If all goes well, a Penticton high school will be a member of an internationally recognized program within a few years.
Princess Margaret Secondary School began the application process a year ago to implement the International Baccalaureate’s Middle Years Programme for grades nine and 10, a potential first step toward bringing in the IB Diploma Programme for grades 11 and 12. But the process is a lengthy one, and full implementation may not be achieved until the 2019/20 school year.
IB is an internationally recognized program for its holistic approach to education with a greater emphasis on critical thinking, as well as inclusion of things like volunteering in the curriculum, which Princess Maggie principal Roger Wiebe said is a major difference between IB and the Advanced Placement program out of the U.S., which is more common in Canada.
“They’re dramatically different. AP is really you’re focusing on one course by which you hope to then take an exam that will then perhaps garner you a credit in that area for first year university” he said. “Here it’s a holistic approach to how you see education.”
Wiebe said part of his reasoning for bringing forward the idea was his experience with IB at King George Secondary School in Vancouver, adding that when implemented the MYP will be applicable to all grade nine and 10 students.
“It’s focused on the same sorts of things, like international mindedness, global awareness, service to the community,” he said.
“So when I came to the school, I know the school was looking for something that could really focus the entire staff. They’ve done lots of work around assessments already, and something called Through a Different Lens and inquiry projects, but those were meant to be temporary focuses for the school.”
Though the school hadn’t been particularly aware of the IB program, Wiebe said it “dovetailed nicely” with what the school had already been doing, adding that the B.C. Ministry of Education has looked at the IB program as a model for its own approach to education.
If successful, Wiebe said it would be among the first schools in the Okanagan area to implement the IB program, though a Kamloops school does have the IB Diploma Programme in place and a private school planned for the former Glenfir School is intended to offer IB. But the program won’t come overnight for Princess Margaret.
“(We) spent last year researching and focusing in on it and having lots of discussions, the staff decided overwhelmingly — well, 100 per cent, actually — to pursue that,” Wiebe said.
“There’s a candidacy application that I completed last spring, and then we were officially recognized as a candidate school in June, and then this is our implementation year and looking to be authorized sometime next year, so we would be fully implemented in the 19/20 school year.”