English is the language of instruction and communication at BISL.
Progress in English is assessed and tracked each year and students are prepared for IGCSE and GCE examinations which are in English.
All students in Year 11 sit for IGCSE examinations in English as a First Language and English Literature at the summer examination series. These are not courses to ‘learn‘ the language, but to refine it to a high standard.
In the unusual event that a Year 11 student’s level of English is not sufficient for success in the IGCSE English as a First Language exam, they may be entered for IGCSE English as a Second Language.
The younger a child enters the school, the less prior experience of English is required. As a guide:
- entry into Pre-School or Year 1 is possible with little or no English;
- some English is appropriate for Year 2 entry;
- if the child's English is weak in Years 3 to 6, additional EAL support will be needed, either in-class support or through withdrawal on an individual/small group basis;
- because of the preparation for external exams, entry into Secondary may not be appropriate for those with little or no English and would only be approved after individual counselling and the development of support strategies;
- entry into the examination courses in Year 10 or Year 12 is only possible for students who have demonstrated a specific level of ability in English;
- students starting Year 10 (equivalent to the first year of Slovene Gimnazija) should have at least a B2 standard of English under the Common European Framework of References for Languages.
- students starting Year 12 (equivalent to the third year of Slovene Gimnazija) should have at least a C1 standard of English under the Common European Framework of References for Languages. An IELTS certificate should be presented, with a band score of 6.5 out of 9.
English language support
Many of our teachers have qualifications in, or experience of, teaching English as a Foreign Language and will support students whose mother tongue is not English. However, students who continue to struggle with the level of English in a class may, in consultation with parents, be offered additional EAL support (at extra cost). Pricing (which varies with the size of the group) is given in the Schedule of Fees, available here.
Our dedicated EAL (English as an Additional Language) teachers provide students with specialist instruction and extra support in English, both in class and through withdrawal lessons, so they can fully access the curriculum and feel more confident when using English.
EAL withdrawal lessons for up to four students per group, depending on the age and ability of the students, are scheduled within the students’ timetables or after school. Students are not taken out of core subjects, unless deemed necessary, as the EAL programme focusses on these. The number of lessons needed per week is determined by testing on entry. The parents will be informed of the proposed allocation, the name of the teacher and their agreement will be confirmed before the first session is taught. EAL support lessons are reduced and then stopped as soon as the student successfully attains the appropriate level of English to fully access the curriculum.
Please note: the schedules for EAL support are fixed in advance and parents are charged on the basis of this number of lessons. If the student is unable to attend e.g. parents take student out or class trip (excludes illness), the teacher will use the time to create work for the student to do on their own and to be handed in for assessment. If there is an event in school during the allotted time, the teacher will be with the student to help with vocabulary and conversation on the topic.
There are two sets for Slovene in each year group.
The curriculum for the Advanced set - for fluent or native speakers of Slovene – is approved by the Institute for Education and covers topics and texts broadly in line with the Slovenia’s state education system.
The Foundation set learns Slovene as an Additional Language, from beginner to intermediate level.
French and other languages
French is our third language from Year 3 upwards. Primary students have two 45-minute sessions per week and this increases to three per week for Years 7 to 9. All students in Years 10 and 11 continue with French as a language option to IGCSE. Native speakers of other languages may be entered for IGCSE or A-Level examinations in those languages, but the teaching of these syllabi is not covered within our usual curriculum time.
PERSONAL AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
We aim for our students to develop into healthy, confident and independent individuals who understand their rights and responsibilities as members of a wide and diverse society. Whilst this is reinforced within the academic curriculum, much is delivered through the school’s programme of Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE).
As an integral part of the ‘Early Years’ framework, PSHE is delivered in the Pre-School through lessons and topics, group activities, visits, and free-play. The children are encouraged to develop skills and confidence to act independently and within a group setting. They wash their hands and brush their teeth at appropriate times of the day, change their footwear and clothing independently, arrange their snack bags and water bottles and are encouraged to use tools, such as cutlery, scissors or pens, correctly.
‘Helpers of the Day’ have special duties, such as leading the class to different activities, serving at the table during lunchtime or cleaning up after lunch. ‘Free-play’ helps children learn how to work collaboratively, and allows them to discover areas of interest on their own. Many activities take place outside: walks in the countryside as well as playground activities. These and specialist P.E. lessons enable them to exercise in the fresh air, experiencing nature first-hand, and promote physical skills and fitness.
In Primary, PSHE topics are addressed in class circle-times, as well as through lessons and topics, activities, assemblies, trips and visits and through community work around the school.
All students are encouraged to play a positive role in contributing to school life and the wider community through involvement in Caring For The Community (C4C) activities, fundraising events, the Student Council, and taking part in various community events outside of school.
In addition to discussions and presentations in Form Time and Assemblies, Secondary students have Citizenship sessions each week. Included in these, Current Affairs and Ethics provide a forum for the discussion and debate of current topics of major international and national significance, encouraging students to be aware of the issues in the world around them and to formulate their own opinions; International Citizenship looks at international treaties, the UN, the EU, NATO and other significant organisations and their impact on the internationally-minded person; and Religious Studies enables the objective study of the world's past and present belief systems in order to gain insight into each in order to understand different cultures. This does include some study of significant religious texts, major figures and institutions as well as forms and places of devotion, but is not religious instruction or bible study and no attempt is made to influence or promote one religion above others.
Students in the examination years, Years 10-13, are given additional support in studying effectively through a programme of Study Skills lessons. These, enable them to further develop their organisational skills, effective revision and exam technique skills, and how to cope with assessments in general. Students in Years 12 and 13 also have weekly sessions to enhance essay-writing skills for academic writing.
As our students should become independent and resourceful learners, prepared to successfully transition to higher-level study at university, Sixth Form students also have time for Private Study. This self-directed time enables them to undertake research, prepare for upcoming classes or complete assignments. Developing successful Private Study habits builds an important bridge between school and university, in terms of social as well as academic development.
UNIVERSITY AND CAREERS GUIDANCE
Students are encouraged to be proactive in the process of planning their future education and career paths and to base their decisions on a holistic consideration of their abilities, career aspirations and specific university requirements. The Head of Sixth Form leads our guidance services for students in Years 12 and 13, where weekly classes and one-to-one counselling sessions include careers advice and course guidance as well as developing skills such as writing applications, writing CVs and interview technique. We also have presentations from representatives of a variety of universities from different countries during the course of each year and attend or host or attend university or careers fairs. BISL graduates have successfully joined excellent universities and institutions around Europe, including the UK and Slovenia, and the United States.
SERVICE AND LEADERSHIP
We offer and encourage students to take on a variety of leadership roles within the school community, from ‘Helpers of the Day’ in Pre-School to Sixth Form volunteers helping plan and run adventure trips. Many become members of the Student Council and/or take part in community service activities within or outside school, and older students are encouraged to participate in the MEPI programme (www.mepi.si), Slovenia’s branch of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award/International Award for Young People (www.dofe.org and www.intaward.org).
The Student Council represents the student body in a partnership with staff and parents to carry out activities for the benefit of the whole school community. The Council represents the students’ views to appropriate members of the school community, such as the School Management Team or the PTA, and gives regular feedback to the student body on progress towards specific actions and goals.
At the beginning of the school year, each class elects a Class Representative and a deputy. In Primary, the Council is led by a Chairperson that is chosen by the Representatives. In Secondary, the Chairperson is elected from among the Class Representatives by all of the students. Each Council also has a Secretary and a Treasurer, who assist the Chairperson in leadership, sustaining transparency of the topics discussed and the decisions being made.
Caring For The Community (C4C)
C4C activities include both Primary and Secondary students and focus on building a supportive school community based on caring relationships and positive links among students, between students and teachers, and between the school, families and the wider community.
As such, C4C promotes a positive social, emotional and academic environment. Students take responsibility for their own learning and behaviour, develop self-motivation and caring for the wider community, and learn the values of caring and respecting each other. C4C activities include charity and social events throughout the year, in which the whole school community is able to participate.