Primary Years Programme

At SJS our students follow a curriculum which has been developed in line with the guiding principles of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme. It is an international, transdisciplinary programme designed to foster the development of the whole child, not just in the classroom but also through other means of learning. The curriculum focuses on the academic, social, physical, emotional and cultural developments of the child.

SJS is fully authorised by the International Baccalaureate Organization.


About the PYP

The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP) is a transdisciplinary programme of international education designed to foster the development of the whole child. It is designed for students aged 3 to 12. It focuses on the total growth of the developing child, touching hearts as well as minds and encompassing social, physical, emotional and cultural needs in addition to academic development.

International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO)

Our PYP Journey

In 2005, SJS began to look at the Primary Years Programme (PYP) of the International Baccalaureate as a curriculum model. In 2006 we were granted candidacy status from the IBO and worked hard to implement all elements of the programme. As a result, in June 2007 we were awarded pre-authorisation status and in June of 2009 were granted full authorisation as an IBO World School. In April 2013, we had a successful evaluation and we continue our journey as an IBO World School.

Aims of the Programme

At our heart we are motivated by a mission to create a better world through education.

The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment. These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO)

Developing International Mindedness

The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world. The philosophy of the PYP, as it directly affects the child, is expressed in a series of desired attributes and traits that characterize students with an international perspective. Taken together, they create the PYP learner profile. We want students to develop the following attributes and dispositions to become:

Children develop their natural curiosity. They have acquired skills necessary to conduct inquiry and research and show independence in learning. They actively enjoy learning and this love of learning will be sustained throughout their lives.

Children exercise initiative in applying thinking skills critically and creatively to recognise and approach complex problems, and make reasoned, ethical decisions.

Children understand and express ideas and information confidently and creatively in more than one language and in a variety of modes of communication. They work effectively and willingly in collaboration with others.

Children approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with courage and forethought, and have the independence of spirit to explore new roles, ideas and strategies. They are brave and articulate in defending their beliefs.

Children explore concepts, ideas and issues that have local and global significance. In doing so, they acquire in-depth knowledge and develop understanding across a broad and balanced range of disciplines.

Children act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness, justice and respect for the dignity of the individual, groups and communities. They take responsibility for their own actions and the consequences that accompany them.

Children show empathy, compassion and respect towards the needs and feelings of others. They have a personal commitment to service, and act to make a positive difference to the lives of others and to the environment.

Open Minded
Children understand and appreciate their own cultures and personal histories, and are open to perspectives, values and traditions of other individuals and communities. They are accustomed to seeking and evaluating a range of points of view, and are willing to grow from the experience.

Children understand the importance of intellectual, physical and emotional balance to achieve personal well-being for themselves and others.

Children give thoughtful consideration to their own learning and experience. They are able to assess and understand their strengths and limitations in order to support their learning and personal development.

Learning and Teaching

The Curriculum Model
At the heart of the Primary Years Programme’s philosophy is a commitment to structured inquiry as the leading vehicle for learning. The teaching and learning in the PYP is student-centred and is inquiry-based. This means that teaching begins with, and builds on, the curiosity of the students, their previous experiences and knowledge and their capacity to understand concepts. Six transdisciplinary themes provide the framework for the exploration of knowledge.

Students explore subject areas often in ways that transcend conventional subject boundaries. In the process, they develop an understanding of important concepts, acquire essential skills and knowledge, develop particular attitudes and learn to take socially responsible action.

The Essential Elements of the Curriculum

The curriculum is made up of 5 essential elements, each of which contribute towards the overall design of our curriculum and the learning experiences the children ultimately experience. The Learner Profile alongside the PYP attitudes: cooperation, empathy, enthusiasm, respect, integrity, tolerance, confidence, commitment, independence, appreciation, curiosity, creativity, combine to form the dispositions the PYP aims to build in their life long learners. The remaining four essential elements are as follows:


What do we want students to understand?
Eight fundamental concepts, expressed as key questions, propel the process of inquiry and help to encourage a transdisciplinary perspective. These concepts drive the units of inquiry which teachers and students design.

The following concepts are examined
Form: What is it like?
Function: How does it work?
Causation: Why is it like it is?
Change: How is it changing?
Connection: How is it connected to other things?
Perspective: What are the points of view?
Responsibility: What is our responsibility?
Reflection: How do we know?

Concepts are introduced throughout the year through the following Transdisciplinary themes.

  • Who We Are
  • Where We Are in Place and Time
  • How We Express Ourselves
  • How the World Works
  • How We Organise Ourselves
  • Sharing the Planet


What do we want students to know?
The Primary Years Programme identifies a body of significant knowledge for all students in all cultures.
Through the above transdisciplinary themes and through explicit teaching, students gain knowledge in six subject areas.

  • Language
  • Mathematics
  • Science and technology
  • Personal, social and physical education
  • Social Studies
  • Arts


What do we want students to be able to do?
Five sets of transdisciplinary skills (Approaches to Learning) are acquired throughout the curriculum. These include:
  • Thinking skills
  • Social skills
  • Communication skills
  • Self-management skills
  • Research skills


Students are encouraged to reflect, to make informed choices and to take action that will help their peers, school and the wider community. They may do this in various ways, including:
Choosing to take action
Taking personal action
Taking wider social action
Reflecting on actions taken

If you require more information about the PYP at SJS, please contact the school.

Updated: May 2023