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The Primary Years Programme

Our Primary school is a vibrant and lively community where we celebrate the individuality of our members. We design our curriculum with an emphasis on exploration and developing understanding. At the same time we also recognise the importance of developing a solid foundation of core knowledge and skills that can be applied to develop further learning.

To achieve this we offer the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme as our curricular framework. This Programme combines excellent practice derived from wide-ranging research and experience from national and independent schools across the globe.

Key Features of the Primary Years Programme

Structured Inquiry - The Primary Years Programme follows an inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning. We purposefully design our curriculum to:

  • build upon prior experiences and knowledge,
  • develop meaning and refine understanding,
  • enable conceptual thinking, and
  • foster new and more complex understanding.

Students in classrooms emphasising an inquiry-based approach actively solve authentic problems, collaborate with others, ask and seek answers to questions, and develop the dispositions that enable independent learning.

For information about the Primary Curriculum, please see the Primary Curriculum Guide here.

During the year, Primary students inquire into globally significant issues through their units of inquiry. Please see our full Primary Programme of Inquiry for Early Years to Grade 5 students here. You can also see the programme of inquiry for individual grades here:

You can also see our Scope and Sequence documents here:

Concepts - What do we want students to understand?

The Primary Years Programme (PYP) is designed around a key set of important concepts that provide a structure for exploring authentic content. These concepts comprise the core of the PYP curriculum and provide the foundation for exploration across all disciplines. The PYP identifies eight key concepts that apply across all subject areas. Additionally, we teach related concepts that apply specifically to various disciplines. The key concepts are:

Form: What is it like?
Function: How does it work?
Causation: Why is it like it is?
Change: How is it changing?
Connection: How is it connected to other things?
What are the points of view?
Responsibility: What is our responsibility?
How do we know?

Knowledge - What do we want students to know?

Knowledge is developed through units of inquiry that are organized under six themes. These themes enable in-depth study of significant knowledge and concepts associated with traditional subject areas in a way that enables students to explore commonalities, and discover ways to integrate knowledge across subject disciplines. The units of inquiry and their organizing themes constitute our Programme of Inquiry.

Attitudes - What do we want students to feel, value and demonstrate?

The Primary Years Programme (PYP) emphasises the development of personal attitudes towards people, the environment and learning that are essential to developing internationally-minded global citizens. The PYP promotes:

  • appreciation,
  • commitment,
  • confidence,
  • cooperation,
  • creativity,
  • curiosity,
  • empathy,
  • enthusiasm,
  • independence,
  • integrity,
  • respect
  • and tolerance.

These attitudes are purposefully developed throughout the programme.

Skills - What do we want students to be able to do?

Integrated into the Primary Years Programme is recognition of the importance of developing skills that both define the discipline of the subject, and enable independence in learning. Within our programme we foster skill development, with an emphasis on:

  • thinking,
  • research,
  • social,
  • communication
  • and self-management skills.

Action - How do we want students to act?

An expectation of the PYP is that successful inquiry will lead to intentional action demonstrated by the student as a result of the learning process. Through the units of inquiry students are encouraged:

  • to make choices,
  • to act responsibly
  • and to reflect upon the impact of their choices.
ICS Inter-Community School Zurich
Strubenacher 3 | Postfach | 8126 Zumikon | Switzerland
+41 (0)44 919 8300 |
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