ISBerne – staying ahead of the curve

Recent years have seen a shift in how people work and the importance of flexibility, mobility and multilingualism. ISBerne has been watching these trends and implementing new initiatives which will create inclusion for the local community and their growing globalisation giving a new twist on the concept, ‘think global, act local’. 

ISBerne was initially founded to accommodate embassy families. They did this by offering education in English for their children while they were living in Switzerland. Subsequently, multi-national companies started sending the children of their expatriate families to ISBerne as well. For 50 years, this was the model with which ISBerne thrived. However, with changes in technology, we have seen the family profile shift. In short, professional society is becoming more technology-dependent and using more English in the workplace.

ISBerne is now offering more English language learning opportunities for the local community. 

English has been taught in local Swiss schools for years. However, the demand for a better command of the language is increasing with globalisation. In response to this, ISBerne has launched Kickstart English Summer Camp, added a higher level class to their after school English courses and is accepting students who have completed obligatory schooling in the Swiss system into the MYP Grade 10 to do a Brückenangebot-Passerelle in English. An opportunity for local students to do an immersive ‘year abroad’ experience without leaving home! 

Students who complete the grade 10 year successfully can then either transition back into the swiss school system or they may opt to continue and follow the 2-year International Baccalaureate Diploma. Upon successful completion, it opens doors to universities around the world. 

For local Swiss students who want to speak English fluently or dream of studying abroad, these opportunities are easily accessible here on the ISBerne campus. They can open, literally, a world of possibilities. 

Another initiative the school introduced was a 1:1 Device programme for our Middle Years Programme (IBMYP) and Diploma Programme (IBDP) students.

All students have to have their own laptops and the school staffs an IT Integrator to ensure that not only are the students supported in accessing learning materials digitally but that our faculty is adept at the delivery. The school introduced the use of Schoology, a learning platform which supported a virtual classroom experience, allowing users to create, manage, and share learning resources. 

In the Primary Years Programme (IB PYP), students have access to computers in the classroom, as well as ipads, which enable students to become familiar with digital learning before they transition into middle school. The school introduced See Saw, a learning platform that allows teachers to share the classroom experience and classwork with parents. See Saw enables parents to stay informed. It also gives them an opportunity to partner with the school to support their child’s learning at home.

With the recent COVID-19 world crisis, ISBerne teachers and students were well prepared to transition to Distance Learning. With school closure being announced late on a Friday afternoon, teachers met on Monday for a briefing of the situation and targeted training with our IT Integrator, and other ‘teaching experts’ Tuesday was a day dedicated to final preparation for distance learning and by Wednesday, school was in session. From home. Feedback from parents and students has been overwhelmingly positive which is very encouraging for the school and the teachers who face the unusual challenge of working remotely.

Our Parents say it best:

  • Thank you for all of the efforts by the teachers. It was a quick change to go from face to face learning to digital learning.
  • I am AMAZED and incredibly impressed by the teachers and staff. We are in touch with friends all over the globe, and ISBerne has handled changes to distance learning EXCEPTIONALLY WELL.
  • Wonderful work done by teachers and the school staff to make the digital learning a reality so fast! We are impressed and the children love the feedback they get. I know it will be a challenge and many more days to come. However, I just wanted you to know that we appreciate all the efforts done by ISBerne!
  • We have a full day of school every day! Thank you for putting so much effort in our kids so that they can keep on learning even though they are just in ELC and Grade 1. Very different than [what is happening in our home country.] We are feeling blessed to be a part of ISBerne

The virtual classroom has been a growth experience for teachers. ISBerne teachers have been utilising the wide variety of practical tools found on Google Suites to connect with students during the distance learning programme. The live video feed offers a unique view of students, their engagement and level of focus. Therefore, the teachers are able to experience this from a new perspective. 

Teacher comment:

I just had my first hangout with my Advisory class. 18 of them joined. It was so nice to see and hear them. It genuinely lifted my mood. (I could see) their personalities shining through their comments and photos they post. Also, we went through expectations and clarified questions. It was a great opportunity for them to see and talk to each other as well. I will definitely request a live check-in for my other classes. 

-MYP German Teacher

Students also are self-organising virtual meet-ups amongst themselves for work sessions and group projects. Feedback from our secondary school students has been positive. For example, they have been finding the challenges of Distance Learning similar to homework and group work under normal circumstances. However, all students, especially the younger students, find the lack of in-person socialising challenging. 

Despite the technological-savvy of ISBerne teachers and students, there has still been a steep learning curve for everyone in terms of exclusively using technology to teach, learn and socialise. The most immediate finding from this experience for ISBerne has been that technology, no matter how sophisticated, can never replace the value of face to face interaction in a school and in life. 

Forward-thinking across the school is a key motivator at ISBerne and has proven to be beneficial for not just their students, but for their families, their staff and the local community as well. 

For more information about Kickstart English Summer Camp or the Grade 10 Brückenangebot-Passerelle, see our website at

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