The aim of a Primary Years curriculum is to ensure that young learners attain specific objectives by the time they transition to secondary school. These include learning and developing academic skills, engaging in extra-curricular activities, and cultivating qualities like respect, adaptability, initiative and resilience.
This is where the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) excels and why it is taught by over 1,300 schools in over 60 countries worldwide. The curriculum is based on thematic units designed to appeal to students from the first year of primary school through to the last. These themes make learning interesting and revolve around diverse topics covering everything from inventions, entrepreneurship, planets, food, different countries and cultures, and famous people in history.
Young children learn best when they are engaged and motivated, and the IPC ensures that subjects taught are always related to daily life and the world around them. By keeping them interested, students will go home and talk about what they learnt to their parents, which is also something encouraged by this curriculum. Each unit comprises core subjects including science, history, geography, music, society, art, technology and physical education. One of the key aims of the initial primary years is to ensure literacy and numeracy are attained, and these are well integrated in the curriculum.
There are specific goals that must be reached in each subject with tasks and projects to be completed, and teachers using this as a tool to measure their students’ success. An example of a thematic lesson could be about the seaside where students learn about coastlines (geography), famous people and sites (history), wildlife and vegetation (science), and work on art and craft activities focused on sea animals and the beach. By linking the subjects and associating them to everyday life and familiar surrounds, children retain the knowledge and are inspired to learn more.
A unique aspect of the IPC is that lessons are taught with a local, national and international perspective. Due to the global reach of the curriculum, students from countries as diverse as Malaysia, Iceland, the UK and Japan can share their local knowledge and experiences.
Assessments are conducted at three age mileposts (ages 5-7, 7-9 and 9-11) in nine subjects from art to physical education. These are graded according to three developmental stages – Beginning, Developing and Mastering. Another feature of this curriculum is the Personal Learning Goals that are part of every unit - Adaptability, Communication, Morality, Enquiry, Resilience, Respect, Cooperation and Thoughtfulness.
IPC schools are also able to combine national curriculums (English national curriculum in the UK) and teach languages like Mandarin and Malay (in Malaysia) using the structured yet flexible teaching framework. The IPC’s success is due to its adaptability, teacher support, parent involvement and more importantly, its methodology. Learning is fun, current and relatable for young learners and prepares them academically and socially for transitioning into secondary school.