Why IB? Post-16 choice processes in a dual-curriculum UK independent school

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Emma M Mitchell, EdD, University College London

This report presents the processes experienced by students when making post-compulsory curriculum choices at an independent boys’ school in South London. The curriculum options at the school are the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) and Advanced Levels (A-levels). Hence, the research question was: In an independent, all-boys school that teaches both A-levels and the DP, how do students experience the process of post-16 curriculum choice? The researcher interviewed 21 students either individually or in groups, manifesting wide-ranging attributes, on three occasions across a six-month period in the 2020-21 academic year. Narrative and thematic analyses of the interview transcripts revealed that post-16 curriculum choice is guided by subject interests, ongoing progress in courses and assessments, aspirations, influential family members and friends, advice from teachers, perceived ‘fit’, extra-curricular interests and past experiences. Five categories of students emerged in relation to choice processes: placid, quietly assured, fixated, performing as though satisfied and thriving.

Full report (PDF, 1.3 MB)