Junior School | Ages 3 - 10

Building a love of learning

Our approach to the education of young children recognizes that they are inquirers who explore and are engaged through a variety of appropriate instructional experiences in order to make sense of the world around them and become life-long learners.

The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP) is designed for students aged 3 - 12 (EC 1 to Grade 5). The programme provides a relevant, engaging, challenging and significant educational framework for all children, focusing on the whole growth of the developing child, encompassing social, physical, emotional, academic and cultural needs. Learn more about the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme.

The PYP prepares students to become active, caring, lifelong learners who demonstrate respect for themselves and others and have the capacity to participate in the world around them.


Learning is organised around six transdisciplinary themes:

1. Who we are

An inquiry into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities, and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human.

2. Where we are in place and time

An inquiry into orientation in place and time; personal histories; homes and journeys; the discoveries, explorations and migrations of humankind; the relationships between and the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations, from local and global perspectives.

3. How we express ourselves

An inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.

4. How the world works

An inquiry into the natural world and its laws; the interaction between the natural world (physical and biological) and human societies; how humans use their understanding of scientific principles; the impact of scientific and technological advances on society and on the environment.

5. How we organise ourselves

An inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organisations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment.

6. Sharing the planet

An inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things; communities and the relationships.


Through an integrated approach to teaching and learning, ISB uses a variety of differentiated teaching methods drawn from a range of exciting learning tasks and strategies applied to all key learning areas. The same teacher (homeroom teacher) teaches Language (English), Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. Specialist teachers plan and work collaboratively with homeroom teachers to teach: Arts (Music and Visual Arts), additional language (German) and Physical, Social and Personal Education (PSPE).

EC1 - Grade 5 Daily Schedule

EC 1 - 3
Drop-off 07:45 - 08:10
Classroom 08:15
Pick-up 15:00 (EC1 - 2)
  15:10 (EC 3)
Grades 1 - 5
Playground 07:45 - 08:10
Classroom 08:15
Pick-up 15:20


Arts are integral to the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP). They are a powerful mode of communication through which students explore and construct a sense of self and develop an understanding of the world around them. Arts provide students with a wide range of opportunities and means to respond to their experiences and engage with historical, social and cultural perspectives. The students are stimulated to think and to articulate their thoughts in new ways, and through a variety of media and technologies. The PYP recognizes that not all learning can be supported solely through language, and that arts as a medium of inquiry also provide opportunities for learning, communication and expression. Learning about and through arts is fundamental to the development of the whole child, promoting creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving skills and social interactions.

In Grade EC1 - 5, students learn music and visual arts with specialists teachers.


The need to communicate is instinctive. The development of language is fundamental to that need to communicate; it supports and enhances our thinking and understanding. Language permeates the world in which we live; it is socially constructed and dependent on the number and nature of our social interactions and relationships.  Language plays a vital role in the construction of meaning. It empowers the learner and provides an intellectual framework to support conceptual development and critical thinking.

Junior School students at ISB learn Language in three strands:

  1. Oral Language - Listening and Speaking
  2. Written Language - Reading and Writing
  3. Visual Language - Viewing and Representing

German at ISB

In the Junior School, all students learn standard German (Standarddeutsch), the official language of the Basel region. Students learn through meaningful, engaging, relevant activities that allow them to construct meaning, based on their prior knowledge, skills and experiences. They learn to use the language in everyday situations, developing knowledge about grammar and conventions as they go.

Students acquire the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing in German, learning how to formulate their ideas orally before communicating them in writing. German progression throughout the Junior School is organised into developmental phases. This is in line with research that concludes that additional language learning is not linear, and not tied to a specific age. Accordingly, grouping is flexible. As students engage in the interplay between the various language skills, they progress through phases at different rates. German teachers develop specific units to be taught in each grade level, based on the agreed skills for the phase they will teach.

The German programme aims to equip students with both a practical knowledge of the language and a solid basis for future language learning.


The objective of the mathematics program at ISB is to develop the student as a mathematician, through fostering their curiosity and enthusiasm for mathematics. Our aim is to ensure that all students are able to apply key approaches to their mathematics irrespective of the content. This is achieved through development our students’ skills, knowledge and conceptual understanding of mathematical processes across the ISB Mathematical Continuum.

Mathematics at the Junior School is taught in four branches:

  1. Data Learning: Data is concerned with posing questions, collecting, displaying, analysing, and interpreting information in order to make inferences and inform decisions. Statistics and probability modelling are used to describe trends and patterns observed in data.
  2. Number Learning: The number system is a language for describing quantity and the relationships between quantities. Within the number system there are different types of numbers with different properties that can be explored. Number sense allows for estimation, computation and the concept that the value attributed to a digit depends on its place value.
  3. Pattern and Function: The identification and generalisation of patterns underpins all of mathematics. By identifying patterns through numbers, shapes, and algebraic symbols, relationships can be explored and described. Generalising patterns and developing functions to describe relationships facilitates modeling of real life situations.
  4. Shape and Space: Shape and Space encompasses three main dimensions of mathematics: geometry, spatial reasoning and measurement. It facilitates an appreciation of the connections between mathematical concepts of position, shape, size, pattern, number, and data. Spatial awareness allows for analysing, measuring and transforming geometric quantities in two and three dimensions.

Mathematics progression from Early Childhood 1 to Grade 5 is organised in four phases of development. This is in line with research that concludes that learning mathematics is not linear, and not tied to a specific age. As they engage in the interplay between content and conceptual understandings, learners progress through phases at different rates. 

Phase 1

Data Learning

Learners will develop an understanding of how the collection and organization of information helps to make sense of the world. Learners will sort, describe and label objects by attributes and represent information. Learners will discuss chance in daily events.

Number Learning

Learners will understand that numbers are used for many different purposes in the real world. They will develop an understanding of one-to-one correspondence and conservation of number and count and use number words and numerals to represent quantities. They will understand whole-part relationships to compare quantities.

Pattern and Function

Learners will understand that patterns occur in everyday situations. Learners will explore patterns in various ways.

Shape and Space

Learners will understand that shapes have characteristics that can be described and compared. Learners will understand and use common language to describe direction and position.

Phase 2

Data Learning

Learners will understand how information can be expressed as organized and structured data and that this can occur in a range of ways. Learners will collect, organise and represent data in different ways, interpreting the resulting information for the purpose of answering questions. Learners will understand that time uses standard units. Learners will develop an understanding that some events in daily life are more likely to happen than others. Learners will identify and describe likelihood using appropriate vocabulary.

Number Learning

Learners will develop their understanding of the base 10 value system and will model, read, write, estimate, compare and order numbers to hundreds and beyond. They will flexibly and efficiently use numbers for addition and subtraction within 10. Learners will be able to model and use various strategies for addition and subtraction of whole numbers, including repeated addition and subtraction. Learners will use the appropriate mathematical language to describe their mental and written strategies.

Pattern and Function

Learners will understand that patterns and relationships can be identified and described. Learners will create and extend patterns. Learners will use pattern to understand the inverse relationship between addition and subtraction. Learner will be able to use their understanding of pattern to develop generalisations.

Shape and Space

Learners will explore 2D and 3D shapes, developing the understanding that shapes are classified and named according to their properties. Learners will understand that on a number line the scale is constant. Learners will measure length with metric units. Learners will understand that the area inside rectangles can be covered using squares organised in an array.

Phase 3

Data Learning

Learners will understand that the purpose, and the planning of how data is collected and represented, impacts the results. Learners will understand that scale used on each axis can influence how data is interpreted on a graph. Learners will use standard units of time. Learners will understand that games can be fair or unfair and be able to justify their reasoning.

Number Learning

Learners will flexibly and efficiently use whole numbers for addition and subtraction within 100. They will select, use and describe a range of strategies to solve problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Learners will develop the understanding that fractions are numbers and can be represented on a number line. Fractions are ways of representing whole -part relationships and learners will demonstrate this understanding by modelling equivalent fractions. They will be able to model, read, write, compare and order fractions.

Pattern and Function

Learners will understand that patterns can be analysed and generalised and understand that generalisations describe the relationships of one set of numbers with another set. Learners will use pattern to understand the inverse relationship between multiplication and division, and the associative and commutative properties of multiplication. Learners will use their understanding of pattern to generalise and predict.

Shape and Space

Learners will sort, describe and model regular and irregular polygons; developing an understanding of their properties, including lines of symmetry. Learners will understand that an angle is a measure of a turn. They will select and use appropriate tools and units of measurement. Learners will measure perimeter of 2D shapes. Learners will understand two number lines intersect to form a cartesian plane.

Phase 4

Data Learning

Learners will collect, organize and display data for the purposes of valid interpretation and communication.  Learners will use the mode, median, mean and range to summarize a set of data.

Number Learning

Learners will understand that the base 10 place value system extends infinitely in two directions and will be able to model, compare, read, write and order numbers to millions or beyond. They will understand that fractions are ways of representing whole-part relationships and will be modelling, comparing, reading, writing and ordering fractions. Learners will model and develop strategies for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of fractions.

Pattern and Functions

Learners will understand that patterns can be represented, analysed and generalized. Learners will use words, tables, and equations with words and symbols to analyse and represent patterns. Learners will use pattern to develop the generalisation that repeated multiplication can be represented in exponential notation and understand the inverse relationship between exponents and roots. Learners will continue to use their understanding of pattern to solve problems.

Shape and Space

Learners will understand the properties of 2D shapes and use these properties to make generalisations of area of 2D shapes. Learners will understand that 2D representations can be used to visualize 3D objects. Learners will understand angles as a measure of turn. Learners will measure and construct angles and compare types of angles.

Personal, Social and Physical Education

PSPE in the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) is concerned with the individual’s well-being through the promotion and development of concepts, knowledge, attitudes and skills that contribute to this wellbeing. Well-being is intrinsically linked to all aspects of a student’s experience at school and beyond. It encompasses physical, emotional, cognitive, spiritual and social health and development, and contributes to an understanding of self, to developing and maintaining relationships with others, and to participation in an active, healthy lifestyle.

Physical education at ISB is more than just student participation in sports and games. It is about developing a combination of transferable skills promoting physical, intellectual, emotional and social development; to encourage present and future choices that contribute to long-term healthy living; and to understand the cultural significance of physical activities for individuals and communities.


In the Junior School science is viewed as the exploration of the biological, chemical and physical aspects of the natural world, and the relationships between them. Our understanding of science is constantly changing and evolving. The inclusion of science within our Programme of inquiry leads learners to an appreciation and awareness of the world as it is viewed from a scientific perspective. It encourages curiosity and ingenuity and enables the student to develop an understanding of the world. Reflection on scientific knowledge also helps students to develop a sense of responsibility regarding the impact of their actions on themselves, others and their world.

The science curriculum is organized into four branches:

  1. Living things
  2. Earth and space
  3. Materials and matter
  4. Forces and energy

In line with the ISB Science continuum EC 1 - Grade 12, the focus of science teaching and learning in the Junior School is on concepts and skills. We recognize that teaching and learning science as a subject, while necessary, is not sufficient. Of equal importance is the need to learn science in context, exploring content relevant to students, and transcending the boundaries of the traditional subject area.

Social Studies

In the Junior School, social studies learning guides students towards a deeper understanding of themselves and others, and of their place in an increasingly global society. It provides opportunities for students to look at and think about human behaviour and activity realistically, objectively, and with sensitivity. Exposure to and experience with social studies therefore opens doors to key questions about life and learning.

The Social Studies curriculum in Junior School is organized into five strands which are inextricably linked to each other:

  1. Human systems and economic activities
  2. Social organization and culture
  3. Continuity and change through time
  4. Human and natural environments
  5. Resources and the environment

The focus of social studies teaching and learning in the Junior School is on concepts and skills. As in other curriculum areas, we recognized that teaching and learning social studies as a subject, while necessary, is not sufficient. Of equal importance is the need to learn social studies in context, exploring content relevant to students, and transcending the boundaries of the traditional subject area. For this reason, Social Studies is taught in the context of our Programme of inquiry.

Welcome to Early Childhood

We welcome you to learn more about our Early Childhood programme at International School Basel below.


In Grade 5, as the final year of the PYP, students carry out an extended, in-depth, collaborative project known as the PYP exhibition. This involves students working collaboratively to conduct an in-depth inquiry into real life issues or problems. Students collectively synthesise all of the essential elements of the PYP in ways that can be shared with the whole school community.

The exhibition represents a unique and significant opportunity for students to exhibit the attributes of the IB learner profile developed throughout their engagement with the PYP. It also provides schools and students with a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the transition of learners to the next phase of their education.


Junior School- Aesch Campus

Facilities, school hours, drop-off and pick-up times, and directions.


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