The International School of Florence serves the educational needs of both international and local families. We welcome children of all nationalities whose families are internationally-minded and committed to an international education where the primary language of instruction is English.
The International School of Florence is committed to the principle of equal opportunity in education. The school does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of ethnicity, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability or national origin in the administration of its educational and admissions policies. We do take into account factors including an applicant’s prior educational and linguistic aptitude for purposes of admission in order to fulfill the school’s mission and vision. We regard our Admissions Policy to have a strong ethical component and as such our primary criterion of acceptance is that we are able to provide an education that is to the benefit of each individual child. ISF would not admit a child if it was felt that we could not honestly meet their needs. For students who require additional learning services, we require the full support of families so that we can best assess their needs and our capacity to meet them.
The school's Mission and Vision are further supported by the IB Learner Profile. ISF is proud to be an IB World School and expects all members of the school community to embody its values. Registration and annual re-enrollment are conditional upon individuals and families being in good standing with the school and the values of our community.
At ISF, English is the language of communication, instruction and inclusion for our community, but we will always value linguistic diversity. It is therefore essential that at least one parent or another adult can communicate in English with the school and can understand any written communication coming from the school or posted on the parent portal or the school website.
Each applicant will be individually assessed, as the school’s objective is to determine whether the student will be able to access our programs and curriculums successfully. Therefore, each individual application will be evaluated holistically in the given year to determine whether or not we are able to cater for the student’s needs and therefore able to offer a place in our school. In order to meet the criteria of our Admissions Policy and Procedure, when evaluating an applicant, the following priority levels are assigned to determine placement:
Upon the successful completion of Junior School (Grade 5), only those students who have fulfilled all school payments and have no outstanding debts will be enrolled in the Middle School Program at the Upper School
Siblings of students already enrolled at ISF
Children of families who relocate due to their professional needs and will be working for corporations or organizations with a long-standing history at ISF
Children of Alumni families
One year applicants versus one semester applicants when space is limited
All other applicants
The Admissions Team will follow best practice when considering families with multiple siblings applying to one or both campuses. ISF will carefully consider keeping families united pending a positive evaluation and space availability.
*Applicants who may need student services will be assessed and evaluated according to the internal resources available.
The application period begins in mid-October (previous year) and ends around mid February (year of application) i.e. to apply to the academic year 2023-24, the timeframe is from mid-October 2022 to mid-February 2023.
Incoming Staff Children
Children of new hires are not automatically accepted, but must in fact follow the standard application process, in order for the Admissions Committee to evaluate and make a final decision.
Junior School: the cut-off date is September 1st. In order to accurately place your child, please refer to the information below. Unless, there is significant evidence to suggest a student’s needs will be best met in a different year group, Junior School students will be placed into the academic year that corresponds with their date of birth. Current grade level and schooling system will be also taken into consideration.
Please refer to the table below:
- Early Years 1: 3 years old by September 1st
- Early Years 2: 4 years old by September 1st
- Foundation: 5 years old by September 1st
- Grade 1: 6 years old by September 1st
- Grade 2: 7 years old by September 1st
- Grade 3: 8 years old by September 1st
- Grade 4: 9 years old by September 1st
- Grade 5: 10 years old by September 1st
Upper School: Unless there is significant evidence to suggest a student’s needs will be best met in a different year group, Upper School applicants will be placed into the academic year based on their current grade level and schooling system.
If a student’s placement tests, school reports or special educational needs indicate that an applicant should not be placed into the corresponding academic year, the school will consider placing them 1 year above or 1 year below the usual year group. Please note that while we do our best to accommodate most applicants regardless of their needs, there are some service limitations and capacity restrictions that must be considered during the application period.
Admissions Testing and Screening
Junior School Screening
Selected students will be required to be screened for admission according to the grade level they are applying for. Screening sessions will be scheduled and dates will be communicated during the application process.
WIDA Assessment: The Admissions Team together with the Admissions Committee will determine if a student needs a WIDA screener by looking at their linguistic history (parent’s home languages and educational background). The purpose of the WIDA screener is to determine a student’s Academic English Proficiency Level and if they would benefit from support services. WIDA has developed an integrated system of standards and assessments. This system is designed to monitor progress and improve teaching and learning. WIDA assessments measure students’ language use in academic contexts across the four language domains of speaking, reading, listening, and writing.
NWEA MAP Screener: As a school we use the NWEA MAP Growth assessment to gather as much information about our students as possible, but these tests can be lengthy and require multiple days to space out appropriately. For admissions, we accept NWEA MAP Growth scores from the most recent testing session, or we can provide NWEA MAP Screener, which is a shortened single-subject assessment in both math and reading that can be completed in one sitting on one day.
Developmental Screener: During the screening, small groups of children will have an opportunity to play and interact with teachers and with each other in various activities. The Admissions Committee looks for typical developmental patterns as an indicator that will allow children to be successful in the daily tasks they would enjoy at ISF.
The screening session is not a test to rank students based on performance, but an opportunity to better understand a child’s readiness to enter our school program and to address any possible needs in advance. Please note that we require any previous school MAP and/or WIDA results when available.
Additional screeners or information about specific needs may be requested and may also have an impact on the admissions decision. We also reserve the right to conduct further testing to re-evaluate students already enrolled if any concerns arise, to determine whether our current school resources can continue to support your child.
Language Requirements - Grades 6-10
With the exception of the Italian Program in Grades 6-8, all other subjects at ISF are taught in English. Two-thirds of the Middle School Program is the same for all students where they are taught in mixed ability groups. Students who are selected for Admissions testing (non-mother tongue and students who are enrolled in non-English curriculum schools), are required to demonstrate evidence of sufficient level of academic English to access the program. This will include evidence from official school records showing English language proficiency and the WIDA Screener (English Language Proficiency Test), in which students must obtain a minimum score according to the grade of interest. During the application process, students who complete their application will be required to schedule an appointment for an interview with the Admissions Office (Zoom or Google Meet will be acceptable if the interview cannot be conducted in person).
Language Requirements - Grades 11-12 (IB Diploma Program)
Apart from Language B subjects, all subjects at ISF are taught in English. Students who are selected for Admissions testing (non-mother tongue and students who are enrolled in non-English curriculum schools), are required to demonstrate evidence of sufficient level of academic English to access the program. This will include evidence from official school records showing English language proficiency and the WIDA Screener (English Language Proficiency Test), in which students must obtain a minimum score according to the grade of interest. During the application process, students who complete their application will be required to schedule an appointment for an interview with the Admissions Office in person (Zoom or Google Meet will be acceptable if the interview cannot be conducted in person).
Junior School: If a student in unable to be screened, they may still be conditionally accepted for admission, with the understanding that they will have a delayed start date (approximately 1 or 2 weeks later than other students of the same grade) in order to facilitate all screenings as required, and to allow the admissions team to review the results once screened. If the results of the screenings show that the students cannot be served appropriately with our resources, we would still reserve the right to deny admissions at this point.
Upper School: In cases when it is not clear whether entry to the International School of Florence is in the best interest of a student or the school, a conditional acceptance may be granted for a trial enrollment period establishing targets, success criteria and time frames.
Although we are not a special educational needs school, ISF offers minimal student support services for students who have certain additional needs. We offer learning support for students in grades 6 to 10 with identified learning needs who require assistance in certain areas but can otherwise access the regular curriculum. The levels of support are dependent upon individual students’ needs. In grades 11 and 12 we provide access arrangements only to students according to IB criteria. Learning services are provided for students in grades 6 through 10 within the grade-level curriculum with a focus on supporting students in their areas of learning challenges while capitalizing on their strengths.
Each student must be individually assessed, as the School’s objective is to determine whether the student will be able to access our programs and curriculums successfully. Therefore, each individual application will be evaluated carefully in the given year to determine whether or not we are able to cater for the student’s needs and therefore able to offer a place in our school. For applicants with specific educational needs or behavioral difficulties, parents are requested to provide complete documentation of their child’s academic history: grade reports, educational/psychological evaluations, Individual Educational Plans, and details of extra academic/specialist support they have received. All relevant evaluations and assessments must be in English. If necessary, ISF will request parents to provide contact details of previous schools or professionals involved with the child, to obtain details relevant to the child’s education. Once the application is complete, the Admissions Committee will evaluate the application and see if the school can accommodate the student needs.
There are limitations to the support we are able to provide. These limitations can be due to the nature of the need with no staff specialized in such need, as well as limited personnel resources, therefore there may be circumstances under which we:
Deny admission to students where ISF determines that their needs cannot be met. This includes students with severe and profound cognitive and developmental disabilities; students who are more physically challenged than we can manage safely; students with severe emotional, behavioral or psychiatric disorders; students whose behavior places risk on the safety and health of others; or students who consistently disrupt the learning of other students as a result of their behavior. The Admissions Committee always has the right to deny admission if it is believed that ISF will not be a place where the student can be successful;
Require parents of current students to seek alternative schooling for their children when the school determines that their needs can no longer be met or when parents or students have not complied with formal written recommendations of the school;
Deny admission or revoke admission when parents fail to disclose during the admissions process all relevant information about their child’s learning needs and submit all requested documentation;
Deny a student because our Student Services Department is at capacity.
All families applying to the International School of Florence, agree to support and act in line with our guiding statements, policies and protocols. The school's Mission and Vision are further supported by the IB Learner Profile. ISF is proud to be an IB World School and expects all members of the school community to embody its values.
Parents/Guardians must be aware that failure to disclose information or providing inaccurate information, including but not limited to any received learning support, a diagnosis, or disruptive behavior will jeopardize their child’s school placement and may result in termination of enrolment.
If a family applies to join the school in the coming school year and their significant personal circumstances change, there may be a possibility to defer their entry for one year on a case by case basis. The family must communicate the change in a timely manner to the Admissions Office .
Following the final evaluation by the Admissions Committee, the School may decide to refuse entry if spaces are not available and if we believe that we cannot provide an education that will meet the academic, behavioral and/or learning needs of the student.
For the same reasons as above (please see the STUDENT LEARNING SERVICES paragraph), the school reserves the right to terminate a student’s enrollment at any time during the school year.
The Admissions Committee’s decision is in most cases final, however in some circumstances, the school may agree to an appeal. The Appeals Committee is composed by the Senior Academic Leadership Team (SALT).
Primary Years Program at ISF - Junior School
PYP In Early Years 1, 2, And Foundation: Early Years at the International School of Florence is taught through the IB Primary Years Programme. It is based on a child-centered, developmental approach to the young learner. Children experience a nurturing and stimulating environment where their curiosity is placed at the center of their growth. Social and emotional skills are developed to support their emerging independence. The school day offers a range of opportunities for exploration and collaborative learning, as well as Physical Education, Music class, Art class and Library visits. Students’ English language skills are reinforced daily through purposeful modeling and contextual interactions, with Italian language extension offered once a week for Early Years 1 and 2 and three times a week in Foundation.
PYP In Grades 1-5: The Junior School Program at the International School of Florence develops children’s understanding of the world through the IB Primary Years Programme. Our program promotes the development of mathematical and language literacy as well as curiosity in the sciences and social studies through relevant and engaging units of inquiry. A love for the creative and performing arts, together with physical exercise, is fostered by specialist teachers who work collaboratively with classroom teachers, enabling students to make transdisciplinary connections to their learning across the curriculum. Learning is enhanced throughout the year through integrated activities and trips in our local Florentine environment. Students learning English as an Additional Language are offered support by our English as an Additional Language (EAL) services. Students are encouraged to learn our host country’s language and culture through daily Italian instruction. An integrated Italian equivalency program is offered for our host country students who wish to meet the requirements of the Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione.
Italian Language - Junior School
Italian language development and cultural awareness are integral in learning about our host country. Whether students are learning Italian as an additional language or as a home language we are able to support their learning through our units of inquiry as well as through stand alone Italian language teaching.
Italian - Early Years 1-2: Students in Early Years 1 and 2 have weekly classes in Italian where they enjoy stories, songs and play lead in Italian. Classes have bilingual teaching assistants who support student understanding between English and Italian on an ongoing basis.
Italian - Foundation-Grade 2: Italian classes become progressively more regular, with daily instruction by Grade 2. Classes are grouped according to levels of Italian acquisition and learning is focused on the acquisition of Italian- reading and writing, speaking and listening.
Italian - Grades 3-5: At the end of 2nd Grade, students are split into 3 different Italian levels. The goals of each differ and the placement into a program is at the discretion of the principal, based on assessments, family need, and teacher recommendation.
Italian Program (Quinta Elementare): The Quinta Elementare is an exam taken at a local Italian public school with an external commission at the end of Grade 5. This exam allows entrance to Italian National State Middle schools. Students who take the Quinta Elementare path are automatically placed in the Italian Program at ISF Middle School (although they can opt out).
The Italian Program is designed for children who speak Italian as a home language. Students receive instruction in literature, grammar, history, geography, science and mathematics in Italian and oral and written exams are taken in all these subject areas.
Students are eligible for acceptance to this path if they:
Speak Italian as a home language (or one of)
Have been assessed by Italian teachers as being of a sufficient level to meet the needs of the program
Families are willing to support their children in preparation for the exam
Italian as an Additional Language (IAL-A) - Advanced: The IAL-A course is designed for strong Italian speaking students who do not intend to prepare for the Terza Media state exam. Students study Italian Literature, grammar, speaking and writing skills using the state curriculum materials. This course is offered if demand exists.
Italian as an Additional Language (IAL-B) - Beginners: The IAL-B course is designed for non-Italian mother tongue students. The focus moves from language acquisition and comprehension to the study of age-appropriate literature and cultural studies. Placement into a program is not definitive and can be reassessed according to need.
Secondary Education at ISF (Upper School)
The Middle School Program (Grades 6-8): The Middle School Program for students aged 11 to 14 years, offers the choice of following the Italian Program or the International Program. Two-thirds of the MS programme is the same for all students where they are taught in mixed ability groups. The other third of the program is either Italian Studies consisting of Italian, matematica & scienza, storia & geografia leading to the Terza Media Exam, or international studies in Italian language, maths and social studies.
The International MS Program provides a framework of academic challenge and life skills for students aged 11-14 years. Students at this stage (early puberty moving towards mid-adolescence) are in a particularly critical phase of personal and intellectual development. This is a time of uncertainty, sensitivity, resistance and questioning. An educational program needs to provide them with discipline, skills and challenging standards, but also with creativity and flexibility. The Middle School Program builds around these considerations and also helps students develop a personal value system by which to guide their own lives, as thoughtful members of local communities and the larger world. Students in Grades 6 - 8 have a broad and balanced curriculum that includes: English, Mathematics, Art, Music, Theater Studies, Social Studies, Science, Italian, French or Spanish, PE, and Life Skills.
The Middle School Italian Program (Grade 6-8): The Middle School Italian Program is a bespoke programme created to help students prepare for the externally administered Italian Government Licenza Media exam. Content of the subjects of English, Science, Italian Literature and Social Studies, Technology, Physical Education, Art, Music, and French or Spanish are tested in the Licenza Media exam. Books and material are selected from required Italian Government educational resources. Mock oral examinations are scheduled at the end of Grade 8 during the final trimester to prepare students for the oral component of the external exam. A commission of teachers conducts the mock exams. Italian Program students will have more homework than their peers in the International Program. Due to the intensive nature of the program, ISF normally will only accept students to the Italian program at the start of Grade 6. Mother tongue or native-like Italian proficiency is required.
The High School Program (Grades 9-10): The High School program is offered to students in Grades 9 through 12. All students at ISF, study the High School Programme. A central focus of this program is the development of skills that will be carried through into the Diploma Programme and beyond. Skills of analysis, data interpretation, communication, creative problem solving, research, critical thinking and time management are developed through all of the courses. Assessment tasks also resemble the types of assessment that students will face later in their education, ranging from essay writing, lab reports, source analysis, mathematical projects to research projects and more. In Grades 9 & 10 the programme is especially designed to provide a transition from the broader based, experiential curriculum of Middle School to the more specialized and rigorous requirements of an accredited high school program. Students in Grades 9 and 10 broadly follow the Middle School Program subject offer.
The IB Diploma Program (Grades 11-12): The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP) is an externally assessed two-year program for the academically motivated students in Grades 11 and 12, leading to the award of the IB Diploma. The IB DP Coordinator assists students in planning their programs and monitors their progress. The curriculum contains six subject groups together with a core made up of three separate parts. Students study six subjects selected from the subject groups. Normally three subjects are studied at higher level (courses representing 240 teaching hours), and the remaining three subjects are studied at standard level (courses representing 150 teaching hours). All three parts of the core, the extended essay (EE), theory of knowledge (ToK) and creativity, activity, service (CAS) are compulsory and are central to the philosophy of the Diploma Program. Students are expected to spend three hours per evening, per day, on homework, which includes reading and reviewing as well as exercises and assigned writing.
The subjects on offer are listed on the school website and in the Diploma Program Handbook. Students enrolling into Grade 11 will only be allowed to choose from existing subjects and availability (some DP subjects may be full or their availability may be restricted by the timetable).
The IB DP is a challenging pre-university level program of studies which results in an externally assessed formal examination at the end of Grade 12. While ISF believes in giving each student an opportunity to pursue this program, we also equally believe in ensuring that this program will lead to student success. The Diploma Program Handbook provides detailed information about subject choices, tracking of student success throughout the program, and conditions under which students may not be allowed to sit the final examination.
ISF is accredited to offer an American High School Diploma. The American High School Diploma is awarded at Graduation and is additional to the IB Diploma.Policy first approved: 14 October 2020 Board Approved: 23 September 2021 Policy newly approved: 18 October 2022