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The International School of Western Australia’s (ISWA) Primary School Curriculum is based on the globally-recognised International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme.

The Primary Years Programme, or PYP, is student-centred and inquiry-based, with a focus on building strong numeracy and literacy skills. The International Baccalaureate PYP at ISWA promotes independent, lifelong learning. 

Teaching and Learning in the IB Programme

Take a closer look at some of the teaching and learning strategies used in the International Baccalaureate Programme.

Inquiry-Based Learning

The IB Primary Years Programme teaches through an inquiry-based learning approach. 

Inquiry-based learning is a process where students drive the learning by answering their own questions or exploring their own interests, in relation to a big idea. 

This can be done by:

  • exploring, wondering and questioning
  • experimenting and playing with possibilities
  • making connections between previous learning and current learning
  • making predictions and acting purposefully to see what happens
  • collecting data and reporting findings
  • clarifying existing ideas and reappraising perceptions of events
  • deepening understanding through the application of a concept
  • making and testing theories
  • researching and seeking information
  • taking and defending a position
  • solving problems in a variety of ways.

Inquiry-based learning occurs when students learn through authentic opportunities. Our PYP Teachers assist children through the inquiry process by providing resources and learning experiences to build deep understanding, knowledge, and action. 

Transdisciplinary Learning

In the PYP at ISWA, learning is planned around six transdisciplinary themes, which have global significance for all students in all cultures and provide  students the opportunity to explore the commonalities of the human experience.

These themes are:

  • Who we are
  • Where we are in place and time
  • How we express ourselves
  • How the world works
  • How we organize ourselves
  • Sharing the planet

Programme of Inquiry and Units of Inquiry

At ISWA, our experienced IB Coordinator uses the PYP’s six transdisciplinary themes and the Western Australian Curriculum to construct a rigorous and challenging programme of international education called the Programme of Inquiry (POI). The POI is used from Kindergarten to Year 6. Through Units of Inquiry, teachers meaningfully bring the essential elements of the PYP together to create an authentic and personalised learning experience. Each unit of inquiry is based around a transdisciplinary theme and has a central idea. 

Our aim is to create a broad and balanced programme that is engaging, significant, relevant, and challenging.

Information about the Units of Inquiry is distributed to students and parents throughout the year. 

IB Primary Years Programme Essential Elements

In our teaching of the PYP we aim to develop the following Approaches to Learning (skills), concepts and actions in our Primary School students.

Skills – Approaches to Learning

The construction of meaning and, therefore, of understanding is complemented by the students acquiring and applying a range of skills. These skills are best developed in the context of authentic situations such as those offered through the PYP units of inquiry:

  • Thinking skills
  • Research skills
  • Communication skills
  • Social skills
  • Self-management skills


Concepts are the ‘big ideas’ students focus on during our Units of Inquiry. They are powerful ideas that have relevance within the subject areas, but also transcend them. Students must explore and re-explore the 8 key concepts in order to develop a coherent, in-depth understanding. Concepts help our students make connections across disciplines.

The powerful ideas that we focus on, and which help to make connections across disciplines, include: 

  • Form
  • Function
  • Change
  • Connection
  • Responsibility
  • Causation
  • Perspective
  • Reflection


Successful inquiry will lead to responsible action, initiated by the student as a result of the learning process. This action will extend the student’s learning, or it may have a wider social impact.

Action also looks different within each age range. In our Primary School, the IB PYP Action Process offers learners the opportunity and the power:

  • To choose to act
  • To decide on their actions
  • To reflect on these actions in order to make a difference in the world

Learner Profile

Students are encouraged to follow the ISWA Learner Profile (adopted from the International Baccalaureate) that encourages them to be thinkers, inquirers, caring, communicators, principled, reflective, open minded, knowledgeable, risk-takers, and balanced. 

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