In this section

Find an IB World School

The IB in

Ofqual finds that the IB Diploma Programme prepares students well for university study




IB diploma studentsIB Diploma Students are well prepared for the demands of higher education, according to OFQUAL’s latest report.

Ofqual has today published a report which considers how A levels available in England compare with thequalifications offered at a similar level elsewhere in the world, including the IB Diploma Programme. The report looks at how strengths from other education systems and qualifications might be incorporated into A levels as part of the ongoing review of the qualification. Findings suggest that the IB Diploma Programme offers a broad education with an international perspective and an emphasis on mathematics and languages which successfully prepares students for the demands of higher education.

The report identifies a key strength of the IB Diploma Programme as its emphasis on independent study, in the form of an extended essay which “can help to build the skills of deep thought, synthesis, research and self-directed learning which are so highly prized by universities.” The report also praises the Diploma Programme’s focus on the importance of practical chemistry as an investigation which “requires higher-order skills to design, conclude and evaluate findings.”

The issue of Mathematics is a particular focus of the report, which questions whether there is a “need for A level Mathematics to have further lower-level options in addition to AS”, and cites the IB Diploma Programme as “having highest number of options for mathematical study available.” As an obligatory subject post 16, mathematics is offered in several forms in the IB - these include Mathematical Studies, through to Mathematics at Standard Level and Higher Level, and up to the new Further Mathematics at Higher Level, available from September this year.

The report finds that IB Diploma Programme’s Mathematics at Higher Level is deemed to be amongst the most demanding of those considered, more so than A level Mathematics but less demanding, when taken as a whole, than Further Mathematics A level. Meanwhile, Mathematics at Standard Level is deemed to be less demanding than A levels, and suited to “those students who require a sound mathematical background as they prepare for future studies in subjects such as chemistry, economics, psychology and business studies.” The IB is also noted, along with A levels, as being one of the few programmes that has a sufficiently demanding level of mathematics in the subject of chemistry.

Adrian Kearney, Regional Director, Europe, Middle East and Africa, International Baccalaureate says: “Ofqual’s findings demonstrate that the IB Diploma Programme provides students with a breadth of experience and knowledge in languages, mathematics, the experimental sciences, humanities and social sciences,  which prepares them well for both university and the world of work. The report also acknowledges the programme’s emphasis on independent study through its core - the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge – which provides students with a capacity for inquiry, research, critical thinking and problem-solving and makes them attractive to admissions tutors and graduate employers alike.”

Responding to Ofqual’s findings on mathematics, Andy Atkinson, Head of the Diploma Programme Development, International Baccalaureate adds: “We are very proud of the holistic nature of IB programmes which require all students to continue mathematics through to adulthood. As academically challenging programmes that prepares students for success at university and life beyond, contextual mathematics is at the heart of all of the International Baccalaureate programmes. This is a global marketplace, and both universities and employers need to be confident that the people they are recruiting are on a par with their international counterparts when it comes to standards in mathematics.”  

John Claughton, Chief Master, King Edward's School, Birmingham, says: “At King Edward’s School we made the decision to move to a solely IB Diploma curriculum because we believed that it would provide a really challenging education and would be the best preparation for university study. Our pupils have not only maintained a greater breadth of study and exploration but also learnt vital skills of communication, analysis, enquiry and organisation. We believe strongly that this will give them a much greater chance of success at university and beyond. ”

Download the full international comparability report from the OFQUAL website

Notes to editors:

 About the International Baccalaureate

The International Baccalaureate is a not-for profit foundation, which offers four high quality and challenging educational programmes for a worldwide community of schools. For over 40 years, IB programmes have gained a reputation for their high academic standards, for preparing students for life in a globalised 21st century, and for helping to develop the citizens who will create a better, more peaceful world. Founded in 1968, currently there are close to 1 million IB students at 3,394 schools in 141 countries across the world.