Introducing the PYP

(Primary Years Programme)

For the PYP, in particular, there are lots of folks providing wonderful (and free) resources. Whenever you want to dig deeper or get another perspective, feel free to check out this linked page with PYP practitioners and other teaching leaders contributing to the PYP teaching and learning community.

A great way to start learning about the PYP is to hear from a veteran PYP teacher and coordinator.

In this episode of our MNIB Podcast "IB Matters" we hear from Kirsten McPherson a former MNIB Vice President talk about her experience with the Programme.

In your reflection document, record your impressions. What does Kirsten value about the PYP?

What would you like to learn more about?

In the reflection document: What makes you excited about a programme that helps students take responsibility for their own learning? What challenges do you anticipate?

What is the PYP?

The IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) for children aged 3 - 12 nurtures and develops young students as caring, active participants in a lifelong journey of learning.

What does the PYP offer students?

Through its inquiry-led, transdisciplinary framework, the PYP challenges students to think for themselves and take responsibility for their learning as they explore local and global issues and opportunities in real-life contexts. In the PYP, students learn how to think for themselves and take responsibility for their own learning through an inquiry-led approach.

By developing the attributes of the IB learner profile, students also learn how to demonstrate respect for themselves and others, developing international-mindedness by working with others for a shared purpose and taking positive action for change.

From the IB public website:

The IB Primary Years Programme

• addresses students’ academic, social and emotional well-being

• encourages students to develop independence and to take responsibility for their own learning

• supports students’ efforts to gain understanding of the world and to function comfortably within it

• helps students establish personal values as a foundation upon which international-mindedness will develop and flourish.

In the reflection document: Are you beginning to see how the IB Mission is integral to the PYP teaching and learning philosophy? How is the Mission linked to the teaching in what you have read, listened to, or watched so far?


The PYP programme model, updated in 2018 with the release of the enhanced PYP, visually presents the Primary Years Programme and all its major elements:

The IB learner profile & international-mindedness

Approaches to teaching

Approaches to learning

Learner agency



Transdisciplinary learning

The Enhanced PYP

In 2018, the "Enhanced PYP" and accompanying digital resource, "PYP: From principles into practice" was released, revealing a new organizational structure to the international programme. Centered on learner agency (voice, choice & ownership), the enhanced PYP is organized by three major areas:

The learner

Learning and teaching

The learning community

The graphic above does not replace the programme model displayed at left, but rather complements it.

In your reflection document: Why might it be important to emphasise the aspects of learner agency: voice, choice, and ownership? How do you think these will affect your relationships with students and how they learn?

What are the key elements of the transdisciplinary model?

Key elements are:


conceptual understandings




The transdisciplinary elements of the PYP" (shown left) illustrates the way in which the multiple elements of the PYP bring to life transdisciplinary learning and teaching.

From PYP: From principles into practice > Learning and teaching > Transdisciplinary learning

In your reflection document: Transdisciplinary teaching and learning is both central to the PYP and a complex concept for teachers new to the programme.

Begin your learning journey by opening the Transdisciplinary learning document, reading the first few pages, and writing a paragraph describing what you think so far about this topic. As you share with your PYP coordinator, ask questions. We're sure you will find some great ways to get started with transdisciplinary teaching.

The PYP Subject groups slide

The Subjects

What role do subjects play in a transdisciplinary framework?

"Through the integrated subjects, students come to appreciate that there is a body of subject-specific knowledge, conceptual understandings and skills that can be drawn upon in order to engage with global challenges and opportunities."

From PYP: From principles into practice > Learning and teaching > A transdisciplinary programme of inquiry

More detailed information about PYP subjects in the slides above.

The PYP Agency & Action slides

Agency & Action

How is action connected to agency?

"Action, the core of student agency, is integral to the Primary Years Programme (PYP) learning process and to the programme’s overarching outcome of international-mindedness. Through taking individual and collective action, students come to understand the responsibilities associated with being internationally minded and to appreciate the benefits of working with others for a shared purpose (Oxfam 2015)."

From PYP: From principles into practice > Learning and teaching > Action

Find more detailed information about learner agency & action in the PYP in the slides above.

The Exhibition

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 synthesize all of the essential elements of the PYP in ways that can be shared with the whole school community."

From the IB public website:

The photo above is linked to the #PYPX2020 website which gave PYP schools a venue to show off student exhibitions in a season of little or no student contact in the COVID-19 pandemic. Check it out!

In your reflection document:

Why do you think it's important to still recognize discrete subjects in a transdisciplinary teaching environment?

What is the value in having young learners take action as a result of their learning?

As a culminating activity, coming at the very end of the PYP experience, how does the Exhibition demonstrate various aspects of what students have learned?

What are the key concepts in the PYP?

*The PYP identifies seven key concepts that facilitate planning for a conceptual approach to transdisciplinary and subject-specific learning. Together, these key concepts form the component that drives the teacher- and/or student-constructed inquiries that lie at the heart of the PYP curriculum.

Key concepts drive learning experiences and help to frame a unit of inquiry. By identifying and investigating key concepts, students learn to think critically about big ideas. This may be done through broad, open-ended questions in an inquiry. When concepts are viewed as a set of questions, the inquiry is directed, purposeful and manageable.

The questions associated with the key concepts in the figure above are a starting point. They represent an introduction to a way of thinking about learning and teaching. While the seven concepts in the figure have been identified in the curriculum framework, they are not the only concepts worth exploring, and schools are encouraged to add to this list.

*From PYP: From principles into practice > Learning and teaching > Concepts

In your reflection document: Using the diagram of key concepts, describe an example of a topic you might teach (such as the planets) and pick out some concepts that could be used to begin teaching it. How would you use the concepts?

PYP in the early years

If you are working in a pre-school setting, watch this brief video about the PYP with 3-5 year-olds.

Or, if you are really interested in how the PYP Early Years might serve your students, listen to this recent episode of our IB Matters podcast.

In your relection journal: From the video - What role could your school environment, either inside or outside, play as provocation for inquiry?

Be sure to share your completed reflection journal with your PYP Coordinator. They can support you by answering questions, providing more resources or directing you to training opportunities.

Thank you for taking the time to engage in this self-guided quick tour of the PYP. Like everything in the IB, context is key. You now have the context to learn more and to better understand what you need to know.

Please bookmark this website as we post updates about training and links to other resources you may find helpful.

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