IB Primary Years Programme

IB Primary Years Programme (PYP)

What is an IB Education?

 The International Baccalaureate (IB) is a not-for-profit foundation, motivated by its mission to create a better world through education. International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.


The IB offers four programmes:

  • Primary Years Programme (PYP)

  • Middle Years Programme (MYP)

  • Diploma Programme (DP)

  • Career-related Programme (CP) 

As stated in the mission statement, IB aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. IB programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

All IB programmes aim to develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world. IB learners strive to be: Inquirers, Knowledgeable, Thinkers, Communicators, Principled, Open-minded, Caring, Risk-takers, Balanced and Reflective.

International-mindedness: the PYP Perspective

  • The attributes listed in the IB Learner Profile are central to the PYP definition of what it means to be internationally minded.

  • The learner profile is value laden. This kind of learning is what PYP values; it is what PYP stands for and it is the embodiment of what international education is all about.

  • A PYP school is a school that, regardless of location, size or constitution, strives towards developing an internationally minded person, meaning a person who demonstrates the attributes of the IB learner profile.

What is the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP)?

The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme was developed based on international educational research and best practices from around the world. The overall aim of the programme is to create well-rounded, knowledgeable individuals with an internationally-minded outlook. Emphasis is on learning, understanding and application in real contexts.


PYP is designed for students aged 3 – 12. It focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside. It is a framework guided by six transdisciplinary themes of global significance, explored using knowledge and skills derived from six subject areas, as well as transdisciplinary skills, with a powerful emphasis on inquiry.

The IB Primary Years Programme:

  • addresses students’ academic, social and emotional well-being

  • encourages students to develop independence and to take responsibility for their own learning

  • supports students’ efforts to gain understanding of the world and to function comfortably within it

  • helps students establish personal values as a foundation upon which international-mindedness will develop and flourish.

Why is it important?

For children to be able to function, compete and contribute to the world of work in the 21st century they need the knowledge, skills and understanding of how the world works, they need to have self discipline, motivation, confidence and flexibility. They need to know how to find the answers to problems they encounter, and to make responsible and wise decisions. IB students all over the world are renowned for their enthusiasm for learning and their open mindedness.

How is the PYP curriculum defined?

The PYP curriculum contains three interrelated key components, which explain how students learn, how educators teach, and the principles and practice of effective assessment within the programme.

The three components are expresses in open-ended questions:

A. What do we want to learn?

The written curriculum: The identification of a framework of what’s worth knowing.

The balance sought between acquisition of essential knowledge and skills, development of conceptual understanding, demonstration of positive attitudes, and taking of responsible action.


B. How best will we learn?

The taught curriculum: The theory and application of good classroom practice.

It is the direct reflection of the written curriculum to which in the course of learning, the PYP essential elements blend and are synthesized in three main ways:

  • through the learner profile which is supported by a curriculum framework based on the five essential elements

  • through the exploration of conceptually based central ideas linked to the transdisciplinary themes, which support and are supported by the other four essential elements

  • through the collaborative planning process, which may involve input from students, that consider all three components of the PYP curriculum model – written, taught, assessed – in an interactive manner

C. How will we know what we have learnt?

The assessed curriculum: The theory and application of effective assessment

Assessment is integral to all teaching and learning and is central to the PYP goal of thoughtfully and effectively guiding students through the five essential elements of learning. 

Essential Elements of the PYP

In the written curriculum, five essential elements are emphasized to achieve the balance between knowledge, skills, conceptual understanding, attitudes, and action.

​These are:

  • Knowledge

  • Concepts

  • Skills

  • Attitudes

  • Action

KNOWLEDGE: What do we want students to know about?

Knowledge is the significant, relevant content that we wish the students to explore and know about, taking into consideration their prior experience and understanding.

In PYP Curriculum, six transdisciplinary themes have been identified to give opportunities to incorporate local and global issues into the curriculum and effectively allow students to make connections across the disciplines and integrate the subject areas.

What are the PYP transdisciplinary themes?

Students inquire into, and learn about, these globally significant issues in the context of units of inquiry, each of which addresses a central idea relevant to a particular transdisciplinary theme. Lines of inquiry are identified in order to explore the scope of the central idea for each unit.


CONCEPTS: What do we want students to understand? 

These are the big ideas that broaden or deepen students' understanding beyond isolated facts. They are powerful ideas that have relevance within the subject areas but also transcend them and that students must explore and re-explore in order to develop a coherent, in-depth understanding.

These key concepts are:

  • Form - What is it like?

  • Function - How does it work? 

  • Causation - Why is it like it is? 

  • Change - How is it changing?

  • Connection - How is it connected to other things? 

  • Perspective - What are the points of view? 

  • Responsibility - What is our responsibility? 

  • Reflection - How do we know?

SKILLS: What do we want students to be able to do?

These are the capabilities that the students need to demonstrate to succeed in a changing, challenging world, which may be disciplinary or transdisciplinary in nature.


These skills are relevant to all subject areas and also transcending them, and are needed to support fully the complexities of the lives of the students. The PYP transdisciplinary skills are:  .

  • Thinking skills: Acquisition of knowledge; Comprehension; Application; Analysis; Synthesis; Evaluation; Dialectical thought; Metacognition.

  • Social skills: Accepting responsibility; Respecting others; Cooperating; Resolving conflict; Group decision-making; Adopting a variety of group roles.

  • Communication skills: Listening; Speaking; Reading; Writing; Viewing; Presenting; Non-verbal communication.

  • Self – management skills: Gross motor skills; Fine motor skills; Spatial awareness; Organization; Time management; Safety; Healthy lifestyle; Codes of behaviour; Informed choices.

  • Research skills: Formulating questions; Observing; Planning; Collecting data; Recording data; Organizing data; Interpreting data; Presenting research findings

ATTITUDES: What do we want students to feel, value and demonstrate?

These are dispositions that are expressions of fundamental values, beliefs and feelings about learning, the environment and people.


PYP recognizes that knowledge, concepts and skills, these alone do not make an internationally-minded person. It is vital that there is also focus on the development of personal attitudes towards people, towards the environment and towards learning, attitudes that contribute to the well-being of the individual and of the group.


Attitudes are an essential element of PYP and together with the IB learner profile, it shows the commitment to a values-laden curriculum.

How do they work together?

ACTION: How do we want students to act?

Action is the demonstration of deeper learning in responsible behaviour through responsible action; a manifestation in practice of the other essential elements.


PYP believes that education must extend beyond the intellectual to include not only socially responsible attitudes but also thoughtful and appropriate action. An explicit expectation of the PYP is that successful inquiry will lead to responsible action, initiated by the student as a result of the learning process. This action will extend the student’s learning, or it may have a wider social impact, and will clearly look different within each age range. It is intended that students’ action will grow from the experience, and that the process of taking action, or not, will contribute to each student establishing asset of values. 

The Primary Years Programme (PYP) Model

In the PYP Model, the learner is placed at the heart of the framework in the core circle. The approaches to teaching represent the written, taught, and assessed curriculum while approaches to learning refer to the transdisciplinary skills. The PYP culminates in the exhibition which has a clear alignment with action component. PYP acknowledges the importance of the subject areas: Science, Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies, Language, Physical, Social and Personal Education. However, it is recognized that educating students in a set of isolated subject areas, while necessary is not sufficient. Therefore, in PYP Curriculum, the six transdisciplinary themes have been identified to give opportunities to incorporate local and global issues into the curriculum and effectively allow students to make connections across the disciplines and integrate the subject areas. International-mindedness is positioned in the outermost circle, demonstrating its significance across the IB continuum.



Making the PYP happen: A curriculum framework for international primary education. December 2009. Cardiff, UK. International Baccalaureate.