INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS: PUTTING THE STUDENT FIRST

SWA International School

International schools lead the world of education through their commitment to excellence in teacher professional development and continuous improvement of school practices that positively impact student learning. Independence allows international schools the opportunity to be truly innovative in pursuit of their unique vision of how to best shape students and prepare them for university, work and lifelong learning as responsible global citizens. International schools embrace and build off of a broader international community of professionals that seek to establish common understandings of standards of practice in the pursuit of developing effective teaching and learning that ensure students are being challenged and positively impacted by programmes and school culture. The international school community is held together by international curricula that have been developed over many years with the special requirements of international schools in mind. Sinarmas World Academy (SWA) two well-established and innovative curricula as the core of its approach to developing engaged global citizens capable of achieving their full potential. Over the course of the K-12 Programme at SWA, both Cambridge and International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes are implemented at different stages and for different reasons, all grounded on a commitment to providing the highest quality education possible to our students, understanding that the world continues to change and that this requires education systems to ensure students are best prepared for such a future.

Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE)

Cambridge University has been offering international school curricula for quite some time. Schools all over the world use the CAIE syllabuses set which detail knowledge and skills that serve as benchmarks for performance across grade levels. Use of these common knowledge and skills allows for comparisons to be made between and among schools in terms of performance. It is important to note that CAIE does not specify how schools should ensure students have mastered the content provided in their syllabuses and that schools have the freedom to choose just how they decide to teach this content, given their vision and philosophy for how to best prepare students for the future. Cambridge has provided the basic knowledge and skills that are subject specific, focusing on English, Mathematics and Science for lower age levels and branching out into specialized subject fields for older age levels. The age levels terminate with an externally moderated qualification that allows Cambridge syllabuses are aimed at several distinct age groups as below:

Cambridge Syllabuses

Age Range (years)

Qualification

Primary

5 to 11

Primary Checkpoint

Lower Secondary

11 to 14

Checkpoint

Secondary 1

14 to 16

IGCSE

 

International Baccalaureate (IB)

While Cambridge has led the world in assessment for many years, the International Baccalaureate (IB) has come to dominate the highest quality international schools with an emphasis on teaching and learning. Its oldest programme, the Diploma Programme (DP), was established in 1968 with the goal of enabling students to successfully deal with the complexities of the world and develop the mindsets in them to have positive impacts on it. The DP includes syllabus content just as Cambridge syllabuses, but goes further in defining standards of practice for teaching in line with its goals to shape the future through education. The Middle Years Programme (MYP) is the pre-DP programme offered by IB which focuses on developing the skills, attitudes and habits that are required for success. Unlike the DP and Cambridge syllabuses, the focus of the MYP is on teaching students to “learn how to learn” rather than specifying specific knowledge that students should come to learn over the course of the programme. As such, the MYP was designed as a framework that can be implemented in virtually any school programme and with any syllabuses. At the core of the MYP framework are developing student agency, ability to inquire, collaboration and higher-order thinking skills that facilitate deeper understanding that will serve students throughout their lives and academic careers. The Middle Years Programme at SWA uses the Cambridge syllabus content as the standard for knowledge and with which to achieve the necessary skills and attitudes, as defined by IB, needed for true success as a lifelong learner and engaged global citizen.

 

IB versus Cambridge: Putting the Student First

While the Diploma Programme (DP) is similar to Cambridge’s A-Level programme in some ways, universities have come to accept the DP as a better model for preparation that ensures success in the long term. Along with the IB’s unique stress on research-informed and effective practices of teaching and learning, the DP develops communication, higher-order thinking and self-management skills in all students who complete the programme to a similar extent and this ensures students who have earned the IB Diploma have the requisite skills and experience for success.

The Middle Years Programme (MYP) is the best pre-IB programme in the sense that it ensures age-appropriate approaches to learning that take into consideration student growth as adolescence and pays special attention to social and emotional development while developing a love of learning that will guide the student as an autonomous learner throughout the Diploma Programme and into university. Higher-order thinking skills like creative problem-solving, reflection and the ability to evaluate and synthesize are developed over long periods of time and must be central to daily teaching and learning if deep learning is to be maximised. Skills such as collaboration and communication are also at the center of the MYP along with important attitudes in line with the Growth Mindset such as grit. The MYP puts the focus on these items before subject content because they form the foundation for success. At SWA, Cambridge elements are in agreement with the importance placed on elements required by the IB MYP and DP and also scaffolded down through to Elementary School. One of the major reasons SWA implements Cambridge Programmes is to ensure students are held to the same high standards of academic rigour provided by the content of Cambridge syllabuses and as measured by external qualifications such as Checkpoint and IGCSE. At SWA we recognize that an understanding of content knowledge is only one aspect that we seek to develop in our students. Just as important to knowledge and understanding are the skills, attitudes and mindsets that will ultimately determine the impact our students will have on the world as global citizens embracing intercultural understanding, respect for each other and accepting responsibility for our shared humanity and stewardship of the planet.

Sinarmas World Academy is an IB World School offering globally recognized curricula of the Early Years Foundation Stage, Primary Cambridge Syllabuses, Middle Years Programme (MYP) and Diploma Programmes (DP). Please contact us if you are interested in joining our world-class IB school community committed to the ideals and philosophy of the International Baccalaureate with high academic standards as set by Cambridge from Kindergarten to High School. Our focus on developing future leaders takes the best elements of both IB and Cambridge to for the most effective impact on student learning and holistic development. For more information, visit our official website at www.swa-jkt.com.

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