Should A Levels be replaced by the IB?

The Royal Society recently questioned whether our current A Level system restricts the potential number of scientists.  Today, The Independent featured a piece from Martin Priestley, Head of Warminster School, looking at the IB as an alternative.  Titled Should A-levels be replaced by the International Baccalaureate? he looks at the issue from the standpoint of a school offering both curriculums. 

As a school that also runs both course there is much in this article with which we agree.  Despite its general strengths, not everybody will be suited to the IB.   Many students know exactly what they want to study at university and wish to specialise as soon as possible. Equally, some admissions’ tutors for certain courses will expect potential students to focus early, this is particularly true for some natural science courses. 

That many universities find the IB attractive is not surprising.  The extended essay gives many students a taste of the sort of work they will be required to do.  Equally the theory of knowledge part of the IB, which focuses on critical thinking skills, gives them a taste of how universities will expect them to think.  Critical thinking is central to the theory of knowledge course, providing them with core skills of analysis and objective judgement, both central to success in higher education.  So taken are we with the Theory of Knowledge course,  that all of our A Level students also take the course.

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