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Admissions Policy

Introduction

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.

Admissions Criteria

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 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. 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:

  1. Upon the successful completion of Junior School (Grade 5), students will be enrolled in the Middle School Program at the Upper School  

  2. Siblings of students already enrolled at ISF and children of faculty and staff employed by the school

  3. 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

  4. Children of Alumni families 

  5. One year applicants versus one semester applicants when space is limited

  6. All other applicants. 


*Applicants who may need student services will be assessed and evaluated according to the internal resources available.

Application Timeframe

The application period begins in mid-October (previous year) and ends around mid February (year of application) i.e. to apply to the school year 2022-23, the timeframe is from mid-October 2021 to mid-February 2022.

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. 

Placement

ISF cut-off date is October 1st. In order to  accurately place your child, please refer to the information below.
Junior School: 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. 

  • Early Years 1: 3 years old by October 1st
  • Early Years 2: 4 years old by October 1st
  • Foundation: 5 years old by October 1st
  • Grade 1: 6 years old by October 1st
  • Grade 2: 7 years old by October 1st
  • Grade 3: 8 years old by October 1st
  • Grade 4: 9 years old by October 1st
  • Grade 5: 10 years old by October 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.



Student Services

Although we are not a special educational needs school, ISF offers student support services for students who have certain additional needs. To ensure that student wellbeing is at the core of our practices,  the ISF Student Services Team, together with the Wellbeing Team, strive to achieve a balance between educational excellence and equity for students with learning needs,  empowering them to take ownership of their learning experiences. 

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, behavioural, or psychiatric disorders; or students who consistently disrupt the learning of other students as a result of their behaviour. 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 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.


The school will support students' needs, but there are limitations to the support we can provide, as we might not have enough specialization to cater to the child’s needs or there may be limited resources within the Student Services Department. 

Student Services Team 

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 behavioural 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. If necessary, ISF will request parents to grant permission to contact 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.

English Language Proficiency

ISF has in place English language support for EAL students. As students progress through the school, English language requirements will become more demanding and will culminate with final external examination in English in Grade 12 (see section The IB Diploma Programme [Grades 11 + 12] below) . As such, language proficiency requirements vary from grade to grade, and will be considered as part of the admissions process through the WIDA Screener Test. 

Deferred Entry

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.


Refusing Entry

Following the final evaluation by the Admissions Committee, the School may decide to refuse entry if we believe that we cannot provide an education that will meet the academic, behavioral, learning needs of the student. 

Appeals Process

The Admissions Committee’s decision is in most cases final, however in some circumstances, the school may agree to an appeal. The Appeals Committee comprises the Senior Leadership Team (SLT).
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.

ISF Academic Programs

Primary Education 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 modelling 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 Grade 1-Grade 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 At ISF: The PYP curriculum model honors language development in the primary school and requires that schools offer instruction in at least one language other than English. Language development is often one of the reasons that families choose to move abroad and certainly a reason that local families select an international school for their children. So ISF has developed the Italian Program, Italian Literacy and Italian Language courses as ways to meet the needs of students with varying levels of Italian at the school. The goals of each program differ and the placement into a program is at the discretion of the principal, based on assessments, parent interviews, and teacher recommendation.

Italian Programme (IP): The Italian Program is designed for mother-tongue Italian and highly fluent speakers. It may also be an option for those who have regular Italian support at home and demonstrated high level of language success with a rating of B2 or greater by the Common European Framework of References for Languages. The goal of the program is to prepare students to successfully complete an external 5th grade Italian exam. This is a challenging goal for mother-tongue Italian speakers with 45 minutes of instruction daily. These students may also continue to prepare for the Terza Media at the end of Grade 8. Students receive instruction in literature, grammar, history, geography, science and mathematics. 
Italian Literacy (IL): The Italian Literacy course is designed for strong Italian speaking students who do not intend to prepare for the Terza Media state exam in Grade 8. Students study Italian Literature, grammar, speaking and writing skills using the State Curriculum materials. This course may be offered in the upper elementary grades if sufficient demand exists. 
Italian Language (IL): The Italian Language program 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, depending on the level of the student. Daily Italian Language instruction begins in Grade 2. Student progress will be tracked using the Italian Language Learning Objectives rubric based on the CERF (Common European Framework of References). Parents and students can track growth according to the A1, A2, B1, etc. levels of the rubric across the years of instruction. Classes may have multiple levels within them and may be organized by grade or by level, depending on the schedule and staffing levels.

Secondary Education at ISF (Upper School)  

The Middle School Programmes [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 programme 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, Theatre Studies, Social Studies, Science, Italian, French or Spanish, PE, and Wellbeing.

The Middle School Italian Programme: The Middle School Italian Programme 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 Programme students will have more homework than their peers in the International Programme.  
Admission to the Italian programme.

Due to the intensive nature of the programme, ISF normally will only accept students to the Italian programme at the start of Grade 6. Mother tongue or native-like Italian proficiency is required. 
The High School Programme [Grades 9-12]: The High School programme is offered to students in Grades 9 through 12. All students at ISF, study the High School Programme. A central focus of this programme 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. Students take part in a Pre-CAS community service programme and work experience project weeks are planned for students in Grades 9 and 10 at the end of the summer term. 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 programme. Students in Grades 9 and 10 broadly follow the Middle School Program subject offer and for 2020-21 take an additional subject.

The IB Diploma Programme [Grades 11 + 12]: The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) is an externally assessed two-year programme 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 programmes 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 Programme. 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 Programme 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 programme 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 programme, we also equally believe in ensuring that this programme will lead to student success. The Diploma Programme Handbook provides detailed information about subject choices, tracking of student success throughout the programme, and conditions under which students may not be allowed to sit the final examination. 

Language Requirements: Grades 6-10

With the exception of the Italian Programme in Grades 6-8 all other subjects at ISF are taught in English. Two-thirds of the Middle School Programme is the same for all students where they are taught in mixed ability groups. Students who enter the school in grades 6-10 are required to demonstrate evidence of sufficient level of academic English to access the program equivalent to a minimum literacy composite score of 3.5 on the WIDA test. This evidence may be official school records showing English as the main language of instruction or external proficiency language examination.  We assess students on the WIDA test prior to admission.

Language Requirements: IB Diploma Programme

Apart from Language B subjects, all subjects at ISF are taught in English. Students who enter the school in grades 11-12 (IBDP) programme, are required to demonstrate evidence of sufficient level of academic English to access the program. This will include the WIDA Screener, an English Language Proficiency Test and evidence from official school records showing English language proficiency.
ISF Diploma & Graduation Requirements: ISF is accredited to offer the American High School Diploma. The ISF High School Diploma is awarded at Graduation and symbolises completion of High School. This Diploma is additional to the IB Diploma.