Middle Years

Middle Years Curriculum at ISM

Young people between 11 and 16 are going through big changes in their lives. Middle School is designed to meet the development needs of young adolescents. Students in this age group are in a particularly critical phase of emotional and intellectual development. It’s a delicate balance. We don’t want to hold them by the hand in everything they do; they need freedom. Neither do we want to give them too much freedom; they need guidance and clear boundaries. We also know that adolescents will be successful in academics if they learn how to develop their emotional intelligences. Cognitive and emotional development go hand in hand and so that is what we care about at ISM.

The Middle School programme at ISM is traditional in the sense that students study separate subjects. What makes it different is the emphasis on making connections between subjects and with learning ‘how to learn’. For adolescents, it is an ideal time to understand themselves as learners. They develop the skills of personal reflection, rigorous research and moral leadership.

Through the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP), students explore eight main subject areas: English, Mathematics, Science (including Biology, Chemistry, Physics and other sciences), Physical & Health Education, Individuals & Societies/Humanities (History, Geography, Economics, Sociology, Anthropology and other human sciences), Design, Arts (Music, Visual Art and Drama) and additional languages (French and Swahili).

Life Skills is another subject area and it focuses on four major themes: intrapersonal (who am I?), interpersonal, mind and body, and international-mindedness. Tutor classes are also an essential daily time for students and teachers to build positive relationships. Indeed, what makes ISM special is the respectful and positive relationships that exist between students and teachers.

Watch and hear what students and teachers say about the MYP in the video!


The IB Middle Years Programme, for students aged 11 to 16 (classes M1 to M5), provides a framework of academic challenge that encourages students to embrace and understand the connections between traditional subjects and the real world, and become critical and reflective thinkers. The programme:

  • encourages international-mindedness, starting with a foundation in their own language and culture,
  • encourages a positive attitude to learning by challenging students to solve problems, show creativity and resourcefulness and participate actively in their communities,
  • reflects real life by providing a framework that allows students to see the connections among the subjects themselves, and between the subjects and real issues,
  • supports the development of communication skills to encourage inquiry, understanding, language acquisition, and to allow student reflection and expression,
  • emphasizes, through the learner profile, the development of the whole student – physically, intellectually, emotionally and ethically.

The MYP Model


MYP students around the world are measured against pre-specified standards (called criteria) for each subject group. These standards or criteria are published by the IB. Teachers set assessment tasks that are assessed internally in the school. External checks (called “moderation”) by IB examiners are carried out on this internal assessment to ensure worldwide consistency of standards. Moderation is carried out every year. Students are graded on a scale from 1 to 7, with 4 representing a satisfactory level of achievement and 7 representing an excellent achievement level. Successful students earn a MYP Certificate if they have reached certain academic standards, been involved with community and service projects consistently, and they have been studying in the programme for at least two years.


Reports showing grades and approaches to learning in each subject are issued to parents four times a year (October, December, March and June). In the December and June reports (called semester 1 and 2 reports respectively), students reflect on their participation and experiences in co-curricular activities, outdoor pursuits and community & service.


Any school wishing to offer the Middle Years Programme and attain IB World School status must first go through the authorization process. The requirements for authorization are the same for all schools. The process is designed to ensure schools are well prepared to implement the programme successfully.ISM was successfully authorized in 2007, and received another successful evaluation from the IB in 2011.

Hear Robert Harrison speak about changes to the MYP in this video.

MYP Developments