What Is the IB Curriculum in the UAE? A Helpful Guide for Parents

Feb 1,2024

Children who are given the ideal educational foundation have endless opportunities to explore, learn, grow and succeed.

The right curriculum can shape their understanding of the world, boost their curiosity and equip them with the skills they need to thrive inside and outside the classroom. With this in mind, you need to put careful thought into choosing the right curriculum for your child.

GEMS schools in the UAE offer four different educational programmes, each with its own set of benefits and features. This article discusses the International Baccalaureate (IB) educational framework, and how the GEMS IB curriculum can benefit your child.

Sixth Form students at GEMS schools

What Is the IB Curriculum?

Established in 1968 in Switzerland, the IB curriculum is one of the longest-running, globally recognised international educational systems. It was designed by the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) and is taught at more than 5,700 schools in 159 countries.

Since the IB programme is an internationally recognised curriculum, it is transferable to and accepted by schools and universities across the globe

This educational system is based on a student-centred approach to learning, emphasising critical thinking skills, creativity and accountability under the guidance of experts.

IB Programmes

The IB curriculum is divided into four age-related programmes:

  1. The Primary Years Programme (PYP)

This educational programme is aimed towards students from 3 to 12 years of age. It revolves around 6 globally relevant themes that help children build the essential knowledge base they need in the 21st century, which are:

  • Who we are
  • Where we are in place and time
  • How we express ourselves
  • How the world works
  • How we organise ourselves
  • Sharing the planet

This framework aims to help children gain locally and globally relevant knowledge and skills, develop conceptual understanding, demonstrate positive attitudes, and take responsible actions.

The top IB schools in Abu Dhabi and Dubai provide the following subjects to PYP students:

  • Arts
  • Language
  • Maths
  • Personal, social and physical education
  • Science
  • Social studies

Students in Music Class at GEMS SchoolMiddle Years Programme (MYP)

This IB learning curriculum is offered to students ages 11 to 16. It enables students to explore global concepts that stem from and expand the PYP, which include:

  • Transdisciplinary themes
  • Identities and relationships
  • Personal and cultural expression
  • Orientation in space and time
  • Scientific and technical innovation
  • Fairness and development
  • Globalisation and sustainability

The curriculum covers the following subjects:

  • Arts
  • Design
  • Individuals and societies
  • Language acquisition
  • Language and literature
  • Maths
  • Physical and health education
  • Sciences

Some IB schools in Dubai and across the UAE offer an eAssessment in Year 5 of the MYP programme. Students who take this externally assessed computer-based test receive an MYP certification and grade.

  1. Diploma Programme (DP)

This IB level helps students ages 16 to 19 gain the skills and knowledge they need to prepare for higher education, their professional career and beyond.

At this level, subjects are offered at a higher or standard level.

The Diploma Programme covers three core elements:

  • Theory of Knowledge
  • Extended Essay
  • Creativity, Activity, Service (in which students complete a project)

The subjects students at this level will take are:

  • Arts
  • Individuals and societies
  • Language acquisition
  • Maths
  • Sciences
  • Studies in language and literature

Each subject group covers different courses.

  1. The Career-Related Programme (IBCP)

This two-year programme empowers students ages 16 to 19 to pursue career-related studies that align with their skills and interests.

Students taking this programme combine the study of DP courses with career-related studies. It prepares them to navigate various personal and professional situations they may encounter in the workplace.

Some career-related studies available at the top IB schools in Dubai include:

  • Business
  • Creative media
  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
  • Sports

IB curriculum students undergo regular assessments throughout the academic year to evaluate their learning growth and pace, and provide them with assistance when needed.

Those enrolled on the diploma programme undergo internal and external assessments to determine the final results.

Reasons to Enrol Your Child at a GEMS IB School

Students laughing in design class GEMS Cambridge International School Abu Dhabi

GEMS Education’s IB curriculum schools in Dubai and the UAE provide young learners with several benefits, which include the following:

  1. Holistic Growth

The IB curriculum goes beyond traditional classroom education. We offer students diverse experiences that encourage personal growth and empower them to achieve their goals.

The variety of learning experiences we provide allows students to conduct experiments in state-of-the-art laboratories, participate in extracurricular activities, join school trips and much more to develop them wholly.

  1. Real-World Relevance

The IB curriculum fosters critical and analytical thinking skills which students can apply to real-life situations. Students can explore a broad and interconnected range of subjects, enabling them to handle challenges in real life.

This is evident through the creativity, activity and service (CAS) strands of GEMS’ IB diploma programmes, which encourage children to participate in various local, national and international activities individually and as a member of a team.

  1. Well-Rounded Education

IB programmes equip students with unique skills, attitudes and perspectives. This approach empowers them to navigate complex and unpredictable real-world scenarios effectively.

GEMS IB schools enable students to acquire skills and experiences that can prepare them for the real world through their well-thought-out curriculum. 

They also provide other learning opportunities, such as the Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Social Impact programme, to develop students into successful professionals and leaders.

  1. International-Mindedness

The IB curriculum enables students to understand different languages, cultures and global issues. By exploring these themes, students become active participants in a global society, demonstrating empathy and understanding.

GEMS IB schools provide students various opportunities to develop their international-mindedness and cultural awareness. An example of this is the Global Citizenship programme, which allows GEMS learners to visit and explore new countries, meet people from all walks of life, and help those in need. 

  1. Academic Excellence

IB programmes emphasise academic rigour, helping students develop a unique set of skills, attitudes and perspectives. This holistic approach enhances their efficiency and independence in learning, resulting in increased confidence and higher chances of gaining admission to top-ranked universities worldwide.

GEMS’s IB schools have helped numerous students gain acceptance into many of the top universities in the world. These include the following:

  • Cambridge University
  • Yale University
  • Stanford University
  • King’s College London
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Toronto
  • University of Waterloo
  • University of Amsterdam

GEMS Education offers some of the leading IB schools in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. We are authorised by the IBO to offer the four IB programmes. Our schools are also CIS-accredited.

These schools have dedicated science labs and advanced communication teaching facilities. All teachers receive continuous IB training and work with IB-accredited trainers as well.

The GEMS IB education strategy has consistently seen students’ score high in internal and external assessments.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about our schools offering the IB programme, such as GEMS World Academy - Dubai, GEMS World Academy - Abu DhabiGEMS International School - Al Khail and a brand new school due top open in 2024 - GEMS Founders School, Masdar City!

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