Despite its young age of 70 years, the International School of Florence, one of the oldest international schools in Europe, is harnessing its humanist values and global mindset to build innovative communities of creative thinkers and doers. All students partake in challenging academic subjects, which for many culminate in the rigorous IB Diploma Programme, and in a wellbeing programme, whilst many of the parents and staff engage in a unique Research Programme.
ISF takes advantage of its unique location in Florence, a setting that has not only shaped its values and Renaissance spirit, but also sees its students making real contributions via the Community, Activity and Service programme with initiatives to support local organizations, such as Corri La Vita, Angeli del Bello and the Martacappelli foundation. Our students have also organised an annual TEDxYouth@Florence event and spoken on topics from humanity, overcoming fear, women’s rights, and social media and mental health, in addition to expressing ideas and opinions in writing through the student-led newspaper, Tuskan Times, as well as during the annual World Speech Day in Florence.
Meanwhile, staff, parents and a board member, who themselves represent an impressive range of nationalities and qualifications, meet during evenings and weekends to put our mission of a ‘Laboratory for Learning’ into practice. Each autumn, participants make a proposal for a year-long inquiry into an area of interest and education at ISF. Teams of parents and staff pursue projects as empirical research in order to present findings to the wider school community and push forward change. Projects presented in April 2021 included investigation into the relationship between gender and mathematics, the impact of outdoor learning on students’ progress, social skills and wellbeing, and delivering high-quality outcomes in an online learning environment. This year, 25 researchers, including six parents, have signed up for the challenge, and the projects—from assessing creativity in the arts to enhancing students’ wellbeing—are already in their initial phases.
One of the defining features of the student body is its diversity. ISF students represent over 44 nationalities and speak over 25 languages. The school has two campuses: the Junior school, with around 220 students, in the Tuscan countryside, near Florence, and the Upper School, set in a 13th-century Florentine villa in the Oltrarno area, with approximately 350 students. The curriculum matches the diversity of our students in offering the International Baccalaureate Programme, a Theory of Knowledge curriculum, Business and Management, and the Italian Equivalency Programme. Our Diploma Programme results are consistently above national averages and students go on to study at highly respected universities, from the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh in the UK, Princeton and Berkeley in the USA, Rotterdam and Utrecht in Holland, as well as a range of excellent Italian institutions, such as Università Bocconi and Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore.
ISF has an active Parent Association, which proves dynamic in helping to lead the school in its educational vision by partnering with staff, students and community leaders to plan events, such as the Annual Field Day, Career Forum, Autumn Bazaar, New Family Welcome Breakfast, Fundraising Gala and the Festival of Song. ISF is guided by a mostly parental, self-perpetuating, volunteer board of directors that has committed the school to an ambitious redirection as expressed in the innovative and progressive Mission, Vision and Strategic Plan. The board recognizes that the social and educational landscape is shifting and sees this as an opportunity to employ thought leaders to guide the school on a path of meaningful education in the 21st century.
Like all schools, ISF has risen to the many and diverse challenges brought by Covid, mounting an proactive response that includes a Covid taskforce. In addition to the usual requirements of hand sanitization, mask wearing and social distancing protocols, this task force has maintained and developed an up-to-date Covid school protocol and the coordination of whole school testing for our students and staff.
ISF has its eyes on its seventieth anniversary (1952-2022) and a number of Re–accreditations such as the Council of International Schools, the Middle State Association of Schools and Colleges, and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. Rich in history and tradition, ISF is committed to shaping education in a rapidly changing world.
International School of Florence
Junior School Campus (Early Years 1 to Grade 5)
Villa le Tavernule – via del Carota 23/25
50012 Bagno a Ripoli (FI), Italy
Upper School Campus (Grades 6 to 12)
Villa Torri di Gattaia – viuzzo di Gattaia 9, 50125 Florence, Italy