International Baccalaureate

St Peter’s, Cambridge is proud to be the only school in the Waikato to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma.

The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

The International Baccalaureate Diploma is a highly respected international qualification which promotes the development of the whole person. Established over 50 years ago, there are currently more than 5000 IB World Schools in the IB network across 154 countries.  As an academic pathway which aligns well with the St Peter’s philosophy of educating the body, mind and spirit, this is the 11th year that it has been offered at our school.  

The IB Diploma is an academically rigorous two-year pre-university qualification which ensures that students are very well prepared for university. Diploma students build a well-rounded academic foundation through the study of six subjects across key discipline areas, and the completion of three core components which are outlined below.  

The IB programme details

The IB ensures that students pursue a well-rounded education by selecting subjects across six curriculum groups:

Group 1: Literature  –  English,  or for mother tongue language study other than English: school-supported self-taught Language (SL only)

Group 2: Language acquisition  – French, Japanese, beginner Spanish, (limited other options through online study on request)

Group 3: Individuals and Societies  – History, Geography, Economics, Business Management (Psychology at present through online study on request).

Group 4: Sciences  –  Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Computer Science.

Group 5: Mathematics  –  two courses – both offered at higher level and standard level. Mathematics Analysis and Approaches; and Mathematics Applications and Interpretations.

Group 6: Arts  –  Music, Dance, Film, Theatre, Visual Arts.

Interdisciplinary subject: Environmental Systems and Societies (SL only). Covers Group 3 and/or Group 4.   *Please note: if there is insufficient interest in a subject, it may not run in a particular year.  

Many subjects have quite different content and skills emphasis, as well as style of assessment, to the NCEA. Some subjects are quite distinct from NCEA eg. Theatre, Film, Computer Science.

Higher Level (HL) and Standard Level (SL) Students choose three subjects to study at Higher Level (HL) and three to study at Standard Level (SL). The hours of instruction, the difficulty of the content and number/type of assessment is different between HL and SL.  

Flexibility? You can choose to not take a Group 6 Arts subject which allows you to take another subject from another group (commonly students take a second Social Science or Science. You can’t take two Mathematics courses). If you choose the interdisciplinary subject ESS, you could take two subjects in other areas – Group 6, 3 and 4. Eg. ESS, Music, and Dance (along with Group 1, 2 and 5) or ESS, Geography and History (along with Group 1, 2 and 5).

The IB core components

In addition to taking six subjects, there are three core components to the IB Diploma which are really what make the Diploma distinctive from other qualifications.  

  • All students take a Theory of Knowledge class which is designed to equip student to observe, question, assess knowledge and interpret the world around them. These thinking skills are so important in today’s world. This class is three periods a cycle and has two assessments across the two years (a presentation and an essay). 
  • CAS is an 18 month co-curricular programme of creative, physically active and service experiences. Students choose their own programme according to their particular interests. CAS is modelled on the work of Kurt Hahn, who created the Duke of Edinburgh Award and students can use their experiences for both programmes if they wish. These activities are not only beneficial for the personal growth of students, but are strong additions to their CVs. There is one period a cycle provided for students to work on CAS reflections etc and touch base with their CAS advisor.  
  • The third special aspect of the IB Diploma core is the extended essay. Supported by a supervisor, students complete a piece of research in a subject area of interest and write a 4000-word paper. Many students say that this piece of self -directed research was invaluable for tertiary study.  

Assessments and gaining the qualification

The two-year IB Diploma programme has a strong focus on learning and so there are only a limited number of assessments in each subject, with a mix of internal and external components. Most courses have one or two internal assessments across the two years, and two or three external papers sat at the end of the second year.   

To gain the Diploma, there are a number of conditions, chiefly that candidates must gain a minimum overall score of 24 points out of 45. Also, all components of the course must be completed to a reasonable standard; there can be no opting out. Our average pass rates are very good, above world averages. Most years around half the cohort score 33 points or above. There is little variance between girls’ results and boys’ results.  

University recognition

In New Zealand, the IB Diploma has become increasingly valued as universities have come to recognize the preparedness of IB students for university study. Universities list the IB score required in course information. For example, a score of 33 points out of 45 is direct entry into Auckland’s pre-med and Engineering courses. Many universities in New Zealand are also accepting students who don’t achieve the full Diploma under special entry conditions based on subject results. Internationally, the IB Diploma is widely known and appreciated for its value. Many universities publicise the IB points needed to enter their programmes, so our students know what is required.  

An IB student’s timetable: (currently):

In Year One of the Diploma programme, students have six subjects (six periods in a cycle) plus three periods of TOK class, plus one period for CAS plus two periods of the school Wellbeing curriculum. Studies occur for students in SL subjects where the number of instruction hours is lower than HL. This varies across subjects but may mean a regular study one period a cycle from subjects such as Spanish or SL Mathematics, and three to four week chunks where SL students have a whole line for study when HL content is being covered, such as in English or Economics. In Year Two, Wellbeing periods convert into extra studies.


What St Peter’s IB graduates have to say:

"The IB teaches its students to look at their international world and their local community simultaneously. It's in the space between the two where the IB has the greatest impact, changing the way students see themselves and their potential, as well as the world collectively. IB is about more than learning: It's about education, community, and discovery, and is the best decision I ever made at high school."

Mackenzie Henderson-Wraight
IB Diploma graduate,

"An engaging, stimulating and rewarding programme that not only tests your academic ability but time management, communication and development skills. Working in a great environment, surrounded by like-minded individuals, gives you the best opportunity to achieve highly. I fully rec

Rishi Kumar
IB Diploma graduate

“I left university (after completing a four year degree in three thanks to the IB) and worked in Christchurch as an engineer designing products, some of which have won international design awards. I moved to the United Kingdom earlier this year to experience something new and now work for Formula One managing and designing systems.”

Lance Henderson,
IB Diploma graduate 2010

Also considering NCEA? Click below for more guidence on which pathway will work best for you.

If you'd like more details on the IB Diploma at St Peter's email us here.

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