Challenging and Joyful Learning

Our Approach to Learning

At ISB, we strive to make learning challenging and joyful for our students and of most benefit to them when they graduate into our fast-changing world. A lot of schools choose to follow a set curriculum that has been tried and tested by other schools and that will remain in place for a long time. We take another approach.  

ISB is not tied to any one curriculum and therefore we are free to cherry-pick the best standards from around the world and design our own courses. We are committed to keeping up with research and best practice in education. As expert educators, what we know now about how best to teach is very different to what teachers in the previous generation knew. This means that good teaching today is far removed from what the parents of our students would have experienced at school. 

ISB’s international curriculum empowers students with purpose and compassion. We recognize the power of innovation, and our commitment to continuous improvement means that we’re always on a path of change and updating how we teach. We look to new practices backed up by research when we’re creating learning environments that will inspire your children. At ISB, students think about things in an interdisciplinary way. They learn the modern skill of design thinking, they study science, technology, engineering, and mathematic (STEM), and they use educational technology to support creativity. 

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Real-world and Impactful

Students across the school take part in work that is authentic, relevant, and engaging. Whether it is helping to understand the big picture through the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or leveraging the rich history and amazing context of living in Beijing, students at ISB are connecting with the world around them. Our Grade 2 students look for novel ways to help our local community Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle as they explore our plastics recycling initiative on campus. The Grade 10 Action Research class is committed to making long-term connections with local villages in Beijing and Cambodia as they learn the importance of survey work to promote sustainable service learning opportunities.


The curriculum and instruction at ISB are based on compelling and vital educational research. All of our curriculum is aligned to standards. These standards are like the skeleton upon which we build our curriculum. They define worthy goals for our students to learn: a progression of crucial skills and concepts within each discipline.

Our instructional practices are also built on research. One value we hold at ISB is inquiry, and we hold this value because of brain research about how students learn best – when a task is meaningful, when it sparks student curiosity and the desire to know more, and when students get to discover some important idea for themselves.


Student Centered and Driven by the Learner

We believe learning should be student centered. What this means to us is that different students will need different things from the teacher in order to achieve the learning goals for that lesson.

All students benefit from teachers who know them personally and respond to their needs and interests. We believe in equitable access to learning for all.

For students who are continuing to learn English as another language, the EAL Co-teaching Model will be particularly beneficial, as their subject teacher works closely with the EAL teacher to design and deliver lessons that are scaffolded to support the language learning.

For students who need extra support to achieve the learning goals, the Learning Support team is specially trained to offer that extra help.

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ISB Design Cycle

Design & STEM

Solutions to the problems of the world do not exist in silos and neither should learning. Students at ISB are involved in interdisciplinary Design & STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) work that integrates traditional curricular areas and allows students to develop novel and innovative solutions to problems that they help to define. Our ISB Design Process is a way to help students from Early Years to Grade 12 put their critical thinking, problem solving, and reflection skills into action.

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Chinese Integration

ISB operates one of the region's leading international school Chinese language programs, with Chinese programs offered school-wide, from Early Years to grade 12. Our teachers recognize the importance of helping students find their place in the world while grounding them in the context of the local culture to develop respect and appreciation for language, culture and global diversity. In the Elementary School, ISB's Dual Language program provides opportunities for students to become adept in speaking and writing in two languages - and to become at home in two cultures. We believe language proficiency is best when it comes with cultural proficiency.

This integration is the primary mission of ISB's Chinese Language and Culture Center (CLCC), established to enrich students' and expatriates' life in China and to develop educational partnerships with the community.

Standards-Based Learning Environment

Our standards are sets of learning outcomes that focus on deep, complex skills like analyzing, evaluating, and creating. They are far more than lists of facts to memorize. At ISB, we have selected internationally recognized standards that are backed up by research and that set challenging goals for our students. Our curriculum ensures they achieve these goals.

The goal of a standards-based curriculum is for the instructional practices, learning experiences, assessments, and reporting to align to make the learning journey transparent. This alignment allows for students, teachers, and parents to be clear on the key goals for each class. 


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