ESF hails success in switch to IB diploma

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 September, 2009, 12:00am

Leaders of the English Schools Foundation are hailing its switch to the International Baccalaureate Diploma a success after nearly two-thirds of the first group of pupils scored 30 points or more in the new exam.

But they have pledged to improve provision of alternative qualifications for less academically oriented pupils after more than 8 per cent failed to secure the full diploma.

Provisional results for the first batch of 754 youngsters across the ESF's five secondary schools to take the diploma were released yesterday. Four schools adopted the qualification in place of British A-levels two years ago after the fifth made the switch earlier.

Across the group, 91.7 per cent gained the diploma, compared with a global average of 79 per cent; 65 per cent gained 30 points or more against 50.2 per cent worldwide; and 8.7 per cent gained 40 points or more - a score reached by 5.5 per cent globally. Two pupils at King George V School in Kowloon, Vincent Cheung and Xiang Ding, bagged the maximum possible score of 45 points. Last year just 74 diploma students worldwide achieved the top score. But the ESF's pass rate in A-levels last year was 98.6 per cent, with 44 per cent of exam results at grade A, and 85.4 per cent at grades A to C - its best results yet.

ESF chief executive Heather Du Quesnay said: 'The transition to the IB has been successful, but that doesn't mean that it hasn't been challenging. I think our students have done very well indeed. We are pleased with the results. Clearly, the IB diploma, as we have always known, is a more demanding qualification than A-levels.'

She said analysis suggested that the percentage of pupils getting six or seven points across all subjects - broadly regarded as equivalent to As at A-level across three subjects - was about the same as last year.

'The very great majority of students have now got university places, but there are still a small number who are playing the field. They are looking at the different alternatives in different countries.'

Guidelines issued by Britain's Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) equate an IB score of 28 with three As at A-level. But the International Baccalaureate Office says top research-led universities in Britain typically require a score of 36 or above; Oxford and Cambridge demand 38 points.

Among ESF pupils, 26 per cent scored 36 points or more and 16 per cent scored 38 points or more.