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Teaching Program

The Primary Years Programme (PYP) is an international curriculum framework designed for all children between the ages of 3 and 12 years. The program focuses on the total growth of the developing child, addressing social, physical, emotional and cultural needs in addition to academic welfare.

The PYP combines the best research and practice from a range of national systems with a wealth of knowledge and experience from international schools, to create a relevant and engaging educational program.

The PYP offers a comprehensive, inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning. It is an international model designed for concurrency in learning and in student learning styles, teaching methodologies and assessment strategies. See our Transdisciplinary Programme of Inquiry for 2016-17 here.

The program at St. John’s addresses the five essential elements of the PYP:


Six core subjects are addressed, mainly through six Units of Inquiry per year (four at Pre-Kindergarten): language, math, science, social studies, arts and personal, social and physical education. 

Units of Inquiry are organized into six transdisciplinary themes of global significance. These inquiries are substantial, in-depth and usually last for several weeks:

  • Who we are
  • Where we are in place and time
  • How we express ourselves
  • How the world works
  • How we organize ourselves
  • Sharing the planet


The PYP is a concept-driven curriculum, encouraging students to think critically about the world around them. The PYP identifies eight key concepts which are central to understanding:

  • Form: What is it like?
  • Function: How does it work?
  • Causation: Why is it like it is?
  • Change: How is it changing?
  • Connection: How is it connected to other things?
  • Perspective: What are the points of view?
  • Responsibility: What is our responsibility?
  • Reflection: How do we know?


Teaching and learning at St. John’s encourages the development of essential skills which transcend subject boundaries. The skills identified in the PYP are regarded as essential to lifelong learning, thinking skills, social skills, communication skills, self-management skills, and research skills.


At St. John’s, we recognize the importance of the development of personal attitudes towards our learning, other people and the environment. The PYP attitudes are: appreciation, commitment, confidence, cooperation, creativity, curiosity, empathy, enthusiasm, independence, integrity, respect and tolerance. (See also the IB Learner Profile)


As each child’s knowledge and understanding of the world increases, we encourage them to think and reflect on their learning and take appropriate, responsible action, both within and outside the school environment.

The full IB PYP document can be viewed here: in English or French. Additional documents related to the PYP - Frequently Asked Questions10 reasons why the PYP is ideal for students; Key findings from research on the PYP.