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PYP Curriculum

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by catney, Jan 16, 2005.

  1. Several of the European schools who are advertising for teachers follow the PYP curriculum which is connected to the International Baccalaureate. I have looked this up and downloaded as much information as I have been able to, but would like to hear from anyone who has actually taught this programme. Is it enjoyable, fulfilling, easy to gets to grips with etc?
  2. Several of the European schools who are advertising for teachers follow the PYP curriculum which is connected to the International Baccalaureate. I have looked this up and downloaded as much information as I have been able to, but would like to hear from anyone who has actually taught this programme. Is it enjoyable, fulfilling, easy to gets to grips with etc?
  3. I have taught both the UK National Curriculum in an international school and I am currently teaching the PYP - Primary Years Programme in a leading fully authorised international school.

    My advice to you is carefully weigh up your options. I have been extremely unsatisfied with the PYP. As a teacher who has always pushed for high standards in my classroom I was shocked by what I saw in a PYP school.

    In theory it does all sound fantastic, however I could not believe the basic skills most children in the PYP school were lacking in. These skills being basic reading, writing and mathematical skills. It is rather hard to inquire when you have poor reading and writing skills. It also does not set you up for success in later life. These are vital skills.

    What has upset me the most about working in a PYP school is the arrogance of PYP adminstrators and the so-called "Learned Teachers." I quickly learned not to question anything. If you question it is viewed as a criticism. Questioning is something they encourage in the children but in any PYP school or workshop you attend questioning is not welcome. Think of it as questioning a cult leader on their bizarre practices.

    The pointless jargon they use is enough to drive anyone round the bend. From my experience it does not seem to be about the children (as much as they claim it is). It seems to be about theories, egos, jargon, and putting on a damn good show. In my experience most PYP teachers are real egomaniacs who want to be a coordinator of this, or lead a workshop in Bangkok on that?. They actually don?t seem to be content with being classroom teachers.

    Many PYP teachers will initially take pity on you and say "Don't worry, you don't get it now but one day it will suddenly come clear to you." Personally I am yet to see the light, but I interpret what they say as, "Stick with it for long enough and your standards will just become lower naturally."

    I am fortunate enough to have been able to visit other curriculum schools and revisit my old school where they teach the British Curriculum and it always makes me realise what PYP children are missing out on.

    It is also infuriating how many PYP adminstrators and teachers happily bash and criticise any other curriculum. I feel that stems from their own insecurity. They say how other curriculums are ?identical and rigid? and do not allow freedom. I can say I have never felt more suffocated or controlled in my life. At no point must you ever ?teach? anything.

    Finally I would like to say that PYP schools are a breeding ground for inconsistency amongst classrooms. Because there are no real standards in place and because you can "inquire" into or "investigate" a whole topic with no work to show for it at the end (call me old-fashioned but I don't think that a 5 minute drama piece is really enough to assess 6 weeks of work) you have some teachers who coast through the year doing nothing but wishy washy activities.

    I understand the need to create exciting, varied, inspiring classrooms which encourage the children to investigate, but I find it saddening when almost half of the 8 year olds in my class who have been in PYP for 2 or 3 years cannot write a sentence properly when they arrive in my class in September.

    I am aware that there are some great PYP teachers out there, but again, the lack of standards allows many teachers to coast along.

    Also I have found students enjoy having weekly Science, Geography and History much more than they enjoy their Units of Inquiry. I find it shocking that children in PYP schools only may do one or two science based units a year. At my current school we squeeze all the ancient civilisations into one 6 week unit... very balanced indeed....

    Sorry, that went on a bit but as a teacher who has seen both sides I would say that the British Curriculum with an international flavour is far more rewarding for the students and the teachers.

    Hope this helps....
  4. I'm really sorry but I teach in a fully authorised PYP school and have had a very different experience to you. I teach grade 3 and all of my students are meeting or exceeding expectations in terms of literacy and maths. The scope and sequence is very clear for all subject areas and if followed, students should be at the same standard as those following the national curriculum.
    The school that I work in is bilingual and all students are able to inquire in either language successfully.
    I am extremely satisfied with the PYP and I really like the fact that it concentrates on the child as a whole and their whole well being. Not everyone aspires to be a workshop leader or coordinator, maybe this is just your school ???
  5. I'm going to be teaching the PYP from September and also have bags of experience of the UK NC - which I find does not prepare pupils to be independent learners or thinkers - there is too much emphasis on literacy and numeracy and as we should recognise not everyone is good in these areas. However some children are born organisers and thinkers. I totally agree children need to learn the basics but in the NC they are not given the opportunity to practise these skills. I think children learn far more from a topic approach. I have also had experience of the IPC which I love. I'm thinking that IPC is a mixture of NC and PYP so I'll incorporating my experiences of both to satisfy my high standards.
    In my new school we also do stand-alone literacy/numeracy/ICT lessons so I should think that we can do the basics quite well.
  6. Hi there,

    "forthethirdtime" thanks for your message. I do agree with you that it could be school that has a warped view of how PYP should be taught.

    However I still have met many other PYP teachers in different schools and various workshops and I still believe they are not driven by the needs of the children. Many are egomaniacs... sorry but this is my experience so far, I would hope I am wrong but I can only make a judgement on what I have experienced.

    I enjoy the children in my class inquiring, answering their students questions and presenting their findings in many different ways and relating it to global context, BUT I still believe as a teacher I have a responsibility to teach important English and Maths skills.

    I can look back at some of my students in previous schools I have worked in and realised they would have sank with PYP (i.e made very little progress in terms of their English, both spoken & written). Some students do need a lot of encouragement and pushing from their teacher and in my experience I have not seen this in PYP.

    I still stand by my views that weekly Science should still take a place in a child's learning (I also feel this should apply for Geography & History). I mean in PYP the children get weekly Art, Drama and Music lessons. I do not believe that one or two Science based units provides a well rounded education.

    For my next job I am tempted to try another PYP school in the hope that it is just my school that is getting it wrong, but at the end of the day my school is classed as a leading IBO school which received a glowing accrediation report....
    What am I to think?
  7. ian60

    ian60 New commenter

    I am teaching MYP and the IBDP, but my kids are at the same school and are being taught under the PYP.

    I am very happy with their progress and appreciate the width of experiences their teachers try to give them.

    They love school.
  8. Hi "IAN60"

    Thanks for your message. Perhaps it is just me who is having a bad experience with the PYP. Although it is amazing how many people I speak to in IBO PYP schools who are fed up with the cult status it endorses (we are right, and everyone else is wrong?. apparently when it comes to educational thinking, they do throw the baby out with the bath water) and thinking they promote. Maybe it is time to create a "support site" for teachers who are sinking in this programme rather than swimming. We can?t all be alone? Surely there are some high standard teachers in the PYP??? Where are you? Let me know how you do it!!! By the way before responding to that question, if your answer consists of ?inquiry through play? then you can take a running a jump!

    I will quite happily agree that all the children in my current PYP school are happy and content individuals... Unfortunately the majority of them are lacking in vital skills (this may the case with your own child/children but you may be unaware, unless you have other systems to compare it with). These are apparently naturally integrated skills and are learnt through inquiry. Heaven forbid a teacher might actually "teach" a vital skill. I am sorry but our students do not know everything and are not capable of guiding their own learning 100%. That said, they should have some ownership of their inquiry, but as teachers we are still there to ?teach? (ouch!!!! There is that ugly little world again) at the end of the day, if we are to follow the current trend then are we to all change the name on our diplomas from "qualified teacher" to "inquiry instigators?" I do miss ?real? teaching, having my students enthralled with various lessons which they really got into, but perhaps people that move into PYP are not able to engage and captivate their student?s minds (e.g. can?t perform in front of a crowd)? Again? that is just my opinion, and in my recent experience I have been told by many a ?learned? colleague that my opinion is wrong? therefore why should I even have one?

    Therefore IAN60 your children may very well be happy and content, but at the end of the day, have they got strong learning skills? I am in close contact with teachers and parents who have left my current PYP school and upon returning home, or moving to other international schools their children have been put into remedial classes. I have emails from said parties which read ?_________ has been put into a remedial class due to a lack of basic skills.? Or ?______ has spent the whole year trying to catch up thanks to their so-called PYP experience.? As I said in my previous statement, as teachers I do feel that when we are in a system that has little to no standards, therefore we naturally drop our own?

    Again I am probably going off the rails here and have had the unfortunate experience of working in a "hardcore PYP" school which ?may have? lost touch with reality. But, again all I can only go on are my own experiences. So please don?t judge me too harshly? I am a teacher after all, who loves working with kids, and watching them grow and acquire independent skills which will prepare them for the international world our there? I just want them to reach their own individual potential, but I am also prepared to push kids to succeed.. if no one sets the bar for their standards then they will naturally aim low?.

    I am banging a repeated drum here, but I still think it is IRRESPONSIBLE to deny children WEEKLY SCIENCE, HISTORY; GEOGRAPHY which can (hello transdisciplinary jargon... here I come!!) be taught in a cross curricular method...

    Peace Out Tree Huggers! xxx
  9. Hi Teacher 50,
    I was at a leading PYP school (PYP for over 5 years, just finished self study and the big "inspection" with an excellent report) last year and am moving to a new candidate school in Septemeber. From what i've heard my new school is not on the same level with PYP and I might well find myself in a similar position to you. At my last school, everything was integrated, science, maths and English were integrated as much as possible or were taught as stand alone lessons. I really hope it is your current school ( as bad as that sounds)as the PYP when done the way it was set out to be is fantastic.
  10. kemevez

    kemevez Occasional commenter

    Both the PYP and MYP are often run badly in schools new to them as the administrators don't understand them. In my opinion, they try far too hard to understand something that is staring them in the face and they constantly compare it to the British (or similar) curriculum. They are basically the British (or most other) NC stripped down with all the political and beaurocratic nonsense discarded and they allow the school to develop a sensible curriculum based on sound educational principles. Some schools do this badly because they think that the PYP should be applied the same way in all schools. It most definitely shouldn't and this is where it kicks the British NC into the recycle bin.
    As for workshops, I think most are like this - many teachers get very precious about their little workshops that give them a chance to share their wisdom with their less fortunate peers.
    I do agree though that the PYP (and MYP) is often used as an excuse for doing ****** all in the classroom - but then this happens in exam factory type schools as well where all the kids are motivated to get good grades and revise like hell at the end.
  11. I have read a great deal over time about the UK National Curriculum and PYP and have not been trained in either.

    There are many different educational approaches out there and all have their pros and cons. I have taught the UK National Curriculum and I find that stifling (for both the teacher and child) and quite difficult. But then I do understand that if this is implemented correctly (it wasn't in the places I taught) it could be quite different and very rewarding for everyone.

    The PYP sounds very cool and into children's inquiry skills. I love that and think that is very important.

    Inquiry learning should be a big part of school for primary aged children, enabling teachers to integrate history, geography, science etc into the curriculum. However Literacy and Numeracy should come first. Without these all else are impossible.
  12. interesting thread...

    i have worked in three IBPYP schools and one 'international' school which followed the international curriculum. I have also visited several IBPYP schools world wide and find them to be energetic learning environments full of enthusiastic teachers focussed on children's learning.
    In my last school i came as PYP co-ordinator to introduce the IBPYP to a school where the 3-8 year olds followed a programme based on ENC and the 9-11 year olds followed a programme based on some US teaching principles. confused? I was....
    The introduction of the PYP to the school not only raised childrens performance in reading, writing and maths, as evidenced by tracking ITBS and ISA test results, but contributed hugely to building a community of learners within the school. Children showed more engagement with learning, took more responsibility, were more aware of the reasons for their learning and demonstrated great desire for learning. this was a climate change. The IB trainers and IB philosophy actively promote the use of learning continuums (particularly in English and Maths) which is heavily taken from research in Australia and New Zealand as in the best way to promote student learning. Thinking about the learner as central in our classrooms, and what they need to know, how can that be a bad thing? teacher50 I am sorry you have had a bad experience, but do not take what is happening in your school as indicative of all PYP schools.
    I am wary of the English National Curriculum (please note that there is not and never has been a British Curriculum and any school that is promoting it is sadly misguided. Likewise an American Curriculum does not exist, there are state guidelines and there is AERO. that's it) I think the imposition of any one 'national' curriculum on children of mixed nationalities and cultural backgrounds has nothing to do with being international. I could say more but I will restrain. I do agree with other posters that I find it rigid and difficult. When I worked in year1 in an international school using literacy and numeracy, I looked at the objectives but taught in my own, learner centred, backward planning, integrated way and two years running, the class was assessed as being 'generally 6 months ahead' of the parallel classes where the teachers (English trained and experienced) followed the literacy and numeracy hours. The next year school management asked me to plan with and guide the other two teachers (who luckily for me were open and keen) and the following year the disparity had largely disappeared. I dont think this is co-incidence.
    PYP IS hard for teachers, anything worthwhile is. I dont think its ideal but its the best I have come so far.
  13. Solflower, it would benefit me if you could elaborate further on your teaching skills using the PYP. I always think of myself of a 'learner centred' teacher but sometimes doubt myself. I will be teaching 4th GRade in my new school with the first unit of inquiry being the way we learn (learn to live; live to learn!). Maybe, if you don't mind I could run something past you to gain your impression of what I think it is all about - it is certainly not teaching the classical numeracy/literacy hours more of combining topics to enhance the knowledge & understanding and teaching the skills in order to develop the unit.

  14. I had another thought for the OP on this thread. It may be of interest to you that there are schools in UK using IBPYP, not only international private schools but some state schools. Last year on a course in Romania I met 4 PYP co-ordinators from Bradford. The heads of a cluster had all got together because they were concerned that they were not meeting the needs of the children in their (very deprived) catchment area. They got some special govt funding and took on PYP. One of the co-ordinators I spoke to at length told me that in an OFSTED inspection they had been given an OUTSTANDING for curriculum and also for teaching and learning. I am sure if you look on the IBO website you will be able to find which schools in UK are using PYP and maybe even arrange a visit. We had a teacher who came to our school from the states and he did that (visited a school in the states using PYP) and found it very useful. teddy bear, I will mail you.
  15. ian60

    ian60 New commenter

    If I could carry on with solflower's enthusiasm.

    I have been teaching at "a" school that has been teaching the full IB programe, from PYP to IB Dip.

    Because it is an international school, many pupils come and go. But there is a core that remain . I have taught several students that have been here since they were 6 or 7. They are now smashing kids, and about to enter the best uni's in the world.

    Credit to IICS or IB, not sure
  16. yasimum

    yasimum New commenter

    Could anyone outline exactly what is involved in an IB evaluation/accreditation please?
  17. yasimum

    yasimum New commenter

    PS: With a PYP bent.
  18. Yasimum - this is going to be a VERY brief overview of the process - for fuller details visit www.ibo.org and check it out in more detail. You can also download application forms and other information which will give you a much fuller picture.

    Becoming authorized to offer the IBPYP takes a minimum of two years, and involves the entire staff buying into the basic philosophy and then planning the specific development of the pregramme for their own school. This includes writing "Units of Inquiry" and demonstrating how the school is going to integrate the PYP approach. Also a good number of teachers must go through specific PYP training, with a follow-up plan for the remaining staff.

    There are three stages to the Application Process:

    Part A - generally completed by administrative staff. This includes the demographics of the school, and many leading questions about why the school has chosen has the PYP and how it intends to implement it. There are also budgetary and other questions. Here in North America there are generally several modifications required before Part A is accepted by IBNA. Several staff members will have to be PYP trained before Part A will be accepted. Then you can proceed to:

    Part B, which is completed after the school has gone through a detailed application process, with the help of an experienced IB consultant. It generally takes at least one school year to complete this very thorough investigation, and all staff must be involved. There will be ongoing teacher training throughout this year.

    Site Visit - after Application B has been reviewed and accepted, there will be a site visit, usually three people, all specifically trained in such visits, to ascertain whether the school is genuinely ready to implement what has been described during the application process.

    Once the Site Visit Team gtive a favourable review you are ready to call yourselves an IB World School - there is a review process every five years to retain full authorization.

    Hope this helps - good luck!

  19. yasimum

    yasimum New commenter

    cdrt, thank you very much but I do feel awful now as I didn't make myself clear.

    The school is already an IB World school and they are going through a review next year. It is at a school where I am currently being considered for the Head of Primary position.

    Quite honestly I don't know if I am up to the task of steering the school through that process as I have no IB experience, so I was just wondering how rigorous it was and what they are looking for in case I do happen to get the job.
  20. My school went through a review this year. The school has to do a self evaluation, teachers look at the standards and evaluate whether they think they are meeting the standards and identifying those that they perhaps aren't. The management team doesn't have that much to do the evalaution visit other than supplying relevant information to the evaluators. The parents, the office staff and the students are all supposed to be involved in the self evaluation as well. It is a mammoth task but it was really good as you don't often sit back and look at where the school is in such detail and then as a school take action. We over hauled the curriculum after the visit as after looking at it in such detail, we realised it wasn't as relevant or as significant as we had originally thought.
    Good luck with your decision, I hope this is of some help.

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