IB Schools and Colleges Association

The International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme

Wellington Festival of Education, Friday 23rd June

The International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme

‘The IB CP programme is a beautifully created curriculum which brings together the academic and the vocational in a way that is perfect for our students with their many different abilities and aspirations.’

[Dr Saima Rana, Principal, Westminster Academy]

On Friday 23rd June at the Wellington Festival of Education, the International Baccalaureate brought together a panel of five to talk about the purpose and impact of the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme (CP) which was created in 2012 to provide a curriculum which built on the strengths of the Diploma programme and provided an education with a coherent combination of the academic and the vocational.


Members of the panel were:


Paul Luxmoore, Executive Headteacher, Coastal Academies Trust

Dr Saima Rana, Principal, Westminster Academy

Kate Greig, Headteacher, King Ethelbert School, Kent

Amy Burridge, CP graduate and teacher at King Ethelbert School

Gail Alani, UK Student Recruitment Manager, University of Southampton


Paul Luxmoore, who chaired the session, has overseen the introduction of the CP programme into three non-selective secondary schools and a grammar school in Thanet, a deprived area of Kent, as part of a plan for 27 Kent schools to run the CP from September 2017. He briefly explained the design of the CP programme which combines at least two subjects from the IB Diploma, vocational qualifications, such as BTECs, a language and a reflective project.  From his experience it is a unique qualification which provided precisely the kind of curriculum to raise academic aspirations and employability for students who do not want to follow a simple academic route such as A levels or a vocational route such as BTECs. The CP programme has enabled schools with small or fragile Sixth Forms to grow  and schools without Sixth Forms to create one to offer great opportunities to students.


Kate Greig is the Headteacher of one of the schools in the Coastal Academies Trust and one of the first schools to take up the CP programme five years ago. She described the impact of the CP programme in a school which had been one of the lowest performing schools in the county and the country. Whereas her students had been less suited to a purely A level curriculum, the CP programme had enabled King Ethelbert’s School to create a Sixth Form that was thriving. She had started 5 years ago with an intake of 10 and now the school had 65 students in each of years 12 and 13. In those 5 years virtually every student had passed the programme, with a 100% completion rate.


Saima Rana, the Principal of the Westminster Academy in Paddington West London explained the context of her own school, a new school in an area of very high social deprivation: over 60% of her students are on Pupil Premium. At the Westminster Academy, the CP programme operates alongside the Diploma programme, thereby offering a range of opportunities for all the students. ‘The chance to choose between the two IB programmes enables the students to make the choice that is right for them,’ she said. ‘Many choose the CP programme, even though the Diploma programme is within their compass.’ She also emphasised the success of the students in achieving a 100% success rate in getting to university.


All the heads agreed that the programme had substantially raised the aspirations of students so that they felt able to choose between university and employment. They all emphasised not only the coherence of the programme’s design but also its great flexibility: it is possible for all students to combine Diploma subjects and the other elements in their own way, so the programme is able to provide for a very wide range of students and offer what is right for them. Furthermore, the flexibility of the programme means that students can make changes and adjustments during their courses.


Amy Burridge, who was one of the first students at King Ethelbert to study the CP programme, described her own experience. ‘Whereas A levels would not have been right for me, the CP programme enabled me to go to university to study Film and English and now I am back at King Ethelbert to start my career as a qualified teacher. That’s a great thrill for me.’


The CP programme has already enabled many students to go to university who, under a different system, would not have seen that chance. Gail Alani works alongside the Admissions Department at Southampton University, the first Russell Group university to accept the CP qualification for entry. ‘The university has seen,’ she said, ‘that students who arrive only with BTECs do not find the transition easy. However, students who combine qualifications in a coherent programme are much better prepared. That’s why Southampton very much welcomes students with the CP programme.’


In the ensuing discussion, the potential value of the CP programme in independent schools was emphasised in that it could be a vehicle that provided for some students for whom the combination of the vocational and the academic was more appropriate. It is already part of the curriculum in a number of independent schools and the number is growing.


Paul Luxmoore concluded the session by emphasising the impact that this new curriculum had already had in schools and by suggesting that it could be of real importance in the ongoing debate about the right kind of educational provision in the land where the academic and the vocational meet.



Additional information

Career-related Programme: www.ibo.org/programmes/career-related-programme/

Westminster Academy: www.westminsteracademy.org.uk/

King Ethelbert School: www.kingethelbert.com/

Coastal Academies Trust: www.coastalacademiestrust.co.uk/

Southampton University: www.southampton.ac.uk/studentadmin/admissions/index.page

John Claughton: Development Officer, IBSCA: developmentofficer@ibsca.org.uk

26th June 2017