A Step Up to Step Out

A Step Up to Step Out
By Craig Rodgers, IBDP Coordinator

What differentiates the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme at St Leonard’s College?

There is no doubt that the academic requirements of students in year 11 is a step up from year 10 regardless of the tertiary pathway chosen. The trajectory for the final two years of secondary school focuses on both academic achievement and social development to establish a strong platform for success and leadership at university and life beyond.

Renowned for pedagogical innovation, St Leonard’s College was the first Victorian school to introduce the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) in 1982. Our IBDP students graduate with a resumé that speaks to purposeful inquiry, empathy and contribution to community.

Developed over 50 years ago, the IBDP values breadth, depth and critical thinking. Breadth is reflected by the six subjects: Language A (mother tongue, in most cases English), an additional language, mathematics, a science, a humanities, and, a sixth subject which may be an additional science, humanities or language, or, an arts subject: Music, Theatre or Visual Arts. Depth requires three of these subjects to be studied at a higher level (vs standard level), recognising students’ strengths and interests. Critical and compassionate thinking comes through Theory of Knowledge (TOK), the Extended Essay and CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service). Students train across disciplines, building transdisciplinary skills applied to understanding, and acting knowledgably in local and global contexts. Learning extends beyond subjects and seeks to develop the character of young adults.

St Leonard’s IBDP results tell the story of great individual and collective achievements. Having a sense of purpose, confidence, resilience and effort sustained by trust in self, family and teachers are keys to success. What else distinguishes the IBDP experience at St Leonard’s College?


“The IB really forced me not just to care about facts but to understand where ideas come from and how knowledge can change and be used. Every assessment asks us to justify our answers. This has made me a more confident and precise speaker and writer, important strengths whatever field I go into.”

Adelyne S, Class of 2020

“Working with teachers for two years, they really get to know you and we get to know them. Working on individual projects of our own interest and design, we really learn to collaborate with our teachers, taking their feedback on board, organising our time and focus our attention to edit for our final submissions.”

Charlotte T, Class of 2020


A key point of difference of the IBDP is Theory of Knowledge. TOK invites students to consider where knowledge comes from and why others think differently; what informs the beliefs and actions of others. Students enquire into questions such as: Why do we seek knowledge? Should some knowledge not be sought on ethical grounds?

While a discrete subject, TOK thinking skills are embedded in all subjects to “encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.” (IBO Mission Statement) The views of parents, teachers and other experts are sought and investigated, valuing equally valid contributions to understanding.

St Leonard’s College year 11 students participate in TOK Camp, culminating in a presentation responding to their learning:


“TOK camp was a great way for us to connect as a cohort. I have learned so much about, and from, my friends. We had great discussions about important issues that interest and affect us now and will affect our future. Engaging in this kind of critical thinking has made me a better listener, more empathetic and more determined to find out what’s right, as well as preparing us really well for our Exhibition assessment.”

Sophie W, Year 11


Another distinguishing feature is the Extended Essay. Researched and written over twelve months, students craft a university class thesis guided by their supervisor. Each year, a number of students use this essay as evidence of serious exploration in their tertiary applications.


“The surprise of the Extended Essay is how much you learn. Not only did I learn how to research and structure a 4,000 word essay but to have really deep and meaningful conversations with my supervisor. They are interested in you, how your research is going, what you have learned and ask you questions that really make you think about the significance of your writing to a wider audience. In my case, I also learned a new software package. I am really happy with my essay. I know I can use it in interviews to show my deep interest in the subject as well as for the quality of my writing and research.”

Noah S, Year 11


Beyond academics, the IBDP promotes and values life balance. ACS sport, the College’s renowned music programs and theatre productions are just some opportunities our students have. Further, we encourage students to seek challenges, to participate in new activities and to take on leadership roles.


“St Leonard’s College makes us aware of how fortunate we are and encourages us to give back to our community. Being part of the food service with Lennie’s Van, coaching a junior team outside school, participating in beach clean-ups and teaching piano to kids within our community are things I feel proud of, which count as CAS and add to my CV when I apply for jobs and uni! My friends and I are looking forward to acting on our learning through the Active Bystander training to teach younger year levels in our school.”

Will M, Year 11


We are confident that with attitudes and capacities like this, that St Leonard’s College IBDP graduates will make their mark on the world while continuing their connection with us