Exclusive: Number of schools using IB continues to decline

Number of British schools using IB has halved since 2008 - but pupil entries have gone up

Will Hazell

Will Hazell

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The number of UK schools using the International Baccalaureate has continued to fall, new figures show.

But while the number of schools with IB courses has halved since 2008, pupil entries have gone up.

According to figures shared with Tes by the IB Schools and Colleges Association, there were 110 UK schools with candidates registered for the IB’s courses for 16- to 19-year-olds in 2018 – three less than in 2017.

The IB is often used as an alternative to A levels favoured for its broader range of subjects and requirements for an extended essay and community service.

In 2014, there were 131 UK schools using the qualification, but in 2008 the number stood at 230.

However, while the number of schools has declined, there has been an increase in pupils taking IB courses.

In 2008, UK pupil entries were around the 3,000 mark, but they have since climbed to 4,832 this year.

The latest figures include both the IB’s traditional diploma programme – in which students study six subjects over two years – and its career-related programme, which was launched in 2012 and offers a mix of academic and vocational training.

Lord Willetts, a former Conservative universities minister, blamed the decline in the number of schools on hostility from Michael Gove to the IB when he was education secretary, as well as opposition from the Treasury and universities.

The fall in Britain sharply contrasts with the IB’s increasing international popularity. Globally the number of schools doing the IB has doubled over the last decade.

John Claughton, development officer of the IBSCA, said that many UK state schools had been forced to drop their IB provision because of funding cuts, which meant they were no longer able to offer both A levels and the IB.

He also said “conservatism” and “inertia” meant children and parents were sometimes inclined just to stick with A levels.

However, Mr Claughton said the decline had “bottomed out”, and that there had been “material growth” in the independent sector.

“Although the tide has gone out [on the IB], I think the tide has turned,” he said.

 

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