Learning First Framework
As of August 2016 ZIS will transition from the PYP to the Learning First Framework. The Learning First Framework is a whole school curriculum framework guiding teaching and learning.
A great deal of consideration went into the review process. The decision was undertaken only after many months of internal consideration, deliberation and questioning, to ensure the decision was aligned with what our research has shown us is best for student learning in our context.
Please review the questions and answers below, which should answer many of your most important questions.
We also want the flexibility and autonomy to respond to educational approaches that work for our students. For example, successes in writing workshop have demonstrated to us that learning in literacy should not be driven by units of inquiry, but that the learning goals should be mapped out first, and linked to units of inquiry where appropriate.
Equally, we want to be able to develop our single subject areas to be aligned with the rest of the school. Subject area expectations would be aligned using common language and format throughout the school.
We also want the autonomy to decide on appropriate and relevant professional development such as writing workshop and mathematical practices, rather than the PYP professional development that is required by the IBO.
Finally, we want to use the Learning First Framework documents we have developed for whole school use. The PYP requires us to use the IB PYP documents and language.
What will remain the same for my child in August 2016 and as you develop the learning programme in the Lower School?
Much of what students are experiencing now will remain the same, including
the ZIS mission
the best of what is currently happening in the academic element of the programme in the Lower School, including:
inquiry-based learning, when appropriate, and our general approach to learning and best practice
concept-based learning that allows for in depth understanding rather than focusing on facts
a transdisciplinary approach, when appropriate, that allows students to make meaningful connections across subjects
student-led conference and learning paths
a culminating event for Grade 5 to showcase student learning
- continued development of reading and writing workshops
We hire highly experienced and qualified teachers, who understand best practice in a primary school. Teachers with experience in the PYP will have a deep understanding of inquiry, of concept-based learning and of a transdisciplinary approach. We will continue to draw on the experience and expertise of these teachers.The input of all our teachers into curriculum development is, and will continue to be, highly valued.
We do not expect to lose any teachers as a result of this decision. Much of what we are currently doing within the PYP framework will be carried on as we move forward. Our teachers are seeing the benefits to student learning of more recent developments, such as reading and writing workshop and our approach to Mathematics, which are not within the PYP framework. Going forward, they will have the flexibility to set goals that are developmentally appropriate, and are based solely on best practice and what we know about how students learn.It is our responsibility to ensure that all our teachers have a professional environment in which they can continue to grow and thrive. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure that this remains true for all our teachers.
PYP authorisation means that the school has fulfilled the minimum requirements for implementing the PYP programme. ZIS is the oldest accredited school in Switzerland through the Council of International Schools (CIS) and New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Accreditation from CIS/NEASC means that an objective assessment of our school and all elements of our programme, including curriculum, has taken place, with a PS-G12 focus. This kind of accreditation is more suitable for our purposes and is recognised internationally as an industry standard.
Yes. We will continue to offer the IB Diploma and AP courses in Grade 11 and 12. The IB Diploma is an internationally recognised high quality diploma that provides our students with an excellent preparation for their next steps after graduation.The Advanced Placement (AP) allows us to have available a broad range of subjects on offer that allow students access to higher level courses and provides a valuable preparation for university studies following graduation.
Yes. The high quality education we offer to students at ZIS is widely understood by other international schools and CIS/NEASC accreditation ratifies this understanding. Accreditation from CIS/NEASC means that an objective assessment of our school and all elements of our programme has taken place, with a PS-G12 focus. Schools recognise that this accreditation means we are offering a high quality curriculum.In addition, we are working closely with other highly recognized and established international schools as part of the Common Ground Collaborative.
My child has always been at PYP schools and will transfer to one should we have to leave Zurich. In the future, how will my child transfer to a PYP school after experiencing the ZIS curriculum?
A student moving from ZIS to a PYP school will experience a similar approach and philosophy of learning. The content may be different, but the approach to learning will be familiar. The PYP is conceptually driven and offers a transdisciplinary approach to learning. We will continue to support this approach in our curriculum. Concepts have been embedded into our PS-Grade 12 learning goals.It is worth noting that transferability between PYP schools is not wholly seamless - it is seamless in some ways (inquiry, transdisciplinary approach, the learner profile) and not in others (content, consistency, outcomes, assessments).
We welcome the views of our parents on what and how the school is doing. Over the years, we have received significant feedback from parents who value the inquiry-based learning in the Lower School but who also have suggestions for other approaches to learning; from this we felt we had a good sense of the parent view on the PYP.The process that resulted in the decision to move to a more flexible curriculum involved the Strategic Leadership, the Board, members of the curriculum articulation team and external educational consultants. We believe that these groups were best-placed to understand the issues from the perspective of student learning and to make the right decision for our students.