Antwerp International School: Embracing A Holistic and Personalised Learning Approach

Children with young and impressionable minds are gearing up to become the global citizens of tomorrow. Their growth is parallel to the future of any country, reflected through the good quality of education the children encounter. Schools play a significant role in moulding their future by facilitating their all round development.

Antwerp International School is one of the world’s leading international schools, with a strong academic track record. Its comprehensive education ensures that students are well equipped for life.

The school opened its doors in 1967, initially welcoming students from Grade 1 through Grade 8. By the mid-1970s, demand was so great that the school expanded to include Grades 9 through 12. A building boom in the early 1990s added a cafeteria, a library, computer labs and more classrooms, as well as specialised facilities for art, music and theatre. Further enhancements brought a new state-of-the-art gymnasium.

Currently, the school is upgrading and redesigning its current STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) facilities. The state of the art space will increase excitement and interest in STEM subjects.

Today, AIS offers a world-class IB education in English with approximately 400 students representing 40 nationalities. AIS was founded with a vision for Inspiring Successful Futures and today that vision remains more focused than ever.

In an interview with The Knowledge Review, Andreas Koini, Head of School shares insightful perspectives and opinions about the school, its vision and mission, its key aspects, and how it strives towards a better tomorrow for its students.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Kindly enlighten us on your school’s mission and vision, the accreditations.

AIS is an IB World School, offering the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme in Grades 11 and 12. The school also offers the Primary Years Programme (PYP) and the Middle Years Programme (MYP) of the IB.

In the past 53 years, we have taken many steps to provide the best education for our students. We take pride in what we have achieved on an educational level and are happy to see AIS as the dynamic, intercultural learning environment it is today.

In 2017, we received authorisation for the IB Primary Years Programme, making us the only school in Belgium to offer the full continuum of the International Baccalaureate – along with the Middle Years Programme and the Diploma Programme.

Through a holistic and personalised teaching approach, we want our students to discover their true talents by exploring different disciplines in the arts, sciences, and sports. We offer the best education possible, so when they “spread their wings and fly,” they will take a love of learning with them.

We are accredited by CIS and NEASC.

Please elucidate on some of your school’s accomplishments.

We challenge, support and empower our students to excel across the entire spectrum of academic fields. We foster emotional and social well-being through a wide range of athletic, artistic and social learning opportunities.

GOLD! Duke of Edinburgh International Award

In February 2019 we celebrated student achievement in the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. Her Excellency the Ambassador of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Alison Rose, came to our school in February to give Shania, our first student to receive gold, her award along with other bronze and silver recipients.

What sports activities does the school engage in?

AIS Griffins

The AIS sports teams are named after the Griffin, a mythical creature with the body of a lion (symbolising the Flemish community) and the head and wings of an American eagle (as a nod to the school’s roots as the American School of Antwerp).


The Northwest European Council of International Schools (NECIS) is an organisation promoting competitive tournaments between member schools throughout Northwestern Europe. AIS competes in and hosts tournaments with schools from Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

Sports Calendar

The school year is divided into three seasons:

* Fall: Cross Country, Girls Volleyball, Boys Soccer

* Winter: Basketball, Swimming

* Spring: Track & Field, Tennis, Girls Soccer, Softball

Brief us about the learning and development programs, and your school’s academic excellence.


The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018 results show Antwerp International School is on par with two PISA countries. PISA measures 15 year olds’ ability to use their reading, mathematics, and science knowledge. Around 600,000 students in 79 countries completed the test in 2018.

Antwerp International School benchmarks itself against these results by conducting the International Schools’ Assessment (ISA) tests on an annual basis. While PISA only assesses reading, mathematics and science skills for 15 year olds, ISA allows us to assess these skills for the entire range of 8 to 15 year olds. At the moment we test reading and mathematics skills. Both PISA and ISA use the same testing regime and assessment scale, thus providing a direct comparison of AIS students with PISA results.

The PISA OECD world average score for reading is 487 and for mathematics is 489. Our 2018 Grade 10 students scored an average of 562 in reading and 589 in mathematics. In fact, most of our Grade 7 students (12 years of age) already perform on the level of the PISA world average for 15 year olds. Belgium ranks at 22nd place in the league table, with scores of 493 for reading and 508 for mathematics.

Clearly, we are very proud of these results, even more so because we are a non-selective school, admitting students from all academic backgrounds. However, at AIS we use our ISA results as just one key indicator of educational success. Educating a child cannot be reduced to a few numerical measures and academic subjects.

A holistic education also takes into account the development of the entire personality, the respective social-emotional and cognitive domains, as well as cultural and language backgrounds, to name just a few. AIS students are also guided and trained in all these important areas, in addition to the obvious excellent academic standards.

50 Years of Excellence

In 2017, AIS celebrated 50 years of inspiring successful futures. Our 50th anniversary celebrations kicked off with a powerful statement, “The future is now”.

Inspiration Day was a whirlwind of guest speakers such as Marc Herremans, Annick Beyers and Nancy Vermeulen; making friends with Pepper the Robot; and a focus on the STEM subjects. At the end of such a stimulating day, students, teachers and parents kicked back and relaxed, enjoying a tasty food festival.

About the Head Of School

Over the course of 53 years, AIS has grown into one of the most renowned and highly regarded international schools in Europe and worldwide. Mr. Koini’s mission is to make sure that this reputation is upheld and flourishes over the next 50 years and beyond.

He believes, from an educational aspect, things have improved so much since the 1960s, when the students sat stiffly in the classroom listening to the teacher who stood at the front. These days, society demands creativity and independent thinking.

In the opinion of Mr. Koini, a solid academic background paired with creativity and independent thinking is precisely what is expected for the future success of the students. He feels co-curricular activities such as Sports and Arts are an essential part of a broader education, something his school has always promoted and valued. Now, under his leadership, the team at AIS is focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.

He ensures that the students establish a practical link between what they learn in the classroom and their future endeavours. He and his team continue to strengthen their community ties, establishing themselves firmly in the local area. He feels that the school is an asset to Antwerp and to Belgium, and collaboration with the local community reflects the importance they place on their relationships. AIS very much echoes Antwerp as a cosmopolitan city and a close-knit community with diverse nationalities and cultures. Mr. Koini is proud of the very successful half-century and is ready for the next 50 years.

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