Top Nav Breadcrumb

Postcards to the DG at the 2016 IB Global Conference in Toronto, Canada

IB Director General Dr Siva Kumari, left, with IB staff and participants at University of Toronto event

IB Director General Dr Siva Kumari, left, with IB staff and conference participants at a University of Toronto event

In this last instalment of your Postcards to the DG, we share questions submitted at the 2016 IB Global Conference in Toronto, Canada, together with the responses from IB Director General Dr Siva Kumari.

You can also refer to the first and second instalment of Postcards to the DG from IB heads of schools here and here, and the third instalment from chief examiners here.

Click on each of the tabs below to read the questions and answers.

If your question has not yet been answered, please email Erin Stephens.


How many schools will be doing the CP by 2020 and what are the main obstacles to it reaching its potential?

There are currently 135 IB World Schools in 21 countries who are implementing the Career-related Programme (CP) and it’s wonderful to watch the programme continue to grow. Since 2014, the programme has experienced over 30% growth rate year-over-year and has expanded to five new countries. We are forecasting that 300+ schools will offer the CP by 2020.

I would like to know why a global head of PYP has not been hired? What qualities are you seeking? We know a few people who applied and knowledgeable of the PYP but did not get the job. Rumour is you don’t want someone from the PYP.

We were delighted to welcome our new Head of PYP Development on 1 September 2016 – Nicole Bien. We outlined the qualities we were seeking in the job posting, and we are pleased to have found an individual who met all of these qualities. Find out more about Nicole here.

Does there still need to be a group 4 project?

The group 4 project does not count toward a student’s final grade in a DP science subject, but students are required to do the project and submit a brief reflective statement outlining their involvement. In the science curriculum review that is currently underway, we are asking the following questions about the experiences and skill sets involved in the group 4 project: Do we need a project that encourages students to make connections across scientific disciplines? Could this task be developed to enhance skills-based practice in a real world context? Do we need a project (across sciences or within a given science subject)? Is there scope to revise the internal assessment of individual science subjects so that collaboration or connections across science subjects may feature more prominently?

How can the IB support the preservation of indigenous language of Native American tribes in the US? We would like support in recognizing Navajo language.

For the Primary Years Programme (PYP), this can be supported through the programme of inquiry as part of any one of the transdisciplinary themes and through student-driven inquiries – it is a part of international mindedness as framed b y the IB mission. For the Middle Years Programme (MYP), there is a Language B: Revival languages guide available on programme resource centre. For the Diploma Programme (DP), we are open to receiving a proposal from a school or schools on how this might be done as part of our languages and literature offerings, please look at the Handbook of procedures for guidance, or send an email to [email protected]. For the Career-related Programme (CP), study of Navajo would fall under the scope of language development in the CP core, find out more in the CP programme website via the programme resource centre.

Please stop revising your curriculum/subject guides every five years! It’s too often, and inevitably you do it with serious errors (e.g. WA in Language B in 2013). Focus on organization and SOLID implementation.

We conduct ongoing reviews of all our programmes as part of our commitment to ensuring that they remain current, fit for purpose and reflective of the best, up to date pedagogic practice. The regular curriculum review cycle in the Diploma Programme is seven years; however, the written assignment in the Language B guide (first assessment 2013) did have to be changed for first assessment 2015 in order to accommodate a transition to electronic marking. The component needed to be marked electronically in order to ensure and better control the quality of marking. That change required students to word-process their written assignments, and allowed them to do that in their own time; this caused concern among teachers and resulted in some cases of academic misconduct. The curriculum review underway for Language B and Language ab initio (to produce guides for first teaching 2018) has eliminated the written assignment; the rationale for this is explained in the Language acquisition curriculum review: first report for teachers (September 2014) which is available on the Language B and Language ab initio pages of the programme resource centre.

How does the IB review/re-write programmes? What is the process and who is included in the dialogue?

The review and development of IB curricula and programmes is an in-depth and inclusive process, drawing on the information and expertise from a wide range of people and resources. The process is spread across three broad phases: evaluation, development, and implementation. The evaluation phase is concerned primarily with research and gathering representative and comprehensive feedback from IB teachers; students, parents, alumni; and representatives external to the IB (independent researchers, professional associations, universities, industry) and incorporates the culmination of a thorough review of pedagogical literature. Evaluation reports are reviewed by various committees, aims and objectives for the review are defined, and content development begins. IB World Schools are encouraged to contribute by completing surveys and questionnaires, testing and commenting on draft materials, supplying experienced educators to participate in face-to-face meetings and virtual forums about the review. For areas under review that have an IB assessment, examiners and moderators are key participants in the development phase of a review. Teacher feedback is solicited to inform the development plan. Teams are established to work on various aspects of development. The focus shifts from research to development and design. New models are then trialed. Final documentation and teacher support (including the content of professional development workshops) is published, and implementation of the new model begins.

The IB works on a five-year cycle: 5th-year review, 5th-year course revisions, etc. Is there any movement within IB circles to expanding this to a seven-year cycle or something more than five years? Reason: Cost of IB support materials. Publicly-funded schools cannot keep up with our private schools. Seven-year cycles will help with this. Even Ontario public schools are funded differently from one district to the next.

Please note that the IB does currently work with a seven-year cycle for the development of curriculum guides. This length of cycle, particularly regarding the timing of the release of new curriculum to schools, allows schools to plan accordingly.

How about trying DP (240) and DP (150) instead of HL & SL?

As part of the Diploma Programme (DP) review, we will be exploring new terminology for the terms “higher level” and “standard level.”



I am the DP coordinator at Sequoia high school, one of the five pilot schools participating in bridging the equity gap project. I can’t stress enough how impactful this work has been for our low-income students and our programme overall. Equity issues in US public schools are real and need to be addressed. This project has helped us so much. I highly encourage you to continue this specific project and bring it to other public schools as well as continue to focus resources, time and effort to equity work. I am so thankful and appreciative of this opportunity from the IB. We and the IB have learned so much. I hope the work continues and I would love to be involved in anyway. Thank you.

Thank you for sharing your positive experience, we are very pleased to have received that grant from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. We are forming a team of staff to provide more personalized support to schools; we want to move towards being partners and allies with our schools. We hope to incorporate this impactful work into our services to all schools.


When will DP exams and assessment be digitally engaging with images, videos, and animations?

We are beginning to plan to transition from paper to on-screen DP examinations, first by offering on-screen versions of the paper-based examinations and then to phase-in multimedia, interactive examinations. We will be seeking early adopters to transition during the voluntary phase; please contact Gareth Hegarty if you are interested in participating.

Is it possible for the IB to establish a relationship with the Coalition for Access & Affordability (the group of 80 US colleges creating an alternative path for college acceptance)? COARS is creating a multi-year “locker” of student work which will substitute for standardized testing. It appears that there is powerful alignment between this initiative and the IB; it would certainly highlight the IB assessment system.

Thank you for the recommendation. We will look into it soon.



Can heads get a one-pager PDF on which ‘onboards’ a head? It could be a checklist of everything he/she needs such as: do you have access to . . . here’s how . . .

Thank you for the recommendation; we have taken your suggestion and created a checklist which is available here.

As a new head of an IB World School, I would love to see some form of “new IB heads orientation” programme, similar to CAIS/NAIS programs.

We have reviewed both programmes, and we are happy to report that we have a leadership series for Heads of schools. It is available here.

There are several Category 1 workshops that address the needs of new heads of school. Category 1 workshops serve as introductions. You will find them in the PD workshop catalogue. They include:

  • “An introduction to the IB programme standards for administrators new to the PYP” (p. 4)
  • “Heads of school/IB coordinators: Implementing the MYP curriculum” (p. 17)
  • “Administrators” (for the DP, p. 30)

“Introduction to the DP” is not Category 1, but serves as an excellent overview of the programme. Also, we offer a suite of leadership development workshops, which is suitable for new and aspiring heads of school. These are listed in the catalogue on pages 62-63, and here online: The first listed online, “Understanding leadership,” is especially useful to new heads.

I would like to see more communication for/with/to heads who are charged with the academic leadership of the school, heads of IB World Schools must be part of all communication loops.

We currently use a variety of newsletters and other channels to keep you updated, as follows, but if these do not cover your needs, please do write to us with some suggestions – your feedback to improve our communications is always welcome. Currently, we send all heads of IB World Schools the IB in Practice newsletter, and we post the Coordinator Notes on the programme resource centre. Both contain programme updates, deadlines, and news. We also send the Heads Up newsletter, which is dedicated to heads of schools and provides higher-level strategic updates. Please look for a survey coming in the March 2017 edition of Heads Up where you can tell us if you want more/different content. We want to be sure we are sending you the right information to serve your needs. Please also see the answer to the next question, as it might address more of your concerns.

How can the IB provide updates and information to key educational decision-makers in the diverse American educational systems? As a former IBC I have a desire to keep up with curriculum changes, but as superintendent, I must rely on our IBC who is removed three layers from me (IBC – Principal – Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and then Me). I want all four levels, not just the “head” and IBC kept in the loop. There is only one district contact on IBIS outside IBC and Head.

The first thing we can do to help you is to add your colleagues’ names to the circulation of our three main publications that provide updates to heads: IB Global News, IB in Practice and Heads Up. The first provides a broad global news update; the second is more specific to programme updates, plus PD, research and resources for practitioners; the third provides a more strategic level update to school leaders. Please ask them to send their name, role, school, and email address to us here, and we’ll add them to our circulation list.

The second thing we will do is to address this more broadly as part of the formation of our new IB World Schools department. One of their goals is addressing communications to school leaders to ensure that we serve your needs by sending the right information to the right people and decision-makers. We already have some ideas about how we will do this and will update you in future issues.

If you want us to include more/different content in our newsletters to address your needs as a school leader, please post a comment below or send your ideas and feedback to [email protected].


We received a few comments on the political comments made by speakers at the IB Americas regional conference in Toronto. While we did not know that they were going to make partisan comments about American politics, we do regret the message that it might have conveyed. We cannot speak about the importance of diversity without including a respect for diverse political opinions, and we recognize the need to provide space for divergent political views. As soon as the DG saw this postcard during the conference, it was addressed.

The Americas conference descriptions for sessions were only on the app, not even I have vision problems and cannot read on my phone or an app. Your system choice was not an inclusive system for me.

We appreciate the point made about the inclusivity issues arising due to the having the session descriptions on the app only. There were printed copies available for attendees, but we will ensure we do a better job of publicizing them in the future.

Breakout sessions:

  1. Offer fewer sessions and have them repeated (often there were several at the time, and I had to choose among them).
  2. Session titles were often misleading. What I assumed from a title was often different from the actual content.
  3. Are PowerPoint presentations/Transcriptions available to attendees?

Thank you for the two suggestions, these are good ideas, and we appreciate hearing them from attendees so we can continue to improve the experience. Other attendees can share their ideas by completing the post-conference survey; our staff carefully comb through the surveys to improve the next conference.

Also, we share the conference presentations on the conference website shortly after our conferences conclude.



I’ve noticed that credit control has improved over the past year, yet it still is the one IB department that keeps giving me trouble. What are the plans for the future? Are you aware of that? Thank you so much.

We were receiving numerous complaints about invoices, so we made the decision to in-source the credit control team in 2015. Since transitioning from the third party vendors, the credit control team has been clearing a backlog from 2014 and before. We now have more than 90% of the backlog cleared. The in-house team is stable and getting ahead of the game regarding collection, credit notes, and invoicing. Our response rate to stakeholders and resolution of issues has dramatically improved, and we strive for the best in customer service. For example, our Finance Director, Thaimur Changezi, is quick to get personally involved when needed. For lingering issues, please contact IB Answers and email [email protected].

IB World Schools Department

We received several questions about the new IB World Schools department and have dedicated the latest issue of Heads Up and this blog post to provide an update that we hope answers some of the questions below.

How will the new IB World Schools department benefit my school?

  • Support will be available in your time-zone, staffed by those you already know, to ensure continuity of understanding and relevant, timely support
  • Additionally, you will have an assigned contact whose role it is to understand your specific needs and those of other schools with similar goals and challenges, locally and globally.
  • We will connect you more effectively with one another, foster collaboration and knowledge-sharing between you, creating a truly global IB community with shared interests.
  • We commit to faster responses and resolution of your queries and clearer communications.
  • Learn more about the department here.

How will the new department of support help my veteran school of 15 years?

We realized that we work intensely on schools pre-authorization and we need to equal that service and support throughout the school life post-authorization. Veteran schools will, therefore, receive more support in the areas of sharing best practice, innovation, collaboration,  and research. You will be connected more effectively with one another, fostering collaboration and knowledge-sharing between all types of schools, and making you feel more a part of a global IB community with shared interests. We also want to create repositories of information about your school that we can organize into broad themes and use to tailor our advice and services more effectively to you and other schools, to ensure you achieve your optimal programme implementation. You’ll receive an invitation to join a videocast/webinar with your new global contact in March to find out more.

Please share what we, as a school, receive for our $11,000 per year besides a label.

In return for your  fees, IB World Schools receive a number of services. These include the items listed below.We recognize the need for schools to have more personalised and tailored support. The new IBWS department aims to find ways to do so.

  • innovative curriculum that is regularly developed, assessed and supported
  • access to a wealth of resources on the IB’s programme resource centre for every teacher in the school
  • IB staff support which is evolving to better meet your needs, with a dedicated contact for your school
  • ongoing programme evaluation to improve the quality of teaching and practice
  • use of the IB World School name and logo, indicating the school’s unique international status and connection with the IB
  • a dedicated page for every IB World School on

We loved your speech at the IB Conference in Toronto! Is there any way we could access a selection of community projects initiated by schools in Canada for PYP students?

Thank you! This is exactly the kind of collaboration that we hope to foster through the new IB World Schools department and that we hope to facilitate and support via the new online networks that will be launching in March. Watch out for updates. 

Having read your eulogy for Roshan Thomas that says “. . . Roshan quietly talked about her Kabul schools and her appreciation for the generosity of the many IB schools which were contributing . . . ” I wish to know what is your plan to help us connect among our IB World Schools community to support each other.

In March, we are launching both the new IB World School department and also online networks as the place to connect you with each other, connect you with us, and for us all to share knowledge and practice. Find out more about the new department here and watch out for updates on the new online networks.


To strengthen our programmes, the IB must promote/raise awareness to bring in more non-IB schools. What investment is being made in promotional activities?

We agree that more promotion needs to be done to help raise the awareness of our programmes to non-IB schools. We have developed various marketing assets for schools available on the Digital Toolkit; these pieces are promoted by the IB via various marketing channels to raise the awareness of the IB more broadly. In 2017, our marketing team will promote our programmes and services in global education venues, as well as offering more multimedia channels for schools to learn about our programmes and services on a regular basis.

Our communications team is also spreading the IB story beyond our IB community by publishing stories about the great things that IB students, alumni and educators are doing, and the inspiring topics and tips that our educators and thought leaders are talking about, on popular blogging channels such as If you have further ideas, please send them to our Head of Marketing and feel free to share a link for subscriptions to to the IB Global News newsletter.

Professional Development

In what ways can all the PD pathways be promoted? As professors of the IB Educator Certificates, we love our program and want others in the IB (including IBEN) to know about and embrace the university pathway of the educator certificate. Thanks! BTW the IBEC conference at Kent State was amazing.

Thank you for providing IBEC in your university. While the responsibility of marketing the IBEC course of study falls on the university, the IB provides the following support to university partners:

  • PD pathways mailbox for students and universities
  • 20 hours of consultancy for course design
  • Programme resource centre access
  • ARC panel presentations (as accepted by IB conference and events), exhibition, and networking events
  • IB web pages linked to university web sites
  • Online and print university directory
  • Brochures and marketing collateral available
  • Occasional ads in IS Magazine
  • LinkedIn community
  • Promotion in our IB newsletters

Word of mouth is still very valuable as well, so please share your great experiences with others, and if you have ideas you would like to share with the IB, please contact our Global Professional Development team through IB Answers. You might also be interested in contributing a post to our IB blog which receives more than 8,000 hits a week, and we share our posts via our popular social media channels too. Please contact our communications team who would be happy to discuss your ideas.

I strongly feel the conference of Americas should count as official training for teachers. There is so much to learn here. Can we offer similar set-up for training?

I’m delighted to tell you that from 2017, these IB Global Conferences will count as official training for evaluation purposes.

The Launching the MYP workshop seems to be priced high while the leader-t- participant ratio could be increased to offset the cost. Is there any discussion on the fees?

The Launching the MYP one-day workshop is the school’s initial experience with the Middle Years Programme, so the intent is to ensure that the leader/participant ratio is manageable and allows the leader to facilitate an inquiry-based, social-constructivist experience around four session topics: mission and values, the MYP classroom, unit planning, and assessment. A 1:75 ratio may hinder the leader in this approach.

The pricing is dependent on the number of participants (e.g. 1-50, 51-100, or over 100); this flat fee includes the workshop leader’s honorarium, travel, and accommodation.



I can only access the programme resource centre for one programme. We are in final authorization for MYP and also DP. I need to be able to log in to all three programmes programme resource centre sites. Thank you.

Once a user has programme resource centre access, he or she can access all of the material for all programmes. If you are experiencing issues with this, please contact our team will be happy to resolve it for you.



  1. Please consider posting an employee opportunities bulletin board for prospective employers and employees. Our district is struggling to find IB trained or Spanish teachers.

  2. How can we find teachers who are already trained in the IB programmes? Can there be an international database of job openings and IB teachers that are looking for positions? Thanks

Enabling heads to find good teachers to maintain great implementation of programmes is a challenge we often discuss in the IB. Building on our previous experience in this area, we are taking the time to think through how we can fulfill this need by highlighting those that contribute to the IB (e.g. IB educators, examiners). We would like to create a mechanism to capture these professional experiences and a platform for teachers and schools to better identify appropriate matches for their staffing needs.


University Recognition

Have you thought of establishing a council of college representatives? Having them on the “inside” might solve many problems, especially if they are not only elite schools!

In the US, for approximately 20 years, the IB has convened members of the College and University Relations Committee (CURC), a group consisting of experienced North American admissions officers and/or academic officials from 12 higher education institutions that have been long-time advocates for and supporters of the IB, as well as a college counsellor from an IB World School. This committee has provided invaluable feedback on issues such as the high value they place on IB post-secondary outcome research when making admission policies, encouraging the IB to explore more external partnerships with non-profit organizations to increase student access to the IB programmes, and predicted grades. At present, we are exploring the creation of a global higher education advisory committee. This committee would enable a carefully-selected representative group to inform us directly about their real-world experience with IB students and programmes, thus helping to shape IB policy and practice throughout the world. We are well aware that it is vital to the continued strength and advancement of the IB that the needs and priorities of the higher education sector are taken into account when making programmatic decisions.

Are you aware that Brazilian universities have just started to accept the IB Diploma Programme (DP) as their admission test? What do you see as the main impact of this for the DP in Brazil? Why don’t we have an IB association in Brazil?

There are currently 29 (mostly private) schools in Brazil that offer an IB programme, including 22 Diploma Programme schools. Coordination between the IB and personnel from these schools has led to the implementation of Convenios with several Brazilian universities, and more are in the works. The impact will be significant for the IB in Brazil, as more students will be able to pursue post-secondary education within the country, which will, in turn, promote more IB schools. There has been interest for several years in an IB Association in Brazil, and this endeavor is now close to being realized. The necessary approval from the Brazilian government has been obtained, and the organizational structure is coming into place. For more information, please contact Andrés Suarez, Diploma Coordinator at St. Francis College and one of the architects of the Brazilian IB Association.

Given the range of college counselling in schools (my experience) should the IB do more in educating college counsellors both on selling IB programmes and admissions processes from a college viewpoint? I’m happy to get involved with this too.

The IB conducted a survey of college counsellors, and the results were informative regarding counsellors’ needs, concerns, and pain points. The main themes included: 1) Counsellors need more accessible and complete information about universities to properly and comprehensively advise their students about university selection and application, information such as admissions requirements as related to the IB, advanced standing credit that various higher education institutions will award to students based on their DP exam results, language requirements in various countries, and standardized exam requirements; 2) Counsellors feel that a closer connection with other IB counsellors would enable them to be better informed and supported in their work. All of the concerns mentioned in the responses are substantial, and we are extremely mindful of the need to improve the services we provide. With the implementation of the IB Student Registry, we have the ideal platform to provide counsellors with information regarding university admissions, from the best possible source – the universities themselves—that build their own profiles online directly. Counsellors are encouraged to work with the rest of their staff to complete their school’s profile as well, and to guide their students to complete their personal profiles, so as to make the most effective use of the Registry’s functionalities. Other initiatives we are working on to provide better services to counsellors include increased professional development training, and creating opportunities for them to more meaningfully and intentionally support and interact with one another. This includes the annual IB Higher Education Symposium, IB associations, newsletters, coordination of events with IB associations, and increasing use of digital networking platforms, such as social media, email campaigns, and blogs.