to their best advantage.

The Exhibition

The Exhibition is an important part of the PYP for all students.  In the final year of the program, students undertake a collaborative, transdisciplinary inquiry process that involves them in identifying, investigating, and offering solutions to real-life issues or problems.  As the culminating experience of the PYP, the Exhibition offers students an exciting opportunity to demonstrate independence and responsibility for their own learning. 

The above information about the IB PYP is taken from the IBO published informational brochure,  The IB Primary Years Program, 2012.  For more information visit the IBO website.