The popular International School Ho Chi Minh City (ISHCMC) moved its secondary school to a new campus in central Ho Chi Minh City in 2017, where it continues to offer the full International Baccalaureate programme alongside unique mindfulness lessons, a very active sports programme, and some impressive technology facilities.
International School Ho Chi Minh City (ISHCMC) is one school with two campuses. One of the oldest international schools in Vietnam, ISHCMC has been delivering an International Baccalaureate education to children from nursery through to sixth form for more than 20 years at its campus in District 2, Ho Chi Minh City. Starting in August 2017, ISHCMC moved its secondary school to a new site in District 2 where it teaches Grades 6 to 12. Benefiting from nearly 20 years’ experience in the IB programme, a new campus, an innovation centre, and a very supportive parent and community body, ISHCMC has built up a reputation as a thriving school that achieves academic results above the national average. In its new location, students will benefit from state-of-the-art facilities including technologically advanced classrooms, collaborative learning spaces and senior student study areas.
Founded in 1993, ISHCMC has been offering the well-rounded and expat-friendly IB programme since 1998. As a full IB World School, ISHCMC offers the Primary Years Programme (PYP) for students aged four to 10 years at its primary campus in An Phu, and the Middle Years Programme (MYP) for students 11-16 years with the Diploma Programme (IBDP) for students 16-19 years at its new campus in Thao Dien. Although there are several international schools in Vietnam that offer a part of the IB programme, ISHCMC is one of only four schools in Vietnam to offer all three IB programmes, and is one of two in Ho Chi Minh City (the other is European International School); this means it can offer students a seamless learning journey that works towards the IBDP.
ISHCMC is part of the international Cognita group of schools, which has headquarters in the UK and educates 15,000 pupils in 50 schools worldwide, including several across South East Asia. As well as enjoying the benefits of being part of a global education group (such as exchange visits), ISHCMC works in partnership with other Cognita schools in Vietnam – International School of Saigon Pearl and and International School Ho Chi Minh City, American Academy – to offer students inter-school visits and sports tournaments.
As the name suggest, ISHCMC is an international school with more than 50 nationalities of student. It is also a very typical IB school in the sense that it offers a broad education that’s not tied to any country, a wide breadth of subjects, and a curriculum that develops inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people. Head teacher Adrian Watts, who has previously worked at IB schools including the New International School of Thailand (NIST) in Bangkok and the International College of Spain in Madrid, says,
“As a committed IB school, ISHCMC encourages a balance between academic achievement and the development of the whole child.”
Here’s a school that promises to help students reach their “full potential and become independent and self-reliant individuals” with its mindfulness classes, programmes in the arts and sports, outdoor trips, and leadership opportunities. With a long history of graduating students to high profile universities around the world – and a decent academic record in the IBDP – ISHCMC is a solid choice of school.
The ISHCMC curriculum at the new standalone secondary campus is based on the IB’s Middle Years Programme and the IBDP. The Middle Years Programme (MYP) runs from Grades 6-10 and is based on integrated learning, global engagement, and intercultural understanding. All students study individuals and societies, language and literature, language acquisition, maths, design, arts, sciences, and physical and health education. World languages offered at ISHCMC include French, Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese and Mandarin.
In Grades 11 and 12, students enter the IBDP, which includes humanities, at least two languages, experimental science, maths and the arts. Other core requirements of the IBDP include an extended essay, the Theory of Knowledge course, and Creativity, Action, Service (CAS) activities. As well as the IBDP, students graduate from the school with an ISHCMC high school diploma. To help senior students prepare for the learning environment of universities, there are Grade 12 privileges including non-uniform Friday and a dedicated study lounge.
ISHCMC advocates positive education and the best example of its progressive approach to education is the 10-minute mindfulness class that’s held daily for all students. The lights are turned off in the hallways and classrooms across the school, and students take part in activities such as breathing exercises, yoga, and mindful colouring. Parents are also encouraged to ‘live the moment’ by attending the school’s mini mindfulness workshop on topics such as stress, balancing right brain and left brain, nutrition and meditation.
The school says,
“Mindfulness at ISHCMC is helping us – the parents, students and teachers – to discover who we really are.”
Students also have regular advisory classes and wellness and information literacy classes, which focus on personal, social and emotional skills. ISHCMC is an inclusive school and it offers learning support for gifted students and those with learning difficulties, counselling services, and English as an Additional Language.
In terms of technology, all classrooms have access to iPads and there’s a 1:1 laptop programme from Grade 6 upwards. The new campus has Makerspaces and an impressive innovation centre, which both give students access to the latest technology. Also, the curriculum includes the Common Sense Media Digital Citizenship Programme, which teaches safe and responsible technology use.
Sport and the creative arts
As you’d expect at any IB school, there’s a strong focus on non-academic subjects and skills. All students have lessons in the arts, PE and swimming. There are opportunities to join the school choir, bands, orchestra; perform in school productions; produce work for the school’s annual exhibition; and try out for the swim squad and teams in basketball, football, volleyball, gymnastics and athletics.
Beyond the classroom
ISHCMC encourages students to take part in activities outside the traditional classroom, “to develop confidence, independence, and IB learner traits”. Students can take on various leadership roles at ISHCMC – on the Student Representative Council or as house captains. The school’s house system helps to give students a sense of belonging and the four houses meet for various sporting, artistic and academic activities throughout the year.
During school hours, there are regular and compulsory field trips for all grade levels; a highlight in the calendar is the ISHCMC Goes Wild week when students travel to places such Hoi An and Quang Binh.
There’s a programme of after-school activities covering sporting and creatives topics, which are organised by teachers and external groups. The school’s Parent Teacher Organisation is very active in ISHCMC life, and also organises extra-curricular activities such as a Saturday morning sports programme. Secondary students also have the opportunity to compete in the school’s Rhinos and Stingrays teams which takes part in swimming galas, basketball and football tournaments, gymnastics, dance recitals, math, science and coding competitions.
ISHCMC competes in events organised by the Saigon International School Athletic Conference (SISAC) and the Mekong River International Schools Associations (MRISA).
Students’ progress is tracked by US-led Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments twice a year in maths and reading from Grades 6-10. More than 83% of ISHCMC students are at/above reading and maths proficiency levels.
The average score in the 2018 IBDP results was 33.5, which is above the global average of 29.78, and 23% of students achieved 39 or more points. One student celebrated a perfect 45-point score. The majority of ISHCMC graduates go on to study at a US or UK university; other locations include Canada, Australia and Asia.
Located just 5km away from ISHCMC’s primary campus, the secondary school is in the expat-friendly neighbourhood of Thao Dien in District 2. Opened in 2017, this purpose-built secondary school campus has been designed exclusively for 11-18 year olds. Facilities include classrooms, science labs, art rooms, a library, multi-purpose courts, roof-top sports ﬁeld, and 25m indoor swimming pool, gymnasium, community cafe. Highlights include an innovation centre and a 350-seat theatre with black box, film and recording studios.
Admission and fees
Annual tuition fees at ISHCMC are at the higher end of the scale, and they range from VND 584,400,000 for Grade 6 to VND 654,300,000 for Grade 11. Fees do include an annual starter pack with two sets of school uniform per student.
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