High achievements for Lisbon international schools

news: High achievements for Lisbon international schools

As with ‘A’ Level results in the UK, the results of the universally recognised International Baccalaureate Diploma are also on the increase in International schools in Portugal.

At the St. Dominic’s International School, Lisbon pupils managed a pass rate of 92.3 per cent in their IB examinations – an increase of 11.8 per cent on last year’s pass rate. With such high success rates students for the academic year 2004 have taken placements at Universities across the world to study a variety of different and interesting subjects at degree level. These include Royal Holloway University, England; Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Portugal; Arizona State University, United States and many more.

In all, 53 pupils took the IB at St. Julian’s International School, Lisbon this summer, achieving an average grade of 32.1 – the lowest grade you can achieve is 24 and the highest, 45. St Julian’s is proud to explain that one of the students that took this year’s IB qualification achieved 44 points.

Speaking to The Resident Anne Hughes, Principal of secondary school at St. Julian’s, explained that this year, “all students who applied to study in the UK have been accepted by the universities of their choice, including three students who have been accepted colleges at Oxford and Cambridge.”

Of the applicants who were successful in securing their university placements in the UK, those who applied to universities in Portugal are still not aware if their applications were successful, but will find out later this month. “We are confident of their acceptance,” explained Anne.

The Carlucci American International School, Lisbon also recorded impressive results. For the second consecutive year, the International Baccalaureate Diploma candidates from CAISL were 100 per cent successful in earning their Diplomas. The worldwide average success rate for earning IB diplomas is 85 per cent. A spokesman from CAISL commented that the school is committed to achieving educational excellence and is pleased to also report that all the students’ hard work in achieving good results has led to pupils accepting university placements in England, Spain and Portugal, to study in a broad variety of subjects.

IB versus ‘A’ Level

As The Resident reported in February this year, Mike Tomlinson, the former Chief Inspector of Schools recommended doing away with GCSEs and ‘A’ Levels in the UK and replacing them with a system not dissimilar to the IB, currently practised by many international schools in Portugal.

The current pattern for Advanced Level studies in the UK is for students to take four AS levels in year 12. Some may take three if their GCSE base is weak, some may take five including General Studies. The IB was established in the 1970s and encompasses a different grading system to A’ Levels.

In the UK the number of pupils achieving top grades for ‘A’ Levels rose again this year, causing more accusations that the exams are becoming easier. School Standards Minister for the UK, David Miliband has said that the results are a reflection of hard work, not of the exams getting easier. According to Anne Hughes, the evidence of ‘A’ Levels becoming easier is slim. “After all, students tend to drop their weakest subjects and the days when students relaxed in year 12 have long gone,” she explained. “Students are now under pressure to perform throughout both years, which surely contributes to the raising of standards.”

Comparing the increasingly criticised system in the UK with the IB, both David Smith, headmaster of St. Julian’s, and Anne Hughes feel that the IB is a better option, as it caters more effectively for international students’ needs. “The programme has greater breadth than the ’A’ level system, as well as emphasising critical thinking, multiculturalism and the idea of lifelong learning,” David Smith commented. “This makes it a demanding as well as an interesting course for the students, and it is highly respected by universities – not only in Britain but all over the world.”

St. Julian’s headmaster finally commented positively that, “if the Tomlinson proposals are accepted and fully implemented, AS and A2 results will only be a part of the final diploma, which will test key skills and wider personal skills, incorporating something of the principles of the IB.”