Holt pupils pass the 'perfect' test

A headmaster hailed the 'perfect' preparation for life as the first Norfolk students to take an international alternative to A-levels passed with flying colours.

A headmaster hailed the 'perfect' preparation for life as the first Norfolk students to take an international alternative to A-levels passed with flying colours.

Eleven 18-year-olds from Gresham's School in Holt were the county guinea pigs for the International Baccalaureate Diploma.

They found out their results recently - and their average of 35 points was the equivalent of four A grades each at A-level.

Headmaster Philip John, who introduced the IB Diploma for all sixth formers at his previous school, King William's College and the Buchan School on the Isle of Man, said the results were 'fantastic'.

He added: 'I think it prepares children better for university. The children who have done it say they're streets ahead of the A-level pupils in terms of independent learning and research.'

The IB Diploma comprises six subjects for each student: your own language, a foreign language, maths, science, a social science and one elective, which is in the performing arts area.

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Mr John said: 'There is also theory of knowledge, which gets them asking questions, plus an extended essay, which is a researched piece on a topic of interest. Then there's a community action service part where you put time into the community and take part in physical activity.

'Three of the six subjects are taken at higher level and three at standard level. Unlike A-levels, where AS levels are not relevant, with the IB Diploma higher and standards level subjects all count towards the final score.

'Each subject is scored up to a maximum of seven points, with up to three points for the extended essay. Anyone getting the maximum of 45 points has the equivalent to six A grades at A-level.'

Take up has been gradual at the school, with 16 taking their final exams next year and 19 signed up for the IB Diploma beginning in September.

Mr John said the diploma was an 'overall education package'. It was becoming popular with universities because it prepared students for disciplined higher education study.

He said: 'We have some kids here who would be quite happy to do art, drama and music. At some point you have to say 'is that a very good education for later in life?' I would argue that an education that keeps going the maths, your own language, another language and gives you a social science is perfect.

'It's been harder to introduce it here than on the Isle of Man because of slight conservatism. But numbers are up for next year.'

Will Ellis, who scored top marks in three subjects and an overall score of 38, said: 'I chose the IB Diploma rather than A-levels because I'd always been a bit unsure as to what I wanted to do after university and I felt that being able to study six different disciplines gave me flexibility in what my next step entailed.

'The chance to tackle a course that is widely considered to be more outside the box than equivalents excited me too and I've always liked a challenge.'

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