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International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP)

The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside. It is a concept-based curriculum framework defined by transdisciplinary themes of global significance, explored using knowledge and skills from the subject areas, with a powerful emphasis on inquiry-based learning.

General Regulations – Primary Years Programme




Five Essential Elements of the PYP

  • knowledge, which is both disciplinary, represented by traditional subject areas (language, mathematics, science, social studies, arts, health & life skills, and physical education) and transdisciplinary, are significant, relevant, subject matter we wish the students to explore and know about.
  • concepts, which students explore through structured inquiry in order to develop coherent, in-depth understanding, and which have relevance both within and beyond subject areas - powerful ideas which have relevance within and across disciplines and which students must explore and re-explore in order to develop understanding.
  • skills, which are the broad capabilities students develop and apply during learning and in life beyond the classroom - things the students need to be able to do to succeed in a changing, challenging world.
  • attitudes, which contribute to international-mindedness and the wellbeing of individuals and learning communities,  and connect directly to the IB learner profile - dispositions which are expressions of fundamental values, beliefs and feelings about learning, the environment, and people.
  • action, which is an expectation in the PYP that successful inquiry leads to responsible, thoughtful and appropriate action - demonstrations of deeper learning in responsible behavior through positive action and service; a manifestation in the practice of the other essential elements.

The PYP:

  • fosters international-mindedness through the IB learner profile
  • prepares students to become life-long learners
  • reflects real life through meaningful, in-depth inquiries into local and global issues
  • emphasizes the development of the whole student - physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially and ethically

Concept-Based Learning

  • The world is changing. Knowledge is changing. The ability to view the world with a more flexible mind is invaluable. 
  • Concept based learning is about big transferable ideas that transcend time, place, situation. 
  • Content just focuses on facts while concept focuses on making sense of those facts and the world around us.
  • Content based teaching may not get beyond information transmission/superficial learning.
  • Concepts are a way to organize and make sense of learning. 
  • We can't possibly teach everything that is important, but we can teach the big ideas.
  • Concept based learning is a framework to study everything. So much information. Content can change, concepts stay the same. 
  • Information is useless unless you can do something with it. 

(From WhatEdSaid's #pypchat on Twitter) - Source

Eight Key Concepts

PYP Eight Key Concepts 01.jpg

PYP Written Curriculum

The Primary Years Programme (PYP) has identified six areas of knowledge, called transdisciplinary themes that are considered to be of lasting significance for students in PYP schools anywhere in the world. These themes provide a framework for teachers to design units of inquiry that incorporate provincial content area standards as well as opportunities for students to develop the skills, attitudes, concepts and knowledge needed to become internationally-minded people and life-long learners. A PYP school organizes units under the transdisciplinary themes through a curriculum map called a Programme of Inquiry (POI)

The six transdisciplinary themes are addressed at each grade level, even though the individual units of inquiry based upon them are all unique, exploring different aspects of the knowledge contained under each theme.  In addition to six yearly transdisciplinary units of inquiry based upon the PYP transdisciplinary themes, students also receive focused daily instruction in Numeracy and Literacy to ensure that they continue to develop their skills in those foundational subject areas.

Inquiry-Based Learning

Inquiry-based learning is a process whereby students are involved in their learning, formulate questions, investigate widely and then build new understandings, meanings and knowledge. That knowledge is new to the students and may be used to answer a question, to develop a solution or to support a position or point of view. The knowledge is usually presented to others and may result in some sort of action.

(Focus on Inquiry, Alberta Learning, 2004

 murdoch inquiry cycle.jpg

 Action in the PYP

Taking action is an important part of the PYP.  Action is something students choose to do as a result of their learning and experiences, because it is important to them.  Action can happen at any time during the learning process.  Initially, adults will guide students towards taking action, but the goal is for students to initiate action independently.  Action does not have to be a big project.  Often, smaller acts are a better indication that a real shift in thinking has taken place.

Students, staff, and families are encouraged to use a cyclical process, called the Action Cycle.  By reflecting on learning, social situations, and behavioural issues, students can make a choice and take action.  With practice, students will begin to naturally and automatically use the Action Cycle.


IB PYP Action Cycle.png