International schools across South East Asia are offering a special International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) for student athletes. IB World Schools in Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand are among 22 international schools to offer a unique three-year IBDP programme that gives students the opportunity to focus on sport alongside their studies. The standard IBDP is two years' long.
Schools including the Singapore Sports School, English Schools Foundation (ESF) secondary schools in Hong Kong, British International School, Phuket (BISP) and UWC Thailand have just completed a three-year pilot project. They are now accredited by the World Academy of Sport (WAoS) as Athlete Friendly Education Centres (AFECs), which allows students to extend their studies in order to balance sports training and school commitments.
Adrian Kearney, Director of IB World Schools, says: “The IB has recognised the importance of supporting our schools to increase access to the DP for those students who are strongly committed to sporting endeavours.”
Singapore Sports School, which is a specialist independent school, offers the extended IB programme to its student athletes. The majority of students here are Singaporean, but places are available for international students.
In Hong Kong, ESF’s King George V School, Renaissance College and Sha Tin College all took part in the initial pilot; now all ESF secondary schools are AFEC-accredited and run the three-year Diploma Programme in partnership with the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI).
There’s an average of one to two students taking the three-year IBDP in all ESF schools, with the exception of Discovery College. Typically, student athletes train with the HKSI.
One of the first graduates of the pilot ESF-HKSI IBDP was Renaissance College student and gymnast Elizabeth Chan. The 19-year-old passed her IB Diploma after extending her studies to three-years, while dedicating time to her professional gymnastics career which included representing Hong Kong in the Asian Games. At Sha Tin College, fencer Kaylin Hsieh, who won silver at this year’s Youth Olympic Games, is also enrolled on the three-year diploma programme.
“The IB Diploma Programme is a very demanding educational programme and the training regimes and competition commitments of professional athletes are also very demanding. Therefore, it is not possible for a student to do both to the best of their ability. However, completing the DP over three years allows the student the time to reach their potential in their chosen sport and in their academic studies.”
To become AFEC accredited, schools must demonstrate that they understand the requirements of high-performing student-athletes, and promote athlete-friendly flexible policies and procedures throughout the school community.