Isabel Frugtniet's aspirations to travel the world motivated her to sign up to be in her school's first cohort of International Baccalaureate diploma students.
The Merici College graduate still wants to study overseas one day with her new globally-recognised qualification, but she believes the rigorous program set her up well generally for life after school.
In early January, IB students across Australia found out the result from their two years of efforts. Miss Frugtniet got 42 points, which was the highest score out of the four peers to complete the IB at Merici College. It is equivalent to an ATAR of 99.10.
"I was actually not expecting such an amazing result. It was really, really nice to see. I worked really hard in the last couple of months leading up to the final exams and I guess it paid off," she said.
Six Canberra schools offer the IB diploma program in year 11 and 12, five offer the middle years program and seven offer the primary years program.
Australia-wide 2644 students sat the IB diploma exams in November 2021 with an average result of 37 out of a possible 45 marks. The global average was 32 with a pass rate of 87 per cent.
Students must study a broad range of subjects including their first language, a foreign language, a humanities, science and maths. They also must submit a 4000-word research essay and complete a theory of knowledge course. A score out of seven is awarded for each subject with three bonus points for the essay and theory of knowledge.
Miss Frugtniet said the program pushed her to be more rounded academically but also in the requirements to do physical activity, community service and creative pursuits.
"It really helped in the intense periods of study because although I was studying a lot I was still able to get away from that and focus on my sport or cooking or something like that, which definitely helped to be more balanced," she said.
Merici College principal Anna Masters said the school decided to introduce the IB as a point of difference in the education landscape and it remains one of the very few Catholic systemic schools in Australia to offer the program.
"We're really out there, I think, as a school. We always have been it's always been quite an innovative, forward-thinking culture," Mrs Masters said.
"I believe the parents were really courageous and trusted in the school and in their daughters to feel that this was going to work, because it hadn't been done before."
The IB middle years program has also been introduced at the school for all year 7 to 10 students and has been proven to be a drawcard for families who were moving around the world frequently.
Mrs Masters said the school was preparing to welcome a bumper intake of 192 year 7 students to be split into eight streams.
"A lot of people are moving around the world using that language that shared across the world in terms of an approach to learning so it does give you mobility, especially in those seven to 10 years when families are moving around," she said.
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