Stamford’s IBDP: Enabling Every Aspiration
Reports about the IBDP often revolve around averages and perfect scores, but what about those who won’t achieve 45? Should they forget their IB goals and pursue a different curriculum or path? Not according to Teresa Foard, the newly appointed Secondary Principal of Stamford American School Hong Kong who joined this year from The International School of Ho Chi Minh City (ISHMC), a school that has achieved great IBDP success, including perfect scores. Ms. Foard, who firmly believes the IBDP can be for all students, explains,
“I believe all students can access the IBDP with the proper nurturing. Our role as a school is to help develop our students academically; focus on skills such as time management and prioritization; and also create a thirst for knowledge that will serve them throughout their lives. As a school, we strongly believe that all our students should be given access to a world of opportunities. We will support students scoring at top levels, and also those who have worked hard to achieve a score above 24 that is required to be successfully awarded the Diploma. Some of these students are the most memorable to me; following their journey and seeing their dedication to achieve their goals of attending their university of choice is truly inspiring.”
There are many IB schools and also American schools in Hong Kong; what sets Stamford apart?
“Stamford American School is unique in Hong Kong as it offers the IBDP and an American standards-based curriculum, taught with an inquiry-based approach. It is an important distinction, as the American standards provide a solid academic foundation that students will need in high school, especially in math and literacy.
The inquiry-based approach helps ensure that the spark that comes when a student is genuinely excited by a particular concept is allowed to ignite. I have seen students spend hours in a science lab, so excited by chemical compounds and trying to crystalize them. Inquiry offers autonomy, enabling students to explore a specific topic, while our standards keep them on the path they need to be successful in their chosen field.”
In Hong Kong, many parents are transferring between the local and international systems. How does that impact students?
“International schools are accustomed to students transferring from different curriculums and countries and have systems to support a smooth social, emotional, and academic transition. The Measures of Academic Progress (MAP*) assessment gives us data that informs teachers on where students are when they join us, and provides insights on how best to support their individual growth. Our highly experienced teachers with an average of 12+ years of experience are sensitive to students’ needs and are dedicated to caring and nurturing each individual student.
There will always be challenges transitioning, just like adults moving jobs, it is essential to maintain open communication between the school and family, to understand how best to support students.
Our IBDP and high school curriculum offer a lot of choices. I love to see kids excited about new course options that speak to their interests and passions. You can feel their motivation to succeed. I think when parents see these moments, it reaffirms their choice to transfer.”
You are a passionate supporter of the IBDP. Why do you think this program is the best option?
"I have been in education for 25 years; I think the IBDP* truly prepares students not just for university studies but also for life. I genuinely believe IB students are prepared well beyond their peers. For example, a 4 out of 7 in an IB HL Math class is equivalent to a 90% in an AP Math class. When looking at the A-levels, 35 points is equivalent to 2 grade A* at A Level and 1 grade A. So even those not achieving 45 are still scoring well.
That’s just one part; the critical thinking skills fostered in the Theory of Knowledge are essential in an era of social media. The Extended Essay develops not only writing but research skills. The IBDP opens so many doors to universities worldwide, whether it be the UK, Australia, the United States, or here in Hong Kong, as trusted for its rigorous academics and how well it develops individuals.
We can’t wait to see where our graduates in 2022/2023 will enroll as our sister school Stamford Singapore that has sent graduates to top universities around the world."
Any final advice for parents to help prepare students for this program?
"Of course, I think the best advice would be to enroll at Stamford! At any age I think it is important that students develop a sense of ownership over their learning, encouraging them to have the courage to ask for help and to know who to ask. Developing good time management habits is key to success as management of time, tasks and self is essential for success in the IB Diploma program."