ICS passes ISI inspection with flying colours!


A November 2018 Regulatory Compliance Inspection carried out by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) has found ICS to be fully compliant, in line with the stringent criteria examined by the inspection. The inspectorate has had to make no recommendations for improvement.

The ISI is an organisation responsible for the inspection of independent schools in England which are members of organisations affiliated to the Independent Schools Council (ISC). It is one of three independent schools inspectorates empowered to carry out inspections through an agreement with the Department for Education (DfE). ICS is a member of the ISA (Independent Schools Association) falling under the umbrella of the ISC.

The school was evaluated across eight areas outlined within the inspection report, and under rigorous examination, we are delighted that the school has met the high standards required.

On the result of the inspection, ICS Head of School, Rose Threlfall, commented:

“I am delighted with the result of the inspection, which confirms that the school is operating to the highest standards expected. ICS will continue to remain committed to maintaining the highest quality provision. I am thrilled with the efforts of the ICS team on a daily basis, and want to thank them for their hard work and dedication.”

ICS has enjoyed a thoroughly successful year, with 2018 IB Diploma results maintaining the school’s 34-point average over the last four years, with this year’s cohort achieving a mean score of 33.2 points, placing ICS well above the international average of 29 points.

You can view the full ISI report below.

Former ICS student Omar returns to ICS Secondary to talk about his experiences at the University of Oxford

 No nerves here! Omar delivers a coaching session to two of our 2019 Oxford applicants ahead of their entrance exams

No nerves here! Omar delivers a coaching session to two of our 2019 Oxford applicants ahead of their entrance exams

Omar Abdelnasser, a former ICS student originally from Egypt, joined the school in 2012 and attended for four years, graduating from the IB Diploma Programme in 2016. Scoring 44 out of a possible 45 points in the Diploma, Omar achieved a feat managed by less than 1% of students globally. His success lead to him being offered a place at the University of Oxford to study Mathematics. The University of Oxford was declared the world’s top university in 2018 for the third year running, and was awarded the title based on its outstanding quality of research, teaching and innovation.

Today, Omar is back to visit ICS and to catch up with his Diploma mentor, former mathematics teacher and now newly appointed Secondary School Principal, Muz Chohan.

Omar, feeling relaxed and rested following his Summer break from university, is ready for his return to Oxford. Gearing up to head into the third year of his Mathematics degree (he is aiming to do a fourth year also, which will qualify him as having a Masters of Science in Mathematics), he is thriving and relishes the challenge the next year is set to bring.

We had a chat with Omar to find out how university is going, and how his time at ICS has supported his transition to Oxford life.

Omar! It’s fantastic to see you back at ICS, you’re certainly a familiar face to many and we’re delighted to see you! We can’t help but notice how confident you’ve become and we’re incredibly proud to see one of our alumni doing so well. Did your time at ICS prepare you for university?

Yes, absolutely! It’s on a smaller scale, of course, but there are so many similarities between how I studied at ICS working towards my Diploma and what I am experiencing at Oxford.

At ICS, your work is set by your teachers and you learn to motivate yourself and work from your own initiative. You become a self-study expert! It also helped that in ICS, you approach your teachers directly and this helps you become comfortable and confident in interacting with senior staff, something I practice on a daily basis with my tutors and lecturers at university.

You joined the Middle Years Programme at ICS in 2012 and began to foster a love of mathematics within the school – how did ICS support this interest?

My interest started to develop thanks to the teaching of mathematics at ICS, which really began to open my mind and broaden my horizons on the uses and concepts of mathematics. I had incredibly supportive teachers who inspired me by introducing me to the different mathematical disciplines. It was Mr. Muz (ICS Secondary Principal and Omar’s former mathematics teacher) that really got me interested in mathematics beyond simply an IB subject level.

Mr. Muz introduced me to extracurricular mathematics problems and challenges, and it gave me more of an idea of what university mathematics might be like. I also had 1-to-1 tutorials from Mr. Ryan (former ICS teacher) and Mr. Muz which gave me freedom within the curriculum to challenge myself at a higher level and exposed me to mathematics that I had not tried before.

Nurturing your interest and aptitude for mathematics got you thinking about applying for Oxford – did ICS guide you in your application?

Yes, we had career sessions, but once I became set on the idea of mathematics at Oxford, I found the mathematics department became my key support and guidance. My tutors Mr. Ryan and Mr. Muz coached me on entrance exams and my personal statement, as they were the ones who knew my strengths mathematically and how to highlight these as part of my application.

The International Baccalaureate is a programme that’s growing and growing in popularity and reputation in not just the UK, but across the world – do you feel that the subjects you cover within it are good preparation for continued studies of a particular topic at university level? Are there similarities between the mathematics you studied within the IB and the topics you are now studying at Oxford?

For me, the IB was an excellent preparation point, certainly as good as you can possibly have. The understanding and intuition within the IB is second to none and the breadth the subjects cover is fantastic, giving you the opportunity to explore a number of subjects.

You’re halfway through your Mathematics degree – have you started to think about future plans?

At the moment, I haven’t decided if I’ll do a PhD following the degree, but that might change! Mathematics is a subject in which you never stop learning. I have done some financial internships which have been very enlightening. It’s certainly a full-on course, but I am becoming clearer on my preferences mathematically – I love theory and problem solving!

Our final question to Omar was a simple one – “Are you enjoying the overall experience of Oxford?”.

He laughs, then smiles and says “I’ve been focussed on the experience of being at Oxford as a whole, university has certainly been about more than just learning mathematics!”.

With that, Omar is whisked away for a catch up with current Diploma students, all keen to learn from his experience and emulate his success in their own university applications.

We wish Omar all the best on his continued academic journey, and we’re already looking forward to when he next pops into ICS for a cup of tea!

ICS attends the NACE Schools Leadership Event 2018

‘Leaders and Learners inspiring Leaders and Learners’

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in October, ICS IB Diploma students travelled to Stonar School in Bath to participate in the NACE Student Leadership Event 2018.

Students from 10 European NACE schools were selected to take part in the 3-day workshop which aimed to develop and encourage team building and leadership skills.

Inspired by the outstanding professionals leading the programme, students discussed the art of team work, leadership styles, leadership qualities (“are leaders born or made?”) and participated in public speaking, debating and team building activities.

“The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.”

Kenneth H. Blanchard

Lieutenant Colonel David (Head of Physics, Stonar) shared his perspective and experiences of leading large groups of men and woman. He suggested that leadership (attributed to Dwight D. Eisenhower) could be defined as -

‘the art of getting someone else to do something that you want done because they want to do it, and not because of your position of power that could compel them to do it’.

He talked about nine different leadership styles and led a discussion that deconstructed each and identified their strengths and weaknesses.

Mr Jaime, Head of English and Drama at Stonar, delivered a workshop, ’Speak up for Success’ which unpacked the art and science of successful public speaking. Sharing the work of Clark Kegley, Jaime outlined seven powerful tips that confident speakers should weave into their presentations. Many practical tips were shared, which included embracing your nerves, thinking about the audience (‘what’s in it for them’?), to backing up your arguments.

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humour, but without folly.”

Jime Rohn

Dr Katy Hamilton, a successful public orator and presenter as well as Stonar Alumni, was present to judge the workshop public speaking event. Each student was required to deliver a persuasive speech for two and a half minutes relating to a topic selected and then manage questions from the audience regarding the strength of their argument.

 ICS student delivering an animated speech at the leadership event

ICS student delivering an animated speech at the leadership event

A number of contentious topics were selected for the students, which included ‘men make better leaders than women’, ‘pineapple on pizzas is the best topping’ and ‘global warming is a fiction’.

Students applied techniques they had learnt the day before, and argued their cases coherently. Dr. Hamilton commented the quality of the oratory was superb given that for many of the students, English is a second language. Speaking about the event, Katy noted -

“We live in an age where it is more imperative than ever that we really can prove, rigorously and unemotionally, why one point of view is right and another wrong, even about issues we might think are completely . . . obvious, like climate change. After my day at Stonar on Friday, I left feeling considerably more optimistic that there are some great young thinkers and speakers in the world who will be able to stand up to nonsense arguments. So I’d like to thank them for that – and encourage others to take them as an example of why fighting your corner so effectively is something we all need to make sure we can do, as clearly and calmly as possible.”

 Students navigate the climbing wall

Students navigate the climbing wall

Finally, the students participated in a number of team building activities including rock climbing, abseiling, skittles, a scavenger hunt and the famous ‘helium stick’ and ‘planks’ activities. These emphasised the importance of verbal and non-verbal communication skills, problem solving plus the power of collaboration.

“The art of communication is the language of leadership.”

James Humes

Thank you Stonar, particularly Ms Charlotte, for organising such a powerful student leadership event and congratulations to all student participants. You truly were an inspiration.

Rose Threlfall

ICS Head of School

Rose attended the NACE Leadership event in October 2018

2018 IB DIPLOMA RESULTS – We did it again!

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ICS Head of School, Rose Threlfall, was delighted to today announce this year’s IB Diploma results.

The Class of 2018 achieved a 100% pass rate with a mean score of 33.2 points, maintaining the schools’ 34-point average over four years, a result well above the international norm.

Speaking of the results, Rose said, “It is impossible to thank the faculty enough for their outstanding contribution to the success of our students and the students themselves who now move confidently on to competitive universities around the world including the UK, knowing that they have successfully navigated what is perhaps the most rigorous and all-encompassing pre-university qualification that exists”.

Rose, who meets all prospective Diploma parents and students who apply to the School, noted that within the last couple of years, she has begun to meet more and more Diploma graduates who are now bringing their own children back to ICS to experience an international education.

Commenting on the trend, Rose said, “There is no better validation than sitting opposite a parent who themselves has completed the Diploma and wants their own child to experience the same. I am often absolutely captivated by the journey of these parents’ post-Diploma and the value they place on it as a formative and life changing experience’.

The results were published on the 6th July 2018, some 5 weeks ahead of A-level results.

2018 marks the 50th birthday of the IB Diploma programme and this year, 165,752 students around the world received their results. They join 1.7 million Diploma graduates who hold this cherished qualification.

Congratulations to all of our wonderful students, we wish you well with your future studies!

ICS IB Diploma 2018 graduation held

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On Friday the 18th May, the annual ICS Diploma graduation was held. This is always a very special evening, where the ICS community is given the opportunity to reflect and celebrate all that the Diploma 2 students have achieved over the past two years.

Once again, it was a joyous gathering of celebration and enjoyment, where the hard work and dedication the Diploma 2 students have shown was recognised.

The students received their ICS graduation certificates from their Diploma tutors and speeches were given by Miss Rose, Miss Brenda and Miss Joanna. However, the final speech of the evening was given by Diploma 2 student Cayla Bilyeu, who paid tribute to the strong bonds of friendship and camaraderie that had been formed by the DP 2 classmates, which was evident to all present.

What a fitting ending to an exceptional evening!

IB Diploma Class of 2018: Are you a Milkshake Duck or part of the Youthquake Momentum?



This year's ceremony was held in our historic hall, opened in 1897 by Princess Christian, who was one of Queen Victoria's daughters. 

Graduation is an opportunity to celebrate the success of the School's Diploma 2 students. It is also a rite of passage as our now young adults leave their school days behind them and move off to university destinations around the world.

This year, we also bade farewell to our Secondary School Principal, Brenda Murray. After 22 years’ service to the School, Brenda is retiring to her homes in Kent and Ireland as well as an array of exciting projects and travel opportunities.

Thanks were expressed for the major contribution that she has made to the success and well-being of this year’s graduating class and to the hundreds of other students who have been lucky enough to benefit from her knowledge over the years. 


Delivering her speech, Rose Threlfall commented, "Working with young people is a fantastic privilege. I’d go as far to say, it is critical for all of us to keep young people in our lives. It keeps us literally ‘alive; with ideas, new music, apps, fashion, perspectives and pure youthful joy. We are all better people by having young people in our lives". 


Rose continued her speech by referring to the 'Word of the Year' for 2017 as identified annually by the Oxford English Dictionary for subsequent addition to future editions of the dictionary. This is typically a word or expression that Oxford Dictionaries deems has "attracted a great deal of interest during the year to date" and is drawn from newspapers, books, blogs and transcripts of spoken English".

"In 2016, the word, "post-truth", was chosen largely because of its rampant use during the 2016 Brexit vote in the UK and Donald Trump's victory in the US presidential election".

Rose then outlined the definition of post truth for the assembled audience, defining it as "Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than, appeals to, emotion and personal belief".

Rose continued, speaking about the era of "post-truth politics, (where) it's easy to cherry-pick data and come to whatever conclusion you desire’ and many commentators observed, that we are now ‘living in a post-truth age".

Rose spoke of the short list of 10 words for 'Word of the Year' 2017 and their definitions. The short list included: 

Broflake - a man who is readily upset by progressive attitudes

Unicorn - adding rainbow colours to things - especially food

Newsjacking - The practice of taking advantage of current events or news stories in such a way as to promote or advertise your own product or brand

She next spoke of her own personal favourite, Milkshake Duck

Rose elaborated on the meaning of the term, telling the audience:

"A Milkshake Duck is a person or character on social media that gains sudden fame for what appears to be endearing behaviour at first, but only too soon after is revealed as a deeply flawed character with terrible opinions and/or a shady past, which quickly tarnishes their fame". 

"However, Milkshake Duck, was not the winner. Instead, and quite rightly, the word of the year for 2017 was YOUTHQUAKE".

"Oxford Dictionaries selected this word, as it reflected what it called a "political awakening" among millennial voters and defined it as:

"A significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of the young".

"Use of the word in everyday speech increased five-fold in 2017. Around the globe, the talk was of the power of the young to effect lasting political change and the term looks set to be stirring things up for some time to come".

"So what of our youthful graduates? My hope is that they will indeed continue the youthquake surge: I hope they will do this and be inspired by our very own ICS vision statement, demonstrating that we are all leaders and learners inspiring leaders and learners – never think you’ve done enough, or that you have learnt and/or know everything – keep an open mind and heart and have the courage to challenge any force that tries to limit your perspective and your international outlook".

"Second, remember and live the great founding statement of the IB Diploma programme – it is an inspiring sentiment, and encourages you to develop an optimistic, open minded world view.

The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect". 

Rose concluded her speech with a quote by Blake Beattie, which she felt "summons all of the youthful courage" of the graduates: 

Sail beyond the horizon;
fly higher than you ever thought possible;    
magnify your existence by helping others;
be kind to people and animals of all shapes and sizes;
be true to what you value most;
shine your light on the world;
and be the person you were born to be.