The IB Diploma's fate looks bleak

19th July 2013 at 01:00

As you outline, it is of great concern that the International Baccalaureate (IB) is in decline in state schools, especially when this seems at the outset to be purely because of funding ("Diploma's decline in UK state schools is branded a 'travesty'", 12 July). This is particularly a shame as the IB Diploma is that rare beast in UK education, a values-driven and service-based curriculum programme that often inspires children at a deep level.

However, we should not be blaming the government for all of the IB's ills on this occasion, as it is often local and systemic decisions that threaten the programme's delivery.

Many schools and colleges offer the scheme in tandem with "traditional" A-level programmes, a decision that is difficult to justify economically as teaching groups are doubled up and student numbers squeezed. In addition, schools sometimes struggle to staff IB "sink" sets, particularly in mathematics, resulting from the scheme's insistence on broad but compulsory elements. Finally, teachers also find it difficult to "sell the product" to teenagers who have already identified a post-16 specialist route and often see A levels as a natural continuation from GCSE. The IB's high support and training costs do not help in this matter, sadly.

Neil Roskilly, Chief executive, the Independent Schools Association.

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