The highland city of Bandung is about two-and-a-half hours’ drive away to the southeast of Jakarta, and overwhelmingly is the destination of choice for Jakarta residents to get away for the weekends and long holidays. Of late, it has also become a frequented holiday resort for tourists from Singapore and Malaysia, who come here in droves to shop and enjoy the fabulous food and the serene nature. In the heart of this ‘Parijs van Java’ (the Paris of Java), is located one of the foremost schools in all West Java – the Bandung Independent School.
Bandung Independent School (BIS), originally named Bandung International School, was established in 1972 as a non-profit foundation to support the expatriate community of the city. Operating first as an elementary school, the foundation eventually opened early childhood, middle school, and high school. BIS now supports students from ages 3-18, with one class at each grade level. BIS is an IB (International Baccalaureate) World School, offering the Diploma Programme since 2007 and the Primary Years Programme since 2004. BIS is also accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
The school’s guiding statements reflect its commitment to personalized learning and international mindedness. It values critical and creative thinking, responsible decision-making, resilience, empathy, and integrity.
Vision: To nurture individual potential and be an internationally minded school of excellence.
Mission: Through relevant, challenging, and engaging programmes, BIS inspires every learner to become skillful and courageous, empowered to participate responsibly, successfully and with integrity in a global community.
A Well-rounded Education
In Bandung Independent School’s view, an academically challenging environment also means exploring multiple perspectives, exercising critical thinking skills, and taking responsible action in their communities. “If the purpose of education is to prepare students for active global citizenship, then maintaining rigorous standards is only one piece of the puzzle,” said the Head of School, Dr Michael Berry.
As an IB World School, BIS aims to develop the student holistically, and that its students develop conceptual understandings of several knowledge areas through an engaging but challenging curriculum. Subjects are not taught in complete isolation, as the faculty encourages their students to find meaningful connections between subjects to solve complex real-world problems. Along the way, they develop skills and attributes that help them collaborate,
self-manage, inquire, and reflect.
At BIS, learning does not end at 2:45. The school offers a wealth of extra-curricular activities, from service clubs and team sports to musical dramas and tinkering projects. “It is our hope that students discover their passions during their time at BIS, whether that happens during or outside the traditional school timetable,” added Dr Berry.
Educators who Care
BIS has employed a Wellness Coordinator who works with students in grades K-12 as well as with the teachers. Being an integral member of the BIS Student Support Team, the Wellness Coordinator supports students emotionally whilst also counselling those children who may require specialized support for learning.
BIS’s University Counsellor supports its students and their families in navigating the application processes for colleges and universities located all over the world and providing country specific information to each student. In addition, networking with institutions worldwide and
offering advice on scholarships is another important role of the University Counsellor.
BIS also has scholarships, which are not based solely on academia. They are offered depending on a particular student’s ability to pay fees and other circumstances. Some of the scholarship opportunities that the students can avail for themselves are as follows:
# EARCOS Global Citizenship award to a G11 student.
# Science Fair Awards
# IISSAC Sport’s Awards – MVP
# Students have the opportunity to work towards the SEAMO award in Math.
# Immerse Education Essay Competition.
Currently, BIS offers American high-school Diploma and International Baccalaureate Diploma.
For much of the education sectors globally, Covid-19 has proven to be a tough challenge to navigate. In March 2020, BIS and other Indonesian schools were made to adapt to online learning and teaching. A year later, the school is still not permitted to hold face-to-face classes. However, in August 2021, BIS anticipates welcoming back its learning community back in the classrooms.
To help overcome this challenge, BIS assures that it has developed an effective distance learning platform that has allowed BIS students to continue to advance academically. However, as it is well known, students are struggling with the isolation they are feeling due to their inability to physically be in the classroom with their classmates. The faculty at BIS recognizes this and take the time to meet with students throughout the day and during ‘dragon time’, advisory classes, to offer support or simply to chat with the pupils about their lives, school, or anything else that may be on their minds.
Refining the Pedagogy
As an IB World School, BIS considers it is inherent that it gives back to its local community. Being an internationally minded school, it takes pride in working with schools to strengthen the holistic learning experiences for BIS’s as well as other schools’ students. The school philosophy is in direct alignment with that of the IB as evident by its guiding statements and involvement with the local community.
Competition for student enrolment is high at Bandung. However, the BIS team feels that the school offers a great deal to its families that other schools may not. Firstly, BIS offers the IB (International Baccalaureate) curriculum from early childhood through to high school. The rigorous curriculum that is facilitated by highly experienced and skilled IB practitioners prepares the students to be successful in the future by teaching 21st century skills. Secondly, the BIS community is incredibly close, tight-knit, and supportive.
Expressing his pride on being a part of the Bandung family, Dr Michael Berry added: “We often speak of developing a sense of a collective efficacy where parents, teachers, students, administration, and the Board are all working towards the same goal of creating a student-centred school committed to student success and well-being academically, socially, and emotionally – a truly holistic approach to education.”
A Bright Future
In terms of teaching and learning, Bandung Independent School is in the process of becoming authorised to be dignified as an IBMYP (IB middle years programme) school. The school already offers the prestigious IBPYP and IBDP curriculum. By offering the rigorous IBMYP, BIS will soon be the only school in the West Java province to offer all three IB programmes, making it the first IB Continuum school in the area.
BIS does not believe in resting on its laurels; it strives to become a better school that benefits their community. At the high school level, the IBDP scores are consistently above the world average. Additionally, the school’s MAP standardized assessment scores go beyond the world
average. With the commitment to continue to develop their already highly skilled teachers and by reuniting new educators with proven experience in the IB, the school aims at improving on its previous successes.
BIS recently completed its most recent strategic plan. The Board, the senior leadership team and various stakeholders are all keenly looking forward to creating new strategic plans that encompass their philosophy and ethos, encapsulated in the mission, vision, and value statements. BIS trusts that this new plan will help guide the decision-making process across all aspects of the school including curriculum development, developing a robust Master Plan for the infrastructure of the buildings on its camps, allowing for ubiquitous access to the world-wide-web, all the while designing an aggressive marketing campaign to continue to attract students and teachers, globally, to this crème de la crème of community schools.