PYP Overview

Abacus uses the International Baccalaureate’s Primary Years Programme (Primary Years Programme) as its curriculum framework and has been an authorised IB World School since May 2012.  The values and strengths of this curriculum are closely aligned with our mission and vision. 

ESF Primary schools moved from following the UK National Curriculum to the IBO PYP (International Baccalaureate Organisation Primary Years Programme) around 12 years ago. The IBO PYP is seen by many as a curriculum framework more suited to our international setting and families in Hong Kong. The Vision and Mission of the IB resonated strongly with the ESF belief in placing the child at the centre of their learning and supporting our learners to become self-motivated, happy, responsible global citizens.


Children at Abacus develop their knowledge, skills, attitudes and understanding of concepts through guided inquiry. Classrooms foster curiosity and promote discovery by making learning relevant to the “real world” and challenging for each student. We start from children’s prior knowledge and build on each student’s strengths, experiences, and cultural and linguistic background to support learning. We encourage children to become independent learners and critical and creative thinkers who are empowered to take action.

Class teachers in each year group work as a collaborative team, supported by specialist Mandarin teachers to provide a transdisciplinary curriculum. Children create new understandings by drawing links between and across the traditional subjects.

The Learner

The leaner’s capability to take agency, their ownership, voice and choice in learning are central. We take the perspective that children are capable, confident and curious learners. We begin with what children know and build on their strengths by planning carefully and differentiating accordingly.

All learning is play based and designed to support the learner as they build relationships and find out about themselves as a learner. 

The Learner Profiles are used to describe the attributes and attitudes that PYP learners are encouraged and supported to develop. These profiles empower children to learn independently, and collaboratively and take their place in the world as respectful global citizens who are lifelong learners.


This is an integral part of the PYP framework in regards to how it recognises the agency of the learner and the ideal of international mindedness. Learners are supported and empowered to take meaningful, age-appropriate action in school and at home. 

Teaching and Learning

The teachers collaborate to plan a Programme of Inquiry that gives the children the opportunity to explore concepts and develop approaches to learning under different transdisciplinary themes. The PYP framework consists of six transdisciplinary themes which are designed to be broad enough for any age child and suitable for any international setting.

Who We Are

How We Express Ourselves

Where We Are in Place and Time

How We Organise Ourselves

How The World Works

Sharing The Planet

A unit of Inquiry (UOI) is based on one of the Transdisciplinary themes. Each unit of inquiry has a Central Idea; a big idea or concept that the learning hangs under.  The unit integrates subject knowledge, as below, and aims to help the children understand the central idea in depth by exploring lines of inquiry using different Approaches to Learning (AtLs).

  • Languages –  English language and literacy and Putonghua
  • Social studies – early history and geography skills
  • Mathematics  – number place value, measurement, pattern and four operations
  • Arts – music, dance and visual arts
  • Science – early science and technology skills
  • Personal, social and physical education  

This curriculum is concept based, the children develop an understanding of a range of conceptual understandings across different areas of learning through play based learning.


Teachers will informally assess what the children know about a concept before a unit of inquiry begins to help them to ensure that every child is being challenged and the learning experiences are pitched at the right level. The children are involved in their own assessment and are encouraged to take ownership of things that they want to improve in and practise. Assessment is always informal and usually through discussion, drawing or observing the children at an activity. Click here for more on assessment.

The Learning Community

Diversity and Inclusion 

The aims of Abacus Kindergarten and the IB PYP framework are not achievable without building and nurturing a community of learners who have a shared understanding of the values of this education. We value our students for who they are and the wonderful wealth of experiences they bring to school. We are committed to inclusion and wellbeing to ensure that our community is one where mutual respect and understanding are the norms. 

International Mindedness

The learning community will work together to develop their understanding of themselves as global citizens who are compassionate and respectful.  An awareness of how we are all connected will be developed through our programme of inquiry, the Learner Profiles and Approaches to Learning. It will be nurtured through the careful choice of resources and the policies created in school. 


The school’s leadership team put into place time and resources, including channels of communication and training opportunities, to ensure that the agency of all our learners is valued and that reflection is continuously used to develop our programme. The leadership of learning will be seen as a shared responsibility with all members taking ownership of learning. 


Technologies will be used to enhance and extend teaching and learning. They will be used to document learning and the children’s voice and choice in their PYP journey. 

Learning Environments

We are fortunate at Abacus that our learning environment allows for flexibility of learning styles, and groupings of children and can be responsive to children’s interests and needs. The environment is a very important part of the teaching and learning in the PYP curriculum. We plan purposefully with the learners to meet their emotional, physical and cognitive needs. 

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