“It is cool to excel,” summarises the ethos of International School on the Rhine (ISR). “Whether in academia, sports or music, giving your best – while still being humble – is something we try to instil in every student,” says School Director Eileen Lyons.
Set in 50,000 square metres of greenery in the Düsseldorf region, ISR is a college prep school whose students get accepted into top universities around the world. After leaving, 50 per cent of its students study maths, sciences, engineering or IT, while 25 per cent study business. It is a privately financed, non-profit school with a full-day kindergarten to Grade 12 academic programme, and is home to more than 700 students from 40 nationalities. Average International Baccalaureate (IB) results have been in the top three in Germany for several years, while more than 45 per cent of its students receive an A or A* in IGSCE exams.
ISR’s academic excellence rests on three pillars. First, it recruits and invests heavily in training top teachers. “The underlying belief is that teachers – and not books alone – find the emotional key to the student,” says Lyons. “Teachers motivate students.” Second, the curriculum is a supporting mechanism to structure the teaching. ISR deploys IB in Grades 11/12, IGCSE in Grades 9/10 and Sabis across the school. “Outcomes are measured to avoid gaps from emerging,” says Lyons. “If they do emerge, the gaps are closed quickly through tutoring.” Thirdly, ISR believes in working in partnership with parents, particularly since students remain with the school for almost eight years on average. Real-time data on a student’s progress is available through an on-line tool called “Webschool”.
Preparing students for the future
“Instilling values for life is critical,” says the school’s owner Peter Soliman. “Especially where 55 per cent of last year’s graduating class started in kindergarten and graduated 12 years later.”
ISR prides itself in preparing students for their future path. Three full-time staff members counsel students on career options and course selections. Internships are an important means for students to understand career options.
Students learn organisational and leadership skills as part of the “Student Life Organisation”, which provides a platform for around 100 students to organise school processes and lead this with their teams. ISR also offers state-of-the-art infrastructure: the spacious building is 10 years old, with interactive whiteboards everywhere. “Well-equipped science labs, a 3D printer, IT labs, a virtual reality and a fitness centre are available for students,” says Soliman. “We are a five-star service provider.”