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Why we are on a mission to create learners for life

Two years ago, if you asked any of our students, “Where’s school?”, they would have pointed to a large campus, set off North Deeside Road. However, for much of the time since March 2019, school was something entirely different. Daily lessons took place in a virtual space.

Our true foundation is in our mission statement: “We deliver excellence in education through a safe and caring learning environment. Our students are challenged to reach their maximum potential through academic success and personal growth, becoming learners for life and socially responsible, active global citizens.”

On a mission

Whether students are attending online classes, or are back in our modern, purpose-built facility. These are the words that define ISA. It is a mission that begins with the essentials for successful learning:

  1. Children must be cared for before they can learn well. At ISA, this isn’t just a matter of resources which includes counsellors, a nurse and learning support teachers. It is an ethos.
  2. Starting where the child is at. Something that is a lot easier with smaller class sizes, and with teachers who are given a little extra time.
  3. Seeing children as individuals with their own learning journey. A place where children are not judged against averages or put in competition with each other. A place where they can focus on their own next step. Where none is discouraged, and the most able can’t be complacent.

Founded in 1972, around half of our 500 students are ex-pats from one of 45 different countries; the other half are UK citizens. It offers an international education with IGCSE exams taken at 16.

The prestigious IB Diploma taken at 18 is highly regarded by universities in the UK and around the world and ISA graduates go to Scottish, English and overseas universities. It boasts excellent facilities, small class sizes and well-qualified staff from around the world.

But what is it that makes us truly different?

It goes back to our mission and how important it is to our community. For us, “excellence in education” doesn’t mean selecting the best students and watching them do well. In a safe and caring environment, no child is given up on and every child is challenged to progress and develop their strengths. ISA is proud of its students who go on to Oxford and Edinburgh and who achieve full marks in the prestigious International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. Equally, we are proud of those students who choose other pathways.

Each child’s own excellence is a daily challenge to be better than they were the day before. To “maximise potential” is to encourage autonomy and self-motivation. At ISA, it is not about handing out grades. It is about helping students understand their own capacities and how to stretch them.

Today, graduates leave education and will enter a fast-changing globalised economy and getting there with a once-and-for-all stock of knowledge isn’t good enough. Graduates will have to continually learn and adapt. We are as keen to encourage aptitudes as it is to teach knowledge and understanding. ISA creates learners for life. We believe that the Arts shouldn’t just be for the greatest artists, nor PE for the strongest athletes. Mathematics, computer science or languages confined to the especially gifted.

Personal growth is key

For us, “personal growth” means just that. We develop the whole child – not in a competitive environment where only the best count, but in a safe place to explore individual meaning.

Parents may come to us for its modern, purpose-built facilities – the pool, the theatres, the tennis courts and the flood-lit pitches. They may have taken note of the exam grades considerably above world averages and our success in sending students to top universities. They may have been swayed by a friend or colleague talking about the caring and inclusive atmosphere. But what they find is a school with an authentic mission. A community with a clear set of values that are lived every day.


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Accredited by

International Baccalaureate Council of International Schools Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Cambridge International Examinations CNED