By participating in the curriculum reviews for the CP core components, educators have an opportunity to tell the IB directly what their student and school needs are and can learn from other CP educators at various stages of implementing the programme in their schools.
We asked Wilma Shen, CP Coordinator at Renaissance College Hong Kong who has been involved in the review process to speak about her experience and the key benefits for both educators and students.
Tell us about your experience of the CP?
Scholarships Manager is one of my roles at Renaissance College and over the years I have had the chance to meet students who excel in one particular area such as music, visual art, drama or sports. Very often, these students discovered a passion in these areas and devoted much of their time in perfecting their skills and technique. In my conversations with them they all expressed that they would have preferred to have spent more time on their interest area, rather than having that time taken away by subjects that they have little interest in, or do not connect with their intended future career. I love that the CP provides these students with a pathway that allows them to “run faster” in connecting them to a specialised career field—giving them that exposure much earlier in their high school life.
In the eight years of running the programme, none of our CP alumni have ever regretted taking the programme—they feel that the programme has given them the advantage of having a more individualised curriculum that caters to their strength and passion, makes the transition to university life much easier, and equips them with the much needed real world exposure and skills to navigate life beyond high school.
How were you involved in reviewing the curriculum and why did you get involved?
I was invited by the IB to join a CP listening session where we discussed all aspects of the programme and provided feedback and suggestions on where we think the programme is doing well and where it still needs improvement. Following that, I was invited to a focus group meeting with other CP coordinators which then led to the curriculum review meeting.
What are the key benefits you see for educators to join the meetings?
As there are so many ways of running the CP in terms of the Career-related Studies (CRS) offerings, I think it’s a great way to understand the CP in different global contexts. For me, for example, as we work with multiple external partner institutes for our CRS, it is refreshing and enriching to see how other CP schools operate with a different system such as BTEC and local vocational programmes. Another huge benefit is to meet other educators from around the world and learn from their best practices and experiences, also to understand the different issues or challenges that they are facing and to learn about the diversity of the CP students. Moreover, it helps to establish the CP school network and connect our students with one another in different areas of the programme.
In your view, how will the CP curriculum review benefit both educators and students?
As an educator, I think by listening to the feedback from different schools and through a variety of educators’ perspectives, it helps to understand the programme more holistically. Sometimes, the issues or difficulties we are facing are very similar despite our completely different backgrounds and circumstances, so it felt good and reassuring that we are in this together.
Personally, it has been the best professional development experience I have had, as it gave me the opportunity to pause and reflect on our schools’ practices.
At the same time, it pushed me to think outside of the box and opened my eyes to a variety of different perspectives, because what has been working well with us and our students doesn’t necessarily mean that it would be effective with other schools.
As for the students, the review process would not feel complete without their input as the purpose of the review is to evaluate the effectiveness of this curriculum after it has been implemented and reflect on what the students did and did not get out of it. As such, the review process helps the current students think about how they interact with the curriculum and how effective it is in preparing them for the real opportunities and challenges in life. In the long run, this will benefit the future CP students with their learning experience and outcome.
Wilma Shen has more than 20 years of experience working in IB world schools across different areas including administration, programme establishment, instruction and coordination, curriculum design and implementation, project collaboration both in and out of school, and programme verification.
Her current school, Renaissance College, was the first in Hong Kong and East Asia to offer the IB CP, also the 8th school in the world to offer all four IB programmes back in 2013.
In addition to her CP coordinator role, Wilma is also a workshop leader, school consultant and school visit team leader for the IB Education Network (IBEN).