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Here’s how international schools can help your child find their life purpose

The pace of change today means schools are being challenged like never before to ensure their teaching remains relevant. How can you as a parent be sure your child is getting the education they need for tomorrow’s world?

Here's how international schools can help your child find their life purpose
Photo: Getty Images

One solution could be to look at schools teaching the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme (IBCP). Unlike most school curricula, the IBCP – which is the fastest-growing IB programme – was developed in the 21st century.

It aims to provide students aged 16 to 19 with a toolbox for their future lives and careers, promoting a wide range of skills and self-confidence.

The Local has partnered with Montreux International School, a Swiss co-educational international school for 16 to 19-year-olds that focuses on the IBCP, to highlight five ways in which your child’s school can prepare them for a complex future. 

Switzerland’s first IBCP-only school: Montreux International School will open its doors for the first time in September 2021

1. By letting them pursue their passions 

“Students need choice and they need to own their own learning,” says Jon Halligan, former head of business development for the International Baccalaureate. The idea that children can learn as passive recipients of information, whether by listening in silence to a teacher or simply reading a textbook, is on the way out.

The IB has always looked to encourage inquiry-based learning in the belief that learners construct their own knowledge. Now, the IBCP looks to do that in a way that is fit for the digital age.

Halligan says teenagers’ brains mature much more quickly now than in the past, making them more demanding in wanting to know why they should engage with something. “We’re trying to allow students to pursue their passions, making sure that their learning is relevant and authentic,” he says. “I’m consistently asked ‘Why am I learning this?’ They’re most engaged when they see purpose and relevance.”

2. By emphasising principles

From fighting climate change to personal wellbeing, young people expect ethical concerns to be central to their future careers. Being caring and principled are two of the ten key attributes all IB students are expected to develop. IBCP students have a clear framework for this through courses on service learning and personal and professional skills.

The latter encourages them to explore deep issues about personal identity, says Halligan, who is now Managing Director at Montreux International School. “Once you start to understand yourself, you can also appreciate how other people can be right even if they don’t have the same values or identity as you,” he says.

Students are also asked to focus on what it means to be part of a team and what constitutes leadership, he adds. Montreux International School also offers its own Global Perspectives series of courses to encourage students to “step back and explore their place in the world”. 

3. By giving them real world relevance

Teenagers today want to know where they’re going and why. The well-known International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP), developed in the 1960s, focuses on preparing for university studies. But the IBCP is broader, providing accelerated routes to leading global universities and clear career opportunities.

“Life has moved on a lot,” says Halligan. “The IBCP opens up industry pathways, as well as a path to university, and allows students to see the purpose of what they’re learning.”

Students at Montreux International School will take at least two courses from the traditional DP to give them a solid academic grounding, the IBCP core (focusing on interpersonal skills and problem-solving), plus a professional learning qualification with an external industry partner.

The choices for the final career-related part are Business, Luxury Hospitality and Brand or Business and Digital Marketing. There are huge opportunities in both sectors, says Halligan. “Hospitality is undergoing a huge transformation and it’s an amazing time to be the generation who shape it,” he says. “Digital marketing has boomed because of the pandemic and is going to become even more important whatever industry you’re in.” 

Nor does choosing one route mean you can’t change course. “Business is a huge field and the skills you learn on our programmes are transferable,” he adds.

Learn more about the IBCP pathways at Montreux International School – applications are open for when the school opens in September 2021

Jon Halligan. Photo: VIE Education

4. By unleashing their entrepreneurial spirit 

“I think all students are entrepreneurial,” says Halligan. “As humans, we’re naturally creative and everyone has ideas.” But not all schools or curricula stimulate or foster that creative impulse. “We like the IBCP because it teaches students how to generate, analyse and interrogate ideas,” he continues. 

A key differentiator compared with most educational programmes is the focus on helping students to analyse risks and see how to apply their ideas in the real world. 

“All the tools you might see taught in an MBA or a higher level degree are taught in the IBCP,” he says. “It’s quite unique in that regard.” So teenagers learn how to do a SWOT analysis and use the starbursting technique for brainstorming to name just two.

The emphasis is on developing the competency to get things done, rather than just passing an exam. “Learning from failure and understanding your mistakes is the most powerful learning you can do,” adds Halligan. “History is littered with examples of this, from Churchill to Steve Jobs.”

5. By helping them ask big questions about tech 

Teenagers studying an IBCP need to develop a wide range of technical skills. But to think that’s the whole point so far as education and technology is concerned is to miss the point, says Halligan.

What’s more important than ever is allowing students to explore their relationship with technology, and the positive and negative impacts that can or could happen,” he says. Teenagers should understand not only their identity but also their “virtual identity”.

At Montreux International School, students will study the THRIVE curriculum, based around the work of US-based organisations such as the Center for Humane Technology. They’ll be encouraged to reflect on both practical and ethical questions. 

The former include understanding what accepting cookies means. The latter extends to one fundamental question facing the world, says Halligan: “Just because we have the technology to do something, should we?”

Learn more about the first Swiss IBCP-only school. Is your child ready for tomorrow’s world? Admissions to Montreux International School are open for September 2021 and you can take a 360 degree VR campus tour online

Member comments

  1. How weird that you can ignore that half of the employment scene which is publicly provided — and the intended goal of at least half of young people today.

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EDUCATION

EXPLAINED: How does the school system work in Denmark?

Education is compulsory in Denmark for everyone between the ages of six or seven and 16. But where you are educated is the choice of the parent, with options of private, state-run or 'free' schools.

EXPLAINED: How does the school system work in Denmark?

The Danish education system is distinguished by a relaxed relationship between pupil and teacher. Teachers are called by their first names and children often work in groups and are encouraged to challenge the established way of doing things.  Exams or assessments are often oral, with some written tests.

Most children in Denmark attend state-run schools, which are free. These are called folkeskole and gymnasium. 

Folkeskole

Folkeskole consists of one year of pre-school grade or class (0. klasse), nine years of primary and lower secondary education (1.-9. klasse) and a one-year voluntary 10th grade. Exams are taken in 9. klasse and it’s then optional as to what path the teenager (usually aged aged 16) chooses. At the end of 9. klasse, students must sit exams in seven subjects. Some of these are oral exams only.

Gymnasium

Gymnasium or upper secondary school is the equivalent of the English sixth form. 

Students can study a range of subjects in gymnasium at different levels, called a line of study (studieretning). The course contains some compulsory subjects such as Danish, English, mathematics, basic science, and history. Students can then choose a number of other subjects such as music, art, philosophy, and social studies. 

Gymnasium is for three years and results in exams called studentereksamen, which are necessary for attending university. There are however some two-year courses at gymnasium, called HF.

Vocational training (erhvervsuddannelser)

Rather than attending gymnasium after 9th grade, pupils can choose from over 100 different vocational courses that result in an apprenticeship. Some of the courses can lead to higher education, depending on the vocational training.

10th grade
 
For those pupils who are not sure whether to choose gymnasium or vocational training, there is the option to go onto 10th grade, where they can continue studying some subjects before making the decision. 10th grade or 10 klasse can be completed at folkeskole or an efterskole.
 
Ungdomsskole
 
For those children from the age of 13, who are not suited to a folkeskole setting, ungdomskole offers a more practical way of teaching. The aim is for all pupils to complete the school leaving exam after the ninth grade but it is also possible for pupils to do an internship at a company alongside teaching.

Free schools

The idea of free schools in Denmark was headed by the theologian, poet and linguist N.F.S Grundtvig (1783-1872) and teacher Christen Kold (1816-70). Grundtvig and Kold were critical of the state education system and believed learning should be something that is life-long and related to an individual’s role in the world, rather than for the purpose of exams or employment.

Today, about 13 percent of school-age children attend free schools in Denmark.

There are three types of free school: friskole, efterskole and højskole. Many of them are in rural areas, especially on Fyn, where they were first established. There are over 500 friskoler, about 250 efterskoler and 80 højskoler.  

Friskole

These self-owned independent schools offer an alternative to the state elementary schools, folkeskole. The schools operate on their own set of values and holistic teaching practices, often set between teachers and parents. The schools are subsidised by the government but parents also pay a fee, around 900 kroner a month.

Efterskole

These are independent boarding schools where teenagers (usually aged 16 after 9th grade but can be from aged 14 after 7th grade), can spend one year or more, before gong on to gymnasium, vocational training or work. The schools often specialise in a particular subject such as sport, music or language. This is where students can complete 10th grade. 

Students from abroad can also attend an efterskole for a year and Danish families living abroad often send their children here to master the language and experience Danish culture.

The price is around 3,700 kroner a month for Danish residents but can vary, depending on the school.

Højskole

The final branch of free school is called højskole and is a boarding school for young people and adults to take a specialised course, which can range from two weeks to 40 weeks. Most long-term courses run for four to five months.

The schools offer almost any subject such as history, arts, music, sports, philosophy, theatre, photography and the schools decide individually on the content of the courses. There are no tests or exams at the end of the term and you don’t need any qualifications to join a course.

Every year over 50,000 people will take a course at a højskole, many of them on one or two-week courses, which cost around 2,000 kroner. Children are allowed to join family members on some courses.

Private schools

Around 15 percent of students in Denmark attend private schools. Some parents choose private schools because they are smaller, or because they have a particular educational approach. Others choose private schools for religious reasons or because they want an international school.  

Fees are subsidised by the government are usually cost between 1,000 and 4,000 kroner per month.

When do children start school in Denmark?

Most children start school the year they turn six. In Denmark, the oldest child in the year is born in January, with the youngest in December. The transition to school begins in May, with the new academic year beginning in August. Therefore there will be some children starting school in August who are five years old but about to turn six in the coming months, just as some will be turning seven in their first year of school.

How many are in a class?

The government has recently announced that classes in grades 0 to 2 (aged 6-8 years) at Denmark’s elementary schools (folkeskole) will be limited to a maximum of 26 children from 2023. The current limit is 28 students.

Although according to the Ministry of Children and Education, the majority of all classes in the country’s folkeskoler have an average of 20 or fewer students.

How long is the school day?

The school day usually starts at 8am and finishes between 1pm and 3pm. All children must exercise an average of 45 minutes a day as part of the school day, on top of sports lessons.

After school club

Skolefritidsordning, or SFO is for children in grades 0 to 3 (six to ten year-olds) where there are staff-led activities including sport, crafts, music, computer games, board games or simply playing with friends.

It is voluntary and paid for by the parent. In Copenhagen the cost is 1,665 kroner per month.

The club usually opens at 6:30am for before-school care and closes at 5pm.

There is a leisure club called fritidsklub for the 10-11 year olds and juniorklub for 12 to 14 year olds, which costs around 448 kroner a month.

Children aged 14 to 18 can attend a youth club (ungdomsklub) which is free.

Which school do I pick?

If you do not want your child to go to the local folkeskole in your district, you are free to enrol your child in one outside your school district or in a completely different municipality, as long as there is space. You have to digitally enrol your child at your chosen folkeskole.

 

If you want to sign up to a private or free school, you should contact the school individually. 

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