The IB in the UK
The IB in the UK

Download our free eGuides on "How to Choose an IB School in the UK" and "Choices at 16+" 

Find out more

The International Baccalaureate Curriculum

Please also download our free eGuide on How to choose an IB School in the UK

The International Baccalaureate is an international qualification now offered by around 3500 IB schools worldwide. It is overseen by The International Baccalaureate Organisation or IBO in Switzerland. There are 80 private UK schools, which offer one or more of the International Baccalaureate programmes.

There are four programmes

1. The Diploma Programme (DP) for students aged 16 to 19
2. The Middle Years Programme (MYP) for students aged 11 to 16
3. The Primary Years Programme (PYP) for students from 3 to 12.
4. The IB Career Related Certificate (IBCC) for students 16 to 19

We list all of the UK private schools offering the International Baccalaureate in the UK but due to the modest number in the UK, you may not find one in your preferred location. Those UK schools which are prepared to publish their examination results are listed in The Top International Baccalaureate Schools Table, which is replicated on our other website

In the UK, the vast majority of schools only offer the IBDP. There are fewer than 10 schools offering the IBPYP or MYP. They are mostly London schools catering for international expatriate workers. 

The IB Diploma is a 2 year course, starting at the beginning of year 12 with final exams at the end of year 13.

Students take 6 subjects which are selected with their university and career plans in mind. They are encouraged to take their mother tongue language, a Foreign Language, Mathematics, a Science, Humanity and an additional choice. 3 subjects are taken at Higher Level (HL) and 3 at Standard Level (SL). 

Additionally, students have to write an Extended Essay (EE) and take part in the Theory of Knowledge course (ToK). They also have to prove that they have been involved in an activity for 150 hours for the final compulsory Creativity, Action, Service module (CAS).

In total students can achieve 45 points, 7 per subject and an additional 3 for EE, ToK and CAS. 

The IB curriculum is favoured by many international parents because it is transferrable from one country to another if their job changes to another part of the world. The IBDP is regarded highly by universities everywhere. However because the IBDP has 6 mandatory subject groups including maths, science and modern languages it is not always suitable for students who want to specialise or drop certain weaker subjects when they get to 16+.

International Baccalaureate (IB) Schools in the UK

There are approximately 80 UK private schools offering the International Baccalaureate. However, over 90% of these only offer the IB Diploma Programme for 16+ students.

Very few schools in the UK have invested in the MYP, many considering it to be a less robust curriculum than that offered by GCSEs. Moreover, the MYP programme does not end with an externally scored certificate.

The PYP and MYP are generally only found in “international schools”, which cater for the children of international ex-patriates living and working in the UK. Given that the IB is a globally transferrable qualification, it is usually more important for international parents to have their children on a curriculum which can follow them around the world.

The IB has the advantage of being a globally transferrable curriculum. It includes a well-rounded selection of compulsory subject groupings, which finds favour with many universities. However there is a far more important reason why most UK IB schools opted to adopt this curriculum. For some years at the beginning of this century, there was a feeling that A Level grades were being “dumbed down”, because of an ever increasing number of A grades. UCAS decided to offer a higher points tariff to IBDP scores – in fact significantly higher. Thus a number of private schools opted to change to the better scores of the IB. In more recent years there has been the introduction of the Pre-U qualification and A* grades for A Level, which has brought the trend to switch to the IB to a standstill.

If a parent has children of 14 or under, the choice of an “IB School” really means the children will do GCSEs until the age of 16 before swapping to the IBDP in the sixth form.

Most schools still offer the choice of A Levels or IBDP and only a very small number have gone 100% to IBDP – including Sevenoaks and United World College of the Atlantic.

We have written an eGuide entitled “How to Choose a Private IB school” which is available free of charge from our eGuide section. There is also another eGuide on how to choose between A Levels, the IBDP and the Pre-U. In order to obtain expert advice on IB school choice, please go to the Enquiry Form and fill in as much detail as possible about your child.

+44 1622 813870


Follow Us