The British International School Jeddah is a not for profit organisation governed by a Board of Trustees offering a Pre-school, Primary and Secondary education, based largely upon the British curriculum and culminating in the IB Diploma programme.
The British International School Jeddah (BISJ) was inaugurated on 1 October 1977 as a "villa school", with the declared aim of providing a high-quality education for the expatriate community in Jeddah. At the time, only the American International School and Jeddah Prep School (now Jeddah Prep and Grammar School) were available to expatriate families and with a growth in European families, this new section of the community sought a further option for a British style English language education.
A group of families started their own school with the support of the British and Belgian Embassies. Originally named the Continental School, due to the expected influence of Continental European families, the first formal school Principal was appointed in 1979.
In 1996, the name of the school was changed by order of the Ministry of Education to the British International School of Jeddah. Unofficially, the ‘Conti’ continues to be the preferred name used by many in the community, reflecting the schools’ genuinely international nature and ethos, and the school retains its email address from this time. By the early 2000’s the school had relocated to a purpose built site and the early European emphasis was superseded by a more global ethos, with increasing numbers of Muslim students from all over the world, including the UK, beginning to enrol at the school.
Today, BISJ has approximately 1,100 students from more than 60 countries of whom around 40% are local Saudi nationals. There are 300 students in the pre-school Nursery/Early Years section, a further 440 Primary students and 380 Secondary students. Class sizes are small by general standards, with 15 in the Early Years section, 23 in the Primary, 20 in the Secondary and 10 students in tutor groups in the Sixth Form/IB year groups.
The school is led by Principal Ian Williams who joined BISJ as a Maths teacher and took over the headship in 2015. The teaching staff is made up of 240 teachers from 20 countries, and are mainly recruited from the United Kingdom, Australasia, North America and locally.
BISJ is accredited by the Council for International Schools (CIS), NEASC (The New England Association of Schools and Colleges), the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO), and British Schools of the Middle East (BSME).
It gained re-accreditation by the Council of International Schools (CIS) as ‘The British International School of Jeddah’ in 2002, 2012 and again in 2019. Every 5 years BISJ undertakes a self-study of its implementation of the IB programme that the IBO then evaluates. In 2019, two IBO inspectors evaluated the self-study for its validity and BISJ's suitability to be an IBO school with positive results – the report can be found here.
The school vision is “to be an outstanding International School, continuously striving for improvement and engaging our whole community with the concepts of: Learning to Live, Learning to Learn, Learning to lead”.
The school mission is to “provide excellent British-style education with an international perspective, within a safe environment, where individuals feel secure, respected, valued, happy and successful.”
To achieve its Mission, BISJ says:
There is also a very strong focus on international mindedness which is supported and promoted in all students by:
BISJ offers a British Primary curriculum based on the International Primary Curriculum (IPC), the Cambridge International curriculum in Secondary school leading to either CIE or Edexcel IGCSE, and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme in Sixth Form (referred to as IB1 and IB2).
Although BISJ does not directly follow the English National Curriculum (using international adaptations), it uses it as a basic instructional resource, drawing on publications issued by the English Qualifications & Curriculum Authority, together with literature concerning standards and curriculum changes. Additionally, the school is heavily dependent on British textbooks, which are based on the English National Curriculum.
According to the school, the curriculum is derived from the International Primary Curriculum, the IB Learner Profile, current research and best practices from around the world, supporting its aim of “helping children to develop holistically, to become life-long learners and to grow socially, emotionally, physically, morally, creatively and academically”. In addition, BISJ actively encourages all students to develop and recognise four key attributes vital for success in life: resilience, reciprocity, resourcefulness and reflectiveness (The 4Rs).
There is strong support in the Primary School for the use of inquiry-based learning through the development of integrated thematic units. These draw on the philosophy of the International Baccalaureate’s Primary School Programme (PYP) as well as on the International Primary Curriculum (IPC).
The Primary school offers a wide range of After School Activities including Board Games, Bowling, Boys Football (Years 5 and 6), BSME Games (for Year 5 and 6 Boys only), Chess, Choir (for Years 3 and 4), , Choir (Years 5 and 6), Clay Projects, Climbing Club, Football (Years 3 and 4) French for fun, Funny Animals Puppets Making, Girls’ Football and Fitness, Girls Football (Years 5 and 6), Netball, Pompom Wool Making, Recreational Games, SDG17 Club ( Sustainable Development Goals), Storytelling, Teambuilding and Yoga Moves.
The curriculum in Years 7, 8 and 9 has its roots in the English National Curriculum but has been further developed and adapted to the particular context of the school's international student body and location. Students follow a broad and balanced curriculum which includes English, Mathematics, Science, French or Spanish, Arabic, Geography, History, Art, Drama, Music, Physical Education and Personal, Social and Health Education. Information Technology skills are integrated into the context of each of these subject areas.
For most subjects, students are taught in their mixed ability form tutor groups. For Maths and Arabic, students are placed in sets. In Maths, they study the same spiral curriculum. In Arabic, the different sets follow different courses to suit their experience (or lack of previous experience) of the language. For Physical Education, students are taught in separate gender groups.
The History and Geography of The Kingdom is a compulsory course taken by all students in Y7. Islamic Civilization is a compulsory course, taken by all students in Y8 and Y9.
In Years 10 and 11, students follow the IGCSE subjects. In addition to the mandatory subjects of English and World Literature, Maths, Science (either Dual or Triple papers in Biology, Chemistry and Physics), students also choose from one or two Humanities subjects (dependent on their choice of Dual or Triple Science), including Business Studies, Geography and History, one language (from Arabic, French or Spanish) and one Arts subject (from Art and Design, Drama or Music). Additional non-examined mandatory subjects include Personal and Health Education, Core Arabic, Saudi History and Geography and Islamic Studies.
Although not specifically mentioned as a subject, the school has a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ option for all students from Year 5 upwards.
Sports activities in the Secondary section are separated by gender. Boys may participate in Athletics, Fitness, Football, Hockey, Racket Sports, Striking games, Volleyball and Watersports, whilst girls have access to Athletics, Dance, Fitness, Football, Netball, Softball, Striking games, Volleyball and Watersports.
Students also have the opportunity to participate in Outdoor Education at the Silver Sands Resort North Obhar, and to undertake the Duke of Edinburgh International Award which contributes towards the Community, Activity and Service requirements of the IB Diploma Programme.
Post 16 education is based on International Baccalaureate Diploma subjects, with the majority of students taking the full Diploma course. Students choose from across the IB option groups with subjects including English Language and Literature, Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Physics, Geography, Global Politics, Business Studies, Computer Science, Economics, Psychology, French, Spanish and Art.
BISJ starts its Arabic programme in the Reception year (4+) as a second language for all students.
When students reach Year 1, they are categorised into either Arabic speakers or non-Arabic speakers, receiving four sessions each week. The Arabic department teaches modern standard Arabic language, with the aim of enabling students to access all Arabic communities and cultures being the form of the language used in all Arabic media i.e. newspapers, magazines, T.V and books.
Arabic speaking students study the language as a first language which allows them to transfer to other schools in the Arab world, and prepares them to take a Bilingual IB Diploma in the future.
Secondary school students have access to a range of sports and extra-curricular activities including Adventure Based Learning, AFL, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Cricket, Dance and Music, Field Hockey, Football, Futsal, Game Crazes, Gymnastics, Hockey, Indoor Floor Volleyball, Korfball, Modified Handball, Netball, Softball, Speedminton, Teeball/Rounders and Touch Rugby. Swimming is taught throughout the school and students can join the Stingrays Swimming Club.
Secondary After School Activities include Book Club, Bookkeeping Club, Bowling, CAFA, Climbing Wall Club, Creative Writing, Duke Of Edinburgh, Film Club, Fitness Class, Homework Club, IB1 and IB2 Oral Support Activities, KARAOKE, KS4 Art Club, PS5 FIFA Tournament, SFAAD, Squash, Table Tennis Club, The Green Team, U14's Football, and Web Page Design.
The school also offers University Guidance and Support to students ensuring that students are guided and supported in making informed choices that help them to achieve their university goals in becoming the kind of well rounded, independent thinker that colleges, universities and employers seek.
The Primary school says it caters for a wide range of student needs and the Student Support Service Teams provide effective assistance to students newly learning English as a Second Language (ESL), students with Specific Learning Difficulties and those with social and emotional needs.
The Secondary Learning Support department provides additional support to students with Special Educational Needs (SEN). Where a need is identified, students are put on the SEN Register, assigned a key worker and a Learner Passport made to ensure staff know how to effectively support students.
The Learning Support teams undertake screening assessments for interventions and access arrangements, Evidence-based interventions, English Second Language support, and the Homework Club (which is open to all students). The Learning Support teams work in conjunction with the in-school counsellor to ensure students have comprehensive Social Emotional and Mental Health support.
BISJ does not appear to publish its examination results- either at IGCSE or IB Diploma. We find this rather disappointing. Whilst exam results are not the be-all and end-all of education, they are an important factor when choosing a school and one that we would expect a school of this experience and reputation to share with its community.
BISJ has primary and secondary school sections, each with their own individual buildings, play areas and administration. They occupy a modern purpose built site which includes some 90 classrooms, eight science laboratories, five computer rooms, a large sports hall, a gymnasium, a multi-purpose hall, a refectory, three libraries, a clinic, two swimming pools and an outside sports area with running track.
Clearly a long-established and popular school, British International School Jeddah differentiates itself from the other two established schools through its curriculum choice. For families who may expect to relocate on a fairly regular basis, the choice of IPC, IGCSE and the IB Diploma programme may well offer the best of all worlds with a recognised Primary curriculum and Secondary public examinations adapted from the English National Curriculum content to an international context, and the highly regarded and globally recognised IB Diploma programme as the pre-university school leaving qualification.
If you are a parent, teacher or senior student at British International School Jeddah, please share your opinions and experience with other potential members of your community and complete our Survey.
Tuition Fees: School fees are set by the Board of Trustees and are an annual fee. For ease and convenience of payment, the annual fee is divided into two payments and invoiced on a semester basis.
Fees range from 37,950 SAR in Nursery, rising to 51,865 SAR in the Early Learning section (equivalent to per-KG/FS1) and to 64,400 SAR in Reception (FS2/KG1). Primary fees from Year 1 to Year 6 are 64,630 SAR, whilst those of the Secondary section are 79,143 SAR for Years 7 to 9, 85,767 SAR for Years 10 and 11 and 98,095 SAR for IB1/2 (Years 12 and 13). Fees are inclusive of VAT.
In addition to the fees, there are a number of additional payments applicable, including a Seat Deposit (from Nursery to Year 11). In order for existing students to secure a place at the school for the next academic year, a non-refundable seat deposit per family is payable on request. This deposit will be deductible from the first semester’s fees. SAR 3,450 (inclusive of VAT)
For new students, applicable (non-refundable) fees include an Application Fee of 403 SAR, an Assessment Fee of 978 SAR and an Entrance Fee of 17,250 SAR. All amounts are inclusive of 15% VAT.
A discount of 10% will be allowable against BISJ school tuition fees (not including Music or Examination fees) for the third and subsequent children (as determined by chronological age) in any one family.
As the school is a designated British Community School authorized by the Saudi Ministry of Education, priority for admissions is given to British passport holders, but BISJ clearly also welcomes applications from non-British families. Placement in classes is based on a cut-off date of 31st August and allocation to a particular class or year group can only be authorised by the Director and/or Head of School.
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