IB Primary Years Program Overview

What is the Primary Years Programme?

The IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) is a curriculum framework 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 defined by six transdisciplinary themes of global significance, explored using knowledge and skills derived from six subject areas, with a powerful emphasis on inquiry-based learning.

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 IB Primary Years Program, for students aged 3 to 12, focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside.

The curriculum is expressed in three interrelated ways:

  • The written curriculum—what do we want to learn?
  • The taught curriculum—how best will we learn?
  • The assessed curriculum—how will we know what we have learned?

The written curriculum is the identification of a framework of what’s worth knowing.

The five essential elements—concepts, knowledge, skills, attitudes, action—are incorporated into this framework, so that students are given the opportunity to:

  • Gain knowledge that is relevant and of global significance
  • Develop an understanding of concepts, which allows them to make connections throughout their learning
  • Acquire transdisciplinary and disciplinary skills
  • Develop attitudes that will lead to international-mindedness

The Six Transdisciplinary Themes provide the framework for learning. These themes are globally significant and support the acquisition of knowledge, concepts and skills of the traditional subjects. They are revisited throughout the students' time in the PYP.

The Taught curriculum

The Taught curriculum is the theory and application of good classroom practice. In other words taught curriculum is the written curriculum in action.

Inquiry based learning:

Inquiry, is the leading pedagogical approach of the PYP, it allows students to be actively involved in their own learning and to take responsibility for that learning. Inquiry allows each student’s understanding of the world to develop in a manner and at a rate that is unique to that student.

PYP Program of Inquiry

A Program of Inquiry is a framework for the development of inquiry-based units. At every grade level from EYP 3- PYP 5 students explore six units of inquiry whereas EYP 1 and EYP 2 explore 4 units of inquiry. These last from 5-6 weeks. The programme offers a balance between learning about or through the subject areas, and learning beyond them. Our program of inquiry (POI) is the result of extensive, ongoing collaboration among and between teams of facilitators at Symbiosis International School. Each POI unit is organized around the following elements:

  1. Transdisciplinary Theme - The transdisciplinary theme contains ideas of global significance shared by people everywhere in the world. This theme also provides a context for students to develop subject-specific knowledge, concepts and skills.
  2. Central Idea - The central idea expresses a timeless, enduring understanding, related to the transdisciplinary theme, that students develop throughout the course of the unit.
  3. Lines of Inquiry - The lines of inquiry clarify the central idea, focus student inquiries, and help deepen understanding.
  4. Key and Related Concepts - These concepts are embedded into the central idea and lines of inquiry. They help deepen student understanding and provide students the opportunity to make connections throughout their learning, from one subject area to another and between school and the outside world.

The entire PYP staff conducts a formal review and revision of our Program of Inquiry. This accounts for changes in state standards, updated curriculum materials, and adjustments in how we structure units to best meet student needs.

You are also welcome to view a copy of the current POI for the year 2014-2015 Attachment


It is important that learners acquire mathematical understanding by constructing their own meaning through ever-increasing levels of abstraction, starting with exploring their own personal experiences, understandings and knowledge. Additionally, it is fundamental to the philosophy of the PYP that, since it is to be used in real-life situations, mathematics needs to be taught in relevant, realistic contexts, rather than by attempting to impart a fixed body of knowledge directly to students.


The need to communicate is instinctive. The development of language is fundamental to that need to communicate; it supports and enhances our thinking and understanding. Language permeates the world in which we live; it is socially constructed and dependent on the number and nature of our social interactions and relationships. The learning process simultaneously involves

Learning language - as learners listen to and use language with others in their everyday lives

Learning about language - as learners grow in their understanding of how language works and

Learning through language - as learners use language as a tool to listen, think, discuss and reflect on information, ideas and issues.


The objectives of the course are not only to make students familiar with the language but also make the language integral part of their learning process. Students will be able to express themselves in the language, they will also be able to use it as their learning medium. The 3 main strands of the language

  • Oral language – Listening and Speaking
  • Visual language - Viewing and Presenting
  • Written language - Reading and Writing


The ESL (English as a Second Language) Department supports the needs of non-native students who have limited skills in English. Students who have not reached a level of English language proficiency are provided support. This pull-out English as an Additional Language (ESL) programme is offered for EYP 3 to PYP 5 students. An ESL facilitator provides a support curriculum for these children so they can attain the language proficiency necessary for learning.


It is integral to teaching and learning in the PYP and is embodied in the IB learner profile that permeates the programme and represents the qualities of internationally minded students and effective lifelong learners. Students are able to reflect on themselves, their experiences, and the process of learning in order to support personal growth and their ongoing commitment to personal, social and physical well-being.


Arts are identified as dance, drama, music and visual arts. Each of these arts is a significant discipline in its own right, but the transdisciplinary nature of arts gives them relevance throughout the curriculum. Arts promote attitudes such as empathy and appreciation, and skills such as analysis, that help us to see the uniqueness of each person as well as explore the commonalities that connect us. Work in arts is a way of conveying meaning, sharing a culture, developing one’s sense of self, and expanding knowledge.

Role of ICT/ Library

PYP encompasses the use of a wide range of digital tools, media and learning environments for teaching, learning and assessing. It is a central point for engagement with all kinds of reading, cultural activities, access to information, knowledge building, deep thinking and lively discussion. (Link PYP library page)

The Assessed Curriculum

Assessment involves the gathering and analysis of information about student performance and is designed to inform practice. It identifies what students know, understand, can do, and feel at different stages in the learning process. A wide range of assessment strategies and tools are used by the facilitators to collect information on the understanding of concepts, acquisition of knowledge, mastering of skills, development of positive attitudes and the ability to take responsible action. Reporting about students’ performance takes many forms like journey of learning (JOL), conferences (SLC) and written reports. In the final year of PYP, students, carry out an extended, in-depth, collaborative project known as the PYP exhibition.

PYP 5 Exhibition

The grade 5 exhibition is the culmination of the Primary year’s programme which represents a significant event in the life of a PYP student. The exhibition unit can be chosen under any transdisciplinary theme decided by the PYP 5 teaching team and students, respectively. This unit is framed in such a way that the grade 5 students are given an opportunity to exhibit the attributes of the IB learner profile that have been developing throughout their engagement with the PYP.