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Inquirer through IB


We are a candidate IBPYP school. This programme is an international curriculum framework, which combines the best research and practice from national school systems with the collective knowledge and experience of international schools to provide an excellent educational programme for children aged 3-11. It provides an age-appropriate programme for children from diverse cultures and language backgrounds, and is transferable within national and international systems. The IBPYP focuses on the development of the whole child: academic, social, physical, emotional and cultural. This is expressed in the overall aims of the IBPYP, outlined in the IB Learner Profile.


The mission statement of the International Baccalaureate:

‘The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment. These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.’ (IB 2009). www.ibo.org 

How does the PYP work?

The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally minded people who, recognising their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet help to create a better and more peaceful world. IB learners strive to be:


They develop their natural curiosity. They acquire the skills necessary to conduct inquiry and research and show independence in learning. They actively enjoy learning and this love of learning will be sustained throughout their lives.


They explore concepts, ideas and issues that have local and global significance. In so doing, they acquire in-depth knowledge and develop understanding across a broad and balanced range of disciplines.


They exercise initiative in applying thinking skills critically and creatively to recognize and approach complex problems, and make reasoned, ethical decisions.


They understand and express ideas and information confidently and creatively in more than one language and in a variety of modes of communication. They work effectively and willingly in collaboration with others.


They act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness, justice and respect for the dignity of the individual, groups and communities. They take responsibility for their own actions and the consequences that accompany them.


They understand and appreciate their own cultures and personal histories, and are open to the perspectives, values and traditions of other individuals and communities. They are accustomed to seeking and evaluating a range of points of view, and are willing to grow from the experience.


They show empathy, compassion and respect towards the needs and feelings of others. They have a personal commitment to service, and act to make a positive difference to the lives of others and to the environment.


They approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with courage and forethought, and have the independence of spirit to explore new roles, ideas and strategies. They are brave and articulate in defending their beliefs.


They understand the importance of intellectual, physical and emotional balance to achieve personal well-being for themselves and others.


They give thoughtful consideration to their own learning and experience. They are able to assess and understand their strengths and limitations in order to support their learning and personal development.


What will your child be learning?

The PYP is a concept driven curriculum which integrates subject areas to support inquiry and learning in meaningful contexts.   The transdisciplinary nature of the curriculum enables students to experience how subject knowledge and understanding work together in the real world, while also experiencing individual components as well.

Classes from Year 1 to Year 6 are actively involved in six units of inquiry each per year, each one being approximately six weeks in length. Nursery and Reception experience four units of inquiry, one which runs throughout the whole year, the remaining three being experienced one

per term. The units of inquiry are centred around six transdisciplinary themes:

Who We Are

An inquiry into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities, and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human.

Where We Are In Time and Place

An inquiry into orientation in place and time; personal histories; homes and journeys; the discoveries, explorations and migrations of humankind; the relationships between and the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations, from local and global perspectives.


How We Express Ourselves

An inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.


How the World Works

An inquiry into the natural world and its laws; the interaction between the natural world (physical and biological) and human societies; how humans use their understanding of scientific principles; the impact of scientific and technological advances on society and on the environment.


How We Organise Ourselves

An inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment.


Sharing the Planet

An inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things; communities and the relationships within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.

5 Essential Elements

The IBPYP written curriculum framework incorporates five essential elements: Concepts, Knowledge, Skills, Attitudes and Action. The elements related to Concepts, Skills, Attitudes and Actions are relevant across all subject areas and provide a framework for structured inquiry - an ideal vehicle for learning. The remaining element is Knowledge. The emphasis in the IBPYP is not the acquisition of isolated facts and skills but a holistic understanding of ideas. Therefore, knowledge is not only seen as separate curriculum documentation but as the development of transdisciplinary Units of Inquiry in a whole school Programme of Inquiry.

The programme strives for a balance in the acquisition of knowledge, the development of skills and the search for understanding.

Knowledge – what do we want students to know?

  • Significant, relevant content that we wish the students to explore and know about, taking into consideration their prior experience and understanding.

Skills – what do we want our students to be able to do?

  • Those capabilities that the students need to demonstrate to succeed in a changing, challenging world, which may be disciplinary or transdisciplinary in nature.

¨      Social

¨      Communication

¨      Self-management

¨      Thinking

¨      Research

Concepts – what do we want our students to understand?

  • Powerful ideas that have relevance within the subject areas but also transcend them and that students’ must explore and re-explore in order to develop a coherent, in-depth understanding.

¨      Form – what is it like?

¨      Function – how does it work?

¨      Causation – why is it like it is?

¨      Change – how is it changing?

¨      Connection – how is it connected to other things?

¨      Perspective – what are the points of view?

¨      Responsibility – what is our responsibility?

¨      Reflection – what do we know?

Attitudes – what do we want our students to feel, value and demonstrate?

  • Dispositions that are expressions of fundamental values, beliefs and feelings about learning, the environment and people.

¨       Appreciation

¨       Commitment

¨       Confidence

¨       Cooperation

¨       Creativity

¨       Curiosity

¨       Empathy

¨       Independence

¨       Integrity

¨       Respect

¨       Tolerance

Action – how do we want students to act?

  • Demonstrations of deeper learning in responsible behaviour through responsible action; a manifestation in practice of the other essential elements (IB 2009)
  • Students are encouraged to take action as a progression of their learning and to deepen their understanding of what they can do with the knowledge they have gained.
  • Through action students are encouraged to reflect, choose and act responsibly.

How will your child be learning?

  • actively exploring the attributes of the learner profile
  • through exploration of ideas and concepts – building connections between personal experiences and knowledge and extending this through inquiry
  • involvement in planning and assessment – being actively involved in their own learning by reflecting, choosing and acting in a range of contexts
  • purposeful inquiry that engages students actively in their own learning
  • formulating their own questions for inquiry
  • designing their own inquiries
  • assessing the various means available to support their inquiries
  • research, experimentation, observation and analysis


How does inquiry based learning work?

Inquiry interpreted in its broadest sense, is the process initiated by the students or the teacher that moves the students from their current level of understanding to a new and deeper level of understanding. This can mean:

  • Exploring, wondering and questioning
  • Experimenting and playing with possibilities
  • Making connections between previous learning and current learning
  • Making predictions and acting purposefully to see what happens
  • Collecting data and reporting findings
  • Clarifying existing ideas and reappraising perceptions of events
  • Deepening understanding through the application of a concept
  • Making and testing theories
  • Researching and seeking information
  • Taking and defending a position
  • Solving problems in a variety of ways.

(Making the PYP Happen 2009)


How will I know how my child is doing? (Assessment)

At  AIS, we believe assessment is integral to all teaching and learning.  It is central to the PYP goal of thoughtfully and effectively guiding students through the five essential elements of learning:

  • the acquisition of knowledge
  • the understanding of concepts
  • the mastering of skills
  • the development of attitudes
  • the decisions to take action

AIS’s approach to assessment recognises the importance of assessing the process of inquiry as well as the products of inquiry.

The main aim of assessment at AIS is to provide feedback on the learning process and the development of the five essential elements to inform further learning.

Students and teachers are actively engaged in assessing the students’ progress as part of the development of their wider critical thinking and self-assessment skills.

The assessment component in the school’s curriculum can itself be subdivided into three closely related areas.

Assessing – how we discover what the students know and have learned

Recording – how we choose to collect and analyse data

Reporting – how we choose to communicate information

Examples of strategies used for assessment are:

Observations – through video, photographs, teacher/student discussions

Performance assessments – presentations, models, application of skills,

Process focussed – engaging students in reflecting on their learning e.g. journals, portfolios, discussions, reflections, self/peer assessment, giving constructive feedback (e.g. written/oral)

Selected responses – guided questioning, true and false, multiple choice

Open-ended tasks – presentations such as illustrations, graphs, written work, spoken


Examples of tools used to gather information are:

Rubrics – teacher and student generated criteria to determine what is needed on order to attain success (can be both process or product related)

Exemplars – using samples of students’ work or performance to provide information about student learning and development

Checklists – reference to skill and knowledge goals and criteria

Anecdotal records – written, oral or visually recorded observations

Continuums – identifying where a student is, their progression and enabling goal setting for further development


Standardised assessments are used as a part of the whole school assessment policy in an effort to gain as much information as possible about the student as a learner.  The types of assessment used in the school are many and varied and like the “jigsaw” analogy the information gained goes towards making up the whole picture.

Standardised assessments are specifically used for the following reasons:

  • As a part of the reporting process, information, which shows growth over time, is useful.

  • The collection of standardised assessment information provides information that helps teachers to form groups and plan the most effective program for individuals or groups

  • To demonstrate the progress students make over extended periods of time for school-wide planning and professional development as well as reporting to external educational bodies

  • To demonstrate impact of teaching on learning

Our standardised assessments currently used begin in Grade 3 and are a requirement of the local educational board.

Reporting occurs through:


  • Parent-teacher
  • Student-led – students lead the conference to reflect on and share their learning.


  • Written (twice a year)
  • English as Additional Language (as required)
  • Student Support – a summary of progress relating to a student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) targets (as required).

Student Portfolio

  • Portfolios are an accumulation of a student’s work – samples are predominantly selected by students, however, teachers and peers will also have input
  • Portfolios are taken home two times a year.
  • It is used as a focal point when Student-led conferences take place.


  • Grade 6 exhibition (see below)
  • Class newsletters and correspondence
  • Principal’s weekly updates
  • Curriculum mornings/evenings..

The Exhibition (beginning 18/19 academic year)


One of the purposes of the PYP Exhibition is to provide a forum for student driven reporting.  Other key purposes include the following:

  • For students to exhibit the attributes of the IB Learner Profile they have developed during their time in the Primary Years Programme
  • For students to engage and report on an in-depth, collaborative inquiry
  • To provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate independence and responsibility for their own learning
  • To provide students with an opportunity to explore multiple perspectives
  • For students to synthesise and apply their learning of previous years, and to reflect on their journey through the PYP
  • To provide an authentic process of assessing student understanding
  • To demonstrate how students can take action as a result of their learning
  • To unite the students, teachers, parents and other members of the school community in a collaborative experience that incorporates the essential elements of the PYP
  • To celebrate the transition of learners from primary to middle/secondary education




The need to communicate is instinctive. The development of language is fundamental to that need to communicate; it supports and enhances our thinking and understanding. Language permeates the world in which we live; it is socially.

(Making the PYP Happen 2009)

Language is taught through the context of the units of inquiry with some skills taught in their own right to be transferred at a later date such as selecting a purpose for writing e.g. to inform, to persuade etc and most often these are explored in the other strands of language at the same time.

Language is broken into three strands (areas)

Oral language – listening and speaking

  • skills that are essential for ongoing language development, for learning and for relating to others

Aim to move students from the conceptual understanding that people listen and speak to share thoughts and feelings to people draw on what they already know in order to infer new meaning when speaking and listening

Written language – reading and writing

  • Reading is a developmental process that involves constructing meaning from text.

Aim to move students from the conceptual understanding that Illustrations and print convey meaning in their own right or combined to synthesizing ideas and information from texts leads to new ideas and understanding

  • Writing: When children are encouraged to express themselves and reveal their own “voice”, writing is a genuine expression of the individual.

Aim to move students from the conceptual understanding that writing conveys meaning to knowing what we aim to achieve helps us to plan and develop different forms of writing

Visual language – viewing and presenting

  • Allows students to understand the ways in which images and language interact to convey ideas, values and beliefs.

Aim to move students from the conceptual understanding that the pictures, images, and symbols in our environment have meaning to synthesizing information from visual texts is dependent upon personal interpretation and leads to new understanding.

At AIS students are exposed to and explore a range of language genres in all of the three areas.  They are placed on the PYP language scope and sequence continuum to identify skills and knowledge they can apply independently.  This also enables us to have a clear direction of the next phase of development for their individual needs.


It is intended that students become competent users of the language of mathematics, and can begin to begin to use it as a way of thinking, as opposed to seeing it as a series of facts and equations to be memorized. (Maths scope and sequence 2007)

Mathematics is taught in context of the units of inquiry as much as possible however, there is still the opportunity for skills to be taught in their own right with the view to be transferred into meaningful contexts at a later date.  The three stages of mathematical knowledge and application are: constructing meaning: where students use previous knowledge and personal experiences to gain an understanding of new information; transferring meaning into symbols: during this stage students are transferring their understanding into their own symbolic representation leading to being able to transfer this into conventional mathematical notation; applying with understanding:  when students are able to use the appropriate symbolic notation to process and record their thinking.

All developmental phases of mathematics are taught through a combination of exploring real life experiences, problem solving with manipulatives and explaining their ideas, theories and results.

Students are placed on a “mathematics continuum” so that the teacher can assess their needs and move them along to the next phase of development, in order that the teacher is able to differentiate for the students’ individual needs.

As with language, students are placed on the PYP mathematics scope and sequence continuum to identify the skills and knowledge they can apply independently enabling teachers to have a clear direction of the next phase of development to meet individual needs.

As stated in the PYP mathematics scope and sequence 2007, students are encouraged to:

  • use patterns and relationships to analyse the problem situations upon which they are working.
  • make and evaluate their own and each other’s ideas
  • use models, facts, properties and relationships to explain their thinking
  • justify their answers and the processes by which they arrive at solutions.

Mathematics comprises of 5 strands (areas):

Data handling

Aim to move students from the conceptual understanding that we collect information to make sense of the world around us.

Events in daily life involve chance to data can be presented effectively for valid interpretation and communication.

The probability of an event can be predicted theoretically.


Aim to move students from the conceptual understanding that measurement involves comparing objects and events to a range of procedures exists to measure different attributes of objects and events.

Shape and space

Aim to move students from the conceptual understanding that Shapes can be described and organized according to their properties to consolidating what we know of geometric concepts allows us to make sense of and interact with our world.


Aim to move students from the conceptual understanding that numbers can be used in many ways for different purposes in the real world to for fractional and decimal computation, the ideas developed for whole-number computation can apply.

Pattern and function

Aim to move students from the conceptual understanding that patterns and sequences occur in everyday situations to patterns can often be generalized using algebraic expressions, equations or functions.


In the Primary Years Programme (PYP), science is viewed as the exploration of the biological, chemical and physical aspects of the natural world, and the relationships between them. Our understanding of science is constantly changing and evolving. The science component of the PYP should be characterised by concepts and skills rather than by content.

The knowledge component of science in the PYP is arranged into the following four strands:

(Science scope and sequence 2008)

Living things

The study of the characteristics, systems and behaviours of humans and other animals, and of plants; the interactions and relationships between and among them, and with their environment

Earth and space

The study of planet Earth and its position in the universe, particularly its relationship with the sun; the natural phenomena and systems that shape the planet and the distinctive features that identify it; the infinite and finite resources of the planet

Materials and matter

The study of the properties, behaviours and uses of materials, both natural and human-made; the origins of human-made materials and how they are manipulated to suit a purpose

Forces and energy

The study of energy, its origins, storage and transfer, and the work it can do; the study of forces; the application of scientific understanding through inventions and machines

Through the units of inquiry students will have a focus on some or all of the following scientific skills.  As these skills develop the understanding of scientific principles is built upon by the students.

  • Observe carefully in order to gather data
  • Use a variety of instruments and tools to measure data accurately
  • Use scientific vocabulary to explain their observations and experiences
  • Identify or generate a question or problem to be explored
  • Plan and carry out systematic investigations, manipulating variables as necessary
  • Make and test predictions
  • Interpret and evaluate data gathered in order to draw conclusions
  • Consider scientific models and applications of these models (including their limitations)

Social Studies

In the Primary Years Programme (PYP), social studies learning guides students towards a deeper understanding of themselves and others, and of their place in an increasingly global society. It provides opportunities for students to look at and think about human behaviour and activity realistically, objectively, and with sensitivity. Exposure to and experience with social studies therefore opens doors to key questions about life and learning. (Social studies scope and sequence 2008)

Social Studies consists of five strands (areas)

Human systems and economic activities

The study of how and why people construct organizations and systems; the ways in which people connect locally and globally; the distribution of power and authority

Social organization and culture

The study of people, communities, cultures and societies; the ways in which individuals, groups and societies interact with each other

Continuity and change through time

The study of the relationships between people and events through time; the past, its influences on the present and its implications for the future; people who have shaped the future through their actions

Human and natural environments

The study of the distinctive features that give a place its identity; how people adapt to and alter their environment; how people experience and represent place; the impact of natural disasters on people and the built environment.

Resources and the environment

The interaction between people and the environment; the study of how humans allocate and manage resources; the positive and negative effects of this management; the impact of scientific and technological developments on the environment

As with Science, Social studies is supported by a set of skills which give opportunities for students to develop an in-depth understanding in this area.

  • Formulate and ask questions about the past, the future, places and society
  • Use and analyse evidence from a variety of historical, geographical and societal sources
  • Orientate in relation to place and time
  • Identify roles, rights and responsibilities in society
  • Assess the accuracy, validity and possible bias of sources

Personal, Social and Physical Education

PSPE in the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) is concerned with the individual’s well-being through the promotion and development of concepts, knowledge, attitudes and skills that contribute to this wellbeing.

Well-being is intrinsically linked to all aspects of a student’s experience at school and beyond. It encompasses physical, emotional, cognitive, spiritual and social health and development, and contributes to an understanding of self, to developing and maintaining relationships with others, and to participation in an active, healthy lifestyle. (Personal, social and physical education scope and sequence 2009)

PSPE consists of three strands (areas)


  • an understanding of our own beliefs, values, attitudes, experiences and feelings and how they shape us
  • the impact of cultural influences
  • the recognition of strengths, limitations and challenges as well as the ability to cope successfully with situations of change and adversity
  • how the learner’s concept of self and feelings of self-worth affect his or her approach to learning and how he or she interacts with others

Active living

  • an understanding of the factors that contribute to developing and maintaining a balanced, healthy lifestyle
  • the importance of regular physical activity
  • the body’s response to exercise
  • the importance of developing basic motor skills
  • understanding and developing the body’s potential for movement and expression
  • the importance of nutrition
  • understanding the causes and possible prevention of ill health
  • the promotion of safety
  • rights and the responsibilities we have to ourselves and others to promote well-being
  • making informed choices and evaluating consequences, and taking action for healthy living now and in the future


  • an understanding of how an individual interacts with other people, other living things and the wider world
  • behaviours, rights and responsibilities of individuals in their relationships with others, communities, society and the world around them
  • the awareness and understanding of similarities and differences
  • an appreciation of the environment and an understanding of, and commitment to, humankind’s responsibility as custodians of the Earth for future generations

Each strand interacts with the other and is broken into phases of development. These are used to inform progression and future goals. At AIS, PSPE is taught through units of inquiry as well as being integrated into all areas and everything we do, that is, within the classroom, dining room, playground, sports hall, swimming pool etc with the view that skills and knowledge will be applied as a natural understanding develops.

 The Arts

They are a powerful mode of communication through which students explore and construct a sense of self and develop an understanding of the world around them. Arts provide students with a wide range of opportunities and means to respond to their experiences and engage with historical, social and cultural perspectives. The students are stimulated to think and to articulate their thoughts in new ways, and through a variety of media and technologies. (The arts scope and sequence 2009)


The process of responding provides students with opportunities to respond to their own and other artists’ works and processes, and in so doing develop the skills of critical analysis, interpretation, evaluation, reflection and communication.


The process of creating provides students with opportunities to communicate distinctive forms of meaning, develop their technical skills, take creative risks, solve problems and visualize consequences. Students are encouraged to draw on their imagination, experiences and knowledge of materials and processes as starting points for creative exploration. The creating strand provides opportunities for students to explore their personal interests, beliefs and values and to engage in a personal artistic journey.

The Arts is broken into four strands (areas)

Dance, drama, music and visual arts.  These are explored through responding and creating providing students with the opportunity of using the two perspectives to further their understanding of their own and others’ art.

Curriculum Summary

The IBPYP focuses on the heart as well as the mind of learners and addresses social, physical, emotional and cultural needs as well as academic needs. In addition to this traditional academic subjects are valued. There is also an emphasis on the balance between the acquisition of essential knowledge and skills and the search for meaning and understanding. The programme provides opportunities for learners to construct meaning through an inquiry approach which incorporates a range and balance of teaching strategies. The threads of children's learning are brought together in the transdisciplinary programme of inquiry, which in turn allows them to make connections with life outside school. The IBPYP enables children to develop sensitivity to the experiences of others through the curriculum, the attributes listed in the Learner Profile and the expectation of socially responsible action as a result of learning experiences.