The ISB approach to developing the whole person

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This is the first in a series of five blogs that sets out to explore how our learning program here at ISB develops the whole person. 


As you can see from the graphic below, our learning program consists of five core elements; The Curriculum, Co-Curricular Learning, Personal, Social, Emotional Learning, Service Learning and Leadership as Action.
At the heart of our learning program is the learner. Here at ISB, our mission statement is the following:

ISB is a collaborative learning community that inspires, equips and empowers our students to be successful and have a positive impact on society

We believe that by inspiring, equipping and empowering our students to be successful and to have a positive impact on society is how we future proof our students. Many of you will have heard of the term VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) which is used to describe the world we are preparing our children for and as such, a traditional, content focused school program is recognised as not enough to fully prepare our children for success in such a world. To be confident that our children are future-proofed and ready for success in a VUCA world, we recognise that our students need more than simply great academic results. In each section of our learning program, we seek to provide opportunities for our students to develop a range of attributes that we believe they will need to become outstanding learners. The following are the Core Four attributes that underpin each section of our learning program and by ensuring that our learners grow in each of these conceptual areas we believe that they will have developed the skills required to be successful across all areas of our learning program and life after school.

Achieving strong academic qualifications is another way that we seek to future proof our students. Our students develop into outstanding learners throughout our Primary and Middle School grade levels to ensure that they have the skills, knowledge and understanding required to be successful with our graduating outcomes. Below is an overview of the achievements of our most recent graduating cohort.

Whilst we are proud of the outstanding achievements of our graduates, we constantly review the programs that we offer to ensure that they are rigorous, robust and effective at showcasing what our learners are really capable of. A key part of this is not just the academic qualification but also the portfolio of learning experiences that each student builds whilst they are with us. Universities and colleges have come to expect outstanding qualifications from students that attend private, fee-paying international schools and they actively look for the additional growth and learning that students have made with the opportunities that they are fortunate to have in our privileged environment. We utilise our CCAs and Enrichment (FLEX) program to provide opportunities for our students to add rich learning experiences to their portfolios that will make them stand out when they apply to college, university and future employers.

What is the value that our CCAs and Enrichment (FLEX) programs add? How do we develop leaders?

Research tells us that participation in voluntary, school-based co-curricular activities facilitates growth in areas such as interpersonal skills, positive social norms, membership in prosocial peer groups, and stronger emotional and social connections to one’s school. 

The co-curricular activities at ISB aim to stimulate the above-mentioned growth by providing opportunities for our students to practice social, physical and intellectual skills through the range of activities we offer. Students across grade levels get together and enjoy shared interests through CCAs and in doing so, they become members of a recognised and valued social group within the school. Through the social groups, our students establish social networks with peers and adults that may help them through the more difficult times we sometimes experience whilst growing up. These groups also provide avenues for students to develop their identity within their social world at school. CCAs become a place where students get a chance to try out different roles and hierarchical standings as they move through the program. The program will also allow for student’s to contribute to our community through for example service related CCAs or by coaching younger students. As students engage in these leadership activities, they become role models for their younger peers and develop their leadership skills through CCA experiences.

Research and science tells us that kids and adults will get active, stay active and even reach high levels of achievement if they do the right things at the right time. Based on this, the CCA program aims to adapt the activities we offer to match the developmental needs of our students. This is work in progress as we are still dealing with Covid restrictions. However, the activities we move towards in the future will in large parts be based on the following:
  • Kindergarten to Grade 2 - students are in the stage of awareness and first involvement. They should experience a range of activities so that they become aware of what opportunities exist and when they try an activity for the first time it is important that the experience is positive.
  • Grade 3 to Grade 5 - activities are about making sure that activities give students the basic and fundamental skills for them to be successful. These years are about providing the foundation for further perusal of their interests.
  • Grade 6 to Grade 8 - a variety of activities are on offer, they should be inclusive and fun as well as focused on skill development. Some activities may have two sessions a week allowing students to specialise more than before.
  • Grade 9 to Grade 12 - At this stage students will want to specialise in one or two activities and commit more time developing their abilities. During this stage of participation there is a tremendous influence on behavior from peer groups. It is therefore critical that our activities provide a safe environment for students to develop initiative as well as learn to understand rules, values and consequences of one's actions. 
Our Enrichment program is now referred to as the ISB FLEX program. The ISB FLEX program provides authentic learning opportunities that support the IB Approaches to Learning.  Critical Thinking, Research, Communication, Social, and Self-management skills have been identified as crucial to learner success beyond secondary school. The ISB FLEX program aims to provide students with learning opportunities that challenge, enhance and provide learners with opportunities to make a difference in our and the greater global community through these transformational learning skills. The framework for this program is supported by the ACE dimensions of learning core areas of Creative, Moral, Social, Experiential and Entrepreneurial. 

In addition to supporting our students as they build vibrant portfolios that demonstrate the breadth of their learning journey at ISB, enrichment also allows students the opportunity to try different activities, discover new passions, and build upon existing ones through choice and autonomy. While individual enrichment activities may look slightly different in each grade level, one thing is consistent throughout, commitment to providing worthwhile experiences that enhance and enrich each student’s learning experience.

Aaron Kane
Secondary School Principal