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This page explains why we are international by exploring some of our international links so far, and some of our plans for future collaborations.


It also describes and the background and history of the curriculum we use, the Middle Years Programme from the International Baccalaureate.

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International Links

Milan City Council Pupils Visit

"Monday 12th June - Friday 23rd June, 2017

15 pupils from an Italian exchange programme sponsored by Milan City Council will be joining GIS pupils for two weeks. We are delighted that they have chosen our school and we hope this is the start of a long-standing two-way relationship!

Pupils will be staying with host families in the local area and be in school from 09:00 - 13:00 each day."

Zhong Shan Primary School Visit

4-16 February 2017 We hosted a group of children from Zhong Shan No 11 Primary School (in Guizhou province) "to give them a new life experience.This is their very first trip abroad and for most of them this will be the first time meeting ‘foreign' children." The trip was organised by YingShi Helsby, the owner of Cheltenham Mandarin School, who worked with us in our first years.

History of the International Baccalaureate

The International Baccalaureate (IB) is a nonprofit foundation based in Geneva. It was founded in 1968 and used to be called, more sensibly, the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO).


It offers four educational programmes:

  1. The IB Diploma Programme             DP       16-19

  2. The IB Career-related Programme   CP       16-19      (2012)

  3. The Middle Years Programme           MYP    11-16     (1994)

  4. The Primary Years Programme         PYP      3-11       (1997)


The roots of the IB can be traced back to the end of World War II and the noble idea that the best hope for countries to live in peace with each other was through international education. Many of its founders or inspirations are not as well known as I think they should be. They include:

  • Marie-Thérèse Maurette: French educator, director of the International School of Geneva, the world’s first international school, between 1929 and 1949. Her educational principles inspired the first IB Diploma Programme.

  • Bob Leach: inspirational American-born history teacher at the International School of Geneva who developed an enquiry-based history syllabus and organised the Conference of Internationally-minded Schools in 1962 which was the first to use the phrase “international baccalaureate”.

  • John Goormaghtigh: tireless Belgian lawyer who survived the Dachau concentration camp, developed a series of organisations which led up to the IB: The International Schools Association, the International Schools Examination Syndicate, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the IB Council of Foundation.

  • Alec Peterson: charismatic British educator, energetic driving force behind the curriculum design, in particular the incorporation of critical thinking, first Director-General of the IBO. The IBO Cardiff Headquarters building, Peterson House, is named after him.

Kurt Hahn

These are all important figures but to my mind the greatest educator who influenced the IB was another who has sadly gone out of fashion: the eccentric German emigre Kurt Hahn. He made many contributions to experiential education, and was a huge proponent of the idea that education should be as much about serving others as serving oneself. Among his many innovations:

  1. Gordonstoun (1934) which Prince Philip enjoyed but Prince Charles did not (reportedly).

  2. Outward Bound School (1941) in Aberdovey, Wales, which became the Outward Bound Trust.

  3. The Duke of Edinburgh Awards (1951).

  4. Atlantic College (1962): still one of the most sought after DP colleges in the UK and the first of the United World Colleges.

Kurt Hahn defined four pillars of character formation: physical fitness; an expedition that provides challenge and adventure; a project that develops self-reliance and self-discipline; and a sense of compassion through service. Later he introduced a fifth pillar, self-discipline.

One interpretation is that he attempted, successfully, to blend the Greco-Roman tradition of courage and challenge with the Judeo-Christian tradition of compassion and self-sacrifice. Another, more practical, perspective is that he combined all the following divergent elements into a coherent concept:

  • German fitness training

  • American project learning 

  • the British scout tradition

  • Christian charity work.

Middle Years Programme

The story of the genesis of the MYP is a little unclear. It traces back to a conference in Tanzania in 1980 when the International Schools Association Conference recommended the development of a pre-IB course which would provide for Global, Intellectual, Personal, Physical, Creative and Social needs. How it took so long to become the MYP is not known but presumably must be testament to thorough and careful preparation!

Kurt Hahn.png

Kurt Hahn

Source: IB presentation

ib Middle Years Programme
Robert Leach.png

Robert Leach.

Source: IB presentation

John Goormaghtigh.png

John Goormaghtigh

Source: IB presentation

Alec Peterson.png

Alec Peterson

Source: IB presentation

Students doing outdoor climbing activity
Student using technology at Wotton House School
IB History.png

History of the International Baccalaureate

Source: IB presentation

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The International Baccalaureate

IB Mission Statement

The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.


To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.

These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

Introduction to the IB

The IB have produced a lot of documentation and guidance on their website ( but the simplest introduction is probably this one-page PDF (also included at the end of this section).

IB Facts and Figures

The International Baccalaureate is a not-for-profit organization supporting the education of more than 1.4 million students in 5,300 schools in 158 countries worldwide (as at March 2021).

IB Financials

For a small school the IB is prohibitively expensive. Using figures from 2021 for a school to be accredited would cost:

  • Application for candidacy fee:                      £2,510

  • Candidacy and consultation services fee:   £5,730

  • Staff training courses:                                      £5,600 (say 10 staff at £560 per course)

  • Annual fee:                                                         £6,030


The annual fee is for the MYP but the others are similar; useful discounts of 10% apply for running 2 programmes and 20% for 3.

This means that the total expense after 3 years of operation to get up and running is in the region of £20,000. The costs associated with other curricula are closely guarded so it is difficult to make comparisons. But I think it is fair to say that the IB is the most expensive and that they would argue that you get what you pay for!

IB Schools in the UK

This document summarises the position as at October 2021. There are currently 132 schools in the UK offering at least one IB programme - dominated by the Diploma Programme (96 schools). The majority are independent but 55 are state schools, largely because a group of academies in Kent have been switching large numbers of schools to the IB. Geographically this means that about half of the schools are in the South-East - 34 in Kent and 22 in London.

There are 26 MYP schools, 5 of which only offer that one programme - us and 4 academies in Kent and London.

IB Reference Documents

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An international curriculum that promotes the joy of learning
Students in the garden.

We’re talking about an international qualification which is the best in the world... Why are we not bringing it in...?”

- Dr Anthony Seldon, Headmaster of Wellington College

“.... It allows students to explore their passions and do something powerful with it. It involves third or fourth level thinking where students really have to go beyond the surface and dig deeper into more abstract and conceptual thinking. ...”

- Dr Vincent Chian, Principle of Fairview International School, Malaysia

“.... Our parents are excited because students are becoming well-rounded and they’re getting that classic liberal arts-minded education...”

- Dr. John Waller, director, secondary curriculum and special programs, Marietta City Schools, USA.

On the whole MYP v the GCSE thing, I once had it described to me this way, and I would agree. "The MYP teaches students to think. The GCSE teaches them to remember".

-TES Community Forum

“The IB offers breadth and a balanced education which other qualifications do not offer,”

-Jesse Elzinga, Headmaster of Sevenoaks School.

"“The IB is challenging but it prepared me for the style of learning at university, where self-discipline and initiative are essential for success. Most importantly, the IB developed my open-mindedness, international outlook and ability to think critically – essential skills for living in the modern world.”

-Rhiannon Durant, Student at Oxford University

“Candidates who wish to be stretched should, in my view, take the MYP. The rigour and work ethic it encourages will assist them strongly if they wish to progress to a degree that will require them to really engage with their subject discipline”. 

-Mike Nicholson, Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Oxford University

"MYP? Heavens this could be dangerous! A generation of boys and girls encouraged to think for themselves, to be creative, to problem solve, to work together, to view themselves as part of the world not as the centre of it."

-Nigel Taylor, Headmaster of Amesbury School

"Content across IB MYP, GCSE and IGCSE specifications were broadly similar. The MYP covered all the main areas of the other two programmes and in some cases included additional areas of study. 

Overall, the vast majority of teachers, parents and students gave extremely positive responses when asked about their experiences of the IB MYP. Each group reported positive impacts of being involved in the MYP and described many benefits, in line with general IB principles."

-NFER Study

“What the world cares about is not what our students know, but what they can do with what they know.”

- Tony Wagner, fellow at the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard University and author of The Global Achievement Gap

"In the rapidly changing world knowing how to learn new things will define success."

- IB Strategic Initiatives Innovation & Incubation, 2021

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