SSIS, Suzhou’s International School: Offering Education with an International Mindset

“We provide an excellent international education to the children of expatriate families. Every day we realize our vision by encouraging and enabling each of our students to be self-motivated lifelong learners who value other cultures and are responsible, meaningful participants in the international community.”

Spread across a spacious campus, SSIS, Suzhou’s International School is a fully authorized IB World School catering 2-18 year-old students. Students here represent over 50 nationalities with a total enrollment of 1,150. The oldest and largest International School in Suzhou, Suzhou Singapore International School, is more fondly known as SSIS

In the 1990’s development of Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP), a smaller area outside of Suzhou’s downtown area commenced under the partnership of the Chinese and Singapore governments. During the development process, the team recognized that there would be a strong need for an international school to educate the children of the incoming expats and Suzhou Singapore International School was established.

The mission of the school is to provide an excellent expatriate education. They promise to develop the child holistically, focusing not only on academic growth but also social and emotional growth – creating students who have the capacity to excel in the 21st Century global community, who are accepting of themselves, and who are able to demonstrate compassion for others. Students who are able to recognize and welcome all the opportunities presented by a diverse world. Students who thrive on high expectations for continued growth long after they have graduated.

The language of instruction at SSIS is English, but because the school has a large enrollment of non-native English speakers they offer an intensive ESL (English as a second language) program. Along with ESL classes, daily Chinese classes are offered in their Elementary school and Secondary students are strongly supported in mother tongue language learning with over eight other languages offered each year.

Guidance Worth in Gold

Mr. Bruford has been a part of the SSIS community for over seven years, taking on the role of Secondary Principal until he assumed the role of Head of School for the 2018/2019 academic year. He always wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people so education was a natural choice as a career. His interest in teaching and learning came through coaching young swimmers to the national level in the United Kingdom. He has been involved in education since 1995, starting out as a Geography teacher in southwest London. A move to Australia beckoned in 1998 and he was fortunate to quickly find his feet on the other side of the world taking up various leadership positions in prestigious Australian IB schools including SCECGS Redlands, Sydney, and Prince Alfred College in Adelaide. During his tenure in Australia, he completed his Master’s in Education (Leadership and Management) at Flinders University, which continued his path of lifelong learning.

To complement his Head of School role at SSIS, he is a consultant for IB candidate schools and a visiting team leader for IB authorization visits. He believes it is vital for teachers and school leaders to collaborate and share best practices not only in their own schools but in the education world at large.

“It is important to strike a balance between work, family and play. I enjoy spending time with my family learning new things together and seeing different parts of China and the world. To stay fit and healthy, I appreciate the opportunity to compete in endurance sports such as triathlons. I can be often found training in the SSIS swimming pool in the early mornings and coaching the swim team in my free time,” asserts Bruford.

Diversified Programs and Individualized Learning

SSIS is an IB World School with a curriculum centered around the Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP) and Diploma Programme (DP) frameworks. These programs aim to help students develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world. Personalized learning is the core of the SSIS curriculum. There is a strong focus placed on each student to individually guide and develop their unique strengths and passions.

Annual Events- Bring the Community Together

The biggest annual event at SSIS is International Family Day, fondly known as IFD. It takes place every May and has been a school fundraising tradition for over 15 years. The purpose of the day is to come together to celebrate the heritages and traditions of each of the 50 nationalities at the school. All the funds raised at the event are donated to the school’s sponsored charitable organizations.

Life at SSIS is Centered on the Students   

At SSIS, students learn best in an environment that has been specifically created for them. This is why all aspects of the student experience at SSIS have been carefully thought out. From their 40+ bus fleet to that provides door-to-door service, to their causal uniform style allowing their students to focus on learning, to their extensive extracurricular activity list, ensuring there is something for everyone, the SSIS experience is for the students. Committed to running a well-rounded extracurricular program SSIS offers a wide variety of lunchtime and after-school activities for students from Prekindergarten through to Grade 12. Students have access to more than 100 extracurricular activities in performing arts, music, computers, technology, languages, service, and athletics.

  • Focused Support Beyond the Classroom

With their mission to provide an excellent expatriate education, they work to provide learning support for students with learning diversities, and those who may require additional support to participate in their school programs and activities. Their Learning Support team is made up of specially trained teachers that have the background to assist students in their learning needs.

SSIS also provides a range of emotional support program for students to help deal with some of the difficulties in transitioning from another country or culture. Their caring counseling staff and teachers are specially trained address the needs of their diverse learning population through the development of self-awareness, self-assurance and, resilience in their students.

Gateway to a Plethora of Opportunities

The challenging core curriculum at SSIS is focused on an international mindset to cultivate global citizens and life-long learners. Every day at SSIS 1150+ students (from 50 different nationalities) are challenged to actively participate in their education. Young graduates from SSIS are accepted into prestigious colleges and universities across the globe. Some continue their education at elite schools in the US; others opt for the hallowed halls of weathered UK institutions, while other students choose to stay within the region attending top-tier universities in Hong Kong, Seoul and Singapore. Whether their students choose a traditional 4-year university or decide to take a more entrepreneurial route after graduation, SSIS goal is to ensure the best fit for them. Their College Counselors are experts in helping navigate the complexities of university acceptances across the global.

Words of Trust

“l have spent more than half my life at SSIS. This has meant that SSIS has become more than just a school for me. It has become the place where l was lucky enough to be taught by teachers who put in more energy and time than was required into their students and where l made friends of different nationalities, backgrounds, and interests.

“Attending SSIS has meant that l am fortunate enough to walk away with an open and global mindset, having been exposed to different cultures while receiving an excellent international education.”

-Joyce Khor


“Attending SSIS is perhaps the most valuable gift I have received in my student years. Receiving an excellent international education and being around peers who come from all over the world is a rare and precious experience. The SSIS family goes beyond an ordinary school community.

-Simeon Hatzopoulos


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