School History

School History

ICS students strive for excellence in all that they do whether they are in classrooms, beyond classrooms, on the sports field, the stage or helping others through their service learning activities. The ICS experience continues to be an inspiring one to live each day.

inter-community school zurich, founded in 1960, first international school in zurich

The Inter-Community School was the first international school in Zurich. It was set up in 1960 as a Primary school where English-speaking expatriates could send their children. When it opened its doors, ICS had 80 students from 10 nationalities.

inter-community school Zurich, international school

Today ICS is an International Baccalaureate World School, educating children aged 18 months to 18 years. We offer the Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma Programmes of the International Baccalaureate. ICS now has 850 students from 55 nationalities.

Historical Timeline

The 1950s

Zurich becomes home to an English-speaking community as companies like Swissair, Ford Europe and Dow Chemical bring employees here from Great Britain, the USA, Canada and Australia.

But there is no English-language school in Zurich for employees' children. They either go into local Swiss schools or are sent back to boarding schools in their home countries. Parents are unhappy about this and start discussions about creating an English-language school.

The 1960s

Expatriate families band together to create an international Primary school in Zurich. They recruit teacher Gerald Atkinson from the Pestalozzi Children's Village as the founding headmaster.

ICS opens in September 1960 with 80 students aged 4 to 11. Numbers grow rapidly and the school moves to two locations in Regensdorf and Dubendorf.

The 1970s

The search for a permanent home for ICS takes several years. But in 1970, ICS is able to buy land for a new school building in Zumikon, on the outskirts of Zurich.

In 1973, students move into the new school. For the first time in 11 years, all students are together on one campus.


The 1980s

ICS decides to expand and offer Secondary grades beyond Grade 7. (Up until then, students had left ICS at the end of Grade 7 and gone across the lake to the then American high school.) But meetings with companies underline the need for more international Secondary school places.

ICS adds classes up to Grade 10 and introduces the International General Certificate of Secondary Education.


The 1990s

ICS continues to expand, adding classes up to Grade 12. It introduces the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.

The very first Grade 12 class take their IB Diploma exams in May 1996.

To accommodate the new students, a purpose-built Secondary school building is constructed on the Zumikon campus.


The 2000s

The school develops its Mission & Vision Statements.

It achieves accreditation with the Council of International Schools and the New England Association of Schools & Colleges.

In September 2010, ICS celebrates a real milestone - its 50th birthday. Throughout the 2010-11 school year, events are held to remember our past, celebrate our present and look to our future.


The 2010s

ICS first achieved accreditation in 2006.

After a five-year follow-up visit in January 2012, CIS and NEASC agreed that ICS should continue its good standing as an accredited school for a further five years.

ICS was delighted to receive confirmation of re-accreditation by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the New England Association of Schools & Colleges (NEASC) and the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) in January 2017.


The 2020s

ICS entered the 2020s proud of its reputation as Zurich's international school of first choice.

In August 2020, ICS opened its doors to the youngest members of the ICS family. Children from 18 months to 3 years were welcomed to our new Nursery facilities in the Primary building. 

During the global pandemic, our community responded by thriving during Learning@Home. Through the coming decade we will strive to stay at the forefront of educational innovation. We will remain focused on learning and growing, caring for others, and engaging with our communities. We welcome all who wish to undertake this ambitious journey together.

Photographic Timeline

For our 60th anniversary party, we created a giant-sized photo timeline. Positioned so parents could enjoy it from the car park, the display featured representative photos and illustrations of our community's six decades. The slideshow shows a sample of this well-received visual.

Articles in the school magazine 

Connections Autumn 2020, ICS School Magazine.

Discover more about our exciting community

ICS News