The International School of Brno (ISB) is a private educational institution offering a quality education to international and Czech students living in the Czech Republic. The ISB is a member of the Council of International Schools and CIE Cambridge. My colleague, Agnes and I ventured to the school for a tour and an interview with General Coordinator, Dylan Vance.
Did you and your colleagues establish the ISB because the community called for it?
Yes. This school used to belong to a Czech state school, but changes in the needs of the community and laws meant that the state school model was no longer appropriate or viable. Mr. Švihálek (Head of School) came in at the beginning of these changes and set a new direction for the school. At the same time, contact was made with Pavel Iványi, the current Chairman of the Board of Directors, who also played a major role in establishing ISB. There were a lot of conditions and high expectations that had to be met. One thing that really helped was the fact Brno had focused on 3 areas for development if it was to be considered an international city: 1. health care, 2. public transport and infrastructure, 3. international school. Therefore, we have had overwhelming support from the city of Brno.
How many students are enrolled at ISB?
From grade k-10 we have just under 100 students. We started 5 years ago and we grow about 10 students per year.
What are some challenges of a private international school in Brno?
The biggest challenge that we’re facing right now as we establish the high school is to make sure that we providing a solid foundation for our students as they begin to look towards higher education and a career path.
There is a big news from ISB that you are opening a high school – the first of its kinds in Brno, can you tell us more about that?
In the Czech Republic, 9th grade is still considered elementary education. Therefore, when we first opened we offered courses up until 9th grade, because all students in the Czech Republic have to attend elementary education. We decided we would wait and see if the parents and students would eventually be interested in a high school. So now we have decided that we should establish a high school, and once it is available and established we believe more students and parents will be attracted to the high school offer. This year we opened grade 10 and students take their final exam (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) through Cambridge International. Next year we will open 11th grade (AS level) and in 2014 we will open 12th grade (A level.)
What courses does the curriculum place emphasis on at ISB?
To being with we’re focusing on the so-called “hard subjects” like Math, History, English Lit,Science, Geography, etc. because those are often the most essential ones to have when it comes to applying to universities. However we know that other courses such as Economics, Psychology, and Critical Thinking are important and fascinating courses an we look forward to offering them as the student body grows.
Do you offer Czech language courses?
We do offer Czech courses to all our students but in order to best meet the needs and expectations of the families, we are currently reviewing this aspect of our curriculum. We will be announcing changes for the 2013/2014 school year very soon.
Where do the teachers come from that work at ISB?
Most full time are from Canada, US, Australia, or the U.K. We also have a teacher from India, and Czech Republic. You can check out the staff at ISOB here.
What type of after school activities are offered to the students?
Football, judo, art, and German – this year we don’t have drama but it our grade 1 teacher is putting together a very exciting-looking drama club for next year that is already getting a lot of interest.
I saw on your website that you guys take student trips – where do you go?
Yeah, just this past winter I went with grades 6-10 dog sledding in North Bohemia and grades 4 & 5 are going to London next week. We always offer a Spring trip but we didn’t have enough interest this year. However, we have decided to include the trips in the cost of tuition for the next year (with the parents support) so that the trips are mandatory because they are a really amazing experience.
Do you rely on the parents and encourage their involvement?
Parents play a huge role in making ISB a great place for students learn. The PTA meeting regularly to work on event planning, classroom support, identifying areas for improvement and so forth. It is so important that parents have a genuine role to play in the education of their children and we as a school are very lucky to have such concerned and supportive parents backing us up. Tour After the interview Agnes and I joined Dylan for an exclusive tour of the ISB where we were able to discover the values of the ISB, say hello to a few of the classes, talk to the teachers, and explore the buildings facilities.
Mission statement of ISB:
The International School of Brno aims to provide all kindergarten to grade 9 students from all over the world with the necessary tools to become committed, lifelong learners and responsible, engaged citizens of the world.
Small class sizes ensure that each student has a voice while our comprehensive and engaging curriculum ensures that all students are able to create their own path towards achieving their own personal and academic goals.
Every decision at ISB is made with this mission statement in mind, and it is emphasized to the parents, students, and teachers as the most important values of the education at ISB.
However, they don’t expect children to remember such a statement so they remind them of these values by teaching them “Fun, Respect, and Hard Work” which is a theme throughout the entire school.
One of the things Agnes and I really enjoyed about ISB was the way they reward students for hard work, progress, success, and encourage individuality out of their students.
Overall, ISB has competitive facilities, a curriculum that is well-rounded, stimulating, and meets requirements of International standards, and a staff that genuinely cares about their students success.