I couldn't disagree with Martin more. The IB Economics programme has a 5
year rolling syllabus review that allows all teachers a say in the course.
Change happens, but it happens with advance warning of a couple of years and
a decent amount of information being exchanged - something that the A level
boards have not managed. Any student getting a 7 in Econs at IB would get an
A or B at A level and of course the syllabus is not as large A2 (although I
am beginning to wonder at that too as I now get to grips with Edexcel.)
`The students have 6 subjects to do, 150 hours of community service and
sport, a 4000 word extended essay, and a compulsory philosophy course and
accompanying exam. Rather the pattern of AS and A2 seems to be copying the
35 year old pattern of standards and highers laid down by the IB. it is just
not possible to put the Economics syllabus next to A level Economics for
judgement - the course is holistic. This is why it is utter madness of
admissions tutors to ask for say 7 6 6 in higher subjects for uni entry and
ignore the other 50% of the course entirely - like asking someone how their
reading is but ignoring their writing.
What IB Economics never had was endless requirements to learn about the
intricacies of the discount market, Anthony Barbers budgets and the workings
of the MPC - Thank God! The emphasis is on understanding the world. A level
students might be forgiven for not knowing that the world population is 5
billion for all the attention anything beyond Dover gets.
Anybody who has ever taught a class of IB standard level students who
invariably have selected Natural Sciences as highers knows what a joy these
classes are. I'd back them in debate against an A level group any day.
A greater than proportionate number of Economics students opt to do their
Extended Essay in Economics and the level of analysis and research done on
these would shame some degree dissertations. The higher level is and has for
many years been examined 80% by exam. With the addition of the compulsory
philosophy course (Theory of Knowledge) the IB student is provided with and
understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the methodology of
Economics and their other subjects. At A level there is a slight nod to this
at best and at worst a paragraph on the difference between positive and
Most of my returning students after a year at Uni point out that A level
peers have little idea how to go about original research, construct
bibliographies, references etc - something IB students take for granted.
After 10 years teaching it I may of course be a little one sided in this.
And one last not insignificant point the IB pays about examiners 3 times the
A level rate - and I suspect that has an effect on the quality of marking.