The many MANY problems with the IPC - International Primary Curriculum - as a parent be warned.

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The many MANY problems with the IPC - International Primary Curriculum - as a parent be warned.

I'm a teacher and wouldn't want my child in a school where the IPC is used. Below is a post made on the TES teachers site I thought I'd share here. My school is insistent on using the over hyped bad joke that is the IPC. I don’t mind the theory behind the IPC, but the resources are non-existent, the planning is woefully thin, AND THERE ARE BETTER OPTIONS for a fraction of the price. We were subjected to a man coming in on an inset day and telling us all this airy fairy nonsense and stories about how his nieces learn better now and isn’t it all darling… there’s a topic on chocolate… ooh, how wonderful! GUESS WHAT! THERE’S ALSO A TOPIC ON CHOCOLATE ON Hamilton trust, and that’s been there for years already, and costs £12 per person!!!! The resources on Hamilton are extensive too. He made fun of traditional topic based planning and used examples of teachers finding tenuous links to fit a subject into a topic. But the IPC is guilty of this in nearly every topic or strand or whatever they call each unit. If my topic on space doesn’t involve any opportunities for RE teaching, then guess what, I don’t link it! I teach the RE separately. This is not difficult. Websites such as TES are FULL of desperate teachers looking for good resources to use because they’ve been landed with the IPC. Children have sat in IPC lessons saying they’re bored, and “when are we going to do some work.” It’s explained that they are researching using the resources provided. The teacher and TA then need to spend 5 minutes logging every 4 and 5 year old onto the computers. Then we are asked to help each child read the books. THIS IS NOT FEASABLE! They cannot do the research themselves. I end up teaching the lesson the normal way, with me telling the kids about something, and THEN using the methodology behind it all (which is really just ripped off from Philosophy for Children) and having the kids sit in a group and decide what questions they’d like answered and discussing it and finding out the answers. This is not a ground breaking new concept! The IPC are a business, trying to make money. Fact. The IPC cough planning cough is SO loose and lacks any real direction. It’s like a bunch of people sitting round a table giving ideas but not putting any real depth or thought into it. This isn’t up for discussion. It’s cold hard fact. For teachers it’s a nightmare. “Collect some old fashioned toys and have the children play with them…” Um, ok… first I’ll spend my free time looking for old fashioned toys, then we’ll let them play with them, and this will naturally allow the children to discover things for themselves and the teacher can act as the facilitator to the learning. Note, I have NO problem with the methodology behind this, but IT HASN’T WORKED with ANY of the KS1 or Early Years teachers at my school. We’ve tried providing good stuff to stimulate the children’s interest. They lack the reading or ICT skills at a very young age to actually DO any research! Oh, let’s buy more computers, more books etc… But the children CAN’T do the research themselves! How is a research based set of cough planning cough meant to work with children who can’t research? I have friends who teach in KS2 who seem happier with it, but moan about the non-existent resources that SURELY should be included in such over priced flavour of the month planning? I have completed a fantastic course on P4C (philosophy for children) and am well aware as to the benefits of children discovering things for themselves and of the teacher giving children a chance to ask questions. I have however, incorporated this into my existing planning, which has been highly praised by school inspectors. The man from the IPC admitted that they were looking “into the possibility of improving their resources due to complaints.” When I told him that I could get better planning and better resources (including the one about wonderful chocolate) at other cheaper sites he went very, very quiet. He then recovered by talking about how some schools have had huge models of rocket ships and actors in space suits as the stimulus to motivate the children in a topic. My colleague asked him how much that cost and he went very quiet again. We were promised by the Junior Head that all the planning was done for us and that there was no need to “re-write the dictionary.” But now we have to convert all the poor IPC planning into something more substantial, using differentiation etc… HEY, here’s a clue! If the IPC’s planning wasn’t in depth enough and didn’t have any real differentiation why the hell are we using it? Now we’re expected to do it for them! So there you go. Parents: the IPC is largely regarded amongst KS1 teachers as being a temporary popular gimmick to make heads stand out and private schools lure in new children. It is NOT in the child’s best interests as the content is poor and the work produced is of such a non-traditional standard as to leave children at a disadvantage later in life when they are forced to put things down on paper. And teachers, I know some of you, especially at KS2, will disagree with me. Remember, my complaint is with the awful standard of the IPC’s depth of planning, it’s resources, and the cost considering these issues. I am also convinced it does not suit KS1 children. I would LOVE to post this on the IPC’s site, but they only allow members to do so, and then they only show the positive comments. And here’s something to look out for… ever noticed how ALL the comments are made by Head teachers? Head teachers who just want a gimmick to lure parents through the door. Their not the ones having to fill in the considerable holes in the so called planning. It’s not their children who will find themselves in a Year 7 class one day and won’t be used to filling in a worksheet.

ElectronBlue's picture
Joined: 27/07/2011 - 10:11
Posts: 13374

Hello Chris. Welcome to TheSchoolRun.


I contacted IPC a few times asking them about the prices for the curriculum and all I got was links and links leading to their advertisements. And they call it IPC information package. After repeatedly failing to get any word out about their prices, I googled "How much does the IPC cost?" and was directed to your article. I run an English Immersion School in Korea, and I have to admit that all the ads do sound and look flashy, however, any reasonable person and a practicing teacher can see the superficiality of the units of work they put as samples on their website. To work in a real classroom with real kids we have to put up much more work and planning, relating all to the kids age. I agree all their research gimmicks are not going to work in the classroom with young children. Seriously all this secrecy about the prices is a bit too immature. Thanks for the article, it validates my suspicion, and saves a lot of my time and energy.


Hy April welcome to the site.

Ummbintaini's picture
Joined: 01/12/2009 - 18:19
Posts: 1152

hi chris, you mentioned a website called philosophy for children? do you have a link to this website? I'm planning on home educating my daughter and I'm on the lookout for good resources, I'm a qualified teacher so I'm familiar with resources intended for school teachers rather than homeschooling parents. I don't mind paying either (but obviously not paying through the nose when there's cheaper and better available!) because I'm saving a lot of money by not sending my kids to the local private school. (we live abroad).


Dear Chris! My kindergarden's stuff bought a part of IPC! Now we are starting with unit "I'm alive!" I don't understand - where I can find the materials? resources? flash cards and etc..
The planning is absolutely "empty". How you find information? Have you password to IPC library or do you find all materials yourself?

Barefootgirl's picture
Joined: 25/07/2011 - 14:18
Posts: 5920

Hi yulijuli, welcome to The School Run. I don't think Chrishbk has posted again since his/her original post. It might be best to direct questions regarding IPC materials striaght back at IPC - if they are willing to sell you the planning, they must have suggestions on how you get hold of the resources.

Best of luck!


Well I completely disagree with Chris's comments. I'm a teacher in a school in Birmingham and one of my mums just sent me this link. I just want to say that every single teacher at my school thinks the IPC is outstanding. We have no problem with resourcing. The planning of the IPC is incredibly deep and our Ofsted inspection report even said that too and Ofsted looked into the IPC in amazing depth to make sure there weren't any cracks. In fact, there are lots of Ofsted reports that now quote the IPC in a very positive way, just do a Google search and you'll see. If the planning was weak, I don't think it would get past multiple HMI inspectors do you? But regardless of Ofsted, I think it's more about the attitude of you and/or your school to the IPC than it is about the IPC itself - Sophie

OliversArmy's picture
Joined: 26/11/2009 - 13:45
Posts: 12082

Hi and welcome Sophie, good to have someone who has experience of the IPC here, especially a teacher, as we're constantly chatting about educational issues (usually in the day-to-day chat threads rather than the education ones though; they do tend to go off-topic a little!).

Joined: 14/06/2013 - 21:16
Posts: 2

It makes me so sad to read a post that's so negative about something that is so clearly designed as a tool to help improve children's learning! I taught with the IPC for many years in Manchester and found it transformative in terms of improving good practice amongst our teachers and improving our children's learning. The days of 'off the shelf' curricula with their textbooks and ready-made resources are surely over? One size does not and cannot fit all, especially when you're using a curriculum that is used in schools around the world - and what amazing opportunities that creates for linking learning and for teachers working together!
The IPC is always evolving - they updated all their units the other year, they have excellent planning tools online, and their new science units go above and beyond the learning that the majority of children in the UK experience just by following the national curriculum. 
It's the job of a teacher to differentiate appropriately for their class, not that of a curriculum. I loved using the units to plan around, and personalise, drawing on the interests of my class and the context of our school. 
But in the end, the IPC is a tool to support learning - and a tool is only as good as the person who's using it...say no more! 

Christiesgal's picture
Joined: 29/07/2011 - 13:46
Posts: 11230

Hello and welcome to the forum, this is a really old topic but it's always nice to hear both sides so thank you for posting.