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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 students at MIS from Early Years 1, (three years old) to PYP 5, (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 students aged from three to eleven years.  It is a philosophy, a curriculum framework and a methodology.

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

In terms of achieving this balance, the PYP emphasizes five components of the written, taught and assessed curriculum.  These are referred to as the essential elements of curriculum.

  • Concepts-powerful ideas which have relevance within and across the disciplines and which students must explore and re-explore in order to develop understanding.
  • Skills-those things the students need to be able to succeed in a changing, challenging world like Thinking skills, Research skills, Social skills, Communication skills and Self-Management skills.
  • Attitudes-dispositions which are expressions of fundamental values, beliefs and feelings about learning, the environment and people.
  • Knowledge-significant, relevant, subject matter we wish the students to explore and know about.
  • Action-demonstrations of deeper learning in responsible behaviour through positive action and service; a manifestation in practice of the other essential elements.

The PYP 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.
  • “International-Mindedness: the PYP perspective” sets out our beliefs and values as defined by the outcomes of student learning in PYP schools.
  • The IBO defines this learning through a curriculum model that encompasses the components of the curriculum.

International Mindedness

In the PYP, the Learner Profile is central to what it means to be “Internationally Minded”. The PYP is proud to develop students who exemplify the attributes expressed in the Learner Profile. 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.


Please see the 2018-19  Programme of Inquiry.

How is the Curriculum structured ?

The PYP is mainly delivered via the Transdisciplinary Units of Inquiry

Most curriculum is taught through the Units 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 knowledge students need to acquire by defining the following Transdisciplinary Themes, which are relevant within and across all subject domains.

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 Preschool 1 and Preschool 2 the students have 4 Units of Inquiry per year.

In Preschool 3 to PYP 5 they have all 6 Units of Inquiry each year.


“Central to the philosophy of the PYP is the principle that purposeful, structured inquiry is a powerful vehicle for learning that promotes meaning and understanding, and challenges students to engage with significant ideas. Hence in the PYP there is also a commitment to a concept-driven curriculum as a means of supporting that inquiry.”

The Key Concepts

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

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

Transdisciplinary Skills– when learning about and through subject areas, students acquire the particular skills that define the disciplines. For example in language students become literate and in Maths they become numerate.The acquisition of numeracy and literacy in its broadest sense is essential, as these skills provide student with the tools of inquiry.

Nonetheless, in order to conduct purposeful inquiry and in order to be well prepared for lifelong learning, students need to master a whole range of skills beyond subject specific skills.

The PYP has a set of transdisciplinary skills:

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

These skills are valuable not only in the Unit of Inquiry but relevant to all subject areas and also transcend them to promote authentic learning within the classroom and in life outside the school.


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

In our school, it is believed that every student, 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 student or by a group of students 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.

More often than not action may not be witnessed by the teacher in school but rather happens beyond the classroom.  An example of this is attached.

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.

The outcomes for each age group that appear in the ‘Handbook’ are examples of the kind of expectations appropriate for the class and are covered more extensively, in the school’s Scope and Sequence Guidelines for each year.

For every Unit of Inquiry you will receive an information leaflet.   This will contain the main elements of the unit. It will also include any integrated Math and Language and any stand-alone Math or Language.

There will be suggestions of how you can support your child and useful resources including websites and app’s.

Subject Studies

Through both Units of Inquiry and through stand-along specialist subjects, students 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 and the PYP school.

In the student’s final year of the PYP at MIS (PYP5) the students have 5 Units of Inquiry and the Exhibition. The Exhibition unit can take place under any transdisciplinary them and at MIS this is decided on by the PYP teaching team and PYP 5 students.

Our students 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 a culminating experience it is an opportunity for our students to exhibit their understanding of the programme, including the role of the PYP Attitudes and IB Learner Profile. 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 students to engage in an in-depth, collaborative inquiry
  • to provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate independence and responsibility for their own learning
  • to provide students with an opportunity to explore multiple perspectives
  • for students to synthesize and apply their learning of previous years and to reflect upon their journey through the PYP
  • to provide an authentic process for assessing student understanding
  • to demonstrate how students can take action as a result of their learning
  • to unite the students, teachers, parents and other members of the school community in a collaborative experience that incorporates the essential elements of the PYP
  • to celebrate the transition of learners from primary to middle/secondary education.

Essential features of the exhibition

As the culminating PYP experience, it is required that the exhibition reflects all the major features of the programme. Therefore it must:

  • provide an opportunity for students to exhibit the attributes of the IB learner profile that have been developing throughout their engagement with the PYP
  • incorporate all the key concepts; an understanding of the key concepts should be demonstrated by the application of key questions throughout the inquiry process
  • synthesize aspects of all six transdisciplinary themes
  • require students to use skills from all five sets of transdisciplinary skills (see Making the PYP happen: A curriculum framework for international primary education, 2007, figure 8); students should be given the opportunity to develop and apply skills from all the transdisciplinary skill areas in their exhibition inquiry
  • offer the students the opportunity to explore knowledge that is significant and relevant
  • offer opportunities for students to display attitudes (see Making the PYP happen: A curriculum framework for international primary education, 2007, figure 9) that relate to people, the environment and their learning; these attitudes should be evident throughout the process
  • provide opportunities for students to engage in action; students should demonstrate an ability to reflect on and apply their learning to choose appropriate courses of action and carry them out; this action may take the form of personal involvement with the planning and implementation of the exhibition and/or service-orientated action; action may not always be clearly or immediately visible or measurable but evidence should be recorded whenever a particular behaviour results from the learning involved
  • represent a process where students are engaged in a collaborative and student-led, in-depth inquiry facilitated by teachers; records should be kept that reflect the process of planning and student engagement with the exhibition
  • include ongoing and rigorous assessment of the exhibition process; this assessment should take two forms: firstly, ongoing assessment of each individual student’s contribution to and understanding of the exhibition; secondly, a summative assessment and reflection on the event itself.