Equity and inclusive education in the IB

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The IB believes in an inclusive approach to education designed to remove or reduce barriers so that every student can fully participate in IB programmes.

Inclusive education is facilitated in a culture of collaboration, mutual respect, support and problem-solving involving the whole school community. 

Across the world, inclusive education has grown from a movement that was about the inclusion of students with disabilities to a holistic approach that is about all learners and values the diversity of the student population.

The IB approaches equity and inclusive education in two main ways:

  • inclusive principles in the design of IB programmes
  • inclusive education practices in IB World Schools.

Inclusive principles in the design of IB programmes  

IB programmes are designed to ensure inclusivity and equitability—allowing all IB learners to have equal opportunities to learning pathways, learning experiences and educational recognition. The IB applies these principles for programmes and subjects.

When designing and developing the curriculum, the IB aims to meet the principles of equity and inclusive education through:

  • designing and developing a universally designed curriculum that is inclusive, fair and accessible for all IB learners
  • taking into consideration planned access and adaptations (inclusivity and accessibility for groups of students who would need specific access) and student well-being
  • drawing upon the full range of ways of knowing and incorporating experiences, contribution and histories from across cultures, nationalities, backgrounds, identities and perspectives
  • ensuring representation across cultures, nationalities, identities and experiences.

The above will allow all learners to feel represented and seen in the curriculum—to feel they each belong. Students are encouraged to think critically and holistically about a subject with an awareness of their biases. This can help reduce or remove cultural bias, and expose learners to multiple co-existing narratives and ways of knowing.

IB assessments address inclusivity, equitability and accessibility by:       

  • using the principles of universal design of assessments, including cultural diversity and sensitivity to personal identity, in assessment design and development
  • considering student well-being during assessment design and development
  • providing inclusive access arrangements for students with access requirements
  • supporting students who are impacted by adverse circumstances during examinations
  • ensuring that evaluation of achievement is carried out in a reliable and valid manner by providing instructions to IB examiners to reduce or eliminate bias during the marking process.

Inclusive education practices in IB World Schools

The IB creates and maintains policies and creates resources to support equity and inclusive education in IB World Schools.

Access and inclusion policy

The access and inclusion policy is designed to enable full participation of all students across all four IB programmes in teaching, learning and assessment (formative and summative), by reducing and removing barriers using appropriate and well-planned access arrangements. 

Each year tens of thousands of students with learning, physical, sensory, emotional, medical and other long-term challenges are supported in their IB assessments (Diploma Programme, Career-related Programme and MYP eAssessments). Students whose learning, emotional and functional stability are impacted by personal, family, social or other life circumstances (such as mental health difficulties, gender and sexual identity-related challenges, or being affected by war etc.) are also supported through this policy. 

Read the access and inclusion policy (PDF, 3.1 MB)

Adverse circumstances policy

The adverse circumstances policy supports individual students who are impacted by circumstances such as bereavement, injuries, illnesses, or groups of students impacted by circumstances such as natural disasters during the assessment period.

Read the adverse circumstances policy (PDF, 2.6MB)

The IB principles of equity and inclusive education focus on all students—equal opportunities for every IB learner. Equal opportunities in the learning journey will not mean equal outcomes, but the focus is on all IB students fully participating and engaging in IB programmes. The principle is to emphasize similarities and strengths and not differences and what divides us.