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Primary Years Programme

Primary Years Programme

The Primary Years Programme (PYP) is the curriculum framework used to provide an educational approach for the youngest learners at MIS from Early Years 1, (three years old) to P5, (ten to eleven year olds). The PYP is a separately authorized section of MIS by the International Baccalaureate Organisation, which is dedicated to providing a world-wide international education for students of all ages. It is the first part of the IB continuum.

The Primary Years Programme (PYP) is designed for learners aged from three to eleven years. It is a concept based, inquiry-driven curriculum framework.

The PYP strives for a balance between the search for understanding, the acquisition of essential knowledge and approaches to learning (skills), the development of positive attitudes and the opportunity for positive action.

In terms of achieving this balance, the PYP emphasizes four components of the written, taught and assessed curriculum.

  • Concepts – Powerful ideas which have relevance within and across the disciplines and which learners must explore and re-explore in order to develop understanding.
  • Approaches to learning – Skills the learners need to be able to succeed in a changing, challenging world such as thinking, research, social, communication and self-management skills.
  • Knowledge – Significant, relevant, subject matter.
  • Action – Taking positive action within and beyond our community.

The PYP programme model shows all the elements that combine to form the coherent curriculum framework.

The beliefs and values that drive the PYP

The PYP aims to synthesize the best research and practice from a range of national systems, with the wealth of knowledge and experience in international schools, to create a transdisciplinary curriculum which is relevant, challenging and engaging for learners in the 3 – 12 age range.

A driving force behind the PYP is a deeply held philosophy about the nature of international education, a philosophy expressed in the statements that follow:

  • The mission statement of the IBO expresses the IBO’s overall purpose as an organization promoting and developing programmes of international education.
  • The section “International-Mindedness: the PYP perspective” sets out our beliefs and values as defined by the outcomes of student learning in PYP schools.

The section “International-Mindedness: the PYP perspective” sets out our beliefs and values as defined by the outcomes of student learning in PYP schools.

International Mindedness

In the PYP, the attributes of the Learner Profile are central to what it means to be “Internationally Minded” and in supporting students in taking action for positive change. The PYP is proud to develop learners who exemplify the attributes expressed in the Learner Profile. Learners at MIS develop, demonstrate and reinforce the attributes through the Units of Inquiry, social interactions in a variety of learning spaces, school events and at home and in the wider community. The PYP recognises that the Learner Profile is value laden.

IB Learner Profile

The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world. As IB learners, we strive to be:

Inquirers: We nurture our curiosity, developing skills for inquiry and research. We know how to learn independently and with others. We learn with enthusiasm and sustain our love of learning throughout life.

Knowledgeable: We develop and use conceptual understanding, exploring knowledge across a range of disciplines. We engage with issues and ideas that have local and global significance.

Thinkers: We use critical and creative thinking skills to analyse and take responsible action on complex problems. We exercise initiative in making reasoned, ethical decisions.

Communicators: We express ourselves confidently and creatively in more than one language and in many ways. We collaborate effectively, listening carefully to the perspectives of other individuals and groups.

Principled: We act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness and justice, and with respect for the dignity and rights of people everywhere. We take responsibility for our actions and their consequences.

Open-minded: We critically appreciate our own cultures and personal histories, as well as the values and traditions of others. We seek and evaluate a range of points of view, and we are willing to grow from the experience.

Caring: We show empathy, compassion and respect. We have a commitment to service, and we act to make a positive difference in the lives of others and in the world around us.

Risk-takers: We approach uncertainty with forethought and determination; we work independently and cooperatively to explore new ideas and innovative strategies. We are resourceful and resilient in the face of challenges and change.

Balanced: We understand the importance of balancing different aspects of our lives – intellectual, physical and emotional – to achieve well-being for ourselves and others. We recognize our interdependence with other people and with the world in which we live.

Reflective: We thoughtfully consider the world and our own ideas and experience. We work to understand our strengths and weaknesses in order to support our learning and personal development.


Programme of Inquiry.

How is the Curriculum structured?

The PYP is delivered through Units of Inquiry. All the Units of Inquiry at all grade levels make up the Programme of Inquiry (POI). See the MIS 2022-23 Programme of Inquiry. They draw together elements of different disciplines into a meaningful whole. Key concepts drive this inquiry. The PYP also identifies the range of transdisciplinary themes learners need to explore.

Transdisciplinary Themes

  • Who we are

An inquiry into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities, and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human.

  • Where we are in place and time

An inquiry into orientation in place and time; personal histories; homes and journeys; the discoveries, explorations and migrations of humankind; then relationships between and the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations, from local and global perspectives.

  • How we express ourselves

An inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.

  • How the world works

An inquiry into the natural world and its laws; the interaction between the natural world (physical and biological) and human societies; how humans use their understanding of scientific principles; the impact of scientific and technological advances on society and on the environment.

  • How we organise ourselves

An inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment.

  • Sharing the planet

An inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things; communities and the relationships within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.

In the Early Years, students have 4 Units of Inquiry per year.

In P1 to P5, they have all 6 Units of Inquiry each year.


“Concept-based inquiry is a powerful vehicle for learning that promotes meaning and understanding, and challenges students to engage with significant ideas. This is central to the Primary Years Programme (PYP) philosophy. Purposeful inquiry is supported by a concept-based curriculum.” (IBO, 2018)

The Concepts underpin student inquiries and can be applied and adopted as learners deepen and develop their understandings during the units.

The Key Concepts

  • Form – What is it like?
  • Function – How does it work?
  • Causation – Why is it like it is?
  • Change – How is it changing?
  • Connection – How is it connected to other things?
  • Perspective – What are the points of view?
  • Responsibility – What is our responsibility?

Approaches to Learning (ATL) – When learning about and through subject areas, learners acquire particular skills that define the disciplines. For example, when developing math and language knowledge, concepts and skills are essential as these underpin successful inquiry.

The following are the broad skill headings, which are underpinned with further sub-skills:

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


The PYP and MIS believes that education must extend beyond the intellectual to include not only socially responsible attitude but also thoughtful and appropriate action.

In our school, it is believed that every learner, in every year group, has the right and should have the opportunity to be involved in voluntary, purposeful and beneficial action. This action can be taken by an individual learner or by a group of learners working collaboratively and will clearly look different within each age range.

Therefore we endeavour to offer all our learners the opportunity and the power to choose to act, and to decide on their actions in order to make a difference to a local, national or global issue. The PYP recognizes that action takes many forms which include, but are not limited to participation, advocacy, social justice, social entrepreneurship and lifestyle choices. In addition, action can be teacher-led, driven by student’s ideas, the entire class taking the same action or all learners taking different actions.

More often than not, action may not be witnessed by the teacher in school, but rather happens beyond the classroom.

An example: Action beyond the classroom

A parent reports to a teacher that her 4-year-old child has taken action at home after having been on a school excursion to a recycling station/sewage treatment plant/centre.

Parent: On your trip did the children learn about water conservation?

Teacher: It was one component of our investigations. Why do you ask?

Parent: Because during the weekend I was starting the shower for my son. He ran out of the room and came back with a bucket and put it in the shower. When I asked him what he was doing, he replied, “I’m catching the water that is not hot enough yet for my shower, so I can save it and give the garden a drink after my shower.”

Teacher: That’s really interesting. He is taking action as a result of what he learned. Please let me know if this continues and if you notice anything else.

For every Unit of Inquiry, parents and guardians receive a unit flyer that contains the main elements of the unit. It also includes details on any integrated or stand-alone subjects as well as suggestions to extend learning beyond the classroom to home with resources and ideas to support the unit.

Subject Studies

Through both Units of Inquiry and through stand-along specialist subjects, learners engage with learning in the following subject areas.

Click on each one to find out more about learning in that area.



The PYP Exhibition represents a significant event in the life of a PYP student, the PYP school and our entire learning community.

In the student’s final year of the PYP at MIS (P5), the learners have 5 Units of Inquiry and the Exhibition. The Exhibition unit can take place under any transdisciplinary theme and at MIS this is decided on by the PYP teaching team and P5 learners.

Our learners are required to engage in a collaborative, transdisciplinary inquiry process that involves them in identifying, investigating and offering solutions to real-life issues or problems. As the IB states, “The exhibition is an authentic process for learners to explore, document and share their understanding of an issue or opportunity of personal significance.” (IBO, 2018)

As a culminating experience, it is an opportunity for our learners to exhibit their understanding of the programme, including the role of the IB Learner Profile attributes. The PYP Exhibition is the first in a series of culminating tasks for each of the three IB Programmes, followed by the Middle Years Personal Project and the Diploma Extended Essay.


The PYP exhibition has a number of key purposes:

  • for learners to engage in an in-depth, collaborative inquiry
  • to provide learners with an opportunity to demonstrate agency and responsibility for their learning
  • to provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate the attributes of the learner profile in authentic contexts
  • to provide learners with an opportunity to explore multiple perspectives
  • to provide an authentic process for students to monitor, document and present their learning
  • to provide students with an opportunity to synthesize and apply their learning
  • for students to take action as a result of their learning
  • to unite the students, teachers and other members of the learning community in a collaborative experience
  • to provide an authentic context for students to reflect on their PYP education
  • to support the well-being of students by celebrating their transition to the next stages of their education
  • to provide an authentic task for the community to evaluate its implementation of the PYP
  • to provide students with an opportunity to engage with the broader learning community and celebrate their achievements. (IBO, 2018)

The following IB PYP image depicts what students have been practicing throughout their PYP journey and what they will demonstrate through the Exhibition process, the culminating learning experience of the PYP.

Exhibition Process

The Exhibition is a process of inquiry and each Exhibition involves the following:

  • Identifying globally significant issues – At the beginning of the exhibition process, students and teachers extensively discuss local or global issues and opportunities that have meaning to them and connect to the school or local contexts. These discussions spark ideas, interests and directions for student inquiries.
  • Using self-management skills in the time frame – Students have a time frame in which to plan their inquiries with the support and guidance of teachers and mentors. The structure allows learners to meaningfully apply and further develop self-management skills such as organization and time management.
  • Engaging support from the learning community – Leaners collaborate with their classmates, teachers, mentors, parents and the wider community as they explore personal inquiries through a range of resources.
  • Organizing learning – Learners document their learning process as they move through the Exhibition. Learners co-construct their inquiries and assessment criteria to set up their journey and clarify expectations.
  • Monitoring the exhibition – Learners, teachers and mentors continuously reflect, gather feedback, check-in, self-assess, peer-assess and use other tools to ensure they are meeting the requirements of the exhibition.
  • Sharing the exhibition – Culminating in a final product or experience, learners share their learning process and journey in a variety of formats. This is a chance for the learning community to celebrate the learning process.