PYP (Primary Years Programme)

International Baccalaureate

Hills is an Authorised School of the International Baccalaureate offering the Primary Years Programme for 5- 12 year olds. The PYP aims to synthesise 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 of the 5-12 age range.

What is the Primary Years Programme?
The Primary Years Programme (PYP) is designed for students between the ages of 3 and 12 years. It is an international, transdisciplinary programme designed to foster the development of the whole child, not just in the classroom, but also through other means of learning. The PYP focuses on the total growth of the developing child, touching hearts as well as minds. It encompasses social, physical, emotional and cultural needs in addition to academic welfare.

IB learners strive to be:

  • Inquirers: They acquire the skills necessary to conduct inquiry and research and show independence in learning.
  • Knowledgeable: They explore concepts, ideas and issues that have local and global significance. In so doing, they acquire in-depth knowledge and develop understanding across a broad and balanced range of disciplines
  • Thinkers: They exercise initiative in applying thinking skills critically and creatively to recognise and approach complex problems and make reasoned, ethical decisions.
  • Communicators: They understand and express ideas and information confidently and creatively in more than one language and in a variety of modes of communication.
  • Principled: They take responsibility for their own actions and the consequences that accompany them.
  • Open-minded: They are accustomed to seeking and evaluating a range of points of view, and are willing to grow from experience.
  • Caring: They show empathy, compassion and respect towards the needs and feelings of others.
  • They approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with courage and forethought, and have the independence of spirit to explore new roles, ideas and strategies.
  • Balanced: They understand the importance of intellectual, physical and emotional balance to achieve personal wellbeing for themselves and others.
  • Reflective: They give thoughtful consideration to their own learning and experience. They are able to assess and understand their strengths and limitations in order to support their learning and personal development.

What do we want students to feel, value and demonstrate?
The programme promotes and fosters a set of attitudes that include:

  • tolerance
  • respect
  • integrity
  • independence
  • enthusiasm
  • empathy
  • curiosity
  • creativity
  • cooperation
  • confidence
  • commitment
  • appreciation

Concept driven – inquiry based curriculum
What do we want students to understand?

Eight fundamental concepts, expressed as key questions, propel the process of inquiry and help to encourage a transdisciplinary perspective. These concepts drive the research units called Units of Inquiry, which teachers and students design, and which lie at the heart of the curriculum model. The concepts are the following:

  • 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?
  • Reflection: How do we know?>

The five sets of transdisciplinary skills acquired in the process of structured inquiry are:

  • thinking
  • communication
  • social
  • Research
  • self-management

Students are encouraged to reflect, to make informed choices and to take action that will help their peers, school staff and the wider community.

The Primary Years Programme identifies a body of significant knowledge for all students in all cultures, in six principal subject areas, language, social studies, mathematics, science and technology, the arts and personal, social and physical education. An authorized PYP school is expected to provide for the teaching of an additional language other than the school’s

These themes provide IB World Schools with the opportunity to incorporate local and global issues into the curriculum and effectively allow students to “step up” beyond the confines of learning within subject areas.

  • Who we are

Inquiry into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; person, 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

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

  • How we express ourselves

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

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 organize ourselves

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

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


Each theme is addressed each year by all students. (Students aged 3 to 5 engage with four of the themes each year).

In addition all PYP students have the opportunity to learn more than one language from the age of seven.

These transdisciplinary themes help teachers to develop a program of inquiries–investigations into important ideas, identified by the schools, and requiring a high level of involvement on the part of the students. These inquiries are substantial, in-depth and usually last for several weeks.

Since these ideas relate to the world beyond the school, students see their relevance and connect with it in an engaging and challenging way. Students who learn in this way begin to reflect on their roles and responsibilities as learners and become actively involved with their education. All students will come to realise that that a unit of inquiry involves them in in-depth exploration of an important idea, and that the teacher will collect evidence of how well they understand that idea. They will expect to be able to work in a variety of ways, on their own and in groups, to allow them to learn to their best advantage.