In 2016, Eastwood International School (part of Eastwood Schools), was one of the first group of schools to bring the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP) to the Lebanese populus. In doing so, the school pioneered strategies to upgrade education standards at our Beirut school, and by association, in the country as a whole.
Before the Lebanese Ministry of Education approved the International Baccalaureate (IB) as a qualifying high school diploma, Eastwood had already been offering the program for eligible, internationally-minded students.
Pupils around the world who graduate with an IB Diploma often attend top universities. The program has also been confirmed as one which produces better-performing students, based on International Schools’ Assessment.
While our private school in Lebanon has had a long history of producing alumni who attend renowned universities, we believe that adding the IB program to our curricula mix would provide even more opportunities for student achievement, and further set us apart as a top Lebanese school.
What is the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program?
The IB Diploma Program (IBDP) is a world-recognized high school diploma option for those seeking the ‘best of the best’ when it comes to academic opportunities. It catapults grade 11 and 12 students into upper education. These graduates start as sophomores who are able to handle university-style teaching. It also prepares them for a 21st Century-ready career. The program aims to help students develop the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to participate actively, and responsibly, in a changing and increasingly interrelated world.
The IB curriculum shapes student education differently than other programs, such as the Lebanese Baccalaureate, or even other international programs. It does this by expanding its pedagogical theory beyond ‘fact-based’ academics.
In other words, life skills through community involvement, character development and the acquisition of interdisciplinary knowledge are stressed in its learning outcomes. Students are taught how to research independently to become self-taught learners for life. A second language ability is also required as part of the program’s goal to produce internationally informed, global citizens.
How we became a pioneering IB school in Beirut, and what it means for you
The accreditation as an IB World school in Lebanon brought with it a rigorous review processes (internally and externally), that went far beyond a mere update of our curriculum. Here are some of the steps we accomplished to become accredited:
We revised our mission and vision to specifically reflect our school’s international nature, up-to-date educational standards and openness to all global citizens. We changed our organizational structure to reflect leadership required for an IB high school diploma program.
To bring IB science education to Lebanon, our student labs had to be remodelled. We invested in structural building changes, such as new ventilation and a shower. We fully stocked our lab with all required chemicals and equipment. We continue with upgrades to be able to offer more IB courses in Beirut.
Our library required online academic resources for course research. We chose Questia. This would allow students access to a breadth of current journals and publications for their globally-minded projects.
Some of our existing faculty underwent professional development training, to be certified as IB teachers in their discipline areas. This meant 90 hours of individual workshop attendance for our staff. We now have 13 IBDP teachers in 11 subjects.
The final review and authorization was performed at our school by a team of recognized members of the IB board. During this two-day consult, Eastwood International School received 17 commendations for efforts at reinventing their school so it would align with the goals and standards of the IB diploma program. This number of commendations is considered impressive.
Some of the noteworthy praises that were written about our school during the independent IB review included:
“The school community has a strong understanding of the IB philosophy and sees this as a way to further improve the school.”
“The school has developed lines of communication that are based on open understanding and respect.”
“The school has established itself as technology leaders and provides rich facilities to support the implementation of the program.”
“Teaching and learning in the school encourages the use of a range and variety of strategies.”
The entire process of becoming an IB certified school in Lebanon took over a year to implement, not to mention a significant financial investment. It is not easy to implement an IB program, which speaks to our school’s exceptional value to a student’s education.
Who can take the IB program at our school in Beirut?
The IB program begins in Grade 11, upon successful completion of Grade 10.
We don’t restrict any of our students from entering the IB program (provided that they meet the Ministry of Education’s requirements), or taking IB courses (where applicable). There is no entry exam or qualification (other than those of the school). We believe that each individual is capable of showing their worth to the program, and should be given the opportunity to try.Expand to read more
However, we do want you to know that the IBDP is a rigorous high school program held to international standards – not those set by our school, or by Lebanese ministries. In fact, IBDP exams are flown in completely sealed, and sent back to the IB Organization offices for correcting.
Students who opt for this type of diploma at our Beirut international school should be ready to meet its exacting demands. One of our school counsellors would be happy to discuss the option with you, and help you decide if you should enrol in the program.
Please also note there is a fee for the IBDP examination, which parents should be prepared for. The base cost for the program is not different than with our other private high school programs in Beirut.
What are the graduation requirements for the IB program in Lebanon?
Like all IB schools around the world, the graduation requirements for the IBDP are no different in Lebanon.Expand to read more
The awarding of the diploma expects the following:
- Completion of one subject from each of 6 course groupings (noted below).
- Completion of three subjects at Higher level (HL), and three at Standard level (SL).
- Submission the Extended Essay of 4000 words in one of the IBDP subjects during the second year of the program.
- Following the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course.
- Engage in the Creativity, activity and service (CAS) component (you can read more about this here).
The course groupings are as follows:
Group 1 Language A
- English Language/Literature HL or SL
- Self Taught mother tongue only at SL
Group 2 Language B
- Arabic ab initio SL
- French ab initio SL
*For an explanation of “ab initio” in IB language learning, please see this link.
Group 3 Individuals and Societies
- History HL/SL or Psychology HL/SL
- Economics HL/SL
- Business and Management HL/SL
Group 4 Experimental Science
- Biology HL/SL
- Chemistry HL/SL
- Physics HL/SL
Group 5 Mathematics
- Math HL/SL
Group 6 Electives
- Visual Arts HL/SL
Note: Courses offered at our IB school will be based on a sufficient number of students registered to carry out the classes.
You should be aware that the terms, “Grade 11” and “Grade 12” are referred to as “IBDP 1” and “IBDP 2” respectively in this program. These are ‘credit equivalents’ to those grades for most universities and many governments. However, IBDP 1 and 2 are often reflective of outstanding academic achievement in the world of higher education, since they are considerably more challenging than typical high school programs.
Taking IB courses without the full diploma:
Students who don’t want to take the entire IB Diploma programme can opt for IB courses in five (of a possible 6) subjects. Of these, English and Math are compulsory. It is preferred that two High Level (HL) subjects are taken for university acceptance.
What is the schedule like for a typical student at our IB school in Beirut?
Students in the IBD program are in class 32 hours a week.Expand to read more
These hours include:
- 3, 4-hour Standard Level (SL) courses (12 hours total)
- 3, 6-hour High Level (HL) courses (18 hours total)
- 1, 2-hour Theory of Knowledge (TOK) class
You may enjoy IBDP life at Eastwood International School. We’ve decided to let our students demonstrate their own independence and ability to behave responsibility. That said, currently, students are allowed to leave school grounds when they do not have classes (simulating privileges they’ll have in university). They also have a break room that is dedicated to students in the IB program, should they wish to remain on campus for studying or socializing.
Other frequently asked questions about the IB program at Eastwood International School:
If you need the extra help, Eastwood offers an after-school SAT course, which is entirely optional.
Other exams you may be interested in taking, such as SAT ll or TOEFL, would need to be pursued on your own, outside of school time.
However, you should know that IBDP students also start university at the sophomore level rather than the freshman level. So in a sense, it advances you an entire year of university, instead of giving individual course credits.
Much like in university, students interested in a physical component to their educational resume can join extra-curricular programs at their own prerogative. At Eastwood International School, we offer the following options:
- Participation in the Duke of Edinburgh International Award, which includes physical activity with camping and hiking.
- The after-school football team.
For IBDP 2 students, failing 1 or more official IB exam means you have one more chance to sit for a makeup. If you also fail the makeup, the school has the discretion to make either of the following decisions, depending on your case:
- Request that you repeat the IBDP 2 year.
- Give credits to graduate with an American High School Diploma. This will allow you to enter university at the freshman level (instead of the sophomore level, had you passed the IBDP 2 exams). This scenario would only be permissible if the school feels that you have done well enough.
If you are about to take the IBDP 2 exams, and the school feels you might fail, you will also be given the choice to take the American High School Diploma finals.
Don’t forget that the IB high school diploma is not granted on the merits of exams alone; there are other components needed to graduate, which are important to mention in this context. See above for more info.