As the landscape of education continues to shift, the need to educate students to deal with the complexities of this uncertain world is more important than ever. The International School of Florence takes great pride in offering the International Baccalaureate Programme to its students. It is one of the more rigorous and thorough programmes that serve children from Primary through High School. The International Baccalaureate empowers teachers as the “architects of learning excellence” and allows students to thrive academically and encourages them to be agents of change.
The International School of Florence is one of the oldest international schools in Europe. In September, we will celebrate our 70th anniversary, which gives us the opportunity to reflect on our achievements and share with you some features of the International Baccalaureate Programme.
The Primary Years Programme at the International School of Florence
The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP) is an engaging curriculum and method of instruction that promotes “structured, purposeful inquiry as the main approach to teaching and learning” across school ages and curricular areas. Our students develop the knowledge, concepts, skills and attitudes that the IB identifies as the core of an International Baccalaureate education. It is challenging in its scope and ability to prepare internationally minded students.
The capstone of the PYP programme is The Exhibition as a culminating experience in the final year of an IB Primary Years Programme and occurs in Grade 5. It is an authentic process for students to explore, document and share their understanding of an issue or opportunity of personal significance. All exhibitions are student-initiated, designed and collaborative. Our Grade 5 students started their Exhibition journey by preparing Passion Pitches to present to a panel of teachers and students. Their passions, over the course of six weeks, were explored in depth, beginning with research in their chosen area and the creation of conceptual questions to drive their inquiries. They documented their thinking and reflected on their understanding and progress, which was recorded in learning journals.
Students were grouped according to themes and teamed up with mentors, who helped steer student thinking and set up opportunities for students to connect with local experts and organizations of interest. The topics of this year’s exhibition were wide and varied, with groups of students grouping their thinking under central ideas that joined their passions conceptually:
- It is humans’ responsibility to protect animals and to ensure they are treated fairly.
- There are many benefits to learning activities, which involve rules, techniques and precision.
- Developing a love of reading and writing is of huge educational value and importance.
- Marine life is troubled due to human-made problems.
- Humanity has created problems that have had a devastating effect on the environment and it is now our problem to solve.
- Soccer is a sport with health benefits that can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of their ability or gender.
- The world is changing in both positive and negative ways.
- Space has complex features and phenomena, which we can learn about thanks to humans’ progression of understanding about the universe.
- There are many positive advantages of developing a love for baking.
- Access to equal opportunities is a right for all.
Students each took some sort of action that pertained to their passion. Coupled with a written and creative piece of work, they shared their findings on ‘Exhibition Day’ with our school community.
The Diploma Programme
International schools have always been at the forefront of educational initiatives, one of which was the foundation of the International Baccalaureate in 1968, along with its first ever programme: the Diploma Programme (IBDP). There are currently over 4,200 DP-authorized schools around the world and the International School of Florence proudly holds the school number 000308, meaning that our commitment to IB education began all the way back in 1984, when we became authorized to offer the Diploma Programme.
Every year, approximately 90% of our students in Grades 11 and 12 undertake the Diploma Programme, with a steady above-world average pass rate and individual student results. The Diploma Programme has been designed as a holistic programme of studies, where students do not choose a ‘major’; in fact, all students are required to take subjects from all six disciplinary areas, including two languages. At ISF, we offer 18 different subjects, which gives 33 different options when considering either the standard or higher-level option. This flexibility, along with the IB’s core elements of Theory of Knowledge, Extended Essay, and Creativity, Activity, Service, has always been welcomed by students and parents alike, who understand that the main purpose of education is to prepare children for the ever-changing future and make a difference in the world.
In addition to developing student skills and providing them with a robust academic preparation in a range of subject areas, having this world-renowned qualification is a graduation pathway and is seen as a passport to acceptance to universities around the world. Our graduates are regularly accepted by a number of prestigious universities. Our past entries include Bocconi, LaSalle and Leiden in Europe; Carnegie Mellon, Princeton and UC Berkeley in the USA; Brunel, King’s College, Oxford and Cambridge in the UK, amongst many others.
As a school, we are proud to have been one of the most established IB World Schools in the world and continue to be aligned with the IB’s vision of developing inquiring, knowledgeable, confident and caring young people, who take ownership in their own learning and help them develop future-ready skills to make a difference and thrive in a world that changes fast (ibo.org).
Our graduating students this year have received offers from many prestigious universities around the world, such as Exeter, Edinburgh, Durham, Warwick, King’s College and the University of London in the UK. In Canada, students were accepted at McGill and the University of Toronto. In Italy, students were given offers at Bocconi and St. Camillus. In the USA, students will study at NYU, Berklee College of Music, Hofstra Drexel, University of California, Bates and Northeastern.
International School of Florence details
Junior School Campus (Early Years 1 to Grade 5)
Villa le Tavernule – via del Carota 23/25
50012 Bagno a Ripoli
Upper School Campus (Grades 6 to 12)
Villa Torri di Gattaia – viuzzo di Gattaia 9