The Integration of Social and Natural Sciences in a Curriculum for International Primary Education

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The International Baccalaureate (IB) offers three challenging programmes of international education that provide a continuum of education for 3-18 year olds. In these programmes there is an emphasis on the conceptual development that underpins learning so that students make connections from one area of learning to another, and broadly to life inside and outside the classroom.

This session will allow for the examination and discussion of how the curriculum framework of the Primary Years Programme (PYP) of the IB, for 3-12 year olds, teaches about, and through, social and natural sciences in an integrated, transdisciplinary way.

Within the PYP it is believed student learning is best done when it is authentic—relevant to the ‘real’ world; and transdisciplinary—where the learning is not confined within the boundaries of traditional subject areas but is supported and enriched by them. In the PYP the word ‘transdisciplinary’ is used to describe themes that explore the common ground of human experience, i.e. Who we are, Where we are in place and time, How we express ourselves, How the world works, How we organize ourselves, and Sharing the planet. These six themes provide the framework, called the programme of inquiry, through which all social and natural sciences are taught. Knowledge, concepts and skills from these subject areas, and from others, are learned and utilized in ways that transcend the confines of these subjects. Each PYP school develops its own transdisciplinary programme of inquiry through a collaborative planning process. This process, one of the keys to successful implantation of the PYP, will be outlined.


Keywords: Assessment for Understanding, Central Ideas, International Primary Education, Key Concepts, Lines of Inquiry, Related Concepts, The International Baccalaureate, The Primary Years Programme, The Programme of Inquiry, Transdisciplinary Themes
Stream: Education and Social Welfare
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Jennifer Giddings

Head, Primary Years Programme, International Baccalaureate Organization
Cardiff, Wales, UK

Jennifer Giddings, head of the Primary Years Programme (PYP) of the International Baccalaureate (IB), has been directing and managing the development of the PYP at the IB curriculum and assessment office in Cardiff, Wales, since August 1997. She has enjoyed the exceptional opportunity this has provided for her to strengthen the PYP since its inception as an IB programme, with excellent commitment and support from IB World Schools. Prior to that, she was teaching at the United Nations International School in New York where she was a middle-school science teacher, higher level biology teacher and IB Diploma Programme coordinator. During that time she was an assistant examiner in biology for the IB. Her teaching experience, in Europe, Bermuda and the USA, spans primary, middle and secondary levels. Her teacher’s certificate was awarded by the University of Wales, UK. Her MA in science and mathematics education was awarded by Teachers College, Columbia University, New York.

Ann Hickey

Primary Years Programme Regional Manager, Regional Office Europe , Africa, Middle East, International Baccalaureate Organization
Geneva, Switzerland

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Ref: I08P0821