Incepted in 1972, Bandung Independent School (BIS) is an internationally minded school of excellence, nurturing individuals and community potential. Holding 51 years of rich history, the school is home to 24 expatriate teachers and 20 different student nationalities. BIS is the only IB Continuum school in Bandung, providing a holistic education that is positive for student achievement inside and outside the classroom. The school is accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS), the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), and authorized by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) in Geneva, Switzerland.
BIS mission statement reads, “Through engaging IB programs, we empower inquiring, reflective, and caring lifelong learners to continue striving towards a better world.” From a young age, BIS students inculcate the values (courage, open-mindedness, balance, integrity, and community) and realize they have a responsibility to their community and their world as they demonstrate their international mindedness.
Modern Infrastructural Facilities
As an IB School, BIS provides an excellent infrastructure to facilitate the education process and enhance students’ academic, social, emotional, and spiritual learning. The school comprises a performing arts center with theatre and practice rooms, two covered courts, a full-size soccer field, two science labs, a swimming pool, a library, collaborative workspaces, a computer lab, and an innovator’s maker space/design lab.
Over the summer of 2022, the BIS Board supported a complete replacement of the primary playground, extended the canteen area to sustain expected growth in student enrolment, added a Culinary Arts Center (baker-space) where students can incorporate cooking in all subjects across each section of the school, and constructed a garden to support hands-on, authentic learning that is closely aligned with the curriculum. Moreover, the school has replaced many wood-built gazebos identified as potential safety hazards due to earthquakes. BIS has also invested heavily in securing a state-of-the-art safety alarm system that can alert stakeholders of earthquakes, fires, and intruders on campus.
What Sets BIS a Notch Above its Peers?
BIS is the only school in Bandung to offer all three prestigious International Baccalaureate programs, the PYP in the Primary, the MYP in the Middle School, and the Diploma program in grades 11 and 12. Each of these programs values the development of 21st-century skills and strives to develop them through authentic learning. Additionally, the IB program provides a curriculum that inherently supports the understanding of creating within each student an open-minded view of intercultural communication and acceptance of others no matter their origin.
Another essential facet that IB Programme promotes is the significance of service and action, which begins with students as young as three years old and continues throughout their time at BIS. Students and teachers work to support all groups both globally and locally. Often, these initiatives are connected to the curriculum on offer; however, there are instances where new initiatives come about organically, such as the recent earthquake that severely impacted the Cianjur region near Bandung.
“BIS’ 51 years of experience in Bandung, our diversity and commitment to the IB, and the international curriculum certainly sets us apart from other schools in the city,” reveals shares Dr. Michael Berry, Head of School, BIS.
Small Class Sizes Increased Active Learning
Admitting a limited number of students, which is around 200 now, the student-to-teacher ratio at the BIS is approximately 9:1. In every primary classroom, there is a lead classroom teacher and a certified assistant teacher. Although the secondary school enrolment is larger, the class size is still considered small. These small class sizes allow the teachers to identify each student’s specific needs, whether academic, social, or emotional. They can then utilize the referral process to gain support from BIS’ Student Support Team (SST), consisting of the Head of School, the section Principal, the Multi-Language Learner (MLL) teacher, the Learning Support teacher, and the well-being coordinator. This team meets weekly to discuss referred students ensuring each child accesses the “just right” support required. Moreover, teachers are also involved in this process as many strategies are shared with them to accentuate their teaching toolkit in the classroom.
Numerous Professional Development Opportunities for Teachers
Following the Indonesian regulations, all BIS teachers are seasoned veterans matched with the age of the students they teach and the subject area. Once a teacher is hired, BIS further supports their skill and pedagogical development through professional development (PD) opportunities. The aim of the PD that each teacher undertakes is to enhance their teaching skills. The fact that BIS is a small school with a limited number of experienced teachers aids the administration in helping further improve the skills of the teachers who are in front of the students every day.
Parents are an Integral Part of the BIS Community
The parent community is and has always been a huge asset at BIS. Firstly, as a school, it is recognized that the triangular relationship between teacher, parent, and student is crucial to enhance student achievement. The communication between each stakeholder is strong, enabling conversations regarding teaching and learning and social and emotional well-being to occur regularly. This consistent communication between family and school allows teachers to differentiate instruction while providing strategies and tips to parents to help amplify learning, allowing students to reach their potential.
Parents are integral in the “sense of community” felt once one walks on the campus. The same feeling is reciprocated by the parents who value being a part of a larger community within the school. Furthermore, in every accreditation report received after a school visit, BIS has been consistently commended for its effort to create and nurture relationships across the school, especially with the parent community.
A High College Acceptance Rate
100% of students are accepted and attend college after graduating from BIS. In fact, most students obtain acceptance to their first-choice universities, many of which are considered and listed as “Top 100 Universities” worldwide. These results are facilitated by BIS’ University Counsellor and Assistant Counsellor. Each spends a great number of hours meeting with individual students accompanied by their parents, beginning in Grade 11, to determine the best path forward.
Celebrating Students’ Success
The IB Diploma results of BIS students for the 2021 – 2022 school year were within the top 5% in the world. This academic year saw the highest individual achievement in the history of BIS, with a student scoring 44 out of 45. Last year, BIS students participated in the World Math Invitational contest and won Silver (Grade 7), Bronze (Grade 8), Gold and Bronze (Grade 9), and Silver (Grade 11).
Taking Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic
Like many schools across the globe, BIS has also encountered numerous sets of challenges. Many parents left the school due to their own financial struggles with COVID and the demand placed on them to facilitate the teaching and learning process while the school was forced to conduct classes online. Despite these challenges, BIS’ board remained focused on student learning and continued to invest significantly in resources and campus facilities. The outcome was a strong virtual platform. In fact, the 2021 – 2022 graduating class passed with the highest-ever Diploma Programme score in the school’s history.
The pandemic truly brought to light how virtual learning can be used as a powerful tool for students in their future, whether in university, after college, or moving toward another area of expertise. Keeping this pandemic takeaway in mind, BIS plans to enhance the skills of its students by integrating them authentically into the daily lessons to make learners future-ready.
Roadmap for the Future
In October 2022, the Board, Head of School, and Principals of BIS formulated a new 3-year strategic plan focusing on 3 main pillars: Teaching and Learning, Fiduciary, and the Community. Each of these pillars contains goals, targets, key performance indicators, a list of people responsible for completing the plans, and a timeline for success.
Going ahead, BIS intends to work diligently to meet these goals and fulfill its vision of nurturing individual student potential and championing internationally-minded leaders as the school of choice for West Java.
For More Info: https://www.bisedu.or.id/
Dr. Michael Berry, Head of School
Dr. Michael Berry was born and raised in the United States, where he earned his bachelor’s degree as an elementary teacher, master’s degree as a Reading Specialist, and doctorate degree in Instructional Leadership from Wilkes University. He has been involved in international education for 27 years working in Mexico, Costa Rica, Oman, Singapore, and now Indonesia. Most of Dr. Berry’s experience has been with IB Continuum Schools, where he has served as a classroom Teacher, Curriculum Coordinator, Principal, and Head of School.
Dr. Berry has continued his relationship with Wilkes by serving as an adjunct professor. He teaches a course entitled Intercultural Communication at the master’s level and two courses at the doctorate level; Leadership, Diversity, and Social Change, as well as Organizational and Leadership Theory.