The Journey to becoming a Authorised IB School in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic

January 18, 2022


With the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 saw a remote authorisation process for IB Candidate Schools wishing to become authorised to deliver the IB Programmes instituted by the IB.

One of our member schools, Australian International Academy, Caroline Springs Campus undertook this process amid the extended lockdown in Victoria. Here are some insights into the process of the remote authorisation.

In 2019, AIA Caroline Springs Campus became a candidate school for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) as they are pursuing authorisation as an IB World School. 

Becoming an IB school was important for the campus as the academy's vision of offering an international education is an essential part of their teaching and learning. In 2020, the school community overcame obstacles due to the unprecedented pandemic with flexibility and resilience whilst working extremely hard to achieve IB authorisation.

Days before the onsite workshop, the school closed in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in the cancellation of the workshop and face-to-face verification visit. It was a time of uncertainty; however, apprehensions swiftly diminished with the assistance of the IB consultant and supporting IB documents; we were able to adjust  plans and navigate the process of a remote verification visit and online workshop.

The first milestone was the consultation process. The IB consultant worked closely with the PYP coordinator offering support and recommendations in preparation for the verification visit. The consultant remotely toured the school, observed classrooms, met with the school community and went over the documentation demonstrating the standards and practices.

The consultation process gave the staff the confidence to share and reflect on their practices in implementing the programme and identify areas of strength and improvement. This process was pivotal as it tested the technology resources required and online platforms for the verification visit. At the end of the consultation visit, they were confident in the school's implementation of the PYP and readiness for the verification visit.

Next came the online IB workshop, "Making the PYP happen: Implementing agency". The interactive learning modules offered the teachers an opportunity to build an understanding of the PYP further and augment their capacity to support learners. The teachers worked collaboratively and set up learning groups to complete the modules, reinforcing the school's positive culture towards professional learning and collaborative learning teams.

The remote verification ran seamlessly in December 2020; due to the extensive planning and organisation required by the school. Leading up to the visit,they:

  • prepared an agenda of lessons being observed and live interviews,
  • uploaded documentation to support the implementation of the PYP,
  • conducted test runs of our devices and technology resources to ensure optimal connectivity.

During the verification visit, the IB representatives toured the school, observed lessons and met with the school community. The feedback was positive, as the school demonstrated the standards and practices in place to become an IB World School. The recommendations helped them reflect and improve on learning and teaching practices as they moved towards authorisation.

With great excitement, the school became an authorised IB World School in early 2021. They achieved the implementation goal through the support of their school community and the teachers being receptive to the programme's implementation as they endeavoured to integrate IB program philosophy and practice into their teaching.

The school's first official PYP Exhibition was held in 2021. The students embraced working collaboratively on a student-led inquiry into an issue, taking action, and presenting it to the school community. Along the way, the students required support and guidance from their mentors and teachers through the inquiry process. By the end of the Exhibition, they felt a sense of accomplishment as they demonstrated student agency at its finest.

A highlight of the Exhibition was the students taking action, from advocating social change to promoting lifestyle choices. The whole school discussed and contributed to their campaigns, which gave the students a purpose for their learning. By the end of the Exhibition, the students recognised their learning could impact locally and globally.

"The Exhibition taught us the importance of using our knowledge to take action."- Haris Ata,student