The International Baccalaureate provides a continuum of high quality education that promotes international mindedness and a positive attitude to learning. The Primary Years Programme (PYP) of the International Baccalaureate is the curriculum framework for students from Prep-Prep to Year 5 at Somerset College.
Somerset College was first authorised to offer the Programme in 2004. The PYP focuses on the growth of the developing child, embracing social, physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual and cultural needs. It is an international, transdisciplinary programme promoting inquiry as an approach to most learning.
The Programme is based on a deeply held belief about the nature and future of a dynamic international education. Furthermore, through an exploration of concepts such as sustainability, cultural identity, personal and world history and human relationships, at an appropriate developmental level, students engage with their world in authentic ways, thus encouraging and supporting students to be international in their outlook.
Students in the PYP actively construct new understandings based on their existing knowledge. This is known as a constructivist approach and involves carefully assessing prior knowledge in order to guide experiences that will take the learner beyond their current level of knowledge and understanding. This guided inquiry allows students to select and think critically about information and the source of information, form hypotheses and test theories.
Inquiry is not a particular teaching method but a stance that underlies our approach to living as learners, both within and outside of school. Within schools inquiry highlights learning as a process that underlies curriculum across disciplines, subject areas, and age levels. Kathy Short, University of Arizona, 2009
As a result of new learning and understandings students are encouraged to reflect, choose and act on issues of importance to them. Thoughtful and appropriate action is the ultimate assessment of learning. The PYP Exhibition, the culmination of the programme which is held in Year 5, is clearly aligned with action and encourages students to offer solutions to real-life problems.
The ability to know a language other than English allows learners to better appreciate other cultures and is part of increased participation in the contemporary world. Additionally, the study of a second language supports an understanding of the cultural diversity of Australia, and is a requirement of the PYP. Currently students from Pre-Prep to Year 2 study Mandarin, and from Year 2, Italian is introduced as the second language.
The PYP is recognised by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) as an alternative curriculum framework. The Programme’s philosophy and pedagogy is upheld whilst still attending to the requirements of the Australian Curriculum in the following subjects: English, Mathematics, Science, History and Geography.