The land of beaches, diverse rainforest with great oil reserves and with one of the largest natural gas plants in the world, Brunei is also known for universal education. A very safe country, Brunei houses some of the best educational institutions in the world. It is the government’s endeavour to provide quality education to all and is constantly striving for the same.
One such school that we at The Knowledge Review came across is the International School Brunei that started off with a simple idea to educate a few children and went on to become a school of international repute.
Humble Beginning, Remarkable History
It all started in 1964, Datin Glass, a government officer’s wife, started a tutorial group for her daughter and one or two friends and taught them by means of a correspondence course sent out and marked by the South Australian Correspondence School. The number of students grew quite rapidly and by 1970, the school moved to a site provided by the Brunei Government and was established as a department of the South Australian Correspondence School, known locally as the Supervision School.
The school was a two-storey wooden building. By February 1971, there were 30 kindergarten pupils and 31 primary students. The enrolment continued to grow and by 1974, it had reached 160. In 1976, the school converted to a fully independent, private, preparatory school, employing trained teachers and adopting an education based on the UK primary school principles.
International School Brunei was established as a not-for profit school and a limited company on December 1, 1976. The school had a Board of Directors elected from the membership of the company.
Currently ISB caters for over 1300 students comprising of Early Years, Primary, Secondary and Pre-University. As a non-selective and fully inclusive school, ISB is proud to work closely together with the local community in a distinctive, happy, family atmosphere. ISB offers an adapted England and Wales curriculum followed by IGCSE and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP). With over 40 nationalities celebrated in the staff and student team, ISB is proud to be truly international.
World Class Facilities
The school boasts world class facilities with well-equipped laboratories, workshops and classrooms, a 25m FINA- approved touch-pad competition swimming pool, a community Sports Hall, an eco-garden, and an international boarding facility. In addition, at ISB Centre for Inclusive Learning, ISB supports students with significant and complex learning needs in a purpose-built centre.
Mission, Vision, Core Values and Motto
Proud to be an inclusive school, at ISB ‘Everyone Excels’. ISB values a broad-based, holistic curriculum driven by the school’s mission – “Inspiring Minds, Shaping Values, Building Futures”. The school’s warm, supportive and inclusive environment, combined with students of all abilities, cultures and backgrounds, inspires its students to become caring, open-minded global citizens geared for success in an ever-changing world.
A Leadership Unparalleled
The school’s leadership team, headed by ISB’s Executive Principal Mrs Laura Thomas, is a team of experienced international teachers – having worked in schools and leadership positions across the globe.
When the pandemic hit Brunei in early 2020, as part of the school’s push to make remote education accessible for its students during this challenging and unprecedented times, ISB operated as a virtual school for the third school term.
Overcoming the Challenge
ISB planned and prepared for their virtual school model during the 2020 March school holiday to quickly adapt their academic programme to ensure that learning is equitable and effective for all students to the greatest possible extent. Teachers received training to prepare them for the remote learning. Whilst virtual school did not replicate onsite learning, teachers delivered powerful instruction that allowed students to meet expected standards in the online environment. ISB ensured that learning was uninterrupted.
The ISB Virtual School experience aligns with ISB mission – Everyone Excels in an inclusive learning environment. Students had worked in online and offline environments to continue with their learning journey, solve problems, think critically, and collaborate with other students and teachers.
The provision offered to the students (both academic lessons and pastoral support) by the dedicated team has been absolutely world class. Attendance rates for ISB students at virtual school have been excellent (and sometimes have even exceeded attendance rates at normal school). The school also supported several students who are accessing the Virtual School from their home countries such as USA, New Zealand, Oman and India, as the students and their families are unable to travel back to Brunei.
The Curriculum and Accreditations
The school offers Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum education from Pre-Kindy and an internationally adapted National Curriculum of England and Wales from Year 1 to Year 9 followed by IGCSEs and the IB Diploma programme in the Pre-University section.
The school is non-selective, and currently has over 1300 students from over 40 different nationalities. Academic results are above world averages with students leaving ISB to attend top universities all over the world.
ISB is a fully inclusive school. It provides education to all students regardless of their abilities. ISB is proud to have a learning support provision led by an experienced and highly qualified team. ISB is committed to continued professional development and is forward thinking in its approach.
ISB has been fully accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) since 2004. The CIS is a global non-profit membership organisation that provides services to schools and institutions focused on international education and having a commitment to high quality education.
ISB is an IB World School authorised to offer the Diploma Programme since 2004. As an IB World School, ISB is part of a global community of schools committed to developing knowledgeable, caring young people who will be ready to negotiate their futures successfully and make contributions resulting in a more harmonious and peaceful world. The IB Diploma Programme is an academically challenging and balanced course of study that prepares students for success at university and life beyond. The Programme has gained recognition and respect from the world’s leading universities for breadth and depth.
ISB is an approved Cambridge International Examinations Testing Centre and Edexcel Testing Centre, which authorises ISB for the International General Certificate of Secondary Education for Key Stage Four.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) International Award is the world’s leading youth achievement award which aims to empower young people, aged 14 to 24 years, to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others, by exploring their potential, taking on new challenges, giving back to their community, and achieving success. Students of ISB has been actively participating in the award scheme annually.
ISB has a long-term commitment to environmental conservation and sustainability and is one of the very few Green Flag accredited Eco-schools in Asia. In 2012, ISB became the first Eco-school in Borneo, having received the Green Mark accreditation from the Building & Construction Authority (BCA) Singapore for its green design and eco-friendly environment.
The East Asia Regional Council of Schools (EARCOS) is an organization of 165 member schools in East Asia – of which ISB is also a member of.
ISB is also a FOBISIA (Federation of British International Schools in Asia) member school which promotes and organises academic competitions, sport, music, drama, debating, student leadership activities and teacher development across their member schools. “Our students benefit hugely from all these competitions, and the professional development complements our own extensive programme well,” shared the school management.
The school’s warm, supportive and inclusive environment, combined with students of all abilities, cultures and backgrounds, inspire its students to become caring, open- minded individuals geared for success in an ever-changing world.
The unique combination of opportunity, challenge and care provided by ISB ensures that students leave secure in the knowledge they are prepared for the challenges of university life and beyond.
Achievements, Awards, Accolades
A holder of the highly acclaimed award, The Eco-Schools Green Flag, an internationally recognized award for excellence in environmental action and learning, ISB is committed to sustainability and eco awareness beyond the school community.
The Bandar campus is designed as a green school and was presented the Green Mark Award from Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA), for its eco-friendly campus with a focus on energy and water efficiency, indoor environmental quality and other green features and innovations.
Since 2007, ISB has been annually hosting a student-led Model United Nations (MUN) style conference, ISB BGIC (Borneo Global Issues Conference), where student- participants represent countries to address various views on current, real world issues. This initiative is aimed at the development of students’ understanding of global citizenship and critical skills in research, public speaking, and negotiation. ISB had recently concluded its 17th conference in March 2021 following the theme Sustainable Development Goal 10 – Reduced Inequalities with the Royal Patron being, Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah binti Pengiran Salleh Ab Rahaman, D.K.
In 2019, ISB was awarded 10 medals in the annual World Scholar’s Cup (WSC) finals, Tournament of Champions at Yale University in the United States.
“Our students originally participated in the Regional Round of the competition, successfully qualifying for subsequent Global Round and all the way to the grand finals,” said the school management.
As a FOBISIA member school, ISB is able to participate in a variety of tournaments and competitions over the course of an academic year. During the FOBISIA games in 2019, the ISB U15 team collected a total of 158 medals, of which 53% were gold.
ISB offers a rigorous academic programme, achieving results above world averages.
The 2020 cohort of ISB Year 11 students gained 88% A*-C Grades whilst Year 13 graduates celebrated exemplary IBDP results with a 96% pass rate.
ISB is proud to be a not-for-profit school, where all revenue goes back into making the school a place where students are at the heart. Academic studies are enriched by a wide range of learning activities – from Eco projects to FOBISIA events, from community service to school productions and from ECAs to House competitions.
“ISB is proud to be an inclusive school where everybody in our diverse community excels; including children with additional needs, our most able learners, those for whom English is an additional language and those from a wide range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. We have high ambitions and set aspirational targets for all our students”.
Model United Nations – Borneo Global Issues Conference (BGIC)
To enhance the IBDP Core and embrace the IB Learner Profile attributes, ISB’s annual student-led Borneo Global Issues Conference (BGIC) is a highlight of the year. Run as a Model United Nations Conference, BGIC is a student- led initiative welcoming more than 350 students from over 20 schools, offering students the opportunity to form local and regional links; interact with global experts and to develop awareness of different perspectives on issues affecting the local and global communities.
ISB has a long-term commitment to environmental conservation and sustainability and is one of the very few Green Flags accredited Eco-schools in Asia.
ISB is the first Eco-school in Borneo, having received the Greenmark accreditation from the Building & Construction Authority (BCA) Singapore for its green design and eco-friendly environment.
ISB is committed to sustainability and eco awareness beyond the school community. “We believe our students can make a real difference in this world. Outdoor learning is integral to our curriculum; students enjoying our Jungle Classroom and Eco Garden to enhance their learning,” informed the school leadership.
ISB Residence (Boarding House)
The ISB Residence is considered a home away from home for students. The Residence offers a friendly structured environment. The Residence consists of two conjoined buildings, of which one is for male boarders and the other for female boarders. The buildings are joined by a common room, allowing all boarders the opportunity to unwind together after a long day of classes.
“At the Residence, we do not only nurture our boarders to achieve academically and be model global citizens, but also to be able to survive in the increasingly competitive 21st century. Holistic education is achieved through our in-house Life Skills Awards, prepping our Residence students with the skills and confidence to take on the world. We strive to provide an environment where students in our care are treated as individuals and receive a personalised educational experience with the opportunity to develop and grow in body, mind and spirit,” affirms the school management.
ISB is a learning community, supporting the learning of students, staff, parents and the wider public. The school offers a number of courses for the wider community from its English Language Centre and CACHE Centre. With over 50 years of accredited experience in high quality teaching and learning, ISB ELC provides English courses to meet different learning goals and aspirations in efficient and enjoyable ways, giving learners a valuable experience with quality teaching that gets results.
ISB CACHE Centre offers a range of professional qualifications for adults in Early Years, Teaching and Learning and Special Needs Education.
Additionally, ISB also offer various community classes that are open to public.
Centre for Inclusive Learning
ISB’s new Centre for Inclusive Learning in Panaga, Belait District, is a specialist provision for children with diagnosed learning difficulties, including Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome and Speech, Language and Communication Needs.
The Centre’s philosophy is that Everyone Excels when provided with the appropriate challenge and opportunities in a caring, safe and inclusive environment.
Looking Ahead and Beyond
ISB is a vibrant, friendly and internationally diverse school that values community and provide a warm, supportive and inclusive environment where students of all ability ranges and backgrounds are inspired and challenged to achieve and excel; be it in the classroom, on the sports field, or in Performing Arts.
ISB values a broad-based, holistic curriculum driven by the school mission “Inspiring Minds, Shaping Values, Building Futures”. The school aims to nurture students to be responsible global citizens who feel empowered and can make a difference.