The Power of Numbers: The IB’s approach to Maths – Southbank

23 Nov 2023

The Power of Numbers: The IB’s approach to Maths – Southbank

At Southbank International School Maths is consistently cited as a favourite subject amongst students. This is due to the amazing teachers at Southbank and the IB’s approach to teaching a deeper understanding of the subject.


At Southbank the most important aspect when teaching Math is to teach for understanding, not just memorising. Students need to truly understand the reasoning behind it all.


Instead of showing students a random list of sums, our approach is always to contextualise the maths by putting it into real world context. We look at things that are common in our lives, such as football cards or shopping trips, which brings authenticity to the subject, and helps further the students’ understanding of it.

No matter the age group, every time we start a new inquiry, we use concrete materials to develop a deeper understanding.


Something that is central to the International Baccalaureate model is the focus on inquiry, encouraging students to construct their own understanding by giving them opportunities to discover for themselves.

“Evidence indicates that students can attain a deeper understanding of science content and processes when they engage in inquiry” (Brown & Campione)

What’s more, according to educational psychologist Dale H. Schunk, problem-based learning “engages students in learning and helps to motivate them”, requiring students to “think creatively and bring their knowledge to bear in unique ways.”

Ultimately, we want to encourage students to find the answer themselves, helping to develop a deeper understanding and with it an eagerness to find out more.


Another element that is considered important by the IB is the notion of peer modelling, i.e. showing others how to do something by doing it first.

The teacher will first carry out a task and will then ask a group of students of varying abilities to work together to model another example for the class.

The result being that the rest of the students will then have an increased sense of self-belief; if their peers can do it, so can they!

Above all else, teachers themselves need to show enthusiasm for mathematics!

By Madonna Chidwick, Southbank International School Teacher