The value of the DP

Malcolm Nicolson

In the last few weeks we have seen dozens of social media announcements from schools regarding 'the best', 'exceptional', or 'the highest' DP results. No doubt the same will happen when the MYP eAssessment levels are published. We all know that this is important for marketing, credibility and general boasting. However, these numbers and the hyperbole hide the real achievements and the fundamental value of what we are doing in our schools. 

Many of us have worked in schools where the greatest achievements are by the student who worked exceptionally hard to move from a 3 to a 4 in a subject, or who overcame pressure at home or tough circumstances to reach 24 points. There are thousands of examples, yet the current view of schools appears to be to only celebrate those achievements that boost marketing. How do we promote the idea of celebrating achievement, effort, kindness, compassion or being principled? IB schools strive to promote global citizenship which encompasses global engagement, the attributes of the learner profile and an appreciation that others with their differences can also be right. My social media feeds are filled with 45s and averages over 35, so who is celebrating what the IB is really all about?

At Sreenidhi International School, Hyderabad, we have an incredible community where our values of integrity, resilience and empathy are instilled in all we do, and are just as important as the scores. We work hard and hope that our students achieve the levels they deserve, but at the same time we need to celebrate the service, the kindness, compassion and leadership students demonstrate, whether they score 20, 25, 30 or 45. As I enter my second full year at Sreenidhi, I couldn't be more impressed by the ethical, transparent and compassionate approach of our community. We pick up on those small acts of kindness and exemplify them, we highlight achievements through service, sports and student leadership. Still, we can do more, we must do more. What are other schools doing to celebrate students working towards the IB mission? 

Schools have many different ways of celebrating achievements ‘beyond the numbers’. For example we award learner profile-related certificates to highlight behaviours that showcase the attributes. Students can receive certificates for ‘exemplifying the school mission’ and we have gratitude boards where students, teachers and parents leave messages of thanks and appreciation. Through the school social media feeds we highlight the amazing service activities or resilience shown in learning and extra-curricular activities. 

It isn't easy to look beyond the numbers and to celebrate what really matters, especially with so many schools in competitive environments or markets. However, let us all celebrate our students and communities, regardless of average scores, highest scores and 45s. 
About the author:
Malcolm Nicolson is Head of School at Sreenidhi International School, Hyderabad, India. He worked at the IB for eight years where he was Head of MYP - leading the revision of the programme (next chapter), and was Head of DP - introducing ATL. 

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