Secondary School Curriculum

Secondary School Curriculum


The Secondary is divided into a Middle School (Grade 6 to 8) and a Senior School (Grade 9 to 12). The two “schools” within one Secondary School are organized and run to reflect the different developmental needs of younger (ages 11 to 14) and older adolescent (ages 14 to 18) learners. The Middle School and Senior School learning continuum promotes the education of the whole person by emphasizing intellectual, personal, emotional, and social growth through all domains of knowledge.

The philosophy and vision of The ISF Academy’s Secondary School parallel those of the Primary School, and are realized within the framework of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme® (MYP: Grade 6 to 10) and Diploma Programme® (DP: Grade 11 and 12). We build upon the core community values introduced in the Primary School – The Eight Virtues + One – by integrating the ten individual IB Learner Profile attributes into all learning programs. In doing so, we strive to blend the best practices of the East and the West to develop confident, independent, and bilingual students with a true sense of global awareness and citizenship, as well as an enduring commitment to be excellent in all endeavours.

We aspire for all ISF Academy students to be independent, creative thinkers who are also compassionate and responsible citizens, with positive selfesteem, effective communication and literacy skills, and a true love of learning.


As an authorized MYP and DP World School, The ISF Academy follows the established curriculum objectives and assessment criteria published by the IB.

The Secondary School curriculum for Grade 6 to 10 includes courses in:

  • English Language and Literature, English Language Acquisition, Individuals & Societies, Mathematics, Sciences, Design, Physical and Health Education, Information Technology, and The Arts (Visual and Performance: Music and Drama) with English as the medium of instruction; and
  • Chinese Language and Literature, Chinese Language Acquisition, and Chinese Humanities with Putonghua as the medium of instruction.

Information Technology and Chinese Humanities are School-based courses.

IB DP (Grade 11 and 12) students study six subjects, three at Higher Level and three at Standard Level. Students must choose one subject from each of Groups 1 to 5, thus ensuring breadth of experience in languages, social studies, the sciences, and mathematics. The sixth subject may be an arts subject chosen from Group 6, or the student may choose another subject from Groups 1 to 5.

Three core requirements are also included to broaden the educational experience and challenge students to apply their knowledge and understanding:

  • The Extended Essay requires students to engage in independent research through an in-depth study of a question relating to one of the subjects they are studying. The 4,000 word essay is based upon independent research and written under the advice and guidance of an Extended Essay mentor;
  • Theory of Knowledge is a 100-hour course designed to encourage each student to reflect on the nature of knowledge by critically examining different ways of knowing (perception, emotion, language, reason, imagination, faith, intuition, and memory) and different kinds of knowledge (scientific, artistic, mathematical, historical, religious, and indigenous); and
  • Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) encourages active learning from the experience of doing real tasks beyond the classroom. Students commit to participation in CAS Programme® activities over the course of eighteen months with a special emphasis on cooperative and community-based projects. 

In addition to our academic courses, the following school-based courses also form part of our curriculum:

  • Personal Develpment Learning (PDL) is delivered in Putonghua or English through the homeroom and tutor program;
  • University Guidance lessons are provided for students in Grade 9 to 12;
  • Services in Grade 6 to 10 is embedded within the taught curriculum, with additional opportunities possible through Co-curricular Activities (CCA), student leadership, and individual initiatives; and
  • ‘Big Learning Afternoon’ enables selected Secondary students to enrich their learning by opting into a number of School-based courses. These courses include Shuyuan (書院): Science and Discovery, Shuyuan (書院): Underwater Robotics, Shuyuan (書院): Classics, Shuyuan (書院): Latin, (please refer to the section on The ISF Shuyuan for more information), Mathematics Competition Team, Musical Ensembles, Academy Band, and Choir.


Experiential Learning is a vital cornerstone of learning at The ISF Academy. All students in Grade 6 to 10 participate in this carefully sequenced experiential program that promotes learning skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, leadership, collaboration, global citizenship, service and communication. Our students gain real-world experience that is connected to and directly supports academic studies and is also an essential component of the IB Learner Profile, The ISF Academy’s “Eight Virtues + One” and the IB’s Approaches to Learning.

Experiential learning relies on immersion in unfamiliar settings and participation in novel activities that support personal development. Each year, students undertake two Experiential Learning Programs (ELP1 and ELP2) as a part of their core studies at The ISF Academy. The experiential learning curriculum offers a progressive pathway for students to enhance their life skills outside of the classroom.


Grade 6 to 9: Outdoor Adventure

ELP1 is designed to develop and test skills in teamwork, communication, decision-making, initiative, motivation and reliability. ELP1 activities promote student self-awareness and motivation to undertake new challenges beyond the range of previous experience. Students are introduced to a wide variety of adventure-based activities, such as map reading, orienteering, hiking, gorge walking, rock climbing, abseiling, kayaking, rafting and camping.

Grade 10 to 11: Service Learning

The Grade 10 ELP1 Service Learning trip is organized by house in a vertical structure that also involves Grade 11 students. It is designed to encourage a greater commitment to service learning while developing a deeper self-awareness and empathy for others. Students are guided and mentored by House Tutors and facilitators in how to take action as socially responsible global citizens. The Grade 11 students, having participated in the Service Learning program in the previous year, act as peer mentors. Their previous experience and guided practice provide support and encouragement for the Grade 10 students. This experience lays the foundation for our students to become caring and experienced global citizens, and volunteers with a view to becoming tomorrow’s civic leaders.

Grade 12: Self Actualization Trip: Fulfilling your potential

The Grade 12 ELP1 trip is the pinnacle and culminating trip of The ISF Academy Experiential Learning Program. To provide students with a springboard to university, college and career, they are given the opportunity to put into practice the skills developed from previous ELP experiences.  Students exercise leadership and problem solving skills as they decide their destination and, under the guidance of the ELP team, plan all aspects of their final ELP trip.


Grade 6 to 8: Chinese Humanities

The destinations for each grade are closely linked to The ISF Academy's school-based Chinese Humanities curriculum. ELP2 trips are designed to provide enhanced learning opportunities for students outside of the classroom.

Grade 9 to 10: Service Learning

The Grade 9 ELP2 Service Learning trip is organized by house in a vertical structure and also involves Grade 10 students. It is run along the same lines as the Grade 10 and 11 ELP1 Service Learning Trip.

Grade ELP1 Destination ELP2 Destination
6 Hong Kong Tulou / Xiamen / Xian / Zhengzhou
7 Hong Kong Beijing / Hangzhou / Jinan / Jiuhuashan / Nanjing / Qingdao / Qufu
8 Hong Kong Dunhuang / Huangshan
9 Hong Kong Cambodia / Thailand / Vietnam / Yangshuo

Cambodia / Thailand / Vietnam

Cambodia / Thailand / Vietnam / Yangshuo

Cambodia / Thailand / Vietnam

12 New Zealand  



The ISF Academy’s IB DP course of study and activities provide an excellent foundation for our students to meet the admissions requirements of the most selective colleges and universities around the world. In addition, The ISF Academy has also developed a systematic program of university counseling, coordinated by the Assistant Principal (Higher Education). The University Guidance and Careers Program runs in the Senior School from Grade 9 through 12 and encompasses pre-university testing, personality tests, university research, application preparation. 

The ethos behind our University guidance is to ensure that students find the right match for their post-Secondary studies and beyond. We understand that the university application process is part of a larger journey of self-discovery, and we are committed to helping students seek the path that best fits their individual needs, interests and passions. We recognize that students look to study in higher education institutions all over the world and our program equips them with the necessary experience and knowledge to make informed decisions on their university choices and beyond.

The ISF Academy is a private SAT Reasoning Test and SAT Subject Test test center in Hong Kong (SAT is a standardized admissions test for college admissions in the United States).

Senior School students are given opportunities to participate in summer work placement programs to better link their academic studies with future career goals.

For more details on the University Guidance and Careers program, please refer to the IB Diploma Programme® Admissions Booklet.

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