Recently I have been reading a lot about embracing change, becoming more resilient and fostering a growth mindset in a rapidly changing world.
One phrase I keep coming back to is that the only constant is change, and this got me thinking about our school’s journey.
In the spirit of evolution and growth in our school since my arrival as an expat parent in 2006, I am continually inspired by the words often attributed to Leon C. Megginson: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the most adaptable to change”. This philosophy has guided our school’s journey as we have witnessed significant changes, including the introduction of a 0-3 childcare programme in 2012 and the launch of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB DP) and the MYP in 2011, reflecting our commitment to adaptability and resilience.
A major milestone in our organic growth was our move in 2009 from the historic Marienstift building on the Rhine to Mühlentalstrasse. Starting in the Logierhaus, we then built a purpose-built extension in 2012 and recently completed the third floor of this new building, further expanding our capacity and facilities to better serve our educational community.
Our journey has seen the strategic introduction of our boarding programme in 2014, aimed at attracting more international students and supporting our IB DP with a diverse student body. This initiative has significantly broadened our international reach and enhanced the cultural diversity of our school community.
Furthering our educational innovation, in 2018, alongside the introduction of electives for grades 9 and 10, we introduced the Weiterbildungsjahr, offering students a broader curriculum that caters to their diverse talents and prepares them for an apprenticeship programme. This approach has not only strengthened our commitment to the local community but has also provided our students with more personalised learning pathways. These changes, combined with insights from our maths and science departments, prompted us to re-evaluate and adapt our curriculum to better meet the needs of our students and ensure their success in the IB Diploma Programme, leading us to move away from the IB MYP in 2021.
We found an alternative path with the MSA, which led to our pre-candidacy with the MSA in 2021, culminating in a historic multi-programme visit between the MSA and the IB in November 2023, marking a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to enhance our educational provision and better prepare our students for their future academic endeavours.
As part of our commitment to holistic education, we have extended outdoor education initiatives in 2022, including the integration of a Forest School into our curriculum, from ISCC to all primary classes. This approach has deepened our students’ connection with nature and enriched their learning experiences.
The expansion and popularity of our holiday programme within the Schaffhausen community have been remarkable, creating inclusive and engaging opportunities for our students and external participants during the school holidays (spring, summer, and autumn).
Furthermore, we established the international playgroup in 2018 and created a family hub in 2019 which now organises all of our family moments and sessions for our ISSH families and the local community.
In our staff conversations, themes such as resilience, a concept some of us prefer to call ‘life skills’, often come up. This nuanced understanding underpins our collective efforts to embed these essential skills across our curriculum, subjects and activities. Carol Dweck’s research on the growth mindset provides a foundation for this approach, illustrating how embracing challenges and persevering through challenges can significantly enhance our capabilities and lead to greater success.
As we continue to navigate the evolving educational landscape, we should embrace these changes as opportunities to innovate and enrich the educational journey we offer our students. By embracing change wholeheartedly and seeing it as a catalyst, we can cultivate resilience and life skills in ourselves and our students. This approach not only prepares them to navigate the complexities of life but also empowers them to thrive in the face of adversity.
I am excited to be an integral part of this dynamic and transformative journey and would like to end my message with a quote from John Cleese: “You don’t have to be the Dalai Lama to tell people that life’s about change”.