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The best of the International Primary Curriculum from around the globe

Issue 9: Spring 2013

In this issue

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Welcome all!

3 Welcome all! 4 Thoughts from Martin

The IPC personal goals - communication

Dear Colleagues,

6 An IPC unit in action

We have just completed our South East Asia Summer School and it won’t be long before we’ll be making final preparations for the European Summer School in July in The Hague. Twelve years ago we hosted the very first Summer School which was also in The Netherlands, back then with just a handful of member schools. What a difference a few years make! One thing that was happening at this year’s South East Asia Summer School was the planning of learning link-ups between member schools. It was wonderful to hear teachers organising cross-continent Skype link-ups and live online chats to help make learning as real and as internationally-minded as possible for children. Others were planning them to help staff share best practice, resources and learning ideas. In a world of electronic communication, face-toface contact is often times still what’s needed to get the relationships rolling.

The IPC science-focused Electricity units

8 What’s new from the IPC

Join us on Facebook and Twitter, more science units, Summer School and more

10 Making the IPC work for you

Developing international mindedness through the IPC

12 The interview

Lower School Head of St Paul’s in Baltimore, USA, Andrew Taylor

14 The best of the IPC

Just some of what’s going on with the IPC around the world

16 What’s next after IPC?

The IMYC provides a curriculum solution fit for the teenage brain

18 In the spotlight

Tailoring the IPC to our school and our students – Nexus International School

20 IPC news

Reporting from around the IPC world

Being a part of a global community has tremendous benefits if you’re willing to grasp them; not only helping to open your children’s eyes to their place in the world, but also for discovering possibilities for different approaches to delivering and leading learning. Lorraine Napier at Kirkhill Primary School in Scotland found this out for herself when she linked her school with another IPC member school, the British International School in Stavanger. Lorraine shares some of the benefits this has had for the whole school community in our ‘Making the IPC work for you’, feature on pages 10 and 11. The links with Stavanger are just one way that the children at Kirkhill Primary are developing their sense of self and other which, as we all know, helps in the learning of international mindedness. Take a look here are some of the maps that have been created by the children at Kirkhill recently. Notice the map by the child who, the night before, watched the news and learnt about the war in Afghanistan and the presidential elections in the USA. And spot the map drawn by the child who has recently arrived in the UK from Poland. Great examples of a developing sense of a child’s place in the world.

22 A focus on learning

The neurobiological and evolutionary origins of creativity

24 The surgery

Map making at Kirkhill Primary School

Best wishes,

A special surgery looking at the similarities and differences between the IPC and the PYP

26 Meet the IPC team

Introducing leader of the learning team, Isabel Du Toit

Look the 10 th out for iss Eye O n The ue of which World availa will be b Septe le this mber

Janice Ireland, Anne Keeling and the IPC team

27 The IPC gig guide

Look out for the right course or event for you and your school Front cover: Students at SJI International Elementary School in Singapore put their ferris wheel to the test as part of a combined learning approach with the IPC Electricity and Fairgrounds units. Read more about this on page 6.



Thoughts from Martin

In helping children to develop their ability to communicate, we are helping them develop the ability to respond in ways that take into account their awareness of the explicit and implicit perspectives of others so that what they say is both respectful and powerful for their listeners. This applies just as much if we are asking children to write or present to adults and their peers. If we are making a speech or writing something, a ‘sense of audience’ means that we draw on all of our interactions so that what we say is presented as respectfully - another IPC personal goal or disposition - as possible to those who will be receiving our message. Communication is a continual interplay between receiving and responding.

The IPC personal goals: communication

In using the IPC to develop communication this means that we should, at the very least, make sure that:


artin Skelton spends many days visiting schools around the world helping them to improve learning. Martin was part of the team that designed the IPC. He is now Director of Marketing for WCL. Here Martin begins a series of discussions on the IPC personal goals.

In this and upcoming editions of Eye On The World I have been asked to say something about the IPC personal goals. For the IPC, the personal goals are very closely aligned with our views about the kinds of 21st century children we are helping to develop. Another way of describing the personal goals is that they are a set of dispositions. Dispositions have been defined as ‘tendency to act in a certain way’. The IPC’s personal goals are by no means the only dispositions we might want our children to develop but, as we thought about the needs of children growing up and living in the 21st century, they seemed to us to be an essential set that couldn’t be ignored. Children of the 21st century simply have to have ‘the tendency to act’ as enquirers who are moral, resilient, thoughtful, cooperative, respectful and adaptable and who are good communicators. We are starting this series with a focus on the IPC personal goal, Communication.

A two-way process First, it helps to look at what is at the heart of communication. In essence, all communication is a two-way process. This is really important from an IPC perspective; it sits together with our commitment to developing children’s sense of the ‘other’ which is at the heart of international mindedness or, to repeat Howard Gardner’s phrase that has helped me so much, their ‘continually declining sense of egocentricity’. Communication is always about more than one person, just as international mindedness is always about more than one person, one sub-culture, one culture or one nationality. In using the IPC to develop communication this means that we should, at the very least, make sure that: • Children experience the full range of IPC learning tasks within a unit as these provide opportunities for them to work in smaller and larger groups so that they can experience and communicate with the ‘other’ frequently. • We model our willingness as teachers, parents and school leaders - at a level appropriate to the developmental stages of our children - to enable classrooms to be shared 4

places for learning rather than places where learning is directed from one perspective only. • We are clear about the way our depth of communication changes as we help children learn knowledge, skills and understanding. (Knowledge involves a relatively shallow sense of the other, skills a deeper sense, and understanding something deeper still.) • We are aware that younger children’s communication skills are less developed, not only because they lack practice but because their sense of the ‘other’ is still developing. Listening and responding Second, in helping to develop children’s personal skills of communication, we are asking them to develop a tendency to act so that both listening and responding are equally important in the communication process. Listening involves not just hearing the words, but also hearing the tone and feeling that are being expressed through the words. It requires us to be able to articulate both the explicit and implicit meanings that someone is expressing before we think about making our response.

• We encourage children to think overtly about the perspectives of others. • We help our youngest children get used to this idea and, in order to do that, we shouldn’t let opinions and views that children have expressed simply fade away. We can ask young children what they think x will say, or whether what x did say surprised them or not. Many of our youngest children will be at ‘beginning’ stage and their responses will be anything but fully formed. That’s ok. It’s what beginning looks like. • We increase the detail of this with our older children. It doesn’t matter particularly what the subject matter is. What matters is supporting the ‘tendency to act’ in a certain way. So, for example, we can ask the children which subject they preferred when studying Chocolate. We can ask them to anticipate what each other might say and discuss the accuracy of their predictions. There are lots we can do to enable children to respond on the basis of what they have heard. • We always see ‘speaking’ and ‘listening’ as two sides of the same coin. Differentiating the communication Third, we need to provide children

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with the ability to communicate in different ways. What I mean by this is that ‘telling’, ‘discussing’, ‘persuading’ and ‘deciding’, for example, each require the ways in which the ‘other’ is respectfully encountered, and the ways in which listening and speaking takes place, to be different. (This is often why meetings between adults, including staff meetings, go wrong. We bring to the meeting an undifferentiated sense of what is required for different kinds of meeting.) When we are telling someone something, explicit clarity is essential. When we are discussing something, it’s ok to be a little fuzzier as we struggle to form our own views; when we are deciding something, it’s important that we have been respectful enough to review the evidence we have in front of us before we begin the process. In using the IPC to develop communication this means that we should, at the very least, make sure that: • We model clarity when we are telling something to our class, including modelling checking that our children have ‘received’ what we ‘broadcast’ and adapting what we have said if they didn’t. • We give children preparation time before we ask them to ‘tell’ the class something. Being clear takes time; few of us can be clear off the cuff. So we can say: ‘In ten minutes, Martin, I’m going to ask you to tell the class x. Can you get yourself ready?’ • We allow for a lack of clarity when our children are exploring the many ideas they come across in the IPC. This ‘lack of clarity’ is an important part of the early development of understanding. • We make sure that we provide our children with all of the learning opportunities suggested in the IPC units. These enable opportunities for ‘telling’, ‘discussing’, ‘persuading’ and ‘deciding’. Let’s make sure our children have both opportunity and time to practise these. • We let children communicate in ways that suit them and in ways that don’t. (I was with someone last week who is visually intelligent but often stumbles when speaking. We should 5


allow her to both take advantage of her strengths and develop her weaker abilities.) Communicating in a range of ways Fourth, we need to provide opportunities for children to communicate in different ways. There’s no point in 2013, grumbling about Twitter. It’s here (for a while at least). It makes more sense to encourage children and students to tweet with a respectful sense of the other and with clarity than it does to deny them the opportunity at all. (It’s much tougher to communicate successfully with limited boundaries than it is with no boundary markers of word length or time.) Social media is great as long as it is approached rigorously and respectfully; when it is, it provides fantastic opportunities for developing the art and skills of communication. In using the IPC to develop communication this means that we should, at the very least, make sure that: • We allow our children to use a wide variety of communication possibilities. • We treat each of them as rigorously as the other. Quick, careless learning creates poor communicators. • We see the development of communication as a combination of knowledge, skills and understanding. Communicating effectively is an essential 21st century skill and disposition. Like most things that are worth anything, it is complex at one level and simple at another. The IPC is not only packed with opportunities for children to develop and practise communication in different ways, it also provides those opportunities through activities that excite children in the first place (an important component in the willingness to communicate). It’s good that our curriculum provides the opportunity - all at the same time - for our children to develop a sense of the other, develop different kinds of communication, use different methods of communication and do so in an increasingly age-appropriate and rigorous way.

An IPC unit in action

The IPC science–focused units; Electricity


he first IPC science-focused units with common themes for all three Mileposts were launched last summer and more continue to be uploaded to the Members’ Lounge. In fact the new Sound and Light units were added recently. We hope you’ve had a chance to take a look at them. Several schools have reported how much success they have had with the Electricity units. Here we ask teachers at the International School of Iceland and SJI International Elementary School in Singapore to share their advice following their learning with the IPC Electricity units. Learning about Electricity at SJI International Elementary School Neil Corrigan is the Grade 6 class teacher at SJI International Elementary School, Singapore. In his own words, he’s not a science expert. How then did he facilitate the learning with the Electricity unit? “Our stimulus was the IPC Fairgrounds (Milepost3) unit with its focus on energy, forces, sound and light,” he says. “We felt the Electricity unit worked particularly well with this theme. We started our planning by deciding what our exit point would be. We agreed on a fairground park made up of fairground rides designed and created by the children. Knowing that the class was going to make fairground rides meant I had to make one before them. In doing this I was able to identify all the skills, knowledge and understanding required to build the ride which was vital to identify how to aid the children with their learning.” Based on this experience, Neil decided to focus on two rides; a ferris wheel and a carousel ride. “Knowing that we

were paying attention to the science involved, especially the electricity, allowed me to plan to help the children’s learning,” he says. “We began with mini investigations to find out the children’s baseline skills as, with many international schools, there can be a high turnover of students so it’s vital to identify gaps in their knowledge early on.” By the end of these investigations, the children had to create an electrical quiz board (an interactive, matching name to symbol game) to show their learning and understanding. Through this ‘learn first, teach second’ approach, the

Neil says: “Narrow your children’s practical, skill development work to two simple tasks with clear outcomes. For our fairground rides these tasks were how to use a circuit to power the ride, and how to make it spin.”

children were able to conduct simple to more complex investigations and understand what was happening and why. It allowed them to experiment with a range of electrical equipment. “Trial and error opportunities were happening all around the room,” says Neil. “And more and more questions were being asked with children leading their learning.” Once work began on the fairground rides, Neil says the children were able to develop skills and apply their knowledge. “We timetabled a whole day for this,” he says. “The children worked in pairs. Firstly, they looked at a range of photos of fairground rides 6

Using the IPC science-focused units: suggestions for science and IPC co–ordinators: Neil suggests: • Try to embed the science-focused units into main IPC units. However they can be used as stand-alone units too and provide a great opportunity to enhance skills across year groups and the whole school through a series of investigation weeks during the year. • Review the units chosen by your school (by using the IPC on-line route planner) and highlight the importance of the science focuses with SLT and staff. • When there are science success stories, celebrate them and reflect

Creating a fairground ride at SJI International Elementary

and they began to identify features they liked and some they did not. At this point they had to try and improve the ride with labelled diagrams of their new design. This allowed the children to gain ideas and modify original fairground rides to suit their desires. Next, they began planning what their carousel ride or ferris wheel would look like. The previous experience was a huge help as they took a mixture of fairground ride characteristics to create their own detailed plan. The building part was incredibly exciting! They used a variety of resources, such as K’nex, lollypop sticks, straws, egg boxes but most importantly a stabilised stand to hold their ride had to be created. For some this involved wood

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cutting. Luckily we were based in an art room which helped the children to see resources that might help them. They created circuits to make their ride work. This combined a motor and a spinner. There was a lot of thinking, layering of ideas, and trial and error. Sometimes the motor would work but the wheel was too heavy. Creating a ride that worked was a real challenge that required problem solving, resilience and the development of many science and DT skills but the children could understand it because they could see where they were going and they were leading their own learning. As you went by the rooms while this was happening, it couldn’t help but catch your attention; the learning was so apparent.” At the exit point of the unit, children from all years were able to visit the fairground and use Monopoly money to buy turns on each ride. “Creating the electrical circuit to then power their own fairground ride was such an

with all the staff on how and why they worked so well. Mirjam suggests: • Make sure you have all the resources you need – especially enough batteries! Be prepared with a tool box of wires, screwdrivers, pliers and other helpful equipment. • Work with all teachers to make sure everyone knows how to create and use a circuit. • Use battery and electronic toys as a resource to help children develop their understanding.

exciting learning experience for the children,” says Neil. “It was important to give them enough time to learn and develop the science skills before starting the design project.” Offering advice on the planning, Neil says “It is incredibly important to know exactly where you want to be at the end of the topic and then work backwards, thinking as a child, identifying the links and opportunities along the learning journey. Have a go before your class and think like a child! By making the fairground ride before the children, I could see the science happening and areas I would need to cover, pitfalls that may arise, gaps in my own knowledge, resources I would require and ideas to make it more fun. This can build confidence, especially when maybe the teacher is not a specialist like me!” Electricity at the International School of Iceland Mirjam de Ward reflects on the Electricity units across the years at the International School of Iceland:

Mirjam says: “Don’t be scared if you feel out of your comfort zone as children love science learning and love learning along with their teachers. Things go wrong with scientific experiments and everyone learns best that way.” Creating a lighthouse that works at the International School of Iceland


with lighting and a front door buzzer and learnt all about the history of the electric light bulb. And Milepost 3 children focused on the Fathers of Electricity which included role play and creating posters of their achievements as well as building circuits from plans. “The children were all creating things using their learning of circuits,” says Mirjam. “They were actually putting their science skills into practice which proved to be very successful. We held a whole school fair for our exit point and invited the parents – an 8:30am event which was a huge success; so many parents showed up! This gave the children chance to explain to their parents exactly how their models worked. We were surprised – and proud - at how clearly they were able to explain the science behind their learning.” Mirjam says the Electricity units were a big success. “My background is in science and I thought the new science units were very balanced, well organised units to support children with their science learning. But if your background is not in science, don’t be afraid! These units are easy to deliver and the hands-on learning activities helped to achieve the outcomes. Children love making things work!”

A student at SJI International Elementary School shows of his fairground model

“All the Mileposts learned with the IPC Electricity unit at the same time. That is one of the reasons why we picked the unit as we wanted a common learning theme for the whole school at the beginning of the year,” says Mirjam. Milepost 1 children made model lighthouses, using their new learning about circuits to make them work. Milepost 2 children designed a house 7

Students at the Internatioanl School of Iceland learn how to create a circuit

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Great learning and great fun at IPC Summer Schools

What’s new from the IPC? Join us on Facebook and Twitter, more science units, Summer School and more… News from around the IPC world


here is always great news coming from our many member schools around the world and we try and share as much as we can with you. Take a look on the News section of the IPC website for regular updates. Recently we have shared such news as: 10 Creative Ways to Teach English that Deliver Outstanding Results, advice about converting to an Academy with the IPC, and ideas for the IPC Who Am I unit. These news stories are still available for you to read on the news stream on the Members’ Lounge. Please send us your news, ideas and advice. We’ll be delighted to consider all submissions for the News pages of the website. You can email them to


The first stage will be coming to you this autumn. This will include a personalised, user-friendly dashboard as your very own homepage to the

This year’s European Summer School will take place at the International School of the Hague in The Netherlands from 22nd to 24th July. Back in The Hague by extremely popular demand, Summer School will once again include the beach barbecue where lots of networking and fun took place, as well as practical courses and workshops to stimulate, inform and inspire all IPC teachers and leaders at all stages of IPC learning. Teacher Martyn Robinson-Slater from the International School of Bremen attended last year’s Summer School and sent this feedback following the event: “I would like to take

this opportunity to say a big thank you and congratulations on such a phenomenally successful Summer School. The whole event was superb from start to finish. It offered me the opportunity to meet and work with fellow professionals from across the world for an intensive and rewarding exploration of the curriculum. The networking opportunities offered by the event have enabled me to remain in contact with people in other International Schools and to develop and promote communication with these schools.


The News section of the IPC website

Members’ Lounge. The dashboard will provide you with easy to access options for new ways to share, connect and engage with other member schools and with IPC learning. There will be a brand new resource section for members, a Route Planner sharing option so that you can find out which other schools will be learning with the same IPC unit at the same time as you (providing many opportunities for your children to share learning experiences), and a ‘find a school’ 8

feature so that you can easily connect with other IPC member schools in locations that are important or relevant for you. Much more is in the planning stage and we are very excited about the great sharing, connecting and engaging that you will soon be able to achieve through the IPC Members’ Lounge. Look out for our news updates to let you know when your new Members’ Lounge will be launched.

e hope you have been making the most of the new IPC science-focused units. Already up on the Members’ Lounge are the IPC Electricity units and Plants units for Mileposts 1, 2 and 3. And now joining these are the IPC Sound and Light science-focused units. Take a look at them on the Members’ Lounge to see them right now! In the Sound and Light unit for Milepost 1, called ‘Look and Listen’, children will learn how to design, make and play a drum, learn how animals use their senses of sight and sound, and find out what happens when sounds enter our ears. In the Sound and Light unit for Milepost 2, called ‘Turn it Up’, children will learn how to make panpipes, find out how sounds are made, learn how sounds travel to the ear and discover how shadows are formed. And in the Sound and Light unit for Milepost 3, called ‘Look Hear!’ children will make

South East Asia Summer School 2013

The ‘Acid Test’ was I never once looked at my watch. Sorry, not quite true, I did; that was to get back to the room in time to absorb the learning once again. Good luck with all you do in the future, carry on the brilliant innovative work and I look forward to the next time our paths cross, which I hope will not be too long.” We hope you can join us in the summer. An Early Bird rate is available so book your place right now! Contact Victoria Watson at victoria@

More science units for you

Your new IPC Members’ Lounge arlier this year, we asked a number of regular Members’ Lounge users for their suggestions on how we can make the IPC Members’ Lounge more valuable for you. As a result of the fantastic feedback that came from this, we are working on a 3-stage development programme.


he fourth annual South East Asia Summer School took place at the beginning of March in Singapore, at the Hollandse School. 80 delegates from 13 different countries came together for three days of courses and workshops on both the IPC and the IMYC. A huge thanks go to all the staff and children at the Hollandse School for being such wonderful and welcoming hosts.

an elastic-band guitar, find out how the human ear and eye work, explore how sound and light waves travel, and have fun with echoes and acoustics. All three Mileposts come together for an exhilarating and memorable musical all-school exit point!

Join us on Facebook and Twitter We now have our very own IPC Facebook and Twitter pages. These are two new ways to follow our latest news and share your own great learning, great teaching and great fun. Please do follow us, share with us and feel free to post any questions or thoughts you may have. You can find us at The International Primary Curriculum on Facebook and @The_IPC on Twitter. International Primary Curriculum @The_IPC

New IPC science-focused units


international learning has developed during this time:

Making the IPC work for you

“Not only are we developing our international learning in the classroom, we’re also experiencing it first-hand. We have achieved this by creating a very strong link with the British International School in Stavanger, Norway (another IPC member school). This link is helping us with our international, subject and personal learning too.

Developing internationally-minded learners with the IPC


hat should schools be teaching children so that every child builds an understanding and appreciation for the world they live in? How do we help children learn sufficiently and appropriately about their place in the world? What is there place in the world? Where is home? Director of Fieldwork Education and the IPC, Steven Mark answers a few questions about learning for an interconnected world.

Steven Mark, Director of Fieldwork Education and the IPC

Steven explains the reason for the IPC’s attention to international mindedness: “Our increasingly interconnected world means that today’s children need to develop a sense of international mindedness. Through travel, work and everyday life, the children we are teaching today will increasingly come across people of different cultures. They will progressively be faced with the need to appreciate, accept and live alongside the views and behaviours of people who don’t necessarily think or behave like they do. They will become adults in a world where the major global problems can only be successfully solved through international cooperation. That is why

Children at Beacon Academy celebrating cultural traditions

we believe that all children, all over the world should be learning how to be internationally-minded. And that is why international mindedness is such an integral part of the IPC.”

Moore and Tom Waldron of Beacon Academy explain how the IPC has helped to support the school with its international focus:

Learning to be internationally-minded with the IPC The philosophy behind the IPC learning of international mindedness is based on the work of Howard Gardner. “We apply Howard Gardner’s idea of ‘the continuing decline of egocentricity’,” explains Steven. “This is the process that moves a child from being only aware of him or herself, to developing an awareness of others. Through the IPC units of learning, we encourage children to progressively look at themselves, their family, their school, their community and their country from their own context and that of other children and people living in other parts of the world; learning not only about the differences but also, crucially, the similarities between countries and cultures. International mindedness is not just an add-on but an integral part of the learning within every IPC unit. Just as children learn their subject and personal learning through a theme, so they develop their international mindedness too.” Here, two schools talk about how the IPC is helping their students develop international mindedness: Developing international mindedness with the IPC in Jakarta Beacon Academy is located in Jakarta, Indonesia and supports the learning needs of local Indonesian and expatriate children who are predominantly from India and China. The school has been learning with the IPC for five years. Teachers Megan 10

Children from Kirkhill Primary School develop international mindedness during their outdoor pursuits week with the British International School in Stavanger

“The impact of the IPC has been huge. Within the very traditional society that we are located in, the IPC has been able to give us and our children a more global perspective. When it comes to our international learning, we always start with Indonesia as the ‘host’ country. This helps to give all our students, wherever they are from, the chance to develop a stronger sense of the culture and national pride of the country they are presently living in. We then focus on the home countries of, not only our students, but also our teachers as we have expatriate teachers from all over the world. Our teachers not only bring their knowledge, but also a real passion for their home country to help children develop a deeper understanding of other countries. It is so important that our teachers demonstrate and practise a strong sense of international

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mindedness and share it with the children. That includes identifying the similarities and celebrating the differences in all aspects of life. Geography tasks are particularly good for helping to achieve this in our learning. For example during the IPC Olympics unit, the host and home countries were Indonesia and Greece. While comparing the sports and Olympic history of these two countries, the children also researched and considered the impact of climate, food and culture too. We take great care when selecting our ‘home’ countries to support our unit learning. For example, for the IPC Who Am I unit, we chose Holland as our ‘home’ country because it has so many links to Indonesia and there’s a lot of Dutch culture here. This helped all our children to develop their understanding of life in Jakarta. Sometimes the choice of host and home country falls into place naturally, and sometimes it takes some work. Sometimes we use the home countries of our students or teachers but other times we select a country because it is a better fit for the unit. For example, for our IPC Flowers and Insects unit we chose Brazil as our home country because it provided so many super comparisons to Indonesia.” Developing international mindedness with the IPC in Aberdeen Kirkhill Nursery/Primary School is located in Aberdeen, Scotland. The school has been learning with the IPC for three years. Headteacher Lorraine Napier explains how

The Primary 7 year group from both schools join together for an outdoor pursuit’s week each year which helps to develop international understanding as well as many personal skills. The experience helps to break down barriers because the children and teachers get to see some of the similarities running through their different lives. I don’t think anything can replace this first-hand experience. During this outdoor pursuit’s week, the teachers from both schools meet up to plan their learning together so that both schools can study relevant IPC units at the same time. This year, we are all studying the IPC Black Gold unit as both of our


local communities are linked with the oil industry. Some of our children will be travelling to Stavanger to visit the oil museum there and to share learning with the children at BIS Stavanger. The opportunity to visit schools in other countries opens all of our eyes to different approaches to living and learning. In Stavanger, for example, the school uses specialist subject teachers at primary level who come in and out of the classroom. Seeing these different approaches makes you think, are we always doing the right thing? It helps you to think in a more open-minded way to the possibilities for the best learning. Throughout our learning, we take advantage of online learning links too to bring international experiences into our classrooms in Aberdeen. For example, as part of the IPC Rainforest unit, we worked with children in Gabon who actually visited their local rainforest and who sent us their photographs of the trees and plants and the monkeys and other animals they saw. This is a real strength of the IPC; these shared, online learning opportunities.”

Sharing ideas

Tom and Megan at Beacon Academy say: • During your planning, always keep your home and host countries top of mind. Think about how you can draw them into the various subject learning; how can your selected host and home countries support your Art or History or Music learning? • Use your learning displays to highlight your host and home countries. • Recruit the right staff; choosing teachers and support staff who are open to other cultures and embrace international mindedness. You don’t necessarily need to have travelled extensively to be internationally-minded. Lorraine at Kirkhill School says: • Encourage children to use, refer to and draw maps to help them develop a sense of their place in the world. • Make globes and maps a visible and active part of your school, classroom and your learning.


• Start simple with a school partnership and expand upon your international learning opportunities for both students and teachers over time. IPC says: • International days do not necessarily promote international mindedness. They can even risk promoting untrue stereotypes about a country. International mindedness is much better being learnt within the context of an IPC unit. • The terms ‘home’ and ‘host’ in IPC international learning can be used in whatever way is best for your school. For many international schools, ‘host’ means the country where a child is currently residing and, as such, the country that your school is located in; and the ‘home’ country refers to a country of birth. It is best to select one home country per IPC unit. Schools where this is not relevant may choose their own country and a comparison country.

The IPC interview

Lower School Head at St Paul’s Independent Day School in Baltimore, Andrew Taylor


ndrew Taylor is the Lower School Head at St Paul’s Independent Day School in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. St Paul’s is a highly respected school in the region and is one of the first independent schools in the USA to adopt the International Primary Curriculum. Here Andrew explains how the IPC is helping to make a difference.

Andrew Taylor

Eye On The World Tell us a little about St Paul’s. Andrew St Paul’s is an independent school with a long and respected history dating back to 1849. The lower school, which is co-ed, has 250 children. We are extremely fortunate; the school sits on 80 acres of rural land which provides a wonderful learning environment. Just as vital is our learning philosophy which aims to inspire learning with spirit and energy. EOTW Why did you select the IPC for St Paul’s?

Andrew Our selection of a new elementary curriculum began several years ago. We were looking for a more thoughtful approach to learning; one that helped to prepare our students for the IB Diploma in the upper school and supported a more global approach to learning. We considered a number of curricula but it was the IPC that for us, made the most sense. It was very clear that some really thoughtful planning had gone into the curriculum; there’s substance and depth. The thematic approach is coupled with rigorous content, and new learning is connected to pre-existing knowledge and skills so that children are always making connections and building upon previous learning. We could see plenty of opportunities to connect our maths and language learning to the themes. We could also see that it would support us in embracing a more international mind-set, where our children would be learning with the world, not about it. It is a curriculum that really has some meat on it. It was very reassuring to learn the background to the genesis of the IPC; that it was built over a number of years and that it wasn’t simply pulled out of thin air. EOTW So how did you introduce the IPC? Andrew We piloted the IPC in January (2012). I asked the teachers to choose one of the units and have a go; giving them a lot of autonomy to try it out for themselves. Immediately there were some true believers who could see the learning benefits for the children and the teachers. This was followed by the ‘ripple effect’ as teachers talked and shared their experiences and it wasn’t 12

long before there was a critical mass of support. Our teachers came to this of their own accord; it was very powerful to witness. We established a committee to objectively evaluate the pilot, creating rubrics to ensure that our research of the pilot wasn’t subjective. We compared each teacher’s responses. It was overwhelmingly positive. EOTW What inspired the teachers so much? Andrew It was a combination of the benefits and the challenges that the IPC gave them. The IPC provides recommendations on how to deliver the learning and how to achieve the outcomes but it is also intentionally open; it’s not prescriptive which enables teachers to be responsive to their community. There’s also a very strong creative element to the IPC; the entry point ideas are exciting and motivating, and many of the learning tasks suggest ways for children to research and record their learning in creative and engaging ways. This is something that we have been focusing on at St Paul’s for quite a while. We’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand how and what learning engages children and impacts them emotionally; what makes them curious, excited and eager to learn. The IPC approach to learning links very closely to this. EOTW Have you seen any impact on learning as a result of the IPC? Andrew Yes absolutely! It’s very evident. The children are constantly finding connections in their learning and recognising a concept in more than one

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space. They are frequently referring to and applying the knowledge that they’re learning, and developing their skills in a variety of contexts. They are also putting into practice their personal learning too. This is something that really impresses us about the IPC; that it creates a structure to constantly develop skills; whether that’s subject skills or personal skills. Having empathy or being able to collaborate, these skills don’t happen by magic. The IPC provides the opportunities for children to practice being collaborative learners, or to share their thinking, or to listen to and reflect with their peers. They are constantly developing these skills through their learning tasks. In addition, we’ve noticed that now the children always seem to be primed and ready to go with their learning.

children, on this side of the planet, can share their learning of the same IPC unit with children on the other side of the planet. That is incredibly powerful and important. What we’re doing is using this opportunity, of taking other countries’ views and experiences, to inform and challenge our own.

EOTW So the personal learning skills within the IPC are valuable for your children?

We are currently creating a database of our reading materials and cataloguing them against the IPC’s thematic units, both in terms of content and levels of challenge so that we have appropriate reading materials for all our children, of all abilities.

Andrew Yes very much so. They are core competencies which allow you to live, learn, work and play effectively as a member of a group. As our world becomes smaller, so these skill-sets are becoming more essential. Personal learning cannot be an afterthought; these skills have to be an explicit part of the learning and I’m so excited for our students and what the IPC is helping them to achieve. EOTW How has the IPC’s focus on international learning changed the way your children are now learning? Andrew Well, I believe the focus on international-mindedness is one of the most important and unique elements of the IPC. Thanks to the IPC, our kids now have the opportunity to learn with the world, not about the world; to move away from just a superficial explanation of the world and instead to actually engage with students from other cultures and lands. So much happens here in the USA; it’s so big and it is so easy for us to stereotype what a society is based simply on what we know here. But there’s enormous value in our children truly understanding their place in the world. With the IPC, we have a window of opportunity to better prepare our kids to deal with the world they’ll be dealing with as adults; to be open-minded to the whole world, to be true global citizens, to develop the skills of understanding, empathy and appreciation. Already the cultural lens of our students is broader. Our

EOTW Has the IPC had any impact on the development of your children’s numeracy and literacy skills? Andrew The collaborative, thematic, cross-curricular learning approach of the IPC supports beautifully the development of literacy and math skills. Because of the connections made between these skills and the theme, the children’s conversations are richer and more robust.

EOTW You have produced a video to explain the IPC to your parents (watch it on the IPC website ‘Why IPC’ section – video gallery www.greatlearning. com/ipc/why-ipc/video-gallery). Has this helped them to understand how their children are learning? Andrew The response to the video has been overwhelmingly positive. We hosted a preview night to share the IPC introductory video and some of our other learning-focused approaches with the parents. By the end of the evening, people were eager and excited about what the forthcoming year meant for their kids. When it came to the IPC, they needed to hear that the curriculum was rigorous, internationally-minded and interdisciplinary. The evening created the chance for parents to find out more and then have the chance to talk with


the teachers and leaders to feel really confident about their child’s learning. EOTW As well as a school leader, you are also a parent of children learning with the IPC. How do you feel about this? Andrew Three of my four children are in elementary at St Paul’s so I’m engrossed in the IPC! For me as a parent, it is very reassuring that the school is creating as good a learning environment as we possibly can and the IPC is becoming a very important part of that. The IPC is getting children excited about their learning and I’ve seen it with my own children. My daughter talked continuously about the Myths and Legends unit; it was really organic, you could see how her interest developed as she kept building on her learning, and that it was meaningful learning for her. That’s had a big impact on me; seeing her so excited about her learning. The IPC isn’t about a six week unit of work; it’s about 13 years of learning and beyond. The impact it’s having will, without doubt, be long term. EOTW What has been the best thing about the IPC so far for St Paul’s? Andrew The IPC has brought an injection of energy and quality to our learning. It’s absolutely the right approach for us right now; bringing together so many critical elements of education. The IPC challenges children and encourages them to be creative in their thinking and learning, and it supports them in their development of a whole range of academic, personal and international skills and knowledge. I believe the IPC holds great promise for so many schools; from the school that’s in the doldrums that needs to reignite its passion for learning, to the well-established school that needs to reinvent itself. It’s vital for schools to make sure that their approach to learning is responsive and relevant for their children and I think the IPC is a fantastic solution for this.

IPC learning at St Paul’s Independent Day School, Baltimore, USA


The best of the IPC

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Milepost 3 students at Pa naga School in Bru nei test their strength during their learning with the IPC Olympic un it, The Athlete.

What’s next after the IPC? The IMYC provides a curriculum solution fit for the teenage brain


inding an enriching and engaging learning experience for 11-14 year olds; one that continues the IPC approach to learning yet takes students the next step further to prepare them well for their secondary learning, and also provides a learning experience that is practical for the school to deliver is quite a challenge. However, a number of schools think they have found the answer with the IPC’s rapidly growing sister curriculum, the International Middle Years Curriculum (IMYC). Making a difference to learning at The UCL Academy At The UCL Academy in London, the move to adopt the IMYC saw almost

An IMYC media project presentation at IS Bremen

Science learning in action with the IMYC

immediate impact as Headteacher, Geraldine Davies explains. “At the end of the very first IMYC unit, the staff were shocked at how much understanding the children had gained from their learning.” Assistant Principal, Thomas Bowen agrees: “We were amazed at the engagement and the work produced. It’s so exciting. The children get it immediately.” For these students, the IMYC is helping them find connections across all their subject learning for a period of six weeks per unit, just as the IPC does, but now these links are to an abstract, conceptual theme (a Big Idea) rather than a solid, concrete IPC-style theme. (For example, rather than following an IPC theme such as Rainforests, students are following an IMYC Big Idea such as ‘When people work together they can achieve a common goal.’) Each unit guides students to make meaning of the Big Idea through an academic, personal and global perspective. Within each unit there is a learning process designed to engage, inspire and support teenagers, helping them to become confident, independent learners. Tom Bowen explains why the academy chose to take on the IMYC: “We’re an academy that wants to make a difference, we’ve had the chance to take a whole new and forward-thinking approach to the learning and to the way our students are making meaning of their learning. We’re focused on developing the whole student and the IMYC curriculum supports that extremely well. The learning process of the IMYC is central to how we’ve developed our planning, our teaching and how we’re utilising our space. There are no isolated learning 16

sessions; all the learning is connected as a result of working with the International Middle Years Curriculum. Our aim is to create the best learning environment to achieve an actively involved and motivated student, providing opportunities to learn both collaboratively and independently. Having the IMYC Big Idea as a theme across all curriculum areas has proved to be very successful,” he adds. “It’s a benchmark to support students in developing their understanding within all their learning. The students are seeing the links in their subject learning before the adults do. They can identify connections in their learning in ways that we teachers don’t always see and they are understanding exactly how to use the Big Idea to help them find relevant links. We hadn’t anticipated the students’ ability to make the links so effectively and what’s most interesting is that it’s a very personal thing for each student; they can find connections in very different ways.” Responding to the teenage brain Teachers, parents and scientists across all cultures recognise that adolescence is a difficult time and that students really struggle in many ways. One researcher whose work influenced the IMYC, Harry Chugani, a neurologist at Wayne State University in Detroit encapsulates this experience perfectly: “Adolescence is a time when brains are absorbing a huge amount, but also undergoing so many alterations that many things can go wrong,” he says. “The teenage years rival the terrible twos as a time of general brain discombobulation.”

During this time, teenagers find themselves struggling to deal with their developing brain which is often the cause of poor executive function, a need for independence, a desire to find meaning and purpose in what they do, an increase in peer acceptance, and an impulse to take risk and seek pleasure. The International Middle Years Curriculum was designed around these specific needs. As a result, says Tom, it provides an enriching learning experience for young teenagers. He describes the learning structures within the IMYC that support the development of understanding; taking the curriculum beyond the primary school learning approach of the IPC and responding to the needs of a teenager’s evolving brain: “Through journaling and blogging, students reflect on the Big Idea and what it means to them (drawing on their subject learning but then taking it to a personal perspective). Once they’ve completed their subject learning for the unit, the concept can then be crystallised and distilled into something personal (through a media project exit point), enabling the students to show their understanding of what the Big Idea means to them personally.” The impact this is having at The UCL Academy is significant says Tom. “The joy of the IMYC is that it can produce a very individualised learning response to a challenge that’s set. It fits very well with our vision; where learners learn to think for themselves as wholly educated human beings. It’s a research-led, engaging curriculum

“Our students are becoming creative and innovative thinkers, developing an appreciation of others in society. They are also becoming reflective and independent learners, not only willing to take risks but also to manage these risks, so becoming effective communicators of information and knowledge.”

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helping us to have ultimately happy, motivated, engaged students and enabling us to make links with the international community.” These links have included Skyping with the students from the International School of Bremen in Germany to share learning experiences. Learning with the IMYC at the International School of Bremen At the International School of Bremen (ISB) the IMYC is now being delivered throughout grades 6 to 8. It is a direct progression from the IPC which has been running successfully in the junior section of the school for over ten years. Teacher Martyn Robinson-Slater explains why ISB selected the IMYC: “We are an IB World School that chose to go to the International Middle Years Curriculum because we value the ideals that the IMYC delivers. Our students are becoming creative and innovative thinkers, developing an appreciation of others in society. They are also becoming reflective and independent learners, not only willing to take risks but also to manage these risks, so becoming effective communicators of information and knowledge. We can already see that it’s preparing them well for the IB Diploma.” Martyn’s colleague Sabine Keeley agrees: “The IMYC has been a breakthrough for our students and for the staff. Our regular staff meetings now have all the teachers collaborating and sharing. We have enthusiastic learning ideas from everyone. As a school with the IMYC, you need to figure out how it’s going to work for you; what’s going to be best for your school. That’s the best thing about the IMYC; that we can tailor this really great learning framework and process to our school so that it fits the ISB needs.” ISB teacher Marianne Zupanc says the IMYC has taken her out of her comfort zone and, in so doing, has given her students learning opportunities they would not have otherwise experienced at this age: “The IMYC is making me brave as I’m learning to accept what appears like chaos but it’s actually great learning going on all around; great collaborative, student-centred learning. This is preparing the students so well for IB. We want them to think and the IMYC is helping us to help the students do that. The media project is their own work, absolutely their own work and what that is doing


Learning with the IMYC at The UCL Academy in London

An IMYC Big Idea

is developing a pride in the students. They develop a pride that they don’t get in their normal lessons. I’m a big fan of the IMYC. Many teachers were worried that they’re only grade 8 students and ‘do you think they can deliver?’ They still had the idea from primary that they could never let them go with the learning. But we are letting go; it’s the IMYC that is letting them go and we’re seeing such a difference in the students because of that. It is so exciting for me as a teacher.” Sabine agrees: “Our 8th grade students are doing presentations. They are standing up and presenting really well. One of our higher school teachers said ‘We see a real difference versus students who have not done the learning with the IMYC’. It’s great for our teachers to see a difference as the students come through to the IB.”

The International Middle Years Curriculum is now being used by national and international schools in over 23 different countries. Several IPC member schools have asked for more information about the IMYC to share with their feeder secondaries to continue the great learning. This is available from Isabel Du Toit isabel@ (for International schools) and Preet Khukh at preet@ (for UK schools).

Mandarin, Bahasa Malaysia and Spanish to begin with and eventually represent all the nationalities present in our school.”

In the spotlight

Tailoring the IPC to our school and our students – Nexus International School explains


exus International School is the first International School in Putrajaya, the diplomatic enclave of Malaysia. It is a member of Taylor’s Education Group and has over 450 learners. Nexus International School has been learning with the IPC for five years and Head of School, David Griffiths explains the impact that it’s had on the school: “When the school was started, we looked at several different curricula. We wanted something that allowed for enquiry-based, experiential learning but that also enabled us, as a startup school, to draw on great ideas and resources. The IPC fits this criteria brilliantly and for the first year or so, we relied heavily on the learning tasks suggested by IPC in the units. As we developed, we tailored the IPC to suit us as a school, rather than the other way around.” David says that the IPC has been beneficial for students in many ways. “Learners are encouraged to

The Nexus Neuron

learn through inter-connectivity and experience,” he says. “ICT is fully integrated through all aspects of the curriculum and personalisation of learning is taken seriously. The philosophy behind the IPC, and more recently, Looking for Learning*, has been key to all that we do. Learners talk about their learning right from Nursery and they are able to self assess and reflect on their learning in ways that I haven’t experienced before. We have begun to use the IPC’s online Assessment for Learning tracking tool and have developed our own rubrics for learning for Maths and English.” David says it’s the philosophy behind the IPC that has really impressed the teachers and leaders at Nexus. “Allowing research and enquiry with opportunity to adapt it to the school’s unique situation is one of the best things about the IPC,” he says. One example of this can be seen in the school’s ‘Nexus Neuron’. The Nexus Neuron The IPC personal and international goals are presented at Nexus International through the ‘Nexus Neuron’. This has been a hugely successful approach for the school. David explains how it was developed: “The Nexus Neuron came about after we had made the IPC personal goals and international understanding a clear priority for further developing our use of the IPC. We were certain that our enquiry approach and use of the subject goals was developing well and with the introduction of the IB 18

“The IPC self-review process gives us a great basis to look at ourselves and therefore make a start on improvement.” Diploma last year, felt that we needed to develop a primary school learner profile. We ran several workshops with learners, parents and teachers and it was felt that the IPC personal goals were an ideal basis for this. We changed a few of the goals to better suit our school and also added international mindedness. So we now had our Nexus Primary Learner Profile.” At that point in time, David participated in training with the ILMP (International Leadership and Management Program*) and during this, heard about the International School of the Hague’s ‘Spider’ and how ISH used the Spider to promote the IPC personal goals. “When I returned from the ILMP we held a competition within school to find our own mascot for the personal goals,” says David. “A learner from our Year 6 class came up with the idea for the Nexus Neuron – they had just finished learning through the IPC Milepost 3 Brainwave unit. Then one of our parents who was a whizz on Photoshop digitised it. Our next step is to put the Nexus Neuron into Korean,

And how does the Nexus Neuron help to embed the IPC personal learning goals? “Learners talk about the personal goals and how they are developing them in every activity they do,” says David. “All of our school trips and excursions have personal goal focus as do our assemblies. Our Looking for Learning questions include the personal goals too to make sure that children are actually developing their skills and understanding of them.”

“The philosophy behind the IPC, and more recently, Looking for Learning, has been key to all that we do.” Aiming for IPC accreditation Nexus International School is currently working towards IPC accreditation at Mastering level. David explains the benefits that the process and the possible accreditation will bring to the school: “The accreditation will hopefully give us the recognition that we are doing all the things that we claim to do. CIS (Council of International Schools) and IB

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(International Baccalaureate) have done their preliminary visits and the signs look very good for us. The IPC self-review process gives us a great basis to look at ourselves and therefore make a start on improvement. We have groups of teachers working on each of the nine self-review criteria and it creates a good focus for them.” The accreditation, along with the Nexus Neuron and the learning focus at the school are all helping to give Nexus International the USP (unique selling point) it needs in an increasingly competitive region. “It is up to us to ensure that we are offering a great deal for learners that choose Nexus,” explains David. “There are lots of schools claiming to offer similar things; personalised learning and integrated ICT. Once people visit Nexus, they see that we do both of these things incredibly well.”

With many years of learning with the IPC to draw from, David offers his advice for other schools who are at the early stages of delivering the IPC: “Always look at developing the IPC to suit your school,” he says. “It would be easy to use the suggested IPC tasks as a ‘scheme’ but this should only be a start, otherwise it misses the whole philosophy of the IPC in my opinion.” David suggests that the entire school community, including parents should know and understand the philosophy of the IPC and work together in We are flexible thinkers

TThis i iis our LLearner P Profile fil character inspired by a design by Audrey in 6N

Y4 being inquirers during their Active Planet topic.

d Y2 are adaptable and principle

Learning with the IPC Jobs People Do unit at Nexus International School

Advice for other member schools

Y1 learners demonstrating their International mindedness

we are principled


learners Cergas ication Commun during showing peration and Co-o event. am te e our Hous

Y3 showing their adaptability and respect as they become teachers themselves in their "Communities" topic

Y5 showing their respect for Myths of other cultures and their International mindedness as they listened to a variety of Myths from around the world.

The IPC Rivers unit exit point at Nexus International School

developing it to meet the vision of the school. “As the team at Fieldwork Education often points out,” he adds, “the IPC should be a tool to help learners and teachers to achieve their goals, not something that you just do.” As for working towards IPC accreditation, David suggests starting with a good reason for doing it. “Looking for Learning has helped us enormously and took us right back to finding the ‘hedgehog concept’ of the school (the one most important thing that we do), and then developing our definition of learning,” he explains. “Once we made that explicit, we had a reason for everything that we do. As a manager, I would also say that the IPC self-review process is useful and very learning focused even if you don’t go for accreditation.”

*Find out more about Looking for Learning from Fieldwork Education and how it directly supports teachers and leaders with the delivery of the IPC at Find out more about the ILMP at

Y6 learners demonstrating resilience on their residential to Lumut

The IPC personal goals at Nexus International School


Reporting from around the IPC world

IPC joins Howard Jones for record-breaking global song


Based on the enormous success of a pilot project in 2012 led by IPC member schools which involved 1,000 children from schools in 40 different countries, the aim is for ten times more children and schools to participate in this year’s charitable campaign. The recording of last year’s song ‘Building Our Own Future’ was released in December 2012 to global acclaim. IPC member school, Grazebrook Primary School in London was one of the schools that participated in last year’s pilot. “Being part of a global recording was incredibly exciting for us all,” says Headteacher Michelle Thomas. “It was a thrilling collaboration.” In the USA at the British School of Chicago, teacher Rachel White-Hunt says “In total, we recorded about 200 students here at BSC. The children learnt about simple chords on the guitar and bass. They loved playing along to the backing as well as singing.” Schools as far and wide as Namibia, Australia, Latvia and Japan submitted recordings last year for the collaborative project and schools


Skype link-up makes learning real for Washington students

IPC news

his year, schools around the world, led by singer/songwriter Howard Jones are linking up with the aim of creating the biggest ever global song recording. It is hoped that over 10,000 children’s voices will be recorded singing the song written and produced by Howard.

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in many more countries are already signing up to share in the singing of this year’s song, ‘Unshakeable’.

recording to be a part of a worldwide, hopefully record-breaking song to be released in December 2013.

All schools can participate in this year’s recording. There is absolutely no cost. It just involves children singing – and an enthusiastic music teacher or coordinator to make it happen! Voices Around The World provides schools with a recording of ‘Unshakeable’, the music and singing parts, and full details of how to record your own school’s contribution. Then your children get singing, rehearsing and

Schools need to submit their recordings by Friday 19th July. You can view a short video explaining more about the project at http://www. The picture shows students from IPC member school Utpal Shanghvi School in Mumbai, India recording their contribution for last year’s Voices Around The World project.


he Year 2 students at the British School of Washington in the USA used Skype to its very best advantage recently during their learning with the IPC Time Detectives unit. A very successful ‘big dig’ in the school playground inspired the children to want to learn more about the lives of archaeologists and so, through the wonders of Skype technology the children were able to ‘visit’ the Aruba Archaeological Museum, meet all of the archaeologists in the research lab, and enjoy a tour of the facilities. Prior to their Skype link-up, the children had done some preliminary research into the work that the Aruba archaeologists we doing to unearth artefacts and bones from the early residents of the island. They had also participated in a workshop where they’d found out that piecing bones together was pretty tricky and time consuming. As a result, they were able to ask some excellent, learning-


“It was truly an amazing and special activity for our students,” says year 2 teacher, Karen Pena. “It gave them first-hand experience of artefacts and the archaeological process, as well as celebrating our international community and links,” she says.

being specific as to who would ask each question,” she says. “This helped the children focus on the task in hand and assisted with the sound quality so that each questioner could come to the laptop.” The picture shows the children of the British School of Washington participating in the Skype link-up through a screen shot taken by the archaeologists at the Aruba Museum!

Following the Skype link-up, the students visited a local museum to find out how artefacts are presented, documented and labeled and then created their own archaeological museum in which to show off their learning and their discoveries from their big dig with parents. Karen shares some advice for making the most of a Skype learning experience: “I did find it useful to prepare the children in terms of what questions they would ask, as well as

British School of Washington

IPC member schools reach £20,000 for WaterAid


very year, £5 from every IPC membership fee is donated to WaterAid, towards its cause to provide safe water and effective sanitation to children and adults around the world. Through this simple donation, IPC member schools have, to date, donated over £20,000 to WaterAid. Community Fundraising Manager at WaterAid, Victoria Rouse says: “This is enough to enable 1,333 people to gain access to clean water, improved sanitation and hygiene education. These donations will have transformed the lives of some of the world’s poorest people – an incredible achievement.”

Utpal Shanghvi School, Mumbai, India

focused questions during the Skype and were fascinated to see the real bones that the archaeologists were able to show them.

Here is a very typical WaterAid story that you might want to share with the children in your school: Six-year-old Jean from Rwanda (seen here in the picture) collects water from a dirty

lake twice a day. The journey takes 40 minutes each way and can be dangerous. He often misses school because his clothes are dirty and falls sick with diarrhoea because the water is unsafe. Jean’s mother Patricia has said: “If we had another choice we wouldn’t take the water from the lake. Clean water would be the solution to our problems – my children could get a good education and they would not get diseases.” Across the world, 2,000 children die every day from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation. WaterAid works to help prevent this injustice and, thanks to the IPC membership donations, more people like Jean and his mum are being helped by WaterAid. It takes just £15 to transform one person’s life through access to safe water and sanitation, helping to improve health, education and livelihoods. 21

WaterAid’s Big Collection provides a variety of educational resources to help you explore water issues with your students, as well as inspiring ideas for fundraising. To request a free pack go to

Jean in Rwanda. Picture courtesy of WaterAid

A focus on learning

The neurobiological and evolutionary origins of creativity


r Mary Helen Immordino-Yang is a neuroscientist and human development psychologist. She is a recognised expert in the neuroscience of learning, creativity and social interaction. Mary Helen led the IPC Leadership Conference in 2011 and here she continues her discussions from that conference. This is an abridged version of a feature that she wrote with Nora Ming-Min Yang that appeared in Learning Landscapes journal.

Poem 2. Age 7 years, 3 months. to have been co-opted to manage our well-being in the social world. Survival in the savanna depends on a brain that is wired to make sense of the environment, and to play out the things it notices through patterns of bodily and mental reactions. Something catches our eye; we feel a jolt of adrenaline. Is that a poisonous snake or a vine? This same brain, the same logic, helps us make sense of and survive in the social world of today. Does that look on my teacher’s face suggest displeasure or approval? Will this poem I have written convey to others the essence of my experience? Behind every painting or poem or essay or physics equation is a painter, a poet, a writer, a physicist. A real person, alive in both the biological and sociocultural senses, who is hoping to influence others’ understanding by virtue of representing her own. What current neuroscience findings are showing us is that the feeling of creating, the satisfaction it provides, may get its inspirational power by virtue of its connections to the mechanisms that promote and feel our bodily survival and satisfaction, in the most basic, literal sense.

Dr Mary Helen Immordino-Yang

As we became the most socially interdependent mammals known to exist, the mechanisms we evolved to survive in the physical world seem

What I love about this poem is that it demonstrates so nicely the interdependence of emotion and even rudimentary disciplinary knowledge in learning. How does this little girl express the love and pride of her family for her little toddler brother (Teddy)— the love that she feels both biologically and socially? She references her newly acquired, simple knowledge of planetary science. She likens the vastness of her feelings to the size of the biggest thing she can think of— the Earth, and the endurance of the family’s love over time to the constancy of the Earth spinning to make days. In the end, this is both a poem about a family’s love for their baby, and one about the author’s understanding of the planet she lives on.

The poems included here provide an anecdotal but instructive example of how one child’s developing understanding of the physical and social worlds are intertwined as she creates, just as they must have been for that mysterious cave painter from 22

long ago. These poems were written on her own, just because she wanted to write them. What social and affective neuroscientific studies are revealing is that the legacy of our intelligent brain is our social mind. By virtue of its evolutionary connection to bodily feeling and survival, our social mind motivates us to create things that represent the meaning we have made by processes of noticing, feeling, and understanding, so that others can notice and feel and understand what we have. Our biological drives are co-opted over the course of cognitive development into a platform for making sense of the world in increasingly complex ways. We must understand, we must know, we must share our experiences. What follows is an analysis of one girl’s maturing attempt to do these things. Poem 1. Untitled, age 6 years 2 months. Oh Teddy we love you mor then the whole rth sis as the rth spins evry day we love you as much as u shewell but sum timse evine mor as you mac us proud and happy tha chyr you! [Oh Teddy we love you more than that whole Earth size. As the Earth spins every day we love you as much as usual, but sometimes even more, as you make us proud and happy that you’re you!]

Universe The stars are floating around the earth. As the earth looks so peasfull, there are no wars right now, and rainbows are shining as the clowds are mooving. What a butifull sight. The end. In this poem, the author treats us to a vision of the world, observed from the perspective of the stars. As in the first poem, her descriptions of the planet are imbued with social emotions about the value of peace. From a developmental perspective, though, the author has gained a more complex ability to represent multiple ideas at once, as well as a clearer literary structure for the poem (that is, she frames the poem between a title and a closing). She presents us with one “beautiful sight” but grounds her idea in several pieces of evidence, all simultaneously true: the lack of wars, the shining rainbows, and the moving clouds. She titles the poem using the grandest concept she can think of, and, just as poets have for generations, she turns to her rudimentary knowledge of astronomy for inspiration. Poem 3. Age 8 years, 10 months. Let Love Flow Through You (a poem for January) There is a child snuggled down for a good winter nap Let him sleep peacefully Let him blink silently

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Let his mother’s love flow through him Don’t wake him This poem was written as part of a book that included one poem for each month of the year. In this poem, the author writes of a sleeping child. She takes the perspective of an omniscient onlooker, instructing the reader not to disturb the child’s slumbers because even this simple action of sleeping is permeated with evidence of the child’s close relationships—his mother’s love flowing through him. Interestingly, the author titles the poem with a command to the reader, as if she can now mentally represent that her poems have a purpose— they can communicate her ideals to another person, the reader, and teach a lesson in the process. Her command of language is improving also, demonstrated by the alliterative repetition of the word “let” in the parallel structure of the middle lines. Poem 4. Untitled, Age 9 years 5 months. Growing things are everywhere and every day brings a new life to Earth which grows and grows until it reaches its full height it takes a last breath and lies down a new life is born In this final poem, the author connects her recurrent theme of Earth to her understanding of life and the life cycle. She returns to the idea she first presented earlier in poem 1, but with a new cognitive ability to represent systems of ideas, recurring in patterns. Whereas at age 6 she could relate one grand idea (strong and enduring love for her brother) to another grand idea (the Earth spinning over time), here she can understand that many smaller processes come together to make a bigger cycle. This cycle also invokes more complex emotional consequences for the reader than the earlier poems do, starting with a celebration of growing things, passing through the process of dying, and returning to the hopefulness of new life. She accomplishes this increased 23

Dr Mary Helen Immordino-Yang with IPC Director, Steven Mark

emotional complexity also through her developing sense of structure, going beyond the conventional framing she used in poems 2 and 3 and instead chopping her phrases with line breaks and indents to mark new, impactful ideas. In conclusion, to tie these poems together, we can see that they exemplify nicely the role of what Antonio Damasio and I termed “emotional thought”. Even the most dry and concrete factual knowledge about the world, for example facts about the workings of the physical planet on which we live, gains power when it is connected to this young author’s social and emotional relationships and values. Her disciplinary knowledge of science becomes a source of metaphors for understanding and describing the social world, as well as the other way around—she uses the familiar feelings of social bonds to understand and appreciate the natural world. As she grows and builds more and more abstract disciplinary knowledge, knowledge that is separate from her social relationships, perhaps the childhood connections she once felt between her understanding of the physical world and the social experience of living on it will remain a source of inspiration. Learning Landscapes ( is an online, open access, themed education journal that bridges theory and practice.

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The surgery

Answering everything you ever wanted to know about the IPC


e are frequently asked questions about the differences between the IPC and the PYP (the Primary Years Programme from the International Baccalaureate). So for this special issue of The Surgery, we have asked Christopher Frost, Curriculum Coordinator of the Primary Years at the United Nations International School, Hanoi who has significant experience of both curricula to try and answer a few questions about the similarities and differences between them. Question Can you describe your experience with the Primary Years Programme? Christopher answers I have been employed in PYP schools for the last fourteen years as a teacher, learning mentor and curriculum coordinator. I first came across the programme when I was working for the International School of Milan. The PYP was in its infant stages back then. Our school needed a volunteer to investigate whether it would be right for us. I jumped at the opportunity to attend several PYP workshops and to observe approaches in PYP schools. I spent a good part of a year travelling, scribbling notes, taking photographs, asking questions and sharing what I had learned with colleagues. I remember one such visit to the International School of Amsterdam, which was the very first PYP school in the world to be authorized. I was taken by the inquiry learning I

witnessed; an approach which echoed my experiences of how to teach primary science as a student teacher in the UK. I have worked for the past six years as an IB PYP workshop leader facilitating workshops for teachers throughout Asia about PYP philosophy and practice. I have also contributed to several IB initiatives, including the IB Journal of Education and IB curriculum development. I am currently the PYP (curriculum) Coordinator at the United Nations International School of Hanoi (UNIS). UNIS was the first school in the Asia Pacific region authorized to deliver the IB PYP. Question Can you describe your experience with the IPC? Christopher answers I have worked with the IPC in several capacities. I am currently a member of an IPC collaborative ‘think tank’ aimed at evaluating and developing IPC early years curriculum. I have had the privilege of collaborating with some very experienced IPC practitioners. With their help I created one of the recent IPC units: Investigators. I love hearing about how different IPC teachers have injected their own ideas into that unit. I really appreciate the flexibility of the IPC and the space for teachers’ creativity and thinking. I am regularly in contact with colleagues at Fieldwork Education: they are a super resource to help me to generate ideas and to provide advice on how best to enhance learning at my current school. 24

Question What are the main similarities and differences in ideology between the PYP and the IPC? Christopher answers Both the IPC and PYP are learner-centred, cross curricular, future orientated and have a strong emphasis on developing international mindedness. The IPC presents itself as being learning focused: developing knowledge, skills and understanding. The PYP instead emphasises its concept driven and enquiry-based approaches. These ‘selling points’ at first glance may seem dissimilar but scratch beneath the surface and you will find many are interdependent. The concept of understanding for example is perhaps seen as being more explicit in the IPC - I have read about it in this very magazine (Eye On The World). Yet understanding is the desired outcome of concept-driven and enquiry-based learning, both of which are at the heart of the PYP. Similarly, enquiry-based learning approaches are no stranger to the IPC. Enquiry is reflected in many of the IPC research activities and features as a stand-alone IPC goal. Progressive approaches to pedagogy are part and parcel of what the IPC describes as being a learning-focused school. Many of the same approaches the PYP describes as enquiry. It seems that both programmes share many similar beliefs and approaches to teaching, learning and assessment. In order to become a PYP school you need to be authorised to do so and are reevaluated thereafter. This is a lengthy

Christopher Frost

and challenging process, but it really helps to ensure that everyone sees the big picture. I recommend IPC schools opt to undertake IPC accreditation as this too strengthens the holistic nature of the IPC which is more likely to become lost if schools adopt only the curriculum itself. Question What do you believe the IPC could learn from the PYP? Christopher answers I am very impressed by the PYP’s emphasis on concept based learning. This is a key element of the PYP curriculum design. Learning in the PYP is organised around big, transferable ideas rather than themes. These ideas are made very explicit to the school community. Such an overt approach really helps students focus on what is worth understanding. If orchestrated well, PYP education is highly effective at emphasising the most important ‘stuff’ worth knowing and remembering. Like the IPC, in the PYP the case study, fact base or topic are viewed merely as the vehicle to learning. In the PYP the unit backdrop is the vehicle through which to grasp the fundamental lessons of history, principles of science and other such big ideas which help us

to understand the present and to shape our future. It is specifically the overtness of concepts in the PYP curriculum which I admire, partly due to the nature of the curriculum which PYP teachers have to design themselves. Question What do you believe the PYP could learn from the IPC? Christopher answers What impresses me about the IPC is just how userfriendly, practical and supportive it is. International schools have a very high turnover of teachers. Having a solid curriculum ready written which is simple and easy to follow is crucial for learning. The IPC is highly effective at supporting teachers: sequencing and developing learning. Such support frees teachers from the daunting and often arduous task of curriculum design. This in turn facilitates teachers to concentrate on the art of teaching such as differentiation, preparing quality learning environments, examining assessment data and so on. Of course any good, well-established PYP school with a refined curriculum is no stranger to what I describe here. What I particularly admire about the 25

IPC however is the, solid scaffold that the curriculum immediately provides and the subsequent immediate benefits on learning. Question And when delivered well, how do children benefit from the PYP and IPC? Christopher answers It is important to remember that both curricula are tools to support the teaching and learning, they are not the actual learning itself. As I heard the educator Michael Fullen say recently: “A tool is only as good as the mindset using it”. How successful the PYP and IPC are, depends largely on the culture of the school in question. There are numerous examples in both programmes of outstanding schools. Likewise there are schools which have significant room for improvement. Having worked closely with the PYP for the majority of my career I am enticed by the notion of working in an IPC environment. This isn’t because I feel one programme is better than the other, rather I love to learn. New perspectives, new environments and a different angle on teaching would facilitate my own learning I think.

Meet the IPC team

There are several ways that you can join in with the IPC, wherever you may be in the world. Here is what’s happening in the months to come. Join us – our events and conferences are always an excellent opportunity for great learning, great networking and great fun!

4th-7th April Isabel Du Toit


EOTW Tell us about your teaching career Isabel I was a Maths teacher for 14 to 18 year old students in South Africa for 14 years. At 18, students write the Matric exam; an exam at university entrance level. I taught in all types of schools in South Africa; the very best as well as the previously disadvantaged. After teaching for 14 years I was recruited to the education department of the province before moving the UK where I began working at Fieldwork Education in March 2008. EOTW As leader of the learning team, what is your main role? Isabel We are always encouraging schools to put learning at the centre of everything they do. So if we are encouraging schools to do this then we, at Fieldwork should be doing the same too! From writing and updating the curricula, to training schools, to sharing best practice, everything we do should all be with the aim of helping children to learn better. Therefore, my role is to make sure that everyone in the Fieldwork Education team is improving their learning; that

everything we do is learning focused, and that we are up-to-date with the latest thinking and understanding about learning. EOTW You spend a lot of time working with the professional development team. Can you tell us a little about that? Isabel It’s really important that if a school invests in IPC or IMYC, they know they are working with a learning focused curriculum and they will also get learning focused training; training that will provide teachers and leaders with practical solutions to support them with improving children’s learning in the classroom and throughout the school. We believe that this sort of professional development is so important. For all schools, whether you’re new to the IPC or IMYC, or at developing or mastering level, professional development helps you to ensure you’re focusing on all the fundamental principles of learning so that you are not simply delivering a learning scheme but are embedding the curriculum into your entire school community. This is when you see the very best learning happening. EOTW What about your own learning? What have you done recently? Isabel I attended the Learning And The Brain conference in Boston last summer. It was excellent to be in an environment that was so focused on how the brain learns. There are more and more techniques for studying the brain to identify how it works. From all this research, we 26


The IPC gig guide

Meet team leader for the learning team, Isabel Du Toit

any of you will have met Isabel Du Toit. She has been involved with the Looking for Learning Toolkit from inception and loves learning. She also supports schools with their implementation of the International Middle Years Curriculum. Isabel has recently been appointed the leader of the Fieldwork Education learning team.

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can make enormous progress on how to facilitate the best learning for children and students in a way that is appropriate to their age group. The conference also confirmed to me that what we are trying to do with the IPC and the IMYC is absolutely on track; the active, skills-based learning, the development of executive function and working memory, providing tangible ways to help children to make meaning and make connections in all their learning. The brain learns in an associative way; by making associations or, as we would say, making connections. This is very important for learning.

13rd-14th June Leading the IPC workshop Fieldwork Education office, London For IPC coordinators and leaders for learning

23rd-27th April ILMP Senior Leaders South East Asia course begins United World College, Singapore 24th April

25th April

25th April

2nd May

EOTW Give us one piece of advice that you’re sharing right now about learning? Isabel It’s very important for learners of all ages to be in a low stress, high challenge environment to learn most effectively. Stress inhibits your working memory, even taking it over completely which makes learning almost impossible. So if you can control stress in the classroom, you open up a better learning environment. The IPC and IMYC learning process really helps with this as children feel safe within the familiarity of the entry point, knowledge harvest, research and recording tasks, and so on, and know what is expected of them throughout the unit. But at the same time the learning is engaging and challenging so they don’t get bored and, as a result, disengage. This supportive but stimulating environment is what we should aim to achieve for all learning.

12th-14th June Exhibiting IPC, IMYC and Looking for Learning NCSL Annual Leadership Conference, Birmingham, UK Come and visit us there at stand 8

Presenting and exhibiting IPC, IMYC and Looking for Learning ECIS Administrators Conference, Berlin, Germany Come and meet us there.

11th-13rd May

13rd May

24th-27th June ILMP Middle Leaders 4-day course San Francisco, USA

Exhibiting IPC, IMYC and Looking for Learning Academies Show, London, UK Come and join us at stand 69

29th June

IPC information evening Johnston Primary School, Pembrokeshire, Wales For schools that are considering the IPC

Exhibiting IPC, IMYC and Looking for Learning Free Schools Live Show, London Come and meet us there

22th-24th July

Getting to Grips with the IPC St Pauls Church of England Primary School, London, UK For schools new to the IPC or interested to learn more about the IPC

IPC and IMYC Summer School International School of the Hague, The Netherlands Join us for three days of great learning and great fun

7th-9th Aug

IPC regional one day conference Liverpool, UK Planning an IPC unit, Assessing learning with the IPC, IPC and the National Curriculum, and keynote from Martin Skelton. All schools welcome

ILMP Middle Leaders 5-day sandwich course, part 1 Melbourne, Australia

11th-13rd Sept Exhibiting IPC, IMYC and Looking for Learning Asia Education Expo, Singapore Come and see us there

Exhibiting IPC, IMYC and Looking for Learning COBIS Annual Conference, Park Plaza Hotel, London, UK Come and see us there. Getting to Grips with the IPC British International School, Jakarta, Indonesia For schools new to the IPC or interested to learn more about the IPC

14th-15th May

Leading the IPC workshop British International School, Jakarta, Indonesia For IPC coordinators and leaders for learning

5th June

Making meaning and making connections How to help students be inspired, challenged & engaged by their learning. A learning focused one-day conference for schools committed to supporting students from primary to secondary with the International Middle Years Curriculum. Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth

8th-11th Oct

ILMP Middle Leaders 4-day course Fieldwork Education office, London

14th-15th Oct

ILMP Middle Leaders 5-day sandwich course, part 2 Melbourne, Australia

For more details on all of these courses, contact Victoria Watson at Also, look out on the IPC website for several IPC Learning Walks and Introduction to the IPC courses - for your new colleagues and for your neighbouring schools considering the IPC.


INTERNATIONAL PRIMARY CURRICULUM 25 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LD T: +44 (0)20 7531 9696 F: +44 (0)20 7531 1333 From Fieldwork Education, a division of the World Class Learning Group Š2013 WCL Group Limited. All rights reserved.


March 2013 Issue 9

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