At present our students are studying the following courses: English Literature, Mathematics, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, History, Music, Art, Business Studies, Geography, Computer Science, French and German. With an ever changing student dynamic, we strive to accommodate every learner and so this course offering remains fluid and is open to extension based on the needs of current students.
German is a mandatory subject under Swiss law and students are required to study it until the end of Grade 9. Most of our students choose to take it at IGCSE Level and pass the examination easily either in Grade 9 or Grade 10. If they then choose to study German at AS Level and A2 Level they can do so, with an “A” grade at this level generally considered to be equivalent to a B1-B2 level under Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). However, most Swiss universities that offer courses in German will require a certificate reflecting a C1 level (St. Gallen B2), under CEFR. This level can be attained by students following the full German program offered at ISZN Secondary if they dedicate themselves to working both in lessons and independently. In general, it is worth examining what each student wishes to study and where they would like to study, and then working from that initial position onwards when determining how best to help them achieve their goal. Our German teachers and Dr Sarbach are very experienced at advising students on an individual basis of their specific requirements.
ISZN prepares students for University and another 3rd Level study by teaching IGCSE and AS/A Level exams. These are recognized by every tertiary educational institution throughout the world and are as highly respected, if not more so, than any other high school qualification, including the IB Diploma. The standard is in fact so exceptional, that for many courses at US universities, students are able to progress directly to the second year of study. The courses and universities available to each student is dependent on how well they achieve in their examinations as each will have different course requirements.
Both programmes of study are widely respected and accepted by universities across the world. The IB secondary programme requires students to study 7 subjects of which 6 are scored and points are totaled instead of averaged, to give an overall grade.
In the IGCSE and A Level programme, students choose the subjects that they would like to study (8 at IGCSE, 4 at AS level and 3 at A2 Level), which allows them to select subjects that both interest them and that they are successful in. Students receive a grade for each subject independently, based solely on end of year examinations, with the exception of Art and Music. If a child has a particular strength or knows in which field they would like to continue their studies, this is a real advantage as they will gain specialist knowledge of that subject. Furthermore, gaining IGCSE qualifications by the end of Grade 10 is an added advantage as these qualifications are more widely recognised than the MYP (IB) Course.
The small and close-knit nature of our school means that we value all voices equally and this is reflected in the way that we choose to lead the Secondary school. The Homeroom teachers, under the Guidance of our Head of Secondary School, share responsibilities and roles and take the lead on different issues and projects according to individual strengths and passions. When making a decision, every effort is made to come to a consensus as a group involving as many relevant members of the school community as possible. Through this process we have found that the students are now much more open with teachers and more readily approach them with problems or even suggestions on how to improve the school. Each member of the school community feels a sense of shared ownership of the school and a passion to provide the best possible learning environment for all members of our learning community. This system is proving very effective and has created a positive, enthusiastic and trusting communal space, a haven for our students, and one in which everyone is pulling in the same direction and learning effectively.
Each school year, Dr Sarbach and the secondary teachers take the decision together about whether some subjects will be offered in combined year groups. The focus is on offering the best possible learning environment for our students and is a system already implemented in grades 4 and 5 for certain units and classes. In the coming year, it must be noted that Grades 7 and 8 will NOT be combined for most of their classes due to the favourable size of each class, a factor that often influences our decision, with smaller classes gaining an advantage from being combined, particularly in language based subjects. Science and Mathematics are NEVER taught in combined age groups as the differentiation in content between grades is too vast. Furthermore, all grades will always enjoy their own private Homeroom time where they will be nurtured by their Homeroom teacher as individuals.