An independent co-ed IB school (JK to Grade 12) in North Vancouver, Canada
Programme of Inquiry
The Primary Years Programme is an international, transdisciplinary program designed to foster the development of the whole child, not just in the classroom but through other means of learning. It focuses on the total growth of the developing child while, encompassing social, physical, emotional and cultural needs in addition to academic welfare. The PYP provides an opportunity for learners to construct meaning, principally through concept-driven inquiry. Traditional academic subjects are part of the PYP but it emphasizes the interrelatedness of knowledge and skills through a trans disciplinary programme of inquiry.  
The Programme of Inquiry lists six units of inquiry for each grade level. Grades 1-5 will interact with all six themes each and every year, while Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten will experience four or more of these themes each year. All units are transdisciplinary and are characterized by their global significance. There is an emphasis on ’big ideas,’ or ideas that transcend time and place, and on inquiry questions posed by the teachers and students, along with students' interests and wonderings.
Some key aspects of the PYP, include: 
  1. knowledge (transdisciplinary themes)​,
  2. conceptual understanding (key concepts)​, 
  3. approaches to learning (ATL) skills,
  4. approaches to learning,
  5. taking responsible action,
  6. students being agents in their learning (we provide opportunities for voice, choice, and ownership)


The organizing transdisciplinary themes involved in building knowledge include the following:

  • Who we are: An exploration of the nature of the self; of our beliefs and values; of personal health: physical, mental, social, spiritual; of our families, friends, communities and cultures; of our rights and responsibilities; of what it means to be human.
  • Where we are in place and time: An exploration of our orientation in place and time; of our personal histories and geographies; of history and geography from local and global perspectives; of our homes and journeys- actual and spiritual; of the greater journeys of humankind- the discoveries, explorations and migrations; of human achievements and the contributions of individuals and civilizations; of the descent and ascent of humankind; of the state of the race. 
  • How we express ourselves: An exploration of the ways in which we discover and express our nature, ideas, feelings, beliefs and values through language and the arts.
  • How the world works: An exploration of the physical and material world; of natural and human-made phenomena; of the world of science and technology.
  • How we organize ourselves: An exploration of human systems and communities; of the world of work, its nature and its value; of employment and unemployment and their impact, both personal and global. 
  • Sharing the planet: An exploration of our rights and responsibilities as we strive to share finite resources with other people, with other species; of individuals and communities, human and animal; of the relationships within and among them.


The Key Concepts provide a framework to guide students’ questions and wonderings. Along with the concepts come an overarching question to provoke inquiry. Every unit of inquiry is filled with questions in each of these categories and it is these questions that drive the instruction.

  • FormWhat is it like?
    • The understanding that everything has a form with recognizable features that can be observed, identified, described and categorized.
  • FunctionHow does it work?
    • The understanding that everything has a purpose, a role or a way of behaving that can be investigated.
  • CausationWhy is it like it is?
    • The understanding that things do not just happen, that there are causal relationships at work, and that actions have consequences.
  • ChangeHow is it changing?
    • The understanding that change is the process of movement from one state to another. It is universal and inevitable.
  • ConnectionHow is it connected to other things?
    • The understanding that we live in a world of interacting systems in which the actions of any individual element affect others.
  • Perspective What are the points of view?
    • The understanding that knowledge is moderated by perspectives; different perspectives lead to different interpretations, understandings and findings; perspectives may be individual, group, cultural or disciplinary. Perspectives may be individual, group, cultural or disciplinary.
  • Responsibility What is our responsibility?
    • The understanding that people make choices based on their understandings and the actions they take as a result do make a difference.


Approaches To Learning (ATL)

Within learning throughout the programme, students acquire and apply a set of approaches to learning: social skills, communication skills, thinking skills, research skills and self-management skills. These interrelated skills are valuable, not only in the units of inquiry, but also for any teaching and learning that goes on within the classroom, and in life outside the school. These skills are fundamental to learning and are practiced each and every day at Brockton. They support students in their journey as self-regulated learners who take ownership of their learning.

Approaches to learning include the following:

Thinking skills

  • Critical-thinking skills (analysing and evaluating issues and ideas)
  • Creative-thinking skills (generating novel ideas and considering new perspectives)
  • Transfer skills (using skills and knowledge in multiple contexts)
  • Reflection/metacognitive skills ((re)considering the process of learning)

Social skills

  • Developing positive interpersonal relationships and collaboration skills (using self-control, managing setbacks, supporting peers)
  • Developing social-emotional intelligence

Communication skills

  • ​Exchanging-information skills (listening, interpreting, speaking)
  • Literacy skills (reading, writing and using language to gather and communicate information)
  • ICT skills (using technology to gather, investigate and communicate information)

Self-management skills

  • ​Organization skills (managing time and tasks effectively)
  • States of mind (mindfulness, perseverance, emotional management, self-motivation, resilience

Research skills

  • ​Information-literacy skills (formulating and planning, data gathering and recording, synthesizing and interpreting, evaluating and communicating)
  • Media-literacy skills (interacting with media to use and create ideas and information)
  • Ethical use of media/information (understanding and applying social and ethical technology)


The action component of the PYP can involve service in the widest sense of the word: service to fellow students and to the larger community, both in and outside the school. Through such service, students are able to grow both personally and socially, developing skills such as cooperation, problem solving, conflict resolution, and creative and critical thinking. 

These actions are ways in which the students exhibit their commitment to the attributes of the learner profile and to the attitudes that we seek to engender within the PYP classroom. In fact, the actions that the students choose to take as a result of their learning may be considered the most significant summative assessment of the efficacy of the programme.

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