A reader replied most recently with:
We had our child for few years at ISL. We are mixed, british/european family.
Previously our child was at the French system , then we moved to ISL . Our child was at I SL at the end of primary and first year of middle school. Myself and my husband we are both very academic University graduate. My opinion about ISL as a school is very low. I think the standard of education at ISL is poor. Children are not challenged at all! Curriculum is very poor. In my opinion children do not get much knowledge there. School doesn't teach but only tells children what they should work on. Everything bases on self learning, self investigation and projects on the computers which pushes child to do 'copy/paste'. iSL is a sort of camp where everything is 'great and 'amazing' and proper traditional learning doesn't exist there. In my opinion the school is not good for parents who value strong academic and are looking for high standard education. School attracts parents by showing them great facilities, good organisation and possibility to do sports. However even in sports, children who really want to achieve something must go to local luxembourgish clubs bc at IsL teaching in all areas is very poor. I am very happy leaving iSL as I saw my child getting bored and frustrated over there. The risk of being at IsL is that at any next school your child is at least one year behind others in all subject. To every new expat in Luxembourg I would advice to try any other school except of ISL. The danger of going down academically is too high.
UPDATE FROM ARIZONALUX
Since my initial posting, there have been a variety of changes worthy of an update, in order to provide some more current and balanced information for others to consider if they are searching for information about ISL.
With the start of the 2013-14 school year, ISL celebrated its 50th anniversary and completed a massive overhaul with its facilities. The new lower school building is truly fantastic, and the renovation of the pre-existing buildings for administration and the upper/middle school is equally impressive. From a facility perspective, ISL’s campus now is world class, with an environment where the students can feel excited, inspired and proud. Classrooms boast state of the art equipment; there are dedicated spaces for language, art, music, theater and performances. The lower school has a beautiful library, an impressive auditorium, a huge gymnasium and a lovely cafeteria with well-prepared and healthy food choices and expanded outdoor spaces for recess. New sports faculty are also expanding and re-energizing the after-school fitness and competitive sports programs. I also want to commend the school for its efforts regarding increased manpower and physical/technical security devices protecting the campus and the facilities. ISL is in an urban, high traffic location, but I think they are doing a really good job at making it a safe place, and making it feel like a safe place as well.
This year my children are in both the lower and middle schools. I stand by my earlier comments advising people with lower school age children, who might only be in Luxembourg for a short duration, to be persistent right from the admission stage to place their children in a grade level that is consistent and commensurate with the work levels they are coming from and where they will go after ISL. That said, if your stay in Luxembourg will be of longer or indefinite duration, then it’s probably fine or even advisable to keep your kids with their same age peers and let them learn at the pace set by the school, because in the long run you will probably be pleased with the results. My earlier praise of the lower school programs for history and science stands true today, and the school does an outstanding job of taking concepts from the classroom and extending learning through the arts (ex: a learning unit on water and rivers was incorporated into their art classes and through onstage performances and singing.) The school does an amazing job at giving the children real world learning opportunities through field trips to see events and locations in Luxembourg and the surrounding countries. Early years and 1st graders stay local with half day trips to the post office, LuxLait Milk factory and Luxembourg Air Rescue. 2nd graders study ancient Rome, act and sing onstage for a performance about Roman life, and take day trips to ruins of ancient Roman baths and reconstructed Roman villas in Germany. A highlight of the 5th grade is a 5-day hiking and outdoor adventure trip in Switzerland. 6th graders went overnight to Euro Space Camp in Belgium and got to experience weightlessness and actual flight simulation exercises used to train astronauts. 7th graders this year will go on a trip to Normandy. They really do a great job of getting the kids out there!
My children are a bit older since my first report, so my perspective has grown. I have to say I am very impressed with the middle school curriculum. In the 6th grade, they have the option to take German as well as French. They have Social Studies units on Ancient Civilizations (Egypt, China, Mesopotamia); Cultures in Conflict (ex: learning about current events such as the troubles in Syria); and World Religions. I think American schools tend to shy away from these controversial subjects, especially at the elementary school level. So I am thrilled with the kind of sophisticated global perspective my kids are gaining. Kudos to ISL for introducing the students to engaging and provocative topics, and for encouraging the children to develop a greater understanding and respect for the diversity of views and experiences that exist in the world around them, and within the school community itself.
I am also highly impressed by the school board (all highly talented and successful executives) and its vision, motivation and intent to improve the school and work with the administration to ensure that ISL delivers one of the most highly respected educational programs in the international school system.
ISL, like every other school, has its challenges, and there is always room to grow and improve. My personal knowledge of international schools is limited to Luxembourg, but in speaking with parents who have looked at international schools elsewhere, ISL is apparently one of the most robust, with its combination of learning programs, campus and facilities, and the opportunities that come with its centralized western European location. The longer I am here, I grow increasingly more satisfied and confident in the value of the experience and education my children are getting at ISL.
I would still caution parents of lower school children (particularly American and possibly British) that if you are only here for a couple of years, with the different approaches to the pace and content of learning between ISL and schools in your home country, it is possible for your kids to fall into a gap with the transition back home. How to address that will vary with each individual. But overall, I think ISL has improved, and is actively growing and striving for excellence. My kids are happy here, I’m impressed with the things they know and are learning, and ISL is making a very positive impact on their lives.
I will update this again when we have moved on from Lux, and have more to offer from the experience of transitioning to a different school/country (probably the US.) I will definitely look for schools with an IB program. Meanwhile, I hope this report is more balanced now and helpful to those who read it. Good luck!