International Baccalaureate – an internationally recognised school leaving certificate.

When there is a choice of schooling suitable for children in the relocation area, parents should seriously consider choosing the school which offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) system. The IB was introduced in 1967. It was initially a two year course of study leading to an internationally recognised Diploma which was an alternative to Leaving Certificate Diplomas such as the Norwegian artium, the British A levels or the US Advanced Placement. Now, about 50 years on, the IB diploma has gained widespread recognition and is offered world wide by international, privately run and state schools in over 4000 schools. Naturally with students from many different schooling systems and nationalities, international schools have been particularly interested in adopting the IB. The curricular and teaching methods are standardised and IB teachers go to frequent training seminars to keep abreast of new methodology etc. Students take the IB examinations which are graded externally through the central IB organisation.

The final examination, the IB Diploma, is fully accepted both by the Norwegian educational authorities, and by universities and places of higher education throughout the world. Indeed highly prestigious universities such as the Ivy League in the US, and Oxford and Cambridge in GB give preference to students with good IB diplomas.

In the last decades the IB organisation has extended its field to include the entire schooling system from primary, through middle school to upper secondary education. At present only some international and large national schools offer the entire system. It is rapidly gaining in popularity as the value of a standardised system becomes more valuable in the context of today’s increasingly mobile international families. A child who begins in the IB system will feel completely at home at another IB school anywhere in the world if the family needs to relocate.

The IB Diploma is an important alternative to Norwegian Final Leaving Diploma, for teenagers returning to the homeland after spending several years at an international English-speaking school abroad. These Norwegian students often find it difficult to adapt to an entirely Norwegian upper secondary schooling system and if returning to enter VKI or VKII, find that several subjects, Social Studies and Norwegian in particular, are difficult to achieve good grades in because they have been given a low or non-existent priority abroad.

Students who have been used to an international environment and the fellow feeling very prevalent at good international schools may also find themselves missing this environment and feeling rather lonely back home amongst only Norwegian students. We often find that students from the age of 16 upwards, on returning to Norway very much enjoy joining an IB class if this is offered at a Norwegian videregående in the vicinity. A growing number of Norwegian secondary schools now offer this alternative. Skagerak International School, in Sandefjord, is particularly interesting as this school has specialised in arranging boarding facilities in the town for students coming from other parts of Norway or abroad to take the last two years of schooling there. SIS was started as a private endeavour over 20 years ago and has gone from strength to strength, with Skagerak Primary and Middle School opening ten years later thus offering the entire IB system from age 3 years.