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The impacts of the MYP and DP in Spain

Would IB programmes work in your context? Learn from the experience of IB World Schools in Spain.

Growing interest in IB programmes in Spain, particularly among state sector schools, inspired researchers at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Autonomous University of Madrid) to investigate the implementation and impact of the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and Diploma Programme (DP) in Spanish IB World Schools.

So, what benefits do leaders, teachers, students and parents see in offering the MYP and DP in Spain? Read on to find out.



Study participants indicated that the MYP and DP are developing key skills among students. School heads and IB coordinators suggested that the MYP helps to foster skills such as:

  • autonomy
  • critical thinking
  • creativity
  • teamwork
  • inquiry skills
  • research skills
  • communication skills
  • ICT skills
  • learning how to learn

School administrators also described how the MYP’s constructivist approach allows students to take ownership of their learning and development. Many highlighted the MYP personal project in particular, which they believed supports students’ ability to manage a research project and produce a final product.

Similarly, both DP students and alumni reported developing specific competencies by participating in the programme, including time management, research, critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills. DP alumni also believed that the DP prepared them well for university and work life and influenced their attitudes toward lifelong learning, as well as their values, beliefs and vision of the world.

Perceptions of students and families

Students and alumni elaborated on what they valued about their IB experience. Eighty-five per cent of MYP students in the study agreed or strongly agreed that the MYP “makes [them] think about how [they] learn” and that the programme “helps [them] connect [their] learning to real life situations.”

More than 70% of DP students agreed or strongly agreed that “school has helped give [them] confidence to make decisions” (compared to 45% of the non-DP students in the study.) Around 90% of DP students agreed or strongly agreed that “school has taught [them] things that could be useful in a job” (compared to about 80% of non-DP students.)

Families of DP students reported high satisfaction with the DP and the quality of their children’s education. They perceived the DP as a more up-to-date and global education model to prepare their children for higher education and their professional future. MYP student families also reported a positive impression of the MYP, with nearly 90% of the respondents indicating that they are satisfied or very satisfied with the programme. Between 85% and 95% of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that “[the MYP] prepares my child for his/her future career” and “[the MYP] prepares my child for life as an adult.”

DP alumni

In relation to university admission, DP students performed better than non-DP students in the Spanish university entrance exam, Prueba de Acceso a la Universidad (PAU.)

In contrast to the broader Spanish university system, the majority of DP students pursued a science-related degree as opposed to a degree in social sciences or the humanities. In one of the schools, nearly a quarter of DP alumni pursued university studies abroad, while only 2.5% of Spanish undergraduates plan to study or intern abroad during the academic year.

Impacts on school culture

One of the most remarkable findings from these two studies is the apparent impact of the MYP or DP, not only on students in the programme, but also on the broader school culture.

School heads and IB coordinators indicated that the MYP’s pedagogical approaches contributed strongly to school transformation. MYP approaches to teaching and learning introduced a wider range of pedagogical practices and embedded interdisciplinary learning.

Heads and coordinators also reported shifts in other classroom practices, for example, lower reliance on repetition of content and greater focus on competence development. In terms of the wider school environment, embedding interdisciplinary components into the school curriculum encouraged teachers to collaborate more.

Implementation of the MYP also required the schools to undertake training and professional development, which some participants described as an institutional transformation that recast their school as a reflective and learning organization.

In the DP study, all groups reported a positive shift in school culture. Heads of schools reported enhanced teamwork among staff members, a shared sense of direction and a boost in the level of innovation in schools.

Heads, teachers and students indicated improved interpersonal relationships, both between teachers, and between students and teachers. Teachers, specifically those who taught in both the DP and the national programme, reported a shift in their teaching in non-DP subjects. Heads, coordinators and teachers also indicated there are positive secondary effects of the DP among non-DP students. For example, a “contagious” learning environment improved interpersonal relationships within the school community and encouraged a wider range of extra-curricular activities and higher participation by both DP and non-DP students.

There are many more findings from these two studies that could not be covered in this blog. To learn more, please read the full summaries of the studies:

Implementation and outcomes of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP) in Spanish schools

Implementation and impact of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) in Spanish state schools

Have comments or questions? Contact IB Research at [email protected].