IB Develops Soft Skills

As Deputy Principal of Curriculum at Helena College, with 35 years of experience in teaching, I am constantly reminded that this is a unique profession in which the job is never finished.  Teachers are always striving to ‘value add’ to student learning and achievement.

Raising student achievement was one of the key drivers for Helena College to instigate a partnership with the International Baccalaureate close to 20 years ago. The IB is a framework for teaching and learning that is specifically designed to meet the learning needs of all children. At our College, the WA curriculum is what the children learn – the IB is how they are taught. The IB challenges students to think – not just about what they are learning, but also about how they are learning.

Evidence of the success of the IB approach can be seen in some of the many showcases of student work that took place in 2018: the Year 5 exhibition, ‘Night of the Notables’, Year 10 Personal Project and the Year 9 Community Project. We commend all these students on putting into action those skills that the world is now recognising as the building blocks for life outside school.

By equipping our students with an appreciation of how they learn, we are equipping them for their future – wherever it may take them. Today’s Year 6s will end their working life in the 2070s and what they learned in school could well be outdated. But through the IB approach, our students are learning to learn, and that is something that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

This thinking is borne out by the latest report on the future of jobs from the World Economic Forum. In the world of work, many changes are afoot – some we cannot yet predict but others can be seen as an emerging trend.

According to the report, new jobs and new tasks within those jobs are driving demand for:

  • Analytical thinking and innovation
  • Complex problem solving
  • Critical thinking and analysis
  • Creativity, originality and initiative
  • Leadership and social influence
  • Coordination and time management.

These are suggested as ‘new’ skills; however, they are not new within the IB. They have always been central to the approach of developing independent and reflective learners.

The two IB programmes – Primary Years Programme for Kindy to Year 5 and Middle Years Programme for Year 6 to 9 – enable us to support students in developing these ‘soft skills’ that will be critical for success across the next several decades and beyond.

Bob Simpson

Deputy Principal – Curriculum

International Baccalaureate

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