Richard Parker, Head of School at the International School of London (ISL) on how its enhanced IB Middle Years Programme offers truly personalised and real-world learning

The International School of London (ISL) has been offering the International Baccalaureate programme to all its students (from age 3 to 18) for almost 50 years, and our students benefit from the consistently personalised learning approach we offer, as they are encouraged to find ways to follow their individual passions.

This September, ISL will be launching an adaptation of the Middle Years Programme (MYP) for Grade 6 students (equivalent to Year 7 in the British system) that aims to increase the focus on product-based learning and create a tailored approach for each student. The revised curriculum will be more interdisciplinary than before, with students carrying out research and building to a final output using the full spectrum of academic subjects together, rather than learning subjects in separate silos.

This approach requires students to apply conceptual and procedural knowledge to real-world scenarios, in contrast to traditional didactic instruction. It is a hands-on approach that enhances students’ collaborative skills, problem-solving skills and learning motivation.  This product-based learning aims to equip students with contemporary competencies, making their learning relevant to real-world situations.

Working in interdisciplinary teams will allow students to work at their own pace, pursue their own interests and build their strengths, as well as receiving targeted support and guidance as needed. For some parts of the school week, year-group classes will be merged, with multiple subject teachers joining these larger groups to collaborate across disciplines.

“This change to our curriculum will give our students the tools to approach and solve genuine issues that will arise in their future lives”

For example, students will experience one full day per week of STEM teaching and another full day of Humanities teaching, during which time they will be able to explore more deeply those areas that motivate and stimulate their learning. In addition, students will continue to make the most of the rich and varied learning opportunities on offer in their real-world surroundings: London. The aim is to create a learning environment in which each student can achieve their full potential.

The ISL academic leadership team has been working with Lucy Rycroft-Smith, a curriculum expert and Cambridge mathematician, to develop the new curriculum, ensuring that all learning modules that are expected in each Grade are covered, but taught in such a way as to contribute to the output of each unit. In this way, students will learn through the creation of a final product or presentation, using student-centred teaching techniques that give more autonomy and creativity to individuals, allowing them to ‘play to their strengths’.

As Olli-Pekka Heinonen, Director General of the International Baccalaureate organisation, recently commented: “Students…need to become independent learners, to challenge what they are learning and why, and to problem-solve with courage and imagination. It is not either knowledge or life skills, it is both, in a way that is meaningful to the students in the world they have inherited”.

ISL Is passionate about giving students the scope to pursue their interests and research areas of study that will motivate them to perform to the highest level. This change to our curriculum will be a breakthrough in understanding how traditional ‘school subjects’ interact in the real world – and the new approach will give our students the tools to approach and solve genuine issues that will arise in their future lives.


Further reading: Capital gains, the benefits of going to school in London