Frequently Ask Questions

What is IB PYP Programme?

The International Baccalaureate’s Primary Years Program (PYP) is a curriculum framework designed for young learners (ages 3-12) in international schools. It focuses on the development of the whole child through an inquiry based learning approach that exposes children to worldwide perspectives while ensuring their full academic development within a solid core curriculum.

All International/ World Schools are not IB World Schools. What makes a school an IB World School?

• School must be authorized by the International Baccalaureate (IB) of Geneva

• School must offer at least one of the three programs offered by IB

• School should have a cohort of IB trained Teachers and maintain a generous budget for ongoing professional development

• School should meet the progressive infrastructural requirements of rich research resources in laboratories and library

How many IB schools exist in the world and in India?

There are 2,094* schools spread over 125 countries all along the globe

There are 62* IB schools in India.

(*Subject to change with new schools being authorised)

When, how and why was IB started

In the year 1968 in Geneva, Switzerland a group of leading educators from different countries grouped together to develop a contemporary international school curriculum that could be followed universally across the world

One of the main objectives was to provide a rigorous, consistent high school curriculum for the children of globally mobile families

In true spirit of its name ‘Baccalaureate’, a French term meaning pre-University, the curriculum was designed with a focus to prepare students to enter and successfully pursue tertiary programs offered by premier Universities of the world

What are the core competencies of IB?

Development of a curriculum which is essentially dynamic and continuously evolving to remain relevant in the face of continuous change in all areas of the world

Training of teachers to deliver the ever changing curriculum

Assessment of the students based on the ever changing curriculum

How many programs does IB offer?

IB Diploma Program (DP) – a two year rigorous pre-university course (grades 11–12) that prepares students to enter top Universities in the world including India. IB offers a formal external examination at the completion of the DP program for age group 16 to 19 years.

IB Middle Years Program (MYP) – a program for age group 11-16 (grades 6–10)

IB Primary Years Program (PYP) – a program for age group 3-12 (grades Nursery–5)

Is it mandatory for an IB school to offer all three programs?

Schools can choose to offer any or all of the programs. Each program has independent process for accreditation. IB offers specific authorisation separately for each program.

How do we believe students learn?

In the PYP we believe that children learn when they connect new knowledge with existing knowledge. The role of the teacher is to provide opportunities for students to build meaning and refine understanding through structured inquiry. In the process the children learn social, thinking, research, self-management and communication skills necessary for all learning.

What is the trans-disciplinary approach and how does it foster better learning?

In the PYP, the students learn about globally significant issues through units of inquiry. The essential elements around which each unit is developed include concepts, skills, attitudes, knowledge and action, they are applied in a context defined by the six trans-disciplinary themes:

• Who we are

• Where we are in time and place

• How we express ourselves

• How the world works

• How we organize ourselves

• How we share the planet

We have used a whole school approach to develop a Program of Inquiry (POI) that provides students with experiences that have logical sequence and build upon each other from year to year. The Units are based on science, social studies, personal and social education. However to be truly educated, students must make connections across all the disciplines, discover ways to integrate the separate subjects and ultimately relate what they learn in life.

What do we mean by UOI (Unit of Inquiry)?

A unit of inquiry is the term given by the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) to a 6-8 week in-depth exploration of a concept that has direct relevance to the real world. Home Room Teachers (HR) facilitate a process whereby students will inquire into a Central Idea relevant to the real world by being guided by Lines of Inquiry and teacher questions, giving students a deeper understanding of the real world in action. These units are transdisciplinary in nature and incorporate specific learning of skills and knowledge in English Language, Mathematics, Sciences and Social Studies.

Transdisciplinary is the word that IB uses to describe learning that crosses a range of subjects or disciplines, rather than teaching each one in isolation. A transdisciplinary concept can stretch across subjects such as math, science, language, ICT and geography, and connects them all together. This means that multiple subject-specific skills are being planned for, taught, and assessed consistently at all grade levels in each Unit of Inquiry. At times, there will be a need to teach certain subject-specific skills outside of the UOI as stand-alone learning.

How does the PYP foster a student's personal and social-emotional development?

The PYP promotes the development of a list of behaviours that we call the learner profile. The PYP supports children to become inquirers, thinkers, communicators, risk-takers, knowledgeable, principled, caring, open-minded, well-balanced and reflective.

The PYP also lists attitudes to be developed in the children that will contribute to the student profile. These are: appreciation, commitment, confidence, cooperation, creativity, curiosity, empathy, enthusiasm, independence, integrity, respect, and tolerance.

How does the PYP promote International Mindedness?

By developing the trans-disciplinary skills, investigating the trans-disciplinary themes and addressing the various needs of the child- physically, socially, intellectually, aesthetically and culturally - the PYP ensures that the learning is significant, relevant, engaging and challenging, so that the child can reflect on the connections between life in school, life at home and life in the world. By helping the child make the connections and see that learning is connected to life, the PYP establishes a strong foundation for future learning. The trans-disciplinary themes have global significance; they promote an awareness of the human condition and an understanding that there is a commonality of human experience.

The acquisition of more than one language and maintenance of the mother tongue enrich personal growth and help facilitate international understanding. The school develops systems and strategies to support the development of English as a lingua franca as well as development and maintenance of mother tongue in the school community. While English is the language of instruction, the language policy of the school allows for students to inquire in the mother tongue and aspire to multilingualism. At FirstSteps, in addition to English and Hindi language, students are given an option of third language, German or French. Every learner benefits from having access to different languages and through that access, to different cultures and perspectives. Acquisition of more than one language enriches personal development and helps facilitate international mindedness.

How do you fit this in with the existing curriculum

“Fitting everything in” is a universal challenge in education! Teachers are masters at weaving together elements of the Common Core, state and national standards, and elements of the PYP. This is accomplished through collaboration, careful planning, and a clear focus on student learning targets.

Is the PYP easier or more difficult than a national curriculum?

The IB offers a curriculum framework and it is expected that schools will develop curriculum based on that framework. It has rigor and it is about supporting and guiding students so they develop enduring understandings. At FirstSteps we have developed our own curriculum using the International Baccalaureate (IB) framework, and other international curriculum.

The PYP emphasizes learning through inquiry and discovery. The teacher joins the students in the role as learner. Information is discovered and taught through carefully designed activities and learning experiences, not through simply reading or telling and then restating facts. IB curriculum encourages the students to become independent learners and critical thinkers, hence they are better prepared for all challenges.

How does FirstSteps recognize my child’s achievement?

We do not award grades in our reports or when marking student’s work. We believe that feedback in the form of structured comments (oral or written) is more effective. Rubrics are developed to assess a summative task with criteria that guide and enhance student learning and achievements. Our practices do not lead to the presentation of awards for students achieving above others. We believe that although this kind of award may be an incentive to a few students, many of whom are already aware that their work is appreciated as being exemplary, it does not act as an encouragement to the majority of other learners who may not be able to achieve at that level. The emphasis is on recognition rather than on competition. Our intent is to encourage intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivation.

How will my child be assessed?

FirstSteps has its own written curriculum for all academic subjects with specific learning targets and outcomes that students are expected to achieve.

The purposes of assessments are to:

• promote student learning

• provide information about student learning

• contribute to the successful implementation of the programme

Through assessment, the teachers identify what students know, understand, can do and value at different stages in the teaching and learning process.

In the PYP, learning is viewed as a continuous journey, where teachers identify students’ needs and use assessment data to plan the next stage of their learning.

At FirstSteps School, we are concerned with assessing a wide range of learning outcomes and expectations; it is obvious that we need a range of assessment strategies that are consistent with current thinking on assessment. Assessment is both formative and summative and viewed as authentic, essential, rich, engaging and feasible, allowing the student to become part of the evaluative process.

Formative Assessment –

Using formative assessment is fundamental in differentiated learning; it allows facilitators to assess students need for differentiation. It is a continuous assessment usually to be taken at the end of each line of inquiry. These assessments are diagnostic and provide continuous feedback to teachers and students enabling them to achieve their potential. It aims at identifying the learning needs of student, forming a part of the learning process itself.

A variety of tools are used for conducting these assessments such as worksheets, quizzes, field trip, projects, assignment, group discussion, symposium, poster making, model making, debates, role plays etc. The variety of tools used give chance to the facilitator to take into account various skills involved such as writing, aural, reading, comprehension, mental mathematics, musical, kinaesthetic, communication etc

For each Unit of Inquiry minimum of four to five tasks are taken including a task based on standalone subjects. These tasks are conducted in the class and are not assigned for home.

Summative Assessment –

These are used to provide evidence of student achievement for the purpose of making a judgment about student competence or programme effectiveness. The process of collecting and interpreting information to judge the student’s achievement against predetermined criteria for the purpose of grading and reporting.

These are conducted at the completion of each unit of inquiry to assess how much the students have perceived from the topic, how has previous learning changed, what connections are the students able to make between new and old learning and what are the attributes of the learner profile that has developed over the length of the inquiry.

In addition to this task, summative assessments are also taken in standalone subjects in order to evaluate the individualistic performance.


Throughout civilization, reflection has been the foundation for further progress. For the teachers and students, the process of reflection defines how to move on, and how to learn from what has been created, to synthesise and define what comes next.

In the heat of action in the classroom, the cool and calm role of reflection should never be dismissed or ignored. This is a vital process that underpins the learning. Reflection can happen at any time in the lesson, and it is vital that it is given time, whether through the teacher, individuals or groups, written or verbal.

The IB philosophy emphasises the central role that reflection plays in education. All good learning and teaching practice recognizes the need to build in windows of opportunity for students and educators to share thoughtful reflection.

A good educator certainly does not claim to be the fountain of all knowledge. He or she is open to continued learning—whether at university or in the workplace—from their peers, supervisors and all of their students, sharing ideas and listening to a variety of opinions, based on different outlooks and experience.

What is “action” or community service in the PYP?

The PYP has an action component, whereby students use their own initiative to demonstrate their commitment to what they have learned. Action often comes as the result of deep inquiry that becomes personal and is meaningful. At its most authentic, action occurs outside of the classroom - at home, or within the larger school or local community and can occur at any time.

It is believed that education must extend beyond the intellect to include not only socially responsible attitudes but also thoughtful and appropriate action. During the inquiry on ‘How the World works’, our Grade IV and Grade III students studied about the interaction between human activity and environment. The students demonstrated responsible behaviour towards their nature by deciding to make a ‘Compost pit’ in the school compound. They spread awareness among the entire school community about the use of compost pit and organic manure. They also instructed the mess Incharge and the cleanliness Incharge that the degradable waste had to be emptied into the pit every day. Now, the manure from this pit is used as a fertilizer in the flower beds at school. The action extended beyond the classroom and the learners were engaged in their own learning. They developed social and communication skills and demonstrated the caring profile along with appreciation and respect for the environment. Our Grade III students were very involved during the inquiry on sharing the planet under which they inquired about the world resources and how they are not always equally distributed. The young learners were alarmed when they found out that there were millions of children in the world who go to bed hungry every night, despite the fact that there is abundant food in the World. The children formed their organisation ‘C3HPPO’ (Class 3 children helping poor people organisation). On World food day, the children made cards and sold them to the school community; with the money they collected they bought biscuits for the children in the underprivileged colony and made them a part of the celebration by distributing the biscuits among them. Many students also pledged never to waste food in their life.

What does IB offer to students?

• A comprehensive program with interrelatedness between different subjects and themes

• Opportunity to engage in structured, purposeful inquiry thus helping students to construct their own learning and understanding.

• Develop a deep understanding of important and enduring concepts

• Conduct research into knowledge which has local and global significance

• Ability to relate classroom learning to real life situations and apply it here & now to bring about immediate change in ones own life & environment

• Acquire and practice a range of essential disciplinary and transdisciplinary skills

• Be encouraged to develop positive attitudes towards learning, the environment & other people

• Have the opportunity for involvement in responsible action and community service

• Develop independent thinking, yet appreciating that people with different views could also be right

• International mindedness by getting exposed to other world languages, cultures and practices, yet remain rooted in one’s own

• To become an informed participant in world affairs