Towards the International Baccalaureate

February 14, 2018

The wonderful results of our 2017 Higher School Certificate and International Baccalaureate Diploma Program students remind us that the IBDP has now been available alongside the HSC at Newington for ten years. I have been researching this, among many other stories, as part of a project to update the detailed history of the College, since the publication of Newington Across the Years: A History of Newington College 1863–1998, written by Rev Dr Peter Swain OAM RFD, in 1999.

The first cohort of twenty-one Year 11 students commenced their program of IB studies at the start of the 2008 school year. While in one sense this was the start of our ‘IB era’, it was also the culmination of long planning and preparation.

In 1999 Newington’s then Headmaster, Michael Smee, took sabbatical leave in which he visited areas of interest in the Middle East and Greece, as well as schools in Sweden, Britain and the United States. Among other things he saw the IBDP in operation and became convinced of its potential for Newington. The following year, he prepared a strategic directions paper for the College Council, one of the recommendations of which was to investigate introducing the IBDP. While the proposal was positively received, it did not proceed much further before he retired in 2003.

Michael Smee’s successor, David Scott, took up the idea early in 2005. His initial interest was in seeking accreditation for Newington as an International School, through the Council of International Schools, which several other leading schools in Australia had achieved. He was then approached by two parents about the IBDP, for which the professional development, management and governance requirements were similar to those for the International Schools process.

Following consideration of the proposal by the Council’s Education Committee and then the full Council, a detailed research project was undertaken. The issues, including the required investment, were significant and needed careful consideration, but the conclusions were positive. In 2006 interest was gauged through a student survey and feedback from parents, an initial list of subjects was devised and staff attended workshops across the Asia-Pacific region. Greg Bell, a long-serving Newington teacher, was appointed as the College’s first IB Coordinator. In addition to the practical preparations, he oversaw the processes of accreditation with the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) and of integration of courses with the curriculum requirements of the NSW Board of Studies (now the NSW Education Standards Authority).

March 2007 saw the College Council formally approve implementation of the IBDP as a strategic direction of the College, while IBO accreditation was achieved two months later, paving the way for the start of teaching in 2008. The image above shows Ben Adler, Deputy Senior Prefect and Newington’s first Dux of the IBDP, with the Headmaster, Dr David Mulford, at the 2009 Prize Giving.

David Roberts
College Archivist