At the heart of the curriculum programme model sit the three core elements of the Diploma programme. It is no coincidence that they are there. The extended essay, creativity activity service and theory of knowledge, are part of what make the diploma programme distinct, as they aim to develop the pupil’s learning experiences holistically. The Core programmes are all about gaining experience by doing, thinking and reflecting.
EE - Extended Essay
The extended essay is an opportunity for pupils to focus on a subject of interest and learn more about it whilst developing their research skills. The pupils choose a specific topic within a subject and produce a piece of scholarly research of up to 4000 words. Pupils learn about the importance of research, academic honesty and organisation. The experience proves invaluable in their university years.
At St. Francis we support this process by providing pupils with an open choice of subjects in which to develop their research. Pupils have the support of the extended essay coordinator, and they are all assigned a supervisor that guides them through the process.
TOK - Theory of Knowledge
Theory of knowledge is the melting pot of the programme; it is an interdisciplinary subject intended to kindle critical thinking and reflection about how we know. The course challenges pupils to question the bases of knowledge and inquire into the nature of knowing. Theory of knowledge is not only a stand-along subject; it is also embedded into all our subjects and different teachers will make connections that will stimulate pupils into reflecting about how it is that knowledge is formed and gained. Theory of knowledge draws on the pupil’s learning in all six subjects, CAS, extended essay and experiences outside of the classroom.
CAS - Creativity, Activity, Service
Experiential learning is fundamental in the IB and no other single component embodies this in a better way than CAS. The programme allows the pupil to explore seven learning outcomes through planned activities in the areas of creativity, activity and service to others. CAS is not a social service programme, it is about pupils discovering and developing new skills and learning how to share those with others for the benefit of all. CAS is an enjoyable yet challenging experience.
At St. Francis pupils have a CAS advisor, a teacher that helps the pupils develop their programme in a unique way. We expect pupils to be involved in six long term projects and participate in a number of short term activities over an 18 month period. CAS is hence tailored made to the interests of pupils. Pupils choose those projects that will help them develop new skills and meet their own challenges.
CAS helps pupils learn to plan, act and reflect. It will help them learn from decisions taken (both successful and unsuccessful) and hence have more effective planning, more assertive action and a more fruitful reflection. It is a never ending cycle that we hope they will take with them for the rest of their lives.