International Baccalaureate - UK & Global Private Schools

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How to Choose a European IB School

There are approximately 400 private IB schools in our definition of Europe – which is not the 28 countries of the EU but 33 major countries from the Atlantic to Asia, thereby including non EU countries such as Switzerland, Turkey and Cyprus. For the purposes of this section we have excluded the UK, which is covered in a separate section. Also excluded are small territories with no IB schools such as Lithuania.

The International Baccalaureate should not be confused with the European Baccalaureate or the French Baccalaureate, which are separate qualifications. The IB is a global curriculum which is transferrable around the world, allowing students to move freely between IBO World schools and also apply to global universities with a consistent qualification.

The vast majority of European IB schools teach in English and indeed we have only listed those teaching in English. If you want an IB school teaching in a native language other than English, best refer to the IBO’s own website, but in many countries you won’t find one. Most European IB schools are actually targeting the children of international expatriate workers or those local nationality parents who aim for their children to go to English speaking Universities.


Whereas in the UK most IB schools concentrate on only the Diploma Programme, the majority of Continental European IB schools take children from 3 to 18 and will also teach the MYP and PYP. A few of the schools opt to teach the IGCSE from 14 to 16. Some schools have alternative but simultaneous curriculums from 16 onwards such as the German Abitur or the Swiss Matura or the American AP Program as well as the IBDP.

Most of the European IB schools are less selective than UK IB schools. You are more likely to have to produce previous school reports than submit to rigorous admissions tests.


If you are searching for a day school, the first consideration is whether there is one near to your home and / or place of employment. The number of IB schools in a country is not necessarily proportionate to its size thus it is quite possible there may not be any IB schools within easy commuting distance and you might have to consider boarding instead.

Another major issue for 16+ aged students is “does the school offer the subjects you want?” Then, there is the question of academic success. Because IB schools in Europe tend to be more flexible on admissions the final scores for a European school on the IBDP often do not exceed an average of 35 to 36 points, whereas elite universities are often seeking 38 points minimum.

Doubtless you will want to consider factors such as teaching quality, class size, campus facilities and ethos of the school. These are described in our eGuide to choosing an IB school.


Lastly you need to consider your budget. IB schools can be expensive. Below are some examples of IBDP boarding costs in Euro equivalents:

  • Switzerland 90,000
  • UK -  40,000
  • Germany -  48, 500
  • Malta -  20,000


Applying to Private IB School in Europe

Admissions procedures to European IB schools are determined by each school. However, the admissions criteria are generally a bit more flexible for continental European IB schools than for UK IB schools.

Up to the age of 15, parents are normally expected to fill in an application online and to send 2 years previous school reports before being invited to meet the School Principal for an interview. The school will then request references from the previous school and then hopefully make an offer of a place to the parents.

If it transpires the pupil’s English level is weak, they may be required to undertake intensive English Language tuition before resubmitting themselves for admission.

A slightly more robust process may apply at age 16, because most schools will want to be sure the pupil is ready to commence the IBDP studies. So if previous school reports show any weakness in the chosen IB subjects, particularly those being taken at Higher Level, the pupil may be required to pass tests in selected subjects.

Because IB schools operate a uniform curriculum and are used to families being relocated , it is fairly common for admissions to take place at any time of the school year.

If you would like us to help you with admission to a particular school please fill in the enquiry form or phone us on +44 1622 813870

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