Academic journal article The International Schools Journal

International Education at the University of Bath: The Story So Far

Academic journal article The International Schools Journal

International Education at the University of Bath: The Story So Far

Article excerpt

In October 2016 the University of Bath, UK celebrated its 50th anniversary. For many of those 50 years the university has had a strong association with international schools and international education. We are pleased to respond here to the invitation to provide our reflection on the early days of that association and its development into the strong links that exist today.

Phase 1: 1979-1984

The association began in 1979, when Jeff Thompson arrived from the University of Oxford to become Professor of Education at the University of Bath. Having worked at Oxford with Alec Peterson (whom he eventually followed as Director of the Department of Educational Studies), Jeff was involved from 1968 in the development of the International Baccalaureate (IB), becoming Chief Examiner for both Chemistry and Physical Science in the IB Diploma: the only IB programme in existence at that time. Involved from the beginning in setting exam papers, and participating in IB meetings at Sevres, in Geneva and in other locations, Jeff went on to become Group Coordinator for the Group 4 (Experimental Science) subjects, coordinating the work of the Chief Examiners for this group, and in 1984 became Chair of the IB Board of Examiners. The examination and curriculum development work of the IB was guided at that time by the Bureau of Chief Examiners, which he also chaired. It was during this period that Jeff Thompson was the first to conceptualise the IB Diploma as a hexagon, where previously it had been depicted as a list of subjects and other requirements. The creation of the hexagon occurred, as noted by Ian Hill (more recently Deputy Director General of the IB) in 2007:

during a conference of the Fondazione Cine in Venice, 9-11 December 1983 where [Jeff Thompson] spoke about the IB diploma programme and presented it on an overhead projector transparency (Renaud, 2001b). Jeff is well known for his propensity to visualise ideas. His geometrical shape corresponded to the six groups of subjects with the extended essay, theory of knowledge and CASS (creative and aesthetic activity, and social service), as it was at the time, in the middle. ... Renaud [Gerard Renaud: second IB Director General after Alec Peterson] had been present at the meeting in Venice and liked the visual representation. In a paper on the theory of knowledge, Renaud (1986) refers to the way in which Thompson's schema showed the coherence of the IB programme through the hexagonal structure. ... Thompson used the hexagon again at a major IB conference at the University of London in 1988 (Hayden et al 1995, pp 131-2). However, it was not until 1993 that the hexagonal representation of the Diploma Programme first appeared officially in IBO documents, notably in a number of subject guides printed that year.

From IB/Bath connections initially involving Jeff Thompson only, in September 1984 the links were strengthened with the establishment of the IB's Examinations Office on the University of Bath campus.

Phase 2: 1984-1992

During the early 1980s the IB experienced a period of change and growth, which led to a decision to merge the two existing IB offices then dealing with Diploma subjects. Originally located in Geneva, the IB Examinations Office (IBEX) had subsequently been split across two UK locations: Groups 1 and 2 (Languages A and B) located at the University of Southampton, where Tom Carter - Group Coordinator for Languages - was a member of staff, and Groups 3-6 based in Taviton Street, London in a building belonging to the Institute of Education. Extensive discussion about alternative locations to accommodate growing space and staffing needs led to the IB's decision to bring together all 6 groups in office space on campus at the University of Bath.

With Derek Goulden as Director of Examinations, the team who moved to Bath included, from Southampton, Dianne Williamson (Groups 1 and 2) and, from London, Roz Sievers (Groups 3 and 6) and Mary Hayden (Groups 4 and 5). …

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