The Primary Years Programme

The International School of Tallinn (IST) is officially authorized by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) to offer the Primary Years Programme (PYP). This program focuses on developing inquiry-based learning and international-mindedness in students.


The PYP is a transdisciplinary framework that employs an inquiry-driven approach to teaching and learning, emphasizing cultural awareness and global citizenship. The PYP at IST is built around six Units of Inquiry for students aged 3 to 12, each lasting 5-6 weeks. These units are transdisciplinary, allowing various subject areas to harmonize and guide student learning through a concept-based approach. Subject leaders collaborate to create links across curriculum areas, ensuring each unit is creative, challenging, and inspiring for students.

For more detailed information about the Primary Years Programme (PYP), please refer to the IST-Primary Years Programme Parent Handbook.


Subject Areas in PYP

Inquiry-Based LearningSpecialist Subject AreaForeign Language OptionsHost Country LanguageCreative Arts
English LanguageMathsFrenchEstonianArt
SciencePhysical EducationGermanCraft
Social StudiesSpanishDrama

Program of Inquiry (POI)

The Programme of Inquiry (POI) is a framework for the curriculum at IST. The PYP is a transdisciplinary programme, and the POI enables transdisciplinary themes to be explored through various subject areas. In the Early Years, students inquire into four Units each year over 8-9 weeks, while in Primary Grades 1-5, there are six Units of Inquiry ranging from 5-6 weeks in length. Link to POI 2023 – 2024

Inquiry-Based Learning

Students at IST engage in inquiry-based learning across various subjects. Teachers collaborate to build opportunities for students to investigate the wider world through in-depth inquiry. English language learning is central, and IST supports students in achieving their full potential. ESL (English as a Second Language) is actively supported, with differentiated in-class support and additional focus group sessions for Grades 1-5.

Maths is a core area of study at IST, with creative and differentiated classwork to ensure consistent growth and success.

PSPE (Personal, Social, and Physical Education) ensures the physical and emotional well-being of students, with PE lessons delivered over three periods per week in a large gym.

Languages at IST
  • Estonian: Taught to PYP students in Grades 1-5 twice per week.
  • Foreign Languages: Students can choose from French, German, Russian and Spanish.
Assessment in PYP

The main objective of assessment in the PYP is to provide feedback to students and families about the learning process. Teachers use various tools and strategies to assess students’ learning, with students reflecting on their progress. Assessments are graded using letters, with descriptors corresponding to the Estonian grading system.

PYP Assessment model:

PYP DescriptorsDescriptorsEstonian Grading EquivalenceExplanation of Descriptors
MasteringM5The student achieves the learning intentions independently and consistently, with high-quality and mastery, during the process of learning in a variety of different contexts.
ExpandingE4The student achieves the learning intentions with good quality and independence during the process of learning.
ProgressingP3The student occasionally achieves the learning intentions and meets some of the expectations throughout the learning process.
DevelopingD2The student often requires support and demonstrates limited comprehension while aiming to achieve the learning outcomes.
BeginningB1The student struggles and needs significant support during the learning process. They are often unable to successfully complete the given task.

The PYP Transdisciplinary Themes

Who we are

An inquiry into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities, and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human.

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Where we are in Place and Time

An inquiry into orientation in place and time; personal histories; homes and journeys; the discoveries, explorations and migrations of humankind; the relationships between and the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations, from local and global perspectives.


How we express ourselves

An inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express
ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.


How the world works

An inquiry into the natural world and its laws; the interaction between the natural world (physical and biological) and human societies; how humans use their understanding of scientific principles; the impact of scientific and technological advances on society and on the environment.


How we organize ourselves

An inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment.

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Sharing the planet

An inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to
share finite resources with other people and with other living things; communities and the relationships within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.


IB Learner Profile Attributes:

At IST, we promote a learning environment that is based on fundamental values:

  • Inquirers
  • Knowledgeable
  • Thinkers
  • Communicators
  • Principled
  • Open-minded
  • Caring
  • Risk-takers
  • Balanced
  • Reflective

The Exhibition in PYP

The PYP Exhibition is a culminating project at the end of Grade 5, showcasing students’ learning. It allows students to work collaboratively, apply their knowledge, explore global issues, and take positive action. The Exhibition is presented to the IST community each April.

You can learn more about the Primary Years Programme here. Further information on the International Baccalaureate and its other programmes can be found here.