How 'Globally competent' are your children?


I stopped writing over 20 years ago about the advantages for children’s futures and well-being that an International Baccalaureate (IB) education fosters versus national educational systems such as the English National Curriculum. In this twenty-year period, maybe about a million young people around the world have graduated with IB qualifications. I wish it had been many millions.

The ‘magical thinking’ that gave birth to the IB Diploma programme in 1968, followed by the MYP (1994) and PYP (1997) is staggering in how forward thinking it was then and how it remains so far ahead of the educational curve today.



Take ‘international mindedness’ as an example. The IB, more than any other curricula, goes far beyond just developing knowledgeable young people. IB schools strive to develop students who will build a better world through intercultural understanding and respect. This notion of ‘international mindedness’ has been at the heart of an IB education since 1969 and involves the development of attitudes, values and skills that train students to navigate rigorous academic, collaborative and inter-disciplinary challenges. By embedding learning within international and local contexts, purposely developing children’s’ capacities to think critically and to have the self-belief to challenge assumptions, students in IB schools, have an edge, a ‘learning agility’ that is befitting of the age in which we live.



It is no surprise therefore, to learn, that one of the central pillars of an IB education, global competency, is now deemed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), essential for the success of our children in the twenty-first century. Alongside maths, science and English, students will, from 2018, as part of the tri-annual PISA testing schedule, be tested on their level of global competence.

In a paper released in December 2017, entitled ‘OECD PISA Global Competence Framework’, this skill-set is defined and its importance endorsed. It makes for compelling reading for anyone trying to make sense of our world, so aptly described by Thomas L Friedman as the ‘age of accelerations’ (2016).



The OECD describes global competence as:

“The capacity to examine local, global and intercultural issues, to understand and appreciate the perspectives and world views of others, to engage in open, appropriate and effective interactions with people from different cultures, and to act for collective well-being and sustainable development”

As the OECD writes, schools must play a crucial role in helping young learners develop global competence by:

  • providing opportunities to learn about global developments;
  • teaching students how they can develop a fact-based and critical worldview;
  • equipping students with the means to analyse a broad range of cultural practices and meanings;
  • engaging students in experiences that facilitate intercultural relations;
  • and by promoting the value of diversity

Without hesitation, I can walk into any of our primary and secondary classrooms at ICS and observe our students from Nursery to Diploma being coached in these critical global competences. Our students need core skills to be ready for the new world of work. However, more importantly, in a world where globalisation is a powerful economic, political and cultural force, our children must also develop the capacity to analyse, and understand global and intercultural issues in order to thrive.


Rose Threlfall, Head of School




We are delighted to announce the news that ICS has been integrated into the NACE Schools group.

The School’s faculty and parents were joined by Sergio Gonzalez Andion (NACE CEO) and Daniel Jones (NACE Educational Director) for the announcement of the news.

As Sergio shared, NACE owns and operates 29 private schools in Spain, France, Italy, the UK, Andorra and India and is one of the four largest private school groups in the world with international presence, and the largest of its type in the European continent. The schools in NACE cover all educational phases, i.e. EYFS, primary, secondary and sixth form. The group also offers vocational training. 

Furthermore, NACE Schools’ mission is to prepare each student to live successfully in a globalized world. This educational mission is offered to more than 14.000 students in the six countries where the schools operate.

As Rose Threlfall, Head of ICS stated, ‘Becoming part of NACE Schools will be of great value to our students and faculty. Students will benefit as they already do from the family atmosphere of our small school, but will now have access to the advantages that only big schools can offer’. In practice this translates, among other things, to participation in NACE events organized for all the group’s schools. NACE’s presence in different countries allows for ‘celebrations of learning’ at multicultural events with the participation of all schools. Currently five events take place every year: International Music Week, NACE Model United Nations, Academic Olympics, NACE Sports Olympics and the Virtual Arts Competition. In addition, students participate in several International exchange programs during the year and have access to the Stonar school (an independent school with a specialist and renowned equestrian centre) in the UK.


In addition, being part of a school network like NACE, will allow ICS to share best practice and generate and implement innovative ideas. The School will have the opportunity to speak openly with other schools about things that work well and others that do not, and the possibility of testing new methodologies and technologies knowing the advantages and risks in advance. ICS will also benefit from a stronger capacity to design and implement teaching

and learning programs that work best thanks to the support and counselling of worldwide specialists with relevant experience in all educational areas.


Belonging to a network of schools will also help ICS understand and improve its performance both in the academic and non-academic realms. The School will have access to detailed academic results from other schools with which to compare and define both its strengths and the improvement opportunities. ICS will also benefit professionally from collaboration with NACE’s Educational Director, Daniel Jones, an experienced international professional and his team.


Lastly, ICS will benefit from the support of NACE’s Corporate centre that include central services for Human Resources, Admissions & Marketing, Organization and Systems and Finance. Under this model the School can fully dedicate itself to what is really important, the quality of teaching and learning.


The School’s integration into the NACE Schools group will be done in a way that guarantees ICS’ continuity. The School will not change its philosophy nor its educational programmes.


Rose Threlfall concluded that ‘Today ICS starts a new stage in its history. I am convinced that being part of the NACE Schools group will have tremendous value for our students and teachers. I look to the future full of enthusiasm and confidence’.


Rose Threlfall

Head of School