What is the IBCP – who is it meant for?
Like the Diploma Programme, the IBCP is an academic option open to students entering their final two years of secondary school. There are two main components to the IBCP: a rigorous academic course-load and a career-related program, which students complete concurrently. These two components are bridged by a set of specially-designed IBCP core requirements.
IBCP students take at least two IB courses, which they may select from any subject group, and also study a world language. While completing these classes, they also embark on a two-year professional program of their choice. The program is ideal for students who are particularly interested in a specific career because it offers the opportunity to gain hands-on professional experience while also staying on track to succeed academically and attend university.
What’s a “career-related program”?
Also called vocational, technical, or professional studies, a career-related education is a course of study that prepares the student for a specific career or position. Although IBCP students are free to choose any field that interests them, they are required to participate in an accredited professional program. Students work with their schools to design and coordinate the logistics of their career-related study plan. Graduates of the first IBCP class (2014) chose programs across a wide array of fields, including nursing, automotive technology, business, and cosmetology. Some students may earn a professional qualification, such as a Nurse Assistant certification (CNA), upon completion of their program.
Tell me more about the IBCP core – is it different from the Diploma Programme requirements?
The academic and career-related components of the program are tied together by the IBCP core, which comprises the foundational Approaches to Learning course, a 50 hour community and service requirement, a reflective project, and language development. Approaches to Learning, a course specifically developed for the IBCP, focuses on building skills needed to operate successfully in society and in the workplace. The career-related portion of the program culminates in a reflective project through which students explore an ethical issue related to their career study. Finally, in keeping with the IB’s commitment to creating globally-minded learners, the IBCP requires students to study a modern language over the two years of the program (though they need not take an IB language course).
There are a few notable differences between the core requirements for the IB Diploma Programme and the IBCP. One of them is the reflective project: unlike the IBDP’s Extended Essay, the project can be presented in any format. Students explore an ethical dilemma and use the skills that they have cultivated through their career-related education to find answers. The Approaches to Learning course helps students develop intercultural understanding, communication and leadership skills, and a personal code of ethics. In contrast to the IBDP’s Theory of Knowledge, which has a completely different focus, Approaches to Learning aims to teach quantifiable and practical skills that students will need in the workplace and beyond.
Overall, the IBCP core is more customizable than the IBDP requirements are because it is meant to connect the student’s academic course-load and career-related program.
What are the benefits of the IBCP for students and schools?
One of the major advantages that the IBCP offers students is flexibility: it allows them to both pursue challenging academics and gain professional skills. Unlike any other program available at the secondary school level, the IBCP lets students design their own course of study and prioritizes their interests while still providing a structured and rigorous environment.
IBCP graduates are prepared for a wide range of post-secondary options, including going on to university, working in the “real world”, and pursuing further professional studies. Many students who may not have chosen the Diploma Programme because their interests lie in professional training choose the IBCP because it offers the best of both worlds. David Barrs, head of the Anglo-European School in the United Kingdom, agrees, telling the UK’s Telegraph that the IBCP “opens the IB experience to a wider range of students.” IBCP students also become part of their school’s IB community and the wider IB family – after graduation, they are welcome to join the 45,000-strong IB global alumni network.
The program also allows schools to better serve their students because it requires close collaboration between the student and the school. Developing an individualized course of study helps educators understand what their students are interested in, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how to best reach them.
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