Interview with Mr Andreas Swoboda, Principal of ICS Madrid
International College Spain (ICS) was founded in 1980 by the late entrepreneur and philanthropist, Manoucher Farhangi, and thanks to him has grown to become one of the leading international schools in Spain. It is a day school offering primary and secondary education, in English, to boys and girls of all nationalities from 3 to 18 years old.
What is the philosophy of the school?
Our Mission is to provide students with a high quality international education which places a strong emphasis on fostering respect for other people’s identity and culture. Our ‘Be Ambitious’ philosophy drives our educational offer. We believe there is no limit to what your child can achieve. We ignite your child’s curiosity and tell them to reach for their dreams, to step outside their comfort zones and try something new.
The school is located 10 minutes north of the city centre. Can you tell us something about the campus?
Set in 3 hectares of beautiful gardens, both the Primary and Secondary School buildings are safe and idyllic. ICS offers perfect surroundings for perfect learning.
La Moraleja suburb is exclusive within the Madrid community, with high security patrols helping children and parents feel safe and secure.
Our Primary School students benefit from music rooms, spacious classrooms, a space for movement and dance, a large gym and three separate playgrounds. Early Years students have dedicated classrooms and a play area. Our Secondary School facilities are set up to support students as they master a wide range of subjects. There are rooms for design technology, computer technology, art and design, music and drama. Students can explore the wonders of science in one of seven science laboratories, or revise for their Diploma Programme in a dedicated study room.
What curriculum does the school follow and what language are pupils taught in?
We offer the three IB Programmes (Primary Years Programme, Middle Years Programme and the IB Programme). The medium of instruction is English throughout.
Are foreign parents concerned that their children may not be getting a sufficient level of Spanish?
ICS Students learn Spanish from K3 up to Grade 12, furthermore one of the highest pass rates and scores for our students in the IB Diploma are in Spanish Language and Literature.
We adapt Spanish lessons to our students needs, offering different levels in both Primary and Secondary Schools for students native and non-native.
Approximately what is the ratio of local pupils to non-Spanish pupils? How many nationalities do you currently have within the college?
We have, at present, 72 different nationalities with approximately 30% with Spanish nationality.
With so many different nationalities how do you ensure a sense of community within the school?
We are a welcoming and caring school community dedicated to building the social and emotional confidence of every child. Respect for all nations and cultures is instilled in our learning and a priority characteristic we instil in our students and staff.
Our Parent Association, Friends of ICS (FOICS), is a source of information and the parents’ link to our School through educational matters committees and organising social events.
The wonderful work and dedicated involvement of our parents ensures that close knit community we are so proud of. We have various committees where parent collaboration is key to a healthy, safe, caring family feel at ICS. Our Welcome Committee, Country Ambassadors and social events are fundamental in bringing our community together to celebrate our cultural and international environment.
How does the school ensure that children are sufficiently integrated into the local community?
International College Spain makes excellent use of the rich cultural opportunities offered to us by our host country. School visits and trips are organised regularly throughout the school year to enhance the learning experiences in the classroom.
Our base in Madrid provides us with a rich cultural landscape to explore through day visits and trips with our students. Our students will visit a number of local places such as galleries and museums, or sites of historical significance or scientific interest.
We also offer Residential visits and trips abroad for multicultural experiences and learning.
How can parents gauge the academic success of the school?
Our excellent academic outcomes and support throughout each child’s learning journey are testament to the academic success at ICS. Scores above world averages in ISA testing, MAP testing, the MYP and DP confirm this. A healthy child will be more attentive in class and achieve more. We offer a disciplined and stable environment which helps our students feel happy and secure at all times allowing each child to develop self-confidence, self-esteem, maturity, stability and a genuine appreciation and respect for others.
Approximately what percentage of children go on to University from the school and do many of them go on to higher education outside of Spain?
Students at ICS can be assured of receiving an education that will prepare them for further education at universities worldwide. Graduates of the class of 2018 made over 350 applications to schools in a range of countries including the UK, USA, Spain, France, Germany, Netherlands, Canada, Norway, Korea and Switzerland. The 2018 graduates attended universities in the UK 48%, Spain 18%,USA 10%, Other countries 24%.
How important are extracurricular activities at the school?
The importance of academic achievement for any student is essential but at ICS we believe that for a well-rounded education, fun and energetic interests are also essential. Studies show that students enrolled in activities programmes have higher academic grades, learn to manage their time, relieve stress and learn to strive for excellence. These activities can also help with applications to universities and to improve social skills and overall productivity.
What makes the school stand out from other international schools in Madrid?
We are the only school in Madrid offering the three prestigious IB programmes in English providing students with a stimulating academic curriculum in a caring learning environment combined with a unique international focus.