About the IB Primary Years Programme
The International School of Berne (ISBerne) is committed to the International Baccalaureate® Primary Years Programme (PYP) curriculum for young learners aged 3–12. The Primary Years Programme is based on the recognition of a child’s natural curiosity, creativity, and ability to reflect. It generates a stimulating, challenging learning environment to nurture the whole child and foster a lifelong love of learning for all. The PYP is transdisciplinary, meaning students learn across subject areas while inquiring into big ideas.
- What is the Primary Years Programme (PYP)?
- What is studied?
- What is the Grade 5 Exhibition?
- Frequently Asked Questions
The IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) for children aged 3 to 12 nurtures and develops young students as caring, active participants in a lifelong journey of learning. The PYP offers an inquiry-based, transdisciplinary curriculum framework that builds conceptual understanding. It reflects the best of educational research, thought leadership, and experience derived from IB World Schools. The PYP has evolved to become a world leader in future-focused education. The PYP is an example of best educational practice globally, responding to the challenges and opportunities facing young students in our rapidly changing world.
The IB Primary Years Programme:
- acknowledges learner agency and the importance of self-efficacy to enable students to become partners in the learning process
- addresses students’ academic, social and emotional well-being
- encourages students to develop independence and to take responsibility for their own learning
- supports students’ efforts to gain an understanding of the world and to function comfortably within it
- helps students establish personal values as a foundation upon which international-mindedness will develop and flourish
- provides the opportunity to learn more than one language from the age of seven
ISBerne outlines our academic curriculum within the framework of the PYP, including:
- Knowledge content is organized by the transdisciplinary themes. Our school decides specific concepts and topics studied through each theme based on our local context.
- Approaches to learning skills aimed to help students become independent, self-motivated learners.
- Action initiated by learners that is authentic, meaningful, mindful, responsible, and responsive of their learning and the world in which they live.
Students explore significant concepts through units of inquiry. The six transdisciplinary themes that guide units of inquiry are:
- Who we are
- Where we are in place and time
- How we express ourselves
- How the world works
- How we organize ourselves
- Sharing the planet
Units of inquiry authentically interweave ideas and skills from the relevant subject areas:
- Social Studies
- Personal, Social, and Physical Education
This approach encourages students to make their own connections between what they know and how it relates to the world around them.
The IB Fifth Grade Exhibition is an essential component of the International Baccalaureate programme. It provides an opportunity for students to engage in in-depth inquiry while exploring multiple perspectives and sources. It also allows them to demonstrate synthesis and understanding of their previous years at ISBerne and reflect on their journey through the PYP.
Our Fifth Grade Exhibition is a research project and presentation that pays special attention to the student’s individual areas of interest, their own student profile, and any unique talents they wish to explore. These are student-led projects whose topics and formats are created entirely by the students on a small-group basis —in essence, one separate Exhibition per small group of students.
Connecting with a Mentor
Throughout the process, the students will need the guidance of a teacher mentor who will help keep the students focused on a plan of action to develop their Exhibition. They will meet together for a minimum of 30 minutes per week, with particular attention paid to the mentor’s schedule. The mentor will help the students remain focused, check on work accomplished, provide suggestions for research and development, and help the students not to become overwhelmed. This is a mutually rewarding educational experience for both the students and mentors.
Choosing an Issue
Students research their topics and develop the basic idea for their presentation. The classroom teacher and the Library Media Specialist will help them organize, understand how to do research, and find sources. The phase will last a few weeks, giving the students plenty of time to plan research and even change course a bit if necessary. Throughout this phase and the next, students will meet weekly with their mentor to plan, review research, suggest sources, and discuss possible action. In addition, parents will provide opportunities to get to the library, go on day trips to museums or venues appropriate for learning more about the child’s topic, and make suggestions whenever possible.
The first part of the process is to explain the idea to the students by giving examples of substantial topics about which the students could become knowledgeable. Next, the teacher will provide some examples of how the presentation might look, and what they expect from the students during all phases of the Exhibition.
The students then select the issue around which their Exhibition will revolve. Based on these student-selected issues, small groups are formed. In this phase, the students will also be paired with mentors. A detailed timeline will be provided to all mentors and students.
In the classroom, each group of students will create their own planner containing a Central Idea and Inquiries (just as IB teachers do when planning their IB units). In addition, the students will be keeping a journal documenting their personal journey through the Exhibition process.
Inquiry and Research
In collaborative teams, students research their topics and develop the basic idea for their presentation. The Fifth-grade classroom teacher and the Library Media Specialist will help them organize, understand how to do research, and how to find sources.
The phase will last a few weeks, giving the students plenty of time to plan research and even change course a bit if necessary. Throughout this phase and the next, students will meet weekly with their own mentor to plan, review research, suggest sources, and discuss possible action.
Parents provide opportunities to get to the library, go on day trips to museums or venues appropriate for learning more about the child’s topic, and make suggestions whenever possible.
Creativity and Innovation
The students will now take the information they have acquired and create their Exhibition. Each group will plan a presentation that will be informative and creative. The form that the actual presentation takes may change from year to year. Their creative component could be a TED-style talk, movie, TV commercial, construction project, art project, a skit, or anything else they can come up with as a manner of expressing their knowledge and new understandings.
Students practice and refine their presentations. There will be two-three Exhibition days at ISBerne for parents, the community, and the rest of the school to see the student Exhibitions. Students will present on stage with lighting and microphones and, if needed, screen projections.
Students will celebrate their accomplishments afterward and reflect on the process. Students may choose to take action based on what they have learned.
Here you will find the answers to some of the most common questions families have about the PYP at the International School of Berne. The Admissions Frequently Asked Questions page shows the most common inquires schoolwide. If you have any other questions or want to discuss any aspect of the process, please contact us or schedule a virtual consultation.
What are the advantages of a PYP education?
- IB programmes are recognized internationally and ease the educational transition of mobile students so that their education is not adversely affected if their families relocate.
- IB World Schools like ISBerne are the only schools authorized to offer the PYP programmes. IB World Schools are subject to a strict accreditation process monitored by the IB, ensuring that schools provide a high-quality education.
- PYP teaching methods and curriculums are research-based and draw from the best educational practices from systems worldwide.
- PYP teachers are required to participate in many professional development opportunities to continually promote their awareness of current educational practices and new thinking.
Have studies been done on the impact of the PYP?
The IB places great value on external validation of its programmes, curriculums, and professional development. A recent Global International Schools’ Assessment study found that PYP students outperformed non-IB students in mathematics, reading, and writing. Additional studies on programme impact, quality assurance, programme development, and assessment research are available at www.ibo.org/research.
When do students start and finish the PYP?
The PYP is designed for students aged 3–12 (preschool and primary grades). The Middle Years Programme (MYP) spans students aged 11–16, and the Diploma Programme (DP) is for the last two years of high school, students aged 16–19.
Do IB teachers receive special training?
All PYP teachers receive professional development in IB’s approaches to teaching and approaches to learning from certified IB workshop leaders. This is a requirement for IB World Schools to implement the PYP.