Primary Years Programme (PYP)

The PYP is designed for students aged 3 to 12. It focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside. It is a framework guided by six transdisciplinary themes of global significance, explored using knowledge and skills derived from six subjects areas, as well as transdisciplinary skills, with a powerful emphasis on inquiry. The PYP is flexible enough to accommodate the demands of most national or local curriculums and provides the best preparation for students to engage in the IB Middle Years Programme.

The IB Primary Years Programme

  • addresses students’ academic, social and emotional well-being
  • encourages students to develop independence and to take
  • responsibility for their own learning
  • supports students’ efforts to gain understanding of the world and to function comfortably within it
  • helps students establish personal values as a foundation upon which international-mindedness will develop and flourish.

The six subject areas identified within the IB Primary Years Programme

  • language
  • social studies
  • mathematics
  • arts
  • science
  • personal, social and physical education

Within these subject areas, UWCEA includes English, Swahili, French (P3-P6), music, visual art and information technology

Transdisciplinary themes

The most significant and distinctive feature of the IB Primary Years Programme are the six transdisciplinary themes. These themes provide us at UWCEA with the opportunity to incorporate local and global issues into the curriculum and effectively allow students to “step up” beyond the confines of learning within subject areas.
• Who we are
Inquiry into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; person, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities, and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human
• Where we are in place and time
Inquiry into orientation in place and time; personal histories; homes and journeys; the discoveries, explorations and migrations of humankind; the relationship between and the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations, from local and global perspectives
• How we express ourselves
Inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic
• How the world works
Inquiry into the natural world and its laws, the interaction between the natural world (physical and biological) and human societies; how humans use their understanding of scientific principles; the impact of scientific and technological advances on society and on the environment.
How we organize ourselves
Inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment
Sharing the planet
Inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and other living things; communities and the relationship within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.

The six transdisciplinary themes help teachers to develop a programme of indepth investigations into important ideas, identified by the teachers, and requiring a high level of involvement on the part of the students. These inquiries are substantial, and usually last for several weeks.

For example, in an inquiry about “Sharing the planet” for students in P3/4 (age 8-9), we might look at “Finite resources – infinite demands”. In order to understand better the central idea that “Our planet has limited resources that are unevenly distributed” and using water as an example, we would inquire into where water comes from, how different people and countries use water, how much water we use, what happens after we have used it, the distribution of usable water around the world, how human activity has affected the availability of water, and our responsibility for water conservation. To support this inquiry, students develop knowledge and acquire skills derived from science and social studies. In addition, they develop transdisciplinary skills such as critical thinking, communication and time management.

The Exhibition

The Exhibition is an important part of the PYP for all students. In the final year of the programme (P6), students undertake a collaborative, transdisciplinary inquiry process that involves them in identifying, investigating and offering solutions to real-life issues or problems. As the culminating experience of the PYP, the Exhibition offers students an exciting opportunity to demonstrate independence and responsibility for their own learning.

Our PYP students’ 2020 Exhibition (presented at a time when the school was closed due to Covid-19) can be viewed here:

IB Video: The IB Primary Years Programme
IB Video: PYP in an Early Years Setting

(Thanks to the “IB primary Years Programme” published by the IB in 2014, for much of the text on this page)