Shaping global competence: International School of Prague’s dynamic approach to IB education

The International Baccalaureate continuum of programmes complements each school section's developmental priorities and enticing learning opportunities. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 30.01.2024 16:20:00 (updated on 31.01.2024) Reading time: 5 minutes

This article was written in cooperation with the International School of Prague. Read more about our sponsored content policy here.

In the fall of 2023, the International School of Prague (ISP) was awarded authorisation as the first International Baccalaureate Full Continuum School in Prague, integrating the Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP) and Career-related Programme (CP) alongside its longstanding successful Diploma Programme (DP). 

This significant milestone coincided with ISP's 75th anniversary, marking the School’s excellence both historically and for today’s international students. Integrating the IB philosophy and framework into ISP's robust pedagogy demonstrates the school's unwavering commitment to the best in curriculum, programmes, and teaching and learning; drawing from the collective wisdom of a globally recognised and highly diverse faculty.

“I am proud of our school’s commitment to being one of the most innovative and impactful progressive IB schools in all of Europe” -Dr. Chip Kimball, Director

Guided by the mission to Inspire, Engage, and Empower all learners to be Curious, Competent, Compassionate Changemakers, ISP aligns perfectly with the values and philosophy of the IB. Building on the foundation of critical thinking and inquiry skills, both the IB and ISP highlight the significance of international-mindedness, cultural awareness, and community and service as key to global competence in an ever-changing world.

As a school supporting almost 1000 learners across four sections, ECF (Early Childhood Foundations), Elementary, Middle and Upper Schools, the IB continuum of programmes is uniquely implemented to complement each school section's developmental priorities and enticing learning opportunities. 

A highlight of the PYP (Primary Years Programme) is the annual Grade 5 Exhibition, an impressive showcase of student-led academics and action that marks the culmination of learning in the Primary School. At ISP, fostering an attitude of action and changemaking is crucial to the mission and teaching approach, exemplified through events like the PYP Exhibition and the preceding Units of Inquiry.

One such unit, developed by our PYP Learning Coach Ashley Eames and the Grade 5 teaching team, is called “Art Attacks.” This annual unit inspires global citizenship and responsibility by leveraging student interests and incorporating artistic expression as a means of communication. 

At the heart of this learning experience is exploring the United Nations Sustainability Goals (UNSDGs), empowering students to choose one goal that personally resonates with them. Students then embark on personal projects to raise awareness of their chosen issue and creatively express their viewpoints through various art forms. This project cultivates critical thinking, academics, and highlights the role of art as a potent tool for communication and social change.

“When students were working on their project, they were so engaged. There was a beautiful flow of learning happening naturally because we gave them time to create.” -Ashley Eames, PYP Coordinator

This unit of inquiry launches with field trips, such as visits to the Banksy Exhibit, art museums, and notable landmarks in Prague like the Lennon Wall. This experiential learning enables students to connect their creative endeavours with a sense of place and helps them recognise the relevance of artmaking within the local and global community.

The Middle Years Programme provides a comprehensive and dynamic education across various subjects, focusing on interdisciplinary projects. This interdisciplinary approach connects different subject areas, making learning more relevant and meaningful for students. 

A recent Grade 8 Individuals and Societies class is a prime example of this teaching and learning approach. After studying the French Revolution, students actively engaged in extending their learning by conducting personalised inquiries into a revolution of their choice.

Empowering students to personalise their research allowed them to tap into local and global contexts, helping them apply their learning in diverse and challenging situations.

This project actively involved students in honing their research and synthesis skills, deepening their understanding of this significant historical phenomenon and seeing the commonality across the contexts.

“Choosing my own revolution to study was engaging as a learner because I could pick a historical event that I found interesting. I picked the Velvet Revolution because my parents and family lived through it." - Angie, grade 8

Encouraging critical thinking and inquiry skills through this interdisciplinary and personalised approach inspires students to connect ideas and acquire the essential life and learning skills for navigating our interconnected world. 

For the past 25 years, the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB DP) has been a hallmark of ISP, providing excellence in education to students in grades 11 and 12. This globally recognised and rigorous university preparation curriculum is tailored to prepare students for success in higher education while cultivating a well-rounded, internationally-minded perspective. In our Upper School, we implement this programme with a focus on our mission, combining best teaching practices with the principles that guide our students toward becoming compassionate changemakers in the world.

At ISP, theoretical and conceptual learning is reinforced by hands-on experiences. Our IB DP Biology students participate in a forensics simulation to deepen their grasp of biology concepts and real-world applications. Students explored complex topics such as the function of restriction enzymes in cleaving DNA, using electrophoresis to separate and visualise DNA fragments, and applying these techniques to acquire a DNA fingerprint. This simulation provided an immersive, hands-on experience, effectively highlighting not only these concepts' significance but its relevance in today’s world.

Springs Pacelli, Grade 9 Science, IBDP Environmental Systems and Societies, and IB DP Biology Educator, emphasises the importance of making learning meaningful and connecting it to the real world. 

“One of the most important questions I ask myself before I begin planning a learning unit is ‘How can I make learning relevant? How can I link our content to a global context?’ One of my favourite learning activities of the year involved role-playing and DNA fingerprinting.” -Springs Pacelli, Grade 9 Science, IB Environmental Systems and Societies and IB Biology Educator

Engaging experiences like this simulation not only showcase the impact of the IB Diploma Programme but also reflect ISP's commitment to inspiring curiosity and competence in teaching and learning.

The Career-related Programme (CP) offers flexibility to students in grades 11 and 12 seeking an IB university-recognised credential. It allows them to explore a specific area related to their future career path, studying it in-depth to promote international-mindedness and the development of personal and professional skills.

“We are privileged to present the IB CP to our students as the exclusive institution in the Czech Republic currently offering this programme. While it provides the flexibility for students to study a career-related pathway in depth, it also provides the balance and holistic emphasis for which IB programmes are renowned.” - Karen Ercolino, IB DP/CP Coordinator

A distinctive aspect of the CP is the diverse range of professional partnerships that enhance the life experiences of our students. ISP has established collaborations with institutions such as the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), the Sustainability Management School (SUMAS) and the Global Online Academy (GOA). Through these partnerships, we provide pathways spanning various fields, including STEM, fine arts, business management, and sustainable tourism.

Interdisciplinary experiences, real-world applications, and student-interest driven projects are integral aspects of the ISP educational journey, emphasising our commitment to offering a reputable and challenging globally impactful learning experience. 

Building on 75 years of learning, ISP continues to derive strength from its rich history while boldly advancing into the future, celebrating our innovative programmes, esteemed faculty, diverse community, and unwavering commitment to Inspire, Engage, and Empower all learners to become Curious, Competent, Compassionate Changemakers.

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