Primary School

IPC – International Primary Curriculum



The IPC Early Years Programme is primarily designed for children between the ages of 4 and 5 though it is also used by some schools for 2-3 year olds. The IPC Early Years Programme was written by practising early years specialists and provides the same mix of practical, rigorous support for teachers and exciting, appropriate for children from 2 to 12 year olds. The curriculum programme is based on the IPC – International Primary Curriculum which identifies the skills, knowledge and attitudes children should acquire.

“The International Primary Curriculum is a comprehensive, thematic, creative curriculum with a clear process of learning and with specific learning goals for every subject, for international mindedness and for personal learning.”

IPC Organisation

The IPC is driven by three guiding questions:

  1. What kind of world will our children live and work in?
  2. What kinds of children are likely to succeed in the world?
  3. What kinds of learning will our children need and how should they learn it?

These questions are addressed by ensuring that the thematic units:

  • inspire great learning and teaching
  • are great fun
  • involve rigorous learning
  • provide flexibility for teachers to decide what the children should learn
  • ignite creativity
  • contribute towards a great learning community

The organisation of the curriculum throughout Early Years and Mileposts 1, 2 and 3 Sections is split into six themes or ‘learning units’ per year – three per term. All subject areas are planned to link wherever possible. Children’s skills and knowledge progressively build each year.

This table shows a comparison of The British School year groups with the British, American and Brazilian systems.

Early Years and Mileposts 1, 2 & 3 Organisation

Children aged 2 to 7 are comprised in five year groups: Pre-Nursery, Nursery and Reception (equivalent to UK Early Years and Brazilian Maternal I, Maternal II and Pré-I), and Infants 1 and 2 (equivalent to UK Years 1 and 2/Milepost 1 and Brazilian Pré-II and1o. ano). Class sizes range from 12 in the Pre-Nursery to 17 in Nursery and up to 24 in the Infants. Each class is led by a qualified teacher and supported by a qualified teaching assistant.

Children aged 8 to 11 are comprised in four year groups: Classes 1 to 4 (equivalent to UK Years 3 to 6 and Brazilian 2o. Ano to 5o. Ano). Class sizes range from 20 to 24. Each class is led by a qualified teacher and each year group is supported by a qualified teaching assistant.

Early Years: Pre-Nursery, Nursery and Reception

In the Early Years children are introduced to the basic skills, concepts and attitudes that form the foundation for a successful and meaningful education. Activities are designed for children to develop their gross and fine motor coordination, intellectual thinking, questioning and understanding, as well as social skills and self-discipline.

In a specially prepared environment, and with specific direction, the child is encouraged to develop a sense of order, organisation, independence, self-confidence, responsibility and respect. Opportunities for repetition, reinforcement and enrichment are offered to meet the needs and pace at which each child learns while also catering for individual levels of attainment.

We have a dedicated Early Years team which ensures that each child makes a smooth transition from home to school by linking school experiences with those of home. We believe that it is vital for children to feel secure within the school setting and we are committed to maintaining a warm and friendly environment. We provide a range of activities which take into account your child’s developing physical, intellectual, emotional and social abilities and aims to give motivating and pleasurable learning opportunities that develop a sense of achievement.

The staff at The British School promotes an open door policy, welcoming parents to take an active part in school life. Parents should feel confident that they can come into school with any enquiry.

Milepost 1: Infant 1 and Infant 2

During these two years children continue to develop their language, reading, writing and Mathematics skills in English and Portuguese simultaneously.

Students continue to develop the attitudes, concepts and Milepost 1: Infant 1 and Infant 2 areas of study introduced in the Early Years, while further developing the balance of skills necessary for reading and writing.

Exposure to written language through story books, work books, spelling lists, games and classroom displays help and encourage the child to develop and correct his/her written language.

The curriculum is planned so that all subject areas are linked where possible.

Milepost 2 & 3: Classes 1 to 4

All classes are mixed ability and the environment is structured and prepared to promote and develop positive attitudes and practical skills as well as the understanding of concepts and the application of knowledge. Pupils in Classes 1 to 4 are taught mainly by a class teacher, with subject specialists teaching Music, Drama, PE, ICT and Portuguese lessons.

Classes 1 to 4 are the equivalent of Years 3 to 6 of the National Curriculum for England and the first four years of the Brazilian Ensino Fundamental (Table of Year Group Comparison). While the programme at this stage has been created to differentiate learning and meet the individual needs of the child, there is a basic standard or attainment required to enter at this level or to pass from one class to the next.The subject areas developed in the Primary School are: English, Portuguese, Mathematics, Science, Art and Technology, Information and Communication Technology, Social Studies (History and Geography), Music, Drama and Physical Education. In Classes 1 to 4 pupils study using a cross-curricular approach, which is developed through a central idea or theme, called a Unit of Work. Each class studies six Units of Work during an academic year.The curriculum content in all subject areas is motivating and challenging. High standards are expected and maintained. The pupils are exposed to the skills, concepts and attitudes which prepare them intellectually, physically, socially and morally for life in the Secondary School.

IPC Learning Goals

“The Learning Goals are the foundation on which the International Primary Curriculum is built.”

The Learning Goals from the IPC outline what we would like the children to know, what they might be able to do and what they will understand. The Learning Goals are written to guide teaching and learning and help to focus assessment and evaluation.

The Subject Goals

Each subject has its own goals that cover the knowledge (the facts and information), the skills (those practical abilities children need) and the understandings (the deeper awareness of key concepts which develops over time). There are subject Learning Goals for Science, Information Technology, Design Technology, History, Geography, Music, Physical Education, Art and Society.

The Personal Goals

The IPC produced a list of eight attributes or qualities that they believe children should develop, but schools are able to decide if they wish to adopt their Personal Goals or develop their own. At The British School we already have the `Pupil Profile` aspects, which can be found in the pupil agenda, that are the qualities that we feel our children need to develop in order to cope with the continually changing world. The Pupil Profile for the primary section is currently being revised and could change in the near future, but at the moment they are;

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The International Goals

The International Primary Curriculum provides learning goals that help the children prepare for an increasingly sophisticated national and international perspective.

Knowledge, Skills and Understanding

The IPC carefully developed all of the learning goals to promote a balance of the development of knowledge, skills and understanding to ensure the most effective learning experience. The learning tasks within each IPC unit guide teachers through the process of helping children develop these goals.

Units of Work

The IPC has over 90 different thematic units of learning, which are child-friendly, contemporary topics that appeal to all ages of primary children. The themes include Treasure, Hooray! Let’s go on holiday, Chocolate and Fairgrounds.

The themes help motivate children to learn about science, geography, history and so on, encouraging them to make purposeful links and connections throughout their learning and to the world they live in. Linking subjects means that children make more connections with their learning that can help to understand and apply the concepts taught; the more connections the brain makes, the better a child learns.

Within each theme, the IPC provides many suggestions for collaborative and active learning, inside and outside the classroom, for role play, and for children to learn from each other.

Each IPC unit incorporates a range of subjects including science, history, geography, ICT, art and PE and there are many opportunities to make significant links to English and mathematics.

Mathematics, English and Portuguese

Mathematics, English and Portuguese are not covered by IPC. Of course we will continue to teach all through subjects but as separate subjects, following our current curriculum but by making as many meaningful links as we can to our new thematic IPC units.

The language emphasis is on speaking and listening. Vocabulary, day-to-day phrases, parts of speech and correct sentence structures are acquired and developed through a practical and active approach. Songs, stories, poems, action rhymes and jingles, as well as practical classroom equipment, are the basic materials used to develop and enrich language.

When the children complete the Early Years and enter Milepost 1, they are expected to use only English in the classroom except during Portuguese lessons. They will have acquired language skills in both Portuguese and English. By the time children are seven years old and ready to go into the Upper Primary School (Mileposts 2 & 3) they can speak, read and write in both English and Portuguese.

Transition to Secondary-Senior School

The structure of Secondary School education is based on subject-specialist teaching rather than the class teacher system used in Primary schools. The transition from one to the other may cause difficulties for some children. In order to make this change a more gradual process, the curriculum and daily life of Classes 4 and 5 is designed to increase progressively the amount of subject specialist teaching.

Class 4 pupils are taught mainly by their Class Teacher but also by a limited number of Subject Teachers. The children move to specially equipped rooms for some of their subjects. When the pupils move on to Class 5 they have a larger number of specialist teachers. The Class 5 curriculum is specifically designed to articulate both with that of the Class 4 and with that of Class 6, who have the full range of Secondary specialist teachers. Class 5 students’ pastoral needs are catered for by Class Tutors, who also teach their class for one or two subjects.