Grade 10 Personal Development Month
All Grade 10 students are expected to complete a Personal Development Month (PDM). It takes place during the last two weeks of school in June and the first two weeks of July.
ICS is one of only a few schools offering this opportunity to its Grade 10 students. The PDM is based on philosophies shared by ICS and the International Baccalaureate. It aims to help students:
- learn in different environments
- face new and different challenges that might require students to step outside their comfort zone
- develop independence and responsibilities
- experience a global context different from students' everyday life
- gain a unique and life-changing experience
- acquire skills and experience helpful for university/college applications, job applications and gap year projects
The PDM can take many different forms.
Some students prefer to take part in the Grade 10 Expedition. This is offered by an external provider. While this company organises the basic framework, students are encouraged to take ownership of the planning and preparation for the trip.
They work with the service provider to organise the itinerary; they work with the ICS link teacher accompanying the trip to learn more about the country they will be visiting; and they work as a group on leadership, decision making and organisational skills.
The students take the lead in planning this trip, including researching their destination and finding accommodation, transport and meals. The expedition entails a trek that will challenge the students' fitness; service learning experience/s that will help them get to know communities in the country they are visiting; and a short R&R phase when they can discover historical and/or tourist attractions of their destination country.
The fee for taking part in the expedition is set by the provider, based on the trip destination and itinerary. The school asks students to try to raise at least 1,000 CHF, to give them a feeling of ownership of the expedition. Previous Grade 10 Expeditions have gone to Nepal, Peru, Bolivia and Borneo, among others.
The students will be asked to complete an initial application form by November of their 10th Grade year. This will be reviewed by their tutors, the PDM coordinator and the Secondary Principal.
Approved applications will be returned to the students, with feedback, and they can continue to refine them before completing them by late March.
For those proposals that are not approved, students will need to refine them and submit further information until they obtain approval.
After completing their PDM, students are asked to complete a detailed reflection (they will receive guidelines on this). Their reflection falls due in August, on the first day of their Grade 11 year.
Typically, Grade 10 students use their Personal Development Month (PDM) as an opportunity to study, gain work experience, carry out community service or meet a physical challenge. In many cases, they combine more than one of these.
Examples of work experience include:
- working at a nursery in the Australian Outback
- as an assistant trainer for a youth football team
- as an assistant to a veterinary neurologist
- at a rice farm in Japan
Examples of physical challenges include:
- a cycle tour through Switzerland
- trekking in Nepal
- walking the 350km 'Camino Primitivo' in northern Spain
Examples of community service include:
- working with disabled orphans in India
- working at a US school for underprivileged children
- Volunteering on a marine conservation programme in Belize
- Working for an animal rights organisation in Singapore
- learning Spanish in Madrid
- a pre-IB programme in Oxford
- a graphic design course in the US
- a sailing course in Norway
- courses at London's University of the Arts