Primary Years Programme

IBPYP At Western International School of Shanghai

The Primary Years Programme is designed for students aged 3 to 12. It provides a curriculum framework that encourages students to develop international mindedness through a transdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning.

What is the IBPYP?

The intention of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) is to support students’ efforts to construct meaning from the world around them by drawing on their prior knowledge, by providing provocation through new experiences, and by providing time and opportunity for reflection and consolidation.

This constructivist approach respects the students’ developing ideas and understandings of the social and natural world; it continually stimulates students’ revision and refinement of their models of how the world works. It implies a pedagogy that is significantly, but not necessarily completely, dependent on students’ inquiry, where planning incorporates a range of experiences that acknowledges the diversity of students’ prior knowledge.

How the PYP Works

The International Baccalaureate® (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) is underpinned by six transdisciplinary themes around which learning is planned.

Who We Are
Where We Are in Place and Time
How We Express Ourselves
How the World Works
How We Organize Ourselves
Sharing the Planet

These themes are selected for their relevance to the real world. They are described as transdisciplinary because they focus on issues that cross subject areas.

Students develop knowledge through six transdisciplinary themes that aim to promote international mindedness.



Each transdisciplinary theme studied:

  • has global significance – for all students in all cultures
  • offers students the opportunity to explore the commonalities of human experience
  • is supported by knowledge, concepts, and skills from the traditional subjects (language; mathematics; social studies; science; personal, social and physical education; and the arts)
  • will be revisited throughout the students’ years of schooling, so that the end result is immersion in broad-ranging, in-depth, articulated curriculum content
  • contributes to the common ground that unifies the curriculums in all PYP schools
Read Primary Years Programme Guide Book

Benefits of IBPYP

The IBPYP focuses on students’ social, physical, emotional, and cultural needs while also focusing on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, which prepares students for further education and careers.

IBPYP creates lifelong learners and highlights approaches to learning through thinking skills, research skills, communication skills, social skills, and self-management skills. These skills develop learners that are able to make a difference in their own lives, communities, and the wider world.

Highlights of IBPYP at Western International School of Shanghai

At WISS, students are the center of learning. Built upon the IB framework, the WISS educational program encompasses the particular interests and needs of our unique student body.

Student-centered and based on deepening conceptual understandings that will transfer across subjects and beyond the classroom, WISS PYP employs a co-teaching model, with two full-time teachers in each classroom. This allows for a very low student-to-teacher ratio and supports our students in their inquiries. Here at WISS, our teachers are role-models of the Learner Profile, facilitators, guides, mentors, and coaches. Deepening student understanding and moving student learning forward by helping students to construct their own meaning is at the heart of our mission.

Parents are also an important part of our vibrant Learning Community at WISS. Parent involvement is encouraged and is evident through “Come Learn With Us” sessions in the Early Years and informational Coffee Mornings and Parent Workshops in Primary. Including parents in understanding how their children are learning, and how they can best support them in their inquiries, gives parents an opportunity to become involved in the PYP learning process and to make meaningful connections between school and home.

Teachers are also part of our Learning Community and engage in ongoing Professional Development to strengthen their teaching practice, and share resources to help all to be more successful. At WISS, teachers model the learning dispositions and skills that we are developing in our students.

WISS celebrates a particularly strong Community of Learners made up of students, parents, and teachers in the PYP. Promoting international mindedness, leadership, and collaboration, WISS has been recognized by the IBO for our unique and warm community spirit!

Facilities and indoor/outdoor spaces are flexible, promote creativity, discovery, and inquiry. Students also play a role in helping to co-construct learning environments, as well as participate in establishing essential agreements for conduct. WISS believes strongly in students having voice, choice, and ownership of their learning and this includes being involved in designing, organizing and evaluating our learning spaces.

Throughout the PYP, students are developing agency and are encouraged and supported to take action that is meaningful to them personally, and to their learning. From helping to organize a flexible snack time and having choice in their play centers in Early Years, to participating in Student Ambassadors and Action Cubs in Primary, students are actively engaged in meaningful, relevant, real-life problem-solving.

Preparing WISS PYP students for 21st-century skills they will need whilst developing principled, caring, reflective, open-minded, balanced, knowledgeable, thinkers and communicators who are able to inquire into their passions and interests is what drives the PYP at WISS.