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A balanced approach to learning Education for Life

1 April 2021

This article was initially published by the family platform Things to do in Geneva.

How do you know whether a school is right for your child? If you’re a parent scanning the websites of international schools in Geneva in search of the right fit for your child, what are your criteria? Are you interested in top grades only or are you swayed by great facilities or outstanding sports achievements? Do you want a school with a ‘cosy’ environment where your child will feel at home?

In our fast-changing world, the role of education constantly needs to evolve to help prepare students for what lies ahead. School is no longer just about the grades – it’s about equipping a child with holistic, all round skills to help him or her grow into a confident, responsible adult who can withstand the pressures of modern life.

A balanced, all-round education

At the International Institute International de Lancy (IIL) – one of Geneva’s leading international schools – the focus is on holistic education. This is reflected in their new slogan: Education for life. The goal of the school is two-fold: to prepare students to fulfil their potential professionally, regardless of career choice but equally importantly, to equip them with all-important life skills they need to cope with the pace and changes of modern life.

These ‘soft’ skills include:
• Autonomy
• An open mind
• Intellectual curiosity
• Collaboration

How is the balanced approach to learning implemented at IIL?

IIL’s commitment to balanced learning and how this benefits their students is visible throughout the school:

Full Steam ahead – ‘cultivating 21st century skills’

The fully equipped STEAM labs as an extension of the STEAM programme at IIL are a great example of how the school encourages a love for discovery in their students and presents them with real-world challenges in a stimulating environment. The programme is integrated into every classroom throughout the primary and secondary sections.

“The goal of STEAM at IIL is to nurture creativity, inspire innovative thinking processes, work in collaboration to solve problems, guide inquiry-based challenges and enrich 21st century skills,”

says Felicia De Lucia, ICT Leader in English Primary.

The programme is based upon cognition through ‘reflection on doing’, using science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics to engage students in hands-on, experiential learning.

KIVA – a fresh approach to bullying

The school’s adoption of an internationally recognised anti-bullying programme in 2020 underscores its approach to balanced learning. The Finnish programme KiVa addresses school bullying through prevention, intervention and monitoring. IIL is to date the only KiVa certified school in Switzerland. The programme focuses on addressing bullying in a preventative way by creating an inclusive environment where all students feel safe.

“It is important to create an inclusive environment where students learn empathy and tolerance, as well as resilience to overcome obstacles,”

says Chase Jones, a secondary teacher and certified KiVa trainer at IIL.

As part of the preventative measures, children learn about emotions, develop empathy and how to identify bullying and help someone who is being bullied.

“The goal is to move students from being silent witnesses to become defenders of students who are being bullied,”

says Mr Jones.

Fair play – Physical development

“The approach to sport at IIL is to combine a balanced physical education with the holistic development of the child,”

says IIL Head of Sports, Arnaud Denis.

The goal is to foster an enjoyment of sport, even among pupils who don’t see themselves as sporty and to encourage students to discover and learn new sports practices throughout their school career.

“It is equally important during sports education to teach positive values such as mutual respect and fair play among students,”

says Mr Denis.

One of the school’s achievements is a massive boost in the number of students participating in inter-school tournaments, growing to around 300 students in football and netball in 2020. The school’s sports coaches have produced several sports guides and use the latest technologies such as iPads to film students and help them improve their performance. As from 2022 the school will provide a protocol accommodating high level sports performers at the school with an adapted programme to allow them to pursue their passion alongside a solid academic education. For example, they will have access to online lessons and will have half days off to accommodate sports commitments.

School trips – learning about other cultures

Another way in which the school cultivates holistic learning is by encouraging school excursions and trips such as the annual 3-day initiation trips in the mountains, which include hiking and raft building – as an opportunity for French and English students to get to know one another better.
During the first year 50 students participated in this trip, whereas 10 years later 950 students joined the activities in the mountains to learn about one another and develop team-building skills during 2020, says Mr Denis.
Other school trips include excursions to Glenans, the famous windsurfing school in Brittany and ski trips.

“The school trips play an important role in our school of more than 80 nationalities – it is through physical activities and travelling together that our students learn to respect one another and to get on well together,”

says Mr Denis.

If you would like to find out more about IIL and how their balanced approach to learning could benefit your child, contact us here.