To what degree are market-based international schools offering the IB Diploma Programme providing a Good Education?

  • Lorne Bird

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


The research literature speaks to the negative implications that have come as a result of the marketisation of education through neoliberal educational reform, from what has come to be valued as knowledge, to the pedagogy employed. Ultimately, what it means to become a well-educated person, and by extension, what it means to become a person, has fundamentally changed (Ball, Biesta, Carpenter, Weber, & Schugurensky, 2012; Connell, 2013; Kelly, 2006). While the negative implications emerged during neoliberal educational reform, this is not proof that the marketisation of education is inevitably problematic. It could be the case that market-based schools can provide a quality education while meeting the goal of accountability desired by neoliberalism. In this regard, there is a gap in the research literature, with this thesis therefore investigating the degree to which market-based international schools offering the IB Diploma Programme offer a quality education, using Biesta’s criteria for a good education. The research design first establishes the degree to which the IBDP represents a good education in its theoretical design. Thereafter, it investigates the degree to which the IBDP provides accountability for the quality of its education, as well as the degree to which the negative implications as seen in neoliberally framed educational settings are present. Finally, the degree to which the IBDP actually realises a good education in practise is evaluated, with the focus grounded in the degree to which Biesta’s criteria of subjectification is realised in IBDP schools. Findings show that the IBDP has a clear potential to realise a good education in design. While the findings show that there are ways in which subjectification is realised in practise, an almost exclusive reliance on standardised exam-based metrics of academic success effectively crowds out the key elements of the IBDP that could generate subjectification. Unfortunately, the systems of accountability employed by IBDP lead to an undervaluation of its core elements, which translates into an underproduction of subjectification, ultimately representing a market failure of the IBDP. Moreover, the IBDP’s neoliberally based marketing strategies, aimed at actively promoting its growth globally, further fuel the valuation of exam-based metrics of academic stress, creating an echo-chamber as IBDP schools and universities reinforce the IBDP’s narrative equating standardised exam-based metrics of performance with the quality of education produced, further entrenching the market failure. This thesis suggests further investigations into values-based systems of accountability, such as those seen in non-profit organizations, as a way forward for the IBDP to realise a good education.
Date of Award11 Oct 2021
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorIoannis Costas Batlle (Supervisor) & Mary Hayden (Supervisor)


  • International Baccalaureate
  • IB
  • IBDP
  • IB Diploma Program
  • Good Education
  • subjectification
  • market based
  • marketization
  • Neoliberalism
  • International Schools
  • Quality Education

Cite this