Founded in 1997 and adopted by Concordian International School in 2001, the Primary Years Programme (PYP) is a student-centered approach to learning for children aged 3 -12 and has evolved to become a leading programme in future-focused education.

It uses best educational practices in response to the challenges and opportunities young students face in our rapidly changing world.

The PYP transdisciplinary framework provides students a curriculum that allows them to appreciate knowledge, conceptual understanding, skills and personal attributes as a connected whole.

Students reflect on the significance of learning and take meaningful action in their community and beyond, becoming competent lifelong learners.

Below is a figure showing the six PYP Transdisciplinary Themes and their descriptors.

The transdisciplinary model extends across all three pillars of the PYP curriculum framework—the learner, learning and teaching, and the learning community.

The learner: describes the outcomes for individual students and the outcomes they seek for themselves (What is learning?)

Our understanding of the learner is the foundation of our approach to learning and teaching. Children inquire, question, wonder and theorize about themselves, others and the world around them. They are keen observers and explorers. Through their experiences and interactions, they naturally develop intricate, multi-layered perceptions and understandings. Throughout the PYP, a student is an agent for their own and others’ learning through the concept of learner agency. Learner agency is connected to a student’s belief in their ability to succeed (self-efficacy).

When learning communities recognize children’s emergent identities and competencies, they create an educational context that values children for who they are in the present and who they will become in the future. PYP learners are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning and learning goals, building from their prior learning and experiences.

This understanding of how students learn is foundational to the inquiry-based and concept-driven model of learning and teaching. As a result, PYP students demonstrate knowledge, skills, understanding and dispositions to respond to new and unexpected challenges and opportunities, and to take action for a positive impact to the world

Learning and teaching: articulates the distinctive features of learning and teaching (How best to support learners?)

Through acknowledging and aiming to foster the diverse capacities of students including physical, social, intellectual, aesthetic, and cultural, the PYP ensures that learning is engaging, relevant, challenging and significant in a transdisciplinary program.

Learning and teaching focuses on concept driven inquiries. A conceptual inquiry approach is a powerful vehicle for learning that values concepts and promotes meaning and understanding. It challenges students to engage critically and creatively with significant ideas beyond the surface level of knowing. PYP teachers use 7 key concepts as well as related concepts as a lens to organize learning within units of inquiry and subject-specific learning.

Learning and teaching also seeks to develop the IB approaches to learning skills (ATL). These skills are grounded in the belief that learning how to learn is fundamental to a student’s life both in and out of a school context. In broad terms, IB programmes support learners in developing:

  • Thinking skills
  • Communication skills
  • Research skills
  • Self-management skills
  • Social skills

The approaches to learning and associated sub-skills support students of all ages in being responsible and self-regulated learners. Through a variety of strategies, PYP teachers collaboratively plan for implicit and explicit opportunities to develop ATL skills through unit of inquiries and all subject areas.

In the PYP early years (3-6 years old), our young learners cultivate their curiosity, creativity and imagination through active play-based inquiry, allowing them to authentically develop language and math skills, thinking skills, problem solving skills, social skills, research skills and fine motor skills. During structured play-based learning, teachers closely observe, monitor and document students’ understanding and development of different skills to provide them with timely feedback in relation to next steps in learning. As students become older, play-based learning evolves, becoming more complex and deeper in learning as they begin to co-construct their play.

The learning community: emphasizes the importance of the social outcomes of learning and the role that IB communities play in achieving these outcomes (Who facilitates learning and teaching?)

The IB learning community views the world as the broadest context for learning, where everyone involved in the life of the school is recognized: students and their families, all school staff members, other important adults in the students’ lives and the community at large.

Learning communities build shared understandings and agreements for the highest quality learning and teaching, as well as for the well-being of their members. In PYP schools, these shared understandings and agreements place students at the heart of learning.

PYP schools support children to:

  • develop knowledge, conceptual understandings and approaches to learning
  • become internationally-minded individuals
  • develop the attributes of the IB learner profile


Agency and self-efficacy are fundamental to learning in the PYP. Throughout the programme, the learner is an agent for their own learning. They direct their learning with a strong sense of identity and self-belief, and build a sense of community and awareness for the opinions, values and needs of others.

Action is the core of student agency. Through taking self-initiated meaningful action of learning, no matter if it is individual or collective, students come to understand the purpose of making a positive impact, as well as the responsibilities of being an internationally-minded global citizen.

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