Diploma Programme (DP)
What is the DP?
The Diploma Programme (DP) is the International Baccalaureate (IB)’s educational programme for students ages 16 to 18. At the end of their studies, successful students are awarded the IB Diploma, which is highly prized by the world’s most prestigious universities.
What is the learning philosophy?
The DP offers a demanding, two-year curriculum designed to unlock students’ full potential.
Like other IB programmes, it is both rigorous and holistic in nature, promoting academic excellence as much as physical, intellectual, emotional and ethical wellbeing.
Students graduate from the DP with a wide and varied range of knowledge and skills, equipped for success at university, in the workplace and in their personal lives.
At GWAS, our approach to the DP is one of both high support and high standards for each individual. In both these respects, we mark our difference from other IB schools by customising learning so students can maximise their potential. Some of the ways we achieve this include:
- The size of our classes is small enough for students to benefit from individual attention from our expert teachers, many of whom are either examiners or workshop leaders for the IB organisation.
- Our homeroom teachers truly care about the emotional wellbeing and academic progress of each child. Homeroom structures are personalised to each group and can therefore include anything from developing study habits to analysing essay structure.
- We work closely with students and parents to develop personalised study programmes for students who require it, whether this be during their study periods or in the after-school study hall.
- We hold individual reflection meetings with every student at the end of each term to reflect meaningfully and move forward positively with ambitious yet achievable goals.
- We regularly review systems and structures to consider better ways of achieving our goals, and we encourage our students to do the same.
How is the programme structured?
Students follow six subjects, three at higher level and three at standard level. This provides them with in-depth knowledge of interesting and difficult concepts while ensuring they are also exposed to a broad and balanced curriculum.
At GWAS, we offer a varied choice of subjects for the Diploma Programme, with new courses often made available based on student demand. All students choose one subject from each of the first five groups and an extra subject from either Group 6 or one of the first five groups:
- GROUP 1: Language and Literature
- English Literature
- French Language and Literature
- Spanish Literature
- GROUP 2: Language Acquisition
- Beginner’s French*
- Beginner’s Spanish*
- Beginner’s Mandarin*
- GROUP 3: Individuals and Societies
- Information Tech in a Global Society**
- GROUP 4: Experimental Sciences
- Sports, Health and Exercise Science
- GROUP 5: Mathematics
- Maths Studies
- Maths Standard Level
- Maths Higher Level
- GROUP 6: The Arts
- Visual Arts
- Film Studies*
*Blended learning (traditional classroom teaching combined with online learning).
** Online learning under the guidance of a mentor.
In addition to the six chosen subjects, the Diploma Programme focuses on developing students as critical thinkers who respect themselves, the people around them and the world in which they live. To this end, all students follow core elements of the DP:
- International Mindedness
- Rather than simply giving information about different cultures, the DP teaches students to understand why individuals or groups hold certain beliefs, helping them analyse different belief systems from historical, social, economic, political or cultural perspectives.
- Theory of Knowledge (TOK)
- Instead of simply accepting new knowledge to be true, students learn to assess different ways of gaining knowledge and study systems and criteria to evaluate whether knowledge is reliable or valid. At GWAS, the TOK course connects different subject disciplines by drawing on examples within the individual subject groups as well as from current global events. Our students benefit from numerous opportunities throughout the DP to discuss Areas of Knowledge with specialists from outside the school. Recent guests have included a famous journalist and a UN human rights lawyer.
- The Extended Essay
- With support from a supervisor, students research and write a 4000-word essay on a topic connected to one of their six subjects. The Extended Essay is highly valued by universities as an excellent preparation for future study. At GWAS, we give our students extra support by providing them with a virtual guide on how to succeed and by offering them occasional sessions with their coordinator to discuss elements of the Extended Essay, such as how to get started or how to write a balanced argument. Each student can also rely on support from their homeroom teacher and the librarian. To streamline the Extended Essay process, we log all major deadlines, reflections and communications on a virtual platform.
- Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS)
- One of the IB’s founding principles is to create a better world – and CAS helps make this reality. Through the Creativity component, students are encouraged to be more entrepreneurial and artistic. Through physical Activity, they become more dynamic and understand the value of physical effort. Finally, the Service component of CAS requires students to take on an unpaid, voluntary role, teaching them to be more selfless and ethical.
How is student progress assessed?
In the DP, external examinations are the main basis for evaluating performance. Internal assessment is also used for oral work in languages, fieldwork in geography, lab work in the sciences, performances in the Arts, etc. At GWAS, we provide a detailed calendar of all major assessments well ahead of time and ensure assessments are evenly spaced to reduce academic overload on students.
For each subject, students are awarded a grade from 1-7, where 7 is the highest. The IB Diploma is awarded to students with at least 24 points, as long as they attain certain minimum levels and complete the core programme (TOK, Extended Essay and CAS).
Students are awarded a bilingual diploma if they achieve at least grade 3 in two languages from the Language and Literature subject group. The bilingual diploma is also awarded to those who study a Group 3 or 4 subject in a different language to their Group 1 subject.
We believe that guiding our students to the right post-secondary choice is an essential part of the DP. Our aim is to support parents and students in identifying options that are the best fit for the individual learner.
To achieve this, we encourage students to reflect on how the choices they make today will facilitate their options in the future. From Grade 9 to Grade 12, students are invited to identify their strengths, develop goals and expand their interests.
We encourage both parents and students to be open-minded and start the search process as early as possible and with as wide a base as possible. Choices should be narrowed down only in the final fifteen months of school.
Our Head of University and Careers Guidance is available to meet with students and their families on request, and from January of Grade 11, all students have a dedicated time slot to talk about their options.In addition to personal one-to-one meetings, we hold events throughout the year to help students and families with university applications. These include University Matching workshops, sessions about applying in different countries, and a work experience week.
Our innovative, skills-based approach to Wellbeing is based on the three pillars of Mindfulness (personal), Nonviolent Communication (relational), and Restorative Justice (communal).