Pre-K - Grade 5

Primary Years Programme

GEMS World Academy – Dubai is an IB World School which delivers the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP). The PYP provides a holistic approach to curriculum design and places the child at the centre of the learning process. The PYP framework shows a series of concentric circles representing the essential elements within the PYP curriculum. These elements interconnect to meet the personal, social, emotional and physical needs of the whole child.

Rebecca Sykes

Primary Years Programme Coordinator

Meet The PYP Coordinator

Rebeca is especially looking forward to helping the school to introduce the new Enhanced PYP and the range of additional opportunities and experiences that this will provide to GWA students

Explore the PYP

  • Curriculum

    The Primary Years Programme (PYP) presents schools with a comprehensive plan for high quality, international education.

    It provides schools with a curriculum framework of essential elements — the knowledge, concepts, skills, learning dispositions, and action that young students need to equip them for successful lives, both now and in the future.

    Schools work with the five elements to construct a rigorous and challenging primary curriculum for international education.

    The PYP aims to create a curriculum that is engaging, relevant, challenging and significant for learners in the 3–12 age range. The curriculum is transdisciplinary, meaning that it focuses on issues that go across subject areas.

    The PYP is organized according to:

    • The written curriculum, which explains what PYP students will learn
    • The taught curriculum, which sets out how educators teach the PYP
    • The assessed curriculum, which details the principles and practice of effective assessment in the PYP







    Written Curriculum

    The International Baccalaureate® (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) balances the acquisition of significant and relevant knowledge and skills, the development of conceptual understanding, the formation of personal, positive attitudes and the capacity to take responsible actions.

    The PYP:

    • addresses students’ academic needs and their social and emotional well-being
    • encourages students to develop independence and to take responsibility for their own learning
    • supports students’ effort to gain understanding of the world and to function effectively within it
    • helps students to establish personal values as a foundation on which international-mindedness will flourish.

    The written curriculum, outlined below, is made up of five essential elements and details what students will learn.


    Essential elements in the PYP

    The five essential elements of the PYP are:

    • knowledge, which is both disciplinary, represented by traditional subject areas (language, maths, science, social studies, arts, PSPE) and transdisciplinary
    • concepts, which students explore through structured inquiry in order to develop coherent, in-depth understanding, and which have relevance both within and beyond subject areas
    • skills, which are the broad capabilities students develop and apply during learning and in life beyond the classroom
    • attitudes, which contribute to international-mindedness and the wellbeing of individuals and learning communities,  and connect directly to the IB learner profile
    • action, which is an expectation in the PYP that successful inquiry leads to responsible, thoughtful and appropriate action.



    Assessed Curriculum

    The unique approaches to teaching and learning in the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) can be explained through the taught, written and assessed curriculum.

    The assessed curriculum explains how teachers go about gathering and analysing information about student performance. The IB does not set examinations or moderate grades in the PYP.


    What are the purposes of assessment in the Primary Years Programme?

    The purposes of assessment are to:

    • promote student learning
    • provide information about student learning
    • contribute to the successful implementation of the programme.

    Through assessment, the IB helps schools teaching the Primary Years Programme (PYP) to identify what students know, understand, can do and value at different stages in the teaching and learning process.

    In the PYP, learning is viewed as a continuous journey, where teachers identify students’ needs and use assessment data to plan the next stage of their learning.

    Teachers use a wide range of assessment strategies to collect information on each of the elements represented in the written curriculum: the understanding of concepts, the acquisition of knowledge, the mastering of skills, the development of positive attitudes and the ability to take responsible action.


    The PYP Exhibition: encouraging in-depth, collaborative inquiry

    In the final year of the PYP, students, carry out an extended, in-depth, collaborative project known as the PYP exhibition.

    This involves students working collaboratively to conduct an in-depth inquiry into real life issues or problems.  Students collectively synthesise all of the essential elements of the PYP in ways that can be shared with the whole school community.

    It also provides teachers with a powerful and authentic process for assessing student understanding.

    The exhibition represents a unique and significant opportunity for students to exhibit the attributes of the IB learner profile developed throughout their engagement with the PYP.

    It also provides schools and students with a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the transition of learners to the next phase of their education.







    Taught Curriculum

    The taught curriculum is the part of the International Baccalaureate© (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) that sets out its pedagogical approach.

    It identifies how schools should teach the PYP written curriculum.

    The PYP is committed to structured, purposeful inquiry that engages students actively in their own learning. The programme supports students’ efforts to construct meaning from the world around them by:

    • drawing on their prior knowledge
    • providing provocation through new experiences
    • providing opportunities for reflection and consolidation.

    This approach respects students’ developing ideas about how the world works. It encourages them to question, consider and refine their understanding of the social and natural world.


    How do IB educators plan for learning in the PYP?

    Collaboration is a key part of planning for schools implementing the PYP. All teachers are engaged in the planning process, defining the curriculum’s central ideas, discussing how best to bring inquiry into those ideas in the classroom, and finding ways to meet the needs and interests of every student.

    Teachers must attend training in order to implement the PYP. The IB offers a wide range of professional development to support educators in gaining a deeper understanding of the programme. 


  • Subject Areas

    The six subject areas identified within the IB Primary Years Programme:

    • Language
    • Mathematics
    • Science
    • Social Studies
    • Arts
    • Personal , social and physical education
  • Transdisciplinary Learning

    Why do we use Transdisciplinary Learning?

    Transdisciplinary Learning is the integration of knowledge, skills, understandings and dispositions across subject areas and contexts. It allows students to make meaningful real-world connections that transcend traditional classroom or subject boundaries. It is the difference between memorizing isolated and distinct facts for short-term purposes versus using facts along with concepts to create transferable understandings across time, place and cultures.


    What are the six Transdisciplinary Themes?

    Who we are:

    An inquiry into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities, and cultures; rights and responsibilities; and what it means to be human.

    Where we are in place and time:

    An inquiry into orientation in place and time; personal histories; homes and journeys; the discoveries, explorations and migrations of humankind; and the relationships between and the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations, from local and global perspectives.

    How we express ourselves:

    An inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.

    How the world works:

    An inquiry into the natural world and its laws; the interaction between the natural world (physical and biological) and human societies; how humans use their understanding of scientific principles; and the impact of scientific and technological advances on society and on the environment.

    How we organize ourselves:

    An inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment.

    Sharing the planet:

    An inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things; communities and the relationships within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.



Resources and Downloads



  • What is the Primary Years Programme?

    The Primary Years Programme (PYP) is a curriculum framework for young learners aged 3–12 designed by the International Baccalaureate (IB). Founded on a philosophy that recognizes a child’s natural curiosity, creativity and ability to reflect, the PYP generates a stimulating, challenging learning environment to nurture those assets and foster a lifelong love of learning in every child. The PYP, like all IB programmes, is transdisciplinary, meaning students learn across subject areas while investigating big ideas.

  • Does the PYP have a specific set of standards?

    In the PYP, students learn about significant concepts through units of inquiry. The six transdisciplinary themes that guide units of inquiry and compose a year of study are:

    • 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.

    Units of inquiry interweave subject areas such as mathematics, language arts, science and social studies. This approach encourages students to make their own connections between what they learn in core subject areas and how it relates to the world around them. The school outlines its specific knowledge content and academic curriculum, guided by the following five essential elements:

    • The knowledge content is organized under the transdisciplinary themes. Each school decides which specific topics to study under each theme.
    • The learning skills aim to help students become independent, well-functioning, self-motivated learners.
    • The learning attitudes aim to develop a lifelong love of learning and nurture a child’s curiosity and confidence.
    • The action component emphasizes the need to connect the student with his or her own potential and responsibility for using what was learned.
    • The rigorous guidelines for classroom practices to match the educational philosophy and values of the IB are communicated through professional development and a school’s internal reflection process.
  • What are the advantages of an IB education?

    • IB World Schools (the only schools authorized to offer IB programmes) are subject to a strict accreditation process monitored by the IB, ensuring that schools provide a high-quality education.
    • IB teaching methods and curriculums are research- based and draw from the best educational practices from systems around the world.
    • IB teachers are required to participate in many professional development opportunities to continually promote their awareness of current educational practices and new thinking.
    • IB students develop a sense of the world around them and their responsibility to it. (See “What is an IB Education?”)
    • IB programmes are recognized internationally and ease the educational transitions of mobile students so that their education is not adversely affected if their families relocate.
  • Do IB teachers receive special training?

    All PYP teachers receive professional development in IB’s approaches to teaching and approaches to learning from certified IB workshop leaders. This is a requirement for IB World Schools implementing the PYP.

  • Are IB programmes considered “gifted” programmes?

    The PYP is implemented schoolwide and adapted by teachers to meet the learning needs of all students. In most cases, the Middle Years Programme (MYP) is also a schoolwide program. All PYP teachers are required to participate in collaborative planning and reflection to make their teaching practices consistent and to foster a holistic approach to education. A growing body of evidenc suggests a positive relationship between teacher collaboration and student achievement.

  • Does implementing an IB programme mean my child’s school will not teach local or national standards such as the Common Core?

    The IB is committed to making sure that students in IB programmes meet and exceed local or national standards. With the implementation of any IB programme, schools are required to examine their curriculum carefully to ensure that there is alignment with local, state or national standards. More information on the IB and the Common Core is available at

  • Have studies been done on the impact of the PYP?

    The IB places great value on external validation of its programmes, curriculums and professional development. A recent Global International Schools’ Assessment study found that PYP students outperformed non-IB students in mathematics, reading and writing. Additional studies on programme impact, quality assurance, programme development and assessment research are available at
  • When do students start and finish the PYP? When do they transition to the MYP?

    The PYP is designed for students aged 3–12 (preschool and primary grades). The MYP spans students aged 11–16, and the Diploma Programme (DP) and Career-related Programme (CP) is for the last two years of high school, students aged 16–19.

  • How can I learn more about the IB and PYP?

    • Visit the IB website at
    • Attend school meetings and events
    • Speak with your school’s PYP coordinator
    • Speak with your child’s PYP classroom teacher.


How the PYP Helps Students

The PYP is able to develop the students to posses the qualifications below. Click here to learn more.

More To Explore

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