IB Culture - Key Policies

Why are policies so important?

The answer is that they establish the culture of an IB World School.

‘Culture’ is one of the four overarching categories in the revised IB Programme Standards and Practices (2020). These four categories fit into a framework, which places “learning” at the centre and is encircled by IB philosophy and the school’s unique context.

Within this context an IB school should foster a dynamic school culture centred on holistic, inclusive learning communities. “School culture refers to the written and unwritten rules that define how a school functions. It also encompasses personal and collective well-being, the effective utilization of physical and human resources, and the extent to which a school acknowledges and celebrates diversity.” (Programme Standards and Practices 2020). The IB Standard is “Schools develop, implement, communicate and review effective policies that help to create a school culture in which IB philosophy can thrive.”

IB Standards and Practices relating to the Diploma Programme refer to five IB mandated policies. They are: Admissions Policy, Language Policy, Inclusion Policy, Assessment Policy and Academic Honesty Policy. These policies are important to both the authorization and five year evaluation processes since they are central to the implementation of the Diploma Programme.

It is important that these policies are owned by all key stakeholders. Good practice suggests that all stakeholders should have a role in designing and reviewing the policies. This section of the website will provide you with the collaborative tools to engage stakeholders, and the pages that look at the individual policies will provide you with questions and tools to write and review them.


  • Read: With a partner carry out a focused reading of the IB guidance on a specific policy. Read the document line by line and after each statement consider how you can apply the guidance by completing the following sentence ..."If the IB says this then I need to ...." This approach will help you analyze what the IB means using a micro lens by going through the document sentence by sentence. Pulling the guidance apart allows colleagues to come to grips with what the IB requires.
  • Reflect: How do I lead the implementation of these policies? What evidence do I look for that they are being implemented with fidelity?

Quick Tips

  • Establish a policy steering committee which includes a cross-representation of stakeholders (students, teachers, administrators, librarian, parents, IB programme coordinators etc.). This will ensure that the process of writing a policy is collaborative and has ‘buy in’ from all key groups of people whom the policy will impact. The steering committee will oversee the process of producing the policy and will act as key lines of communication to their constituent groups.
  • Collate views of the community through informal discussions, questionnaires, interviews, facilitated workshops. Audit current practice.
  • Draft the policy and then share with all stakeholders for review and comment. A facilitated workshop using tools and protocols suggested below will provide opportunities to receive feedback.
  • Use comments to draft final version of policy to go to the Governing Body for ratification. Identify key issues in the discussion which led to the policy being drawn up. This will allow Governors to understand the culture of learning.
  • Communicate the policy to all stakeholders. Use workshops where appropriate.
  • Establish a review process: the timing and responsibilities that are associated with a review process should be articulated in the policy. Ensure that you link a policy to other related practices and policies.

Tools for creating and reviewing policies

The following tools could be used for creating and reviewing policies:

  • A paragraph, sentence, phrase, word : encourages staff to carry out a focused read of current policies (and IB documents that inform policies).
  • Compass points : encourages staff to review polices by asking them to note what they find exciting or worrisome about the policy and to identify what else they need to know and do.
  • Diamond 9 : to prioritize key elements of a policy.
  • Elevator Pitch : to go to the heart of a policy and sum it up in a pithy marketing manner.
  • Heart of the Matter : a prioritization tool when constructing the key elements of a policy.
  • Headlines : to check understanding by asking staff to think of the big ideas and important themes within the policy and then to write a headline summarizing them.
  • Six word memoir : similar to Headlines.
  • Visual Metaphor : to check deep understanding of key concepts within a policy.
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