Nurturing Diversity

Dr Rob Risch, Director of the International School of Belgrade (ISB)

The International School of Belgrade is a full-day educational institution with a tradition dating back seven decades and a teaching programme intended for pupils aged from three to 18.

Primarily enrolling in ISB are foreign children and youngsters living in Belgrade, but also local pupils from Serbia who want to learn in English and obtain internationally recognised diplomas.

The International School of Belgrade this year commemorates 70 years of work. In your opinion, what are these seven decades of success mostly based on, and which principles form the foundations of your work? What would you point out as achievements of which you are particularly proud?

– At the end of World War II, a growing number of diplomatic missions and foreign businesses began relocating to Belgrade, and therefore the need emerged for a school to educate the children of these families, which could cater to the transient nature of this section of the population.

The foundations of our school are therefore the use of English as the language of instruction, following an internationally recognised and accredited curriculum, and celebrating the diversity of students.

ISB has always focused on strong academics, while at the same time embracing teaching methodologies that enable students to gain the required skills, apply their knowledge and critically analyse issues from various perspectives.

ISB is proud that it remained open throughout the period of the 1990s when most expats (and many locals) left the region. Another milestone was the opening of a second campus in 2003, which enabled the school to expand further. Finally, gaining authorisation to implement the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme was a natural and important expansion of the ISB commitment to educating globally-minded citizens who contribute positively to society.

Through its programme of scholarships, the International School of Belgrade each year offers one student from Serbia an opportunity to complete all four years of secondary school free of charge

ISB has long since recognised the importance of promoting diversity, and in accordance with this, you also provide support in the form of scholarships. Could you tell us more about this?

– The ISB scholarship programme was established in 2013 with the purpose of promoting diversity, as well as being a way in which ISB could ‘give’ back to our host country by offering an opportunity to earn an ISB Diploma and an International Baccalaureate Diploma to one local student each year.

Students are chosen on the basis of academic excellence, financial need and extra-curricular activities, or voluntary service in the local community. The scholarship programme reinforces ISB’s commitment to the themes of our mission statement – to inspire, equip and empower our students to succeed and contribute positively to society. It is designed to make ISB a more integrated part of our host country and promotes the acquisition of knowledge as a key component of the human experience.

We have had three successful graduates so far, and our application process for the next scholar will open on 19th February.

What is the importance of the ‘Open Days’ events, which ISB organises regularly, and how are those events designed? How much interest did the last ‘Open Day’ attract?

– We have had three successful Open Days since 2015. On these occasions, our staff and students present our programmes and provide opportunities for prospective families to tour our facilities and visit classes. As a direct result of previous Open Days, several families have decided to join ISB each year.

This year we are planning to hold an Open Day in mid-May, which will be followed by an invitation to attend our Spring Fair on 19th May – as a more informal opportunity for families to gain a sense of our multi-cultural community, with celebrations including a ‘Parade of Nations’ music, games and food from all over the world.