Published on September 7, 2023
This week I shared the following message with our parent community:
We are pleased to announce that Hunter Valley Grammar School has decided to offer the IB Diploma Programme, pending authorisation by the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO). This is the fourth of the IB programmes and will place HVGS in the unique position of being the only four programme IB World School in NSW and one of the very few four programme schools in Australia. In pursuing the IB Diploma, HVGS will harken back to the pioneering spirit that marks its origins as a grammar school in the Hunter Valley and demonstrates our commitment to offering an IB education to students from three to eighteen years of age.
Currently, we are seeking candidacy from the IBO to offer the IB Diploma from Year 11 2025 (thus to our current cohort of Year 9 students). Given the detailed process involved in seeking recognition as an IB Diploma School, the timeline of 2025 has been thoughtfully considered and agreed as a realistic and achievable goal for the School in consultation with the IBO.
The IB Diploma is highly regarded as a robust, differentiated, and enriching course of study around the world. The introduction of the IB Diploma will mark a natural progression in our academic programs, offering Senior students an additional and exciting pathway towards their future.
Why the IB Diploma at HVGS?
At Hunter Valley Grammar School we strive to provide differentiated pathways to educational excellence for our students. One of our strategic priority areas in our strategic plan is Excellence in Holistic Education:
HVGS is committed to maintaining high standards of excellence in learning across academics, social emotional learning, vocational studies, arts, sports and service. HVGS values the whole student and is committed to providing innovative learning pathways that prepare students for the future while engaging their passions and challenging them to be global citizens who seek to make a difference in their world.
HVGS is committed to being a leading IB World School in Australia.
(You can read more about our strategic plan here.)
In our strategic plan we also write that
A strong focus on differentiated pathways to excellence, mastery frameworks, agency in learning, and effective structures for student inquiry, enables students to find their passions, pursue them and know what excellence looks across all dimensions of learning.
Becoming a candidate school for the IB Diploma supports us in realizing our strategic vision for Hunter Valley Grammar School. It will cement a continuum of learning from the early years to Year 12 that has at its heart our values and the IB Learner Profile, as well as approaches to learning, student agency and the pursuit of deep learning. Students entering HVGS in our Early Learning Centre and graduating from HVGS in Year 12 will have a coherent and developmentally appropriate experience of learning that will set them apart from other students. All four IB programmes also have at their heart a focus on “thinking global and acting local”. IB students are expected to apply their knowledge in pursuit of peace and a sustainable future with greater sophistication as they move through the school.
With full-authorisation to offer the IB Diploma, HVGS will be able to continue its pathway as a leader in education in NSW. The IB Diploma is a globally and nationally recognised standard of excellence in education. It is academically rigorous but accessible to a diverse range of learners. It is not an elite programme but one that supports deep inquiry and thinking around local and global issues. Offering the IB Diploma enables HVGS to remain focused on inclusion for all learners, including those who seeking entry to local and overseas universities.
Becoming a four programme IB World School will also cement HVGS’ commitment to the IBO philosophy and pedagogical approaches. It will help us ensure teaching and learning at HVGS retains a focus on critical and deep thinking and complex problem-solving across all years.
Already on staff, we have several teachers experienced with the IB Diploma and at a time of teacher shortage, having all four programmes will be a drawcard that helps us retain our amazing teachers, and recruit teachers locally and globally. In addition, staff at HVGS will have access to a robust professional learning network through the IBO.
Lastly, in a culturally and linguistically diverse school community, all four programmes support globally mobile and “minded” families.
Below is more information from the letter sent to families this week. To learn more about the IB Diploma, please join me on Thursday, 12 October from 6 – 7pm (venue TBC in a separate communication).
What does it mean to be seeking candidacy to offer the IB Diploma?
Schools need to be authorised to offer the IB Diploma by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). HVGS went through an authorisation process for the PYP, MYP and the IB Career Related Programme (IBCP). We will now begin a similar process for the IB Diploma. Luckily, HVGS started this process in 2021. Until we receive full authorisation for the programme, HVGS is called a Candidate IB Diploma School. While a candidate school, we work with a consultant from the IBO who helps us get ready to be authorised and offer the IB Diploma.
How will the IB Diploma impact the HSC?
The IB Diploma will not impact the HSC. Instead, the IB Diploma will become another pathway to graduation at HVGS, just like the HSC and our VET courses. The IB Diploma is a natural fit for us as we already have the other three IB programmes.
How will I know if the IB Diploma is the right fit for my child?
With the goal of implementation in 2025, our current Year 9 students and parents will have plenty of time to learn about the programme and whether it is the right fit for them. We know that understanding a new programme offering is tricky so we will begin information session for parents and students in Term 4 2023 so they can learn more prior to the course selection process that begins in 2024. The first information session will be on 12 October from 6 – 7 pm.
What will the IB Diploma mean for the other IB programmes in the school?
Having the IB Diploma will only enhance our implementation of the other IB programmes at HVGS. We will have a continuum of learning that moves from three- to eighteen-year-olds, and thereby provides continuity in focus, purpose and pedagogy. Across all programmes is a strong focus on building deep understanding as a key element of academic rigor; a commitment to service and action; a belief in the importance of collaboration, creativity and critical thinking; and a desire to support connected thinking across the curriculum. Regardless of whether your child does the IB Diploma in the future, all will benefit from a renewed commitment to the IB programmes and an extensive professional learning network of teachers.
What does the IB Diploma mean for university entrance?
Those engaged in the IB Diploma will graduate from HVGS with a globally recognised qualification as well as an ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) equivalent score. In this sense they come out with two qualifications: an ATAR equivalent for entrance to universities in Australia and an IB overall score (out of 45) that enables entrance to universities around the world.
What is next?
On Thursday, 12 October from 6 – 7pm HVGS will host an information session for parents and students interested in learning more about the IB Diploma Programme. In the meantime, parents and families can access a wealth of information and resources, including videos from the IB website, here: https://www.ibo.org/programmes/diploma-programme/
We look forward to embarking on this new stage of our journey as an IB World School, and on partnering with students, parents and staff to ensure it is a success.