Personal Development Programme

DEVELOPING students as fully rounded individuals

Providing a challenging and balanced curriculum which encourages high achievement by students at all levels, ISZL promotes a climate of respect, where students are encouraged to develop self-confidence, positive relationships, and the motivation to learn. Each school division offers a programme for pastoral care and social development to provide the support structure that students need in order to succeed in all areas of school life.

The Personal Development Programme is a major component of the ISZL Pastoral Curriculum, with which all students are fully involved. The Personal Development Programme (PDP) is made up of three school-wide elements that engage students in their development as fully rounded individuals. These three elements are:

  • Personal, Social and Health Education
  • Community Education, Service, Action and Leadership
  • Personal Development Week

These three elements are highly interrelated and links within the curriculum encourage students to clearly understand these relationships. The three elements are part of the curriculum at every division and include age-relevant learning that provides a progressive and continuous educational programme through all grades.

Personal, Social and Health Education

A component of the Personal Development Programme at each school division is Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE), from which students gain an awareness and understanding of personal, social and health related issues that are important to their well-being. The PSHE curriculum is defined by the ISZL Strands and Learner Outcomes and is applied through grade level activities and lessons that are age appropriate. The programmes of study focusing upon the Learner Outcomes enhance students’ awareness and understanding of the attributes of the IB Learner Profile.


Learner outcomes relating to PSHE are extensively incorporated into the Units of Inquiry in the International Baccalaureate's Primary Years Programme (PYP) curriculum. Student learning in relation to these PSHE learner outcomes is enhanced by activities during Personal Development Week and other out-of-class events.


The core time for PSHE is during the designated PSHE lessons. There are three PSHE sessions scheduled over each two-week period. The PSHE Learner Outcomes are directly addressed in academic subject areas, Personal Development Weeks, activities, assemblies and other areas of the curriculum, as well as in the designated PSHE lessons.


The core time for PSHE is the tutor group time – an hour and a half – split between two weekly sessions. This is the main procedure for the delivery of the Learner Outcomes in the PSHE programme. The delivery of PSHE learner outcomes is enhanced through academics, educational visits, activities and assemblies.


At ISZL we believe that an understanding of communities, the way we relate to these and the effects we can have upon them, are important components in the education of our students. This aspect of the curriculum is continuous and progressive from Early Years 1 to Grade 12, and the extent of interaction with targeted communities is age appropriate. Our ethos of care, respect and spiritual well-being receives strong focus in this area of the curriculum and it creates processes that promote motivation and achievement through local and global interactions.


In our Primary School divisions, students experience the meaning of community through involvement in those to which they belong. They learn about relationships, rights and responsibilities in communities, and that their actions are important to the well-being of their community. Students are provided opportunities for developing leadership skills. The main conduits for the delivery of this learning is through our PYP Units of Inquiry (central ideas of some units may lead to action in some local communities), Student Council initiatives, small-scale initiatives with the local Swiss community and fundraising initiatives for our school charities (both local and international).


All students at the Middle School are involved with service learning initiatives, organised within the homeroom setting in Grades 6 - 8. At Middle School level we aim for students to start taking responsibility and initiative to drive their service learning projects. The teacher’s role is one of support and guidance, nurturing the development of key service learning skills such as leadership, empathy and responsibility. The Middle School service learning initiatives offer opportunities for our students to connect and support the school, the local Swiss and international communities. In addition, Grade 8 students are encouraged to work independently on additional service learning projects through the Personal Development Programme which involves activities that develop teamwork and leadership skills, through service learning and outdoor education. Similarly, a large number of students choose to work on other service learning projects through the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Scheme.


At the High School, the service learning programme has two sections. In Grades 9 and 10, students are expected to organise an initiative to provide support or service to an organisation or community chosen by them or recommended by our Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS) coordinator. The group plans and organises their initiative with significant independence but with the support of the CAS coordinator as necessary.

There are community and service programmes for Grade 11 and 12 students that are student-led and guided by the school. All students participate in this programme. Students are expected to show a great degree of independence in choosing the initiatives they wish to pursue, and they are encouraged to set up initiatives themselves. The Personal Development Week (PDW) is a component of this programme and students are encouraged to make links between their own projects and the PDWs in which they participate.


As an international school located in Central Switzerland, ISZL provides the ideal opportunity to take full advantage of our host country, other European nations and more distant global destinations. The Personal Development Week (PDW) offers students an exceptional learning situation and meaningful opportunities to get to know their host and neighbouring cultures. Providing students with experiences that are not otherwise possible during the normal academic programme, PDW is an integral and crucial part of the curriculum. All students are expected to participate as important learning takes place during these trips and, on return to school, the experience of PDW is further developed in the classroom.


The Primary School PDW is a week in which developmentally appropriate trips are designed for students in Grades Three to Five and take place early in the academic year. The purpose of the Primary School PDW is to help the students develop social awareness and group integration in their new class, as well as provide opportunities to interact and learn about the environment in which they live. All trips will have links with the Units of Inquiry that are being studied by the grades, so that the curriculum is extended beyond the classroom. Students from Grade 3 go on a residential trip to a suitable location, which offers experiences of, and interaction with, the environment. The younger grades attend day trips that are organised throughout the academic year.


The Middle School PDW is a week in which developmentally appropriate trips are designed for students in each grade level and takes place early in the academic year. Each grade level travels to a suitable Central European location outside of Switzerland.

PDW is an ideal opportunity for students to develop independence as well as strengthening relationships with peers and teaching staff across the grade level. The activities the students undertake provide natural links to the academic curriculum whilst building upon our holistic curriculum, developing social awareness, team building and leadership skills. Our aim is that the Middle School PDW fuels and supports units of study in the MYP curriculum whilst developing all aspects of the Learner Profile.


At the High School, PDW is a week, normally scheduled to take place within the first quarter of the school year, in which developmentally appropriate trips to international destinations with links to the academic curriculum are designed for students.

PDW in Grades 9 and 10 is designed for students to develop independence, social awareness and group integration. Trips provide natural links to the academic curriculum while also providing links to our holistic curriculum, such as social awareness, team building and leadership skills. The Grade 9 and 10 trips and activities are designed to take place as grade level events. In Grades 11 and 12 trips focus on experiential service learning, which allow student choice and which may challenge students by placing them in unusual socially demanding situations.

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