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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:13 am 
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At a welcome evening for the 2013 intake, the headmaster of Bexley Grammar said he was planning to scrap A Levels and just offer the IB in future years. He said the reason was that continual meddling by Governments with A Levels had diminished their value, created inconsistencies across exam boards, and left schools uncertain about what was planned next. It seems a fair point although I was a bit shocked to hear it. I wonder how many other heads are planning on taking the same measure and are A levels doomed?


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:13 am 
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years ago when IB started here I expected huge numbers of schools to be doing it but it just never happened and if anything some schools are reverting to A levels. I think the IB is more resource intensive and expensive for schools but may be wrong on that :?


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:37 am 
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That is interesting as I had heard that many schools which initially started to offer the IB have stopped doing so, even though it is known to be a more robust qualification. I can't find the evidence atm (the link below is by Antony Seldon who obviously has his own agenda) but there was something to do with universities wanting unreasonable scores of IB candidates. It is a more rounded qualification which demands much of students, and to get the top grade (7?) I think they have to put in far more hours than similar A level students. Personally I think it would be great to have it across the board to broaden the very narrow education of 16-18 year olds (you have to study Maths, a language, your native language and some kind of theory of knowledge thing as well as your core subjects - I think it is about 15 exams in all but could be wrong) . I think it is a brave head who moves to this exclusively though, especially as less academic or broadly-based candidates may find it a step too far - it is more usual to offer both and the one school I know well which introduced it has quietly scrapped it this year.

Interesting one, crashtestdummy.

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/418975.article


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:34 pm 
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That is interesting from Bexley Grammar, crashtestdummy.

Dartford Grammar also made the move a few years ago. My DS3 is about to go into year 11 there, and his cousin is hoping to move to year 12 for the IB from Chis and Sid this September.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:15 am 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
My kids' school has offered IB as an alternative to A-levels for the past few years, and is pushing it quite hard. In principle I like the idea of the rounded education offered by the IB, but because 6 subjects are taken, plus the service element and theory of knowledge, I agree that students must have to work considerably harder if they are to cover the same breadth/depth as an A-level in each subject. Also, although I think community service is a "good thing", and important as a life skill, I'm not sure school is the place for it, at this (semi-adult) stage of education, and at the expense of academic teaching time.
Our DS1 has lopsided interests, tending strongly towards maths and science. He was quite attracted by the possibility of continuing with English as well, but has a blind spot in foreign languages, and no interest (sorry Amber!), so the IB language requirement was a major problem. He has gone for A-levels in the subjects for which he has a real passion. DS2 is more rounded academically, and might consider the IB later on.

I would worry about a sixth form that offered only the IB. For rounded individuals, it sounds great, but not all people are rounded, and I have come to think that it is not productive to try to squash an cuboidal child into a round hole. A wide variety of subjects at GCSE is no bad thing, but A-levels/IB will impact on career choice, and if a young person has a clear leaning in one direction, they might be better off specializing in the sixth-form.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:37 pm 
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Location: Herts
My dd's semi selective school looked at the IB, held a parents meeting and then decided not to go ahead. Another local school took it on for a while and then quietly dropped it. I would not want my dd's to be doing it. They need to specialise before uni so they know what they are really interested in. DG


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:48 pm 
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I think many education systems would disagree with you Daogroupie - in some countries I think they even keep it general in the first year at university. It's very hard for a 15 year old to decide their future and many find they have specialised too soon and can't change direction. When my DD was choosing A levels she had no idea what she wanted to go on and do. As it has turned out, she would have had more choices of uni if she had known and chosen slightly differently. With a broader curriculum at 6th form that might have been different.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2013 12:02 pm 
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I think that few schools are big enough to offer both the IB and A levels. They are different exams. As far as I know the schools that have started and then stopped the IB have tried to do both at once. They have different teaching and learning requirements for any given subject. Therefore I would tend to support the idea of only[i][/i] IB or not at all. Naturally it doesn't suit everyone (though perhaps a larger number of students than often imagined). My daughter's school does only IB and there is quite an amount of shuffling around at 16 both in and out.

For most[i],[/i]but not all, students it is possible to specialise sufficiently under the IB to compete effectively for UK university courses, whilst benefitting from the broader education offered. I think that the true mathematician - especially if they were say also dyslexic- would not be suited because although they could do maths, further maths and physics they would still have to do a first and second language as well as a humanity. Scientists are reasonably well served as they can do two experimental sciences (but not three) as highers together with maths. With the right choices I can't believe that this would exclude access to any science degree and it almost certainly better prep than three sciences at A level but not maths. Humanities/ languages are fine but the ardent classicist might have a problem as I don't think that you could do Latin and Ancient Greek but that it a very rare A level choice nowadays.

It is[i][/i]more work and in the past, at least some universities have had unreasonable equivalencies[i].[/i]I think that with A* in A level there is a better correspondence to an IB 7, though Cambridge still seems to make excessive demands (but not Oxford). I have heard rumours though that there is an implicit recognition of this with a willingness to accept near misses. On the other hand there are universities that seem to prefer the IB e.g. Imperial College.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:30 am 
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Location: Chelmsford and pleased
CCHS offer IB as an option and it will be the only option in six years time.

I really like the qualification, but it is really tough. It is UMS-wise the equivalent of 5.5 A levels and content-wise looks fairly close to 6. The only advantage that I've seen is 2hr exam for the maths paper vs 9 hrs for A level.

Cambridge ask for 42 and want 776 in the higher subjects, Oxford ask for 39 with a 7 in the chosen subject. Unfortunately, only 2% of students get a 7 in history and English, which is significantly lower than A* at A level.

DD is seriously considering the IB, but is obviously worried by the stats. She wants to read history combined with either English or French at Oxford. Does anyone have any good news concerning the IB?


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 11:40 am 
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Location: Birmingham
Just had the unofficial parent feedback from KEFW Birmingham joint IB/A levels experiment.

KEFW have now ditched the joint approach and gone back to A levels only - the reason (according to the school) was the poor take-up of IB

The initial IB results were very poor - only 2 students achieved grades sufficient to get into their preferred Univ choice - Parents were very angry. I feel very sad for the IB students. By contrast, A Level results were very good as usual. Also Birmingham KES ind (which switched totally to IB) - has had some very good results

Clearly something very wrong with the KEFW dual IB/A Levels approach adopted at KEFW - but I understand other schools have experienced similar problem.

I think the moral is that parents and students need to tread very carefully if they are thinking to switching to IB in a school which is offering this for the 1st time


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