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  • Writer's picturegaurav muradia

PSP 2020 - The new IB Programme Standards and Practices are PSP 2014 with a practical edge

Updated: Dec 7, 2021

IB Programme Standards and Practices: PSP 2014 with a practical edge

In Review: IB PSP 2020 "Programme Standards And Practices 2020". International Baccalaureate®, 2021,

Precis: The much awaited IB Programme Standards and Practices 2020, at first glance seems to have attempted to resolve many of the challenges its predecessor, PSP 2014 was notorious for. With a clear new structure, specific and accessible language, PSP 2020 promises to help synthesize IB Philosophy with the distinctiveness of each school’s context. But is that enough?


PSP 2020 first seemed like a mathematical puzzle to many. Seemingly overwhelming in its volume, most of us educators made barcode jokes, or bookmarked the page and moved on with our lives. On closer examination, the IB community is now pleasantly surprised to read between the lines.

The structural changes are perhaps the most evident to the eye: Gone are A- Philosophy, B1 (Leadership and Structure), B2 (Resources and Support), C1 (Collaborative Planning), C2 (Written Curriculum), C3 (Taught Curriculum) and C4 (Assessed Curriculum). In their place are Purpose (01), Environment (02), Culture (03) and Learning (04). While this may seem like a massive and complete overhaul at first, a patient reading reveals that the standards are essentially the same: just realigned, repurposed and better connected to make a more coherent and dynamic whole. Purpose (01) for example, through its practices, retains Standard A’s focus on the articulation of Philosophy aligned with that of the IB, the focus on developing international mindedness and the attributes of the IB Learner Profile, along with the need to translate learning into wider concern for the world at large. This pattern continues onward similarly with the other standards. Therefore, to some extent, it is safe to say that PSP 2020 discerningly builds on and enhances PSP 2014.

It’s also now easier to see the links between philosophy, policy and practice through the new standards and practices. The idea of diverse schools building context-specific motifs by drawing on and connecting practices from various standards is undoubtedly a brilliant one- one that makes implementation more organic and intuitive. This non-linearity also means that unlike PSP 2014, PSP 2020 is not punitive and is more forgiving. Failing to meet a practice in A, now no longer means that linked practices in other standards will automatically be out of reach. Instead, it is now possible to work on practices both in isolation as well as in conjunction, giving schools different ways to work with them as it aligns with their needs. This comes as a relief, and makes what many of us perhaps intuitively sensed, much more explicit.

The graphic also condenses and encapsulates much of what the PSP tries to convey in visual language.

The language used is also quite a game-changer. Simple, specific, and made accessible to the non-IB trained reader, the PSP now has broader appeal. Much of the abstraction and decoding PSP 2014 demanded, somehow always meant that it needed interpreters, translators, think-tanks and consultants to decipher them. With the simplification, the IB’s philosophy is now made much more within the reach of those who perhaps need it the most.

Insights for Schools:

1. Access PSP 2020 directly:

It would be wise to resist the urge to substitute actually going through PSP 2020 and settle for a Linkedin post or Whatsapp cheat-sheet. Equally advisable would be to initially steer clear of self-proclaimed experts, other schools’ PSP analysis or checklists. Read it for yourself, and read it with your school community- they are the real experts for your school context. Read it in bits and pieces if you need to, but do read it. You’ll be in for a surprise or two as to how lucid and cohesive it really is.

2. See how the old links with the new:

A fun exercise to demystify PSP 2020 would be to drag out the evidence and documentation collated for your last evaluation or authorization (PSP 2014), to try and map it with the practices in PSP 2021. Observe what repeats, what overlaps and what is left out entirely. It might also be nice to collaboratively explore the challenges in interpretations, the subtle modifications in terms used in the wording of the practices from one to the other. Record the ‘aha!’ moments for the years to come.

3. Experiment with linked motifs

Heads, Coordinators and focus groups of facilitators can experiment with threading together practices in which they perceive connections and links. It is always interesting to see which practices from different standards can fit together and make more meaning in conjunction together.

4. Integrate motifs to your policies and procedures: Rather than run disparate systems and then run into concerning discrepancies between philosophy and practices- sometimes it might be a good idea to integrate the motifs we make into the development of school policies and procedures, or even their revision. This further simplifies implementation and makes evaluation processes more streamlined.


PSP 2020 is certainly all good news- but much of its effectiveness will lie not only in its implementation, but the sustained evaluation of its implementation. With the IB yet to roll out the PSP for candidate schools seeking authorization, only time will tell if its appeal is truly broad enough.

Works Cited

International Baccalaureate Organization, 2020. PSP 2020. [image] Available at: <> [Accessed 1 December 2021].

Dr Gaurav Muradia is a progressive educationist and director of leading K-12 international schools. He is also an Advisor to several schools with whom he works with to establish and sustain innovative systems and practices.

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