Cranbrook preschools

These Pre-Schools Teach with the International Baccalaureate

This Sydney school is teaching the sought-after International Baccalaureate global school curriculum in its pre-schools.

Have you heard of the International Baccalaureate? It’s an international school curriculum framework designed to give children the aptitude and skills to succeed in every aspect of life. Crossing all subject areas, and available in 109 countries, it is a highly regarded program seen as a ‘passport to anywhere’.

At Cranbrook School in Sydney, children learn the International Baccalaureate’s Primary Years Programme (for students aged 3 to 12) from their early years in its two Pre-schools (at St Mark’s at Darling Point, and St Michael’s in Vaucluse).

CHILD Mags asked Cranbrook’s Director of Pre-schools, Heidi Burke, how it works:

Many people think of the International Baccalaureate as a high-school program.

How does Cranbrook implement the IB in its pre-schools?

“In the context of the PYP, the school is considered to be a community of learners,” explains Heidi. “Our community of learners starts at Pre-school.”

In the PYP, it is acknowledged that experiences during the early years lay the foundations for all future learning, she says.

“The PYP provides a framework that gives crucial support for children to be active inquirers and lifelong learners. The children inquire into and learn about globally significant issues in the context of that term’s units of inquiry. When developing an individual unit of inquiry, teachers discuss whether it will be engaging, relevant, challenging and significant to the children.”

Teachers see learning as a two-way process and view children as capable and curious, says Heidi.

“We ask questions, prompt responses when needed, observe and scaffold as required, guide and listen to children’s interactions and consistently provoke and celebrate curiosity. We encourage children to be passionate about learning across all areas of the programme. We encourage their voice and we learn what they are passionate about. We help children to explore and connect with their world.”

“We aim to develop life-long skills that children can take and use both inside and outside the classroom, and to support children’s efforts to make meaning from the world around them.”

Heidi says Cranbrook’s work through the International Baccalaureate is not purely driven by a desire to acquire a body of knowledge, but rather to make meaning of the ever changing knowledge.

“It is a work in progress to teach children how to learn.”

The IB has five essential elements – knowledge, concepts, skills, attitudes and actions.

“The Cranbrook Pre-schools curriculum is informed by two frameworks: Australia’s Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP). The PYP is a rigorous international framework that complements the EYLF very well, as it promotes guided inquiry learning. The attitudes of tolerance, respect, cooperation and integrity, which are so prevalent across the whole school, are introduced from the commencement of Pre-school,” says Heidi.

An advantage of the IB programme is that it provides a common language and a consistent approach to learning across the school’s campuses and through the children’s whole school life, she says.

“The IB’s PYP is globally recognised and sits perfectly alongside the wider school’s Vision and Mission. We strive towards developing internationally minded people.”

This story is brought to you by Cranbrook School, an independent Anglican day and boarding school in Sydney for boys from Preschool to Year 12. Pre-schools are co-educational for children from three to five years.

Natalie Ritchie
Natalie Ritchie