Useful notes for new IB Diploma Teachers
The academic programmes
St Clare’s has a strong International Baccalaureate Diploma programme and has been teaching the IB for over 30 years. It was initially introduced alongside A levels in 1977, but for many years the College has taught the IB Diploma as its only university entrance qualification. St Clare’s is the longest established IB centre in England. With over 300 students in the two IB Diploma years, the College’s IB programme is one of the largest and best established among the 3000+ IB schools and colleges world-wide. St Clare’s offers a wide range of subjects in the IB Diploma, including over 20 native languages, and subjects such as Theatre, Psychology and Environmental Systems and Societies. Many staff are IB examiners and participate in curriculum development. Currently 12 members of staff are qualified to lead IB Teacher Workshops, training teachers to teach the IB.
Almost all IB students proceed to university, the largest group to UK universities, and smaller numbers to the USA.
The Preparatory IB course (for students aged 15 and above) is a one year course which prepares students for the IB Diploma programme. The course includes English Language plus other subjects studied in English, in varying proportions. The principal subjects studied are science, mathematics and humanities. These concentrate on skill development and are also essential vehicles for practice and development of English Language.
Life as a teacher at St Clare’s
We provide near ideal conditions for academic teachers. Small classes, generally well-motivated students aged 15-19, with small teaching groups, able and pleasant colleagues and good facilities make the place a very congenial workplace. Internationalism is a strong element of the College, and we take our mission of advancing international education and understanding seriously. We are also deliberately broadening the role of full-time and major part-time teachers, as part of more deliberate consideration of the 7 day a week, 24 hour a day residential life of students. We are looking for people who are interested in significant involvement outside the classroom, through activities, involvement in College thinking and development, and taking on additional, paid responsibilities as a personal tutor or house warden.
We like to think St Clare’s is a stimulating place to work. Teachers work hard, but generally seem to enjoy the work. Perhaps that’s why staff turnover is low. This is not to say that there are no frustrations. We inhabit a series of buildings erected about 100 years ago as family homes. These do not always make ideal teaching spaces for 21st century teaching. Space is at a premium. Professional development is both expected and actively encouraged. We also wish to encourage teachers to develop research or other interests, contributing to personal professional development, and thinking and practice in international education.
The academic year
Three terms: late August – mid-December; early January – March / April; April to mid-June. New teachers are expected to attend a short induction programme in mid-August.
The College welcomes both residential and day students. Over 90% of students are residential with the remainder living with their families in the Oxford area. Unlike many residential establishments, most teachers do not have residential duties. However, it is essential that teachers at St Clare’s become aware of the 24 hours a day, 7 days a week provision that is offered. IB students are cared for in their houses by house wardens. Appointments to these posts are not necessarily linked with appointments to other posts in the College, and a number of house wardens hold the post as their only College appointment. However, we are always pleased to be able to engage teachers as house wardens, on appointment, if vacancies exist.
The College has extensive activities provision, with a department of three full-time activities teachers and visiting teachers/coaches. All full-time and permanent part-time teachers are expected to make a significant contribution to extra-curricular activities.The contribution can take the form of academic-related activities (e.g. an academic society, or weekend trips to museums), or be part of the general activities programme (e.g. sports coaching, leading International Affairs discussions, leading a service project). Aspects of activities that are receiving particular attention currently are outdoor education and service projects. The College undertakes a number of regular local service projects, such as work with the disabled and conservation.
Pastoral care – Personal tutors
Each student is assigned a personal tutor, who is responsible for general oversight of a student’s welfare and progress – academic, social, personal etc. Personal tutors meet with each student individually each week. They also meet together to discuss general matters.
Collectively, they plan and deliver a programme of personal, social and health education. The work of personal tutors is co-ordinated by the Assistant Principal, Pastoral. Personal tutors include not only teachers but also house wardens and, on occasions, other staff. A substantial additional allowance is paid to staff who are personal tutors.
The Principal of the college is Andrew Rattue. IB courses are overseen by the Vice Principal, Academic and the Vice Principal, Pastoral, supported by the Assistant Principal, Academic and the Assistant Principal, Pastoral. Subject teachers are members of academic departments, grouped to form major departments (English, modern languages, social studies, science, mathematics, and the arts).
The Academic Steering Group, on which heads of these departments serve, advises on academic matters. Personal Tutors, meeting regularly, advise on more general aspects of welfare and provision. House wardens also meet regularly. St Clare’s looks to teachers to contribute to College development by joining working parties and being prepared to propose and take the lead in certain new initiatives.
The IB summer courses
We offer a range of IB preparatory courses for students, as well as study opportunities for teachers, including IBO-approved subject workshops for new and experienced IB Diploma teachers. The introduction course for students about to embark on the IB runs in July and August. The workshops for teachers run throughout the academic year. Courses and workshops are open to IB students and teachers from all IB schools.
Living in Oxford
Oxford is a supremely civilised city, with beautiful architecture, a relatively small population (around 130,000), and a disproportionate number of students (some 30,000 of the total population). There are two universities, and many independent and other colleges.
The cultural life is varied and extensive: excellent theatres, concerts, cinema, restaurants, bookshops etc. Nightlife is not too bad, with good late cafés and some interesting live music venues and clubs. It is also very easy to get to London. Train and bus services are excellent (1-1 ½ hours) making travelling to London for a day, or for an evening concert or theatre trip quite straightforward.
The city centre is small and easily manageable on foot or bike. Within the city boundaries are large open areas, including two rivers (for punting, rowing etc.), a canal, college gardens and grounds, and fields and parks.
Property in Oxford is expensive – to buy or rent. The cheapest houses within Oxford city are around £320,000 – and at that price you would have to look hard. Renting a two bedroom flat starts at around £875 per month. If you can afford to buy in Oxford, you will be sitting on an appreciating asset, which means that you will be well placed to buy anywhere else in Britain. Houses outside Oxford itself can be cheaper, but in general, property in this region of England is expensive. St Clare’s does not provide accommodation for teachers, unless they are also house wardens.
Parking restrictions operate in north Oxford. There are very few spaces to park in the roads around the College. The College offers a discounted bus pass run in partnership with the local bus company.