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Secondary Level I

Pedagogical concept, ipso! International School Secondary Level I

As with our Preschool and Primary School, the Secondary School is a state-approved private school under the supervision of the Cantonal School Inspectorate of the Canton Aargau. 

Currently still conceived as a three-year bilingual secondary level 1, an SY4 class might be offered as the tenth academic year from the 2022/23 academic year onwards. The successful concept of individual support for the primary level within the framework of a holistic education will be continued. The focus here is on motivating adolescents during the exciting phase of puberty – a phase associated with challenges, uncertainties and emotional fluctuations. Preparation for increasing personal responsibility and independence is paramount. Regular study trips abroad (England, France, Germany) support this process. The languages used in teaching are German and English. Some subjects are taught bilingually, others only in one of the two languages; and French is taught as a foreign language. The combination of local and international curriculum, proven at ipso! International School, also enables continuous transfer to and from the state school system at this level.  The teaching concept corresponds to the state curriculum of Canton Aargau at the two levels of ‘Bezirksschule’ (high level) and ‘Sekundarschule’ (medium/high level)

Motivated by a passionate, very committed team of teachers, our students succeed in advancing one or even two levels in intensive lessons in small classes. All SY3 students (9th school year) who have shown the necessary commitment to learning have so far been able to reach the demanding bilingual level of our Bezirksschule [district school] by successfully passing the grammar school entrance exams, or achieve alternative, very good connection options to secondary schools or vocational training:

  • We encourage 21st century skills in all our young people in all subjects and at all three levels: creativity, communication, collaboration, critical thinking. 
  • We achieve this through the visionary enrichment of the state curriculum, motivating, vividly, and interdisciplinary, 
  • Especially in our Creaviva lessons, such as cooking, creative design or music lessons, we combine artistic activities with the practice of foreign languages.
  • We teach in a learner-orientated way, the young people can deepen their individual interests, especially through explorative learning and design in project work, which is carried out in both individual and group projects. 
  • Special talents are encouraged across classes and levels, for example, in languages or mathematics ambitious pupils can work together with older pupils at a higher level of performance. 
  • Young people who need more time and additional support can work together with younger children in the core subjects of languages and mathematics and, if necessary, stay with us for one or two years longer to graduate from school.
  • To further increase the future career prospects of our young people, we place particular emphasis on the MINT subjects mathematics, informatics, natural sciences (biology, chemistry and physics) and technology. 
  • Special attention is given to media and computer science to encourage digital skills, which are visibly essential in all industries and areas of life: Digital forms of learning/playing and working have become indispensable and are fun for all children and young people, regardless of age and performance level. MS Office, robotics, gamification, programming and tech labs enrich the school day. The application and consolidation of IT skills is linked to the individual subjects.
  • Language skills in all three languages – German, English and French – will be developed further. History and geography are increasingly being taught bilingually as part of a network of subjects; as social sciences, or as “Räume, Zeiten und Gesellschaft” [spaces, times and society] in German. There is strong emphasis on reference to the present.
  • Creative subjects such as art and music, as well as working techniques and examination training are also important for individual personality development and promotion of self-confidence. The young people should be able to process information critically, analytically, competently and with self-confidence, and represent their own ideas and turn them into reality. They should be able to communicate openly, tolerantly and considerately with others in several languages. 
  • The joy of research-orientated, lifelong learning is supported by a dedicated, qualified and future-orientated team of teachers.

Innovation and enthusiasm in every day school life is achieved through the visionary ipso! modules.

ipso! Sciences module

We encourage exploratory learning through creative, practice-orientated research projects and also build technical objects. Among other things, we use learning opportunities from explore-it: these can cover topics such as solar power, separating and combining materials, from wind power to electricity or from permanent magnets to electric motors. 

Regular visits to the “Experio Roche” school laboratory are also an asset to every day school life. Exciting workshops such as robotics, thinking as a researcher, electrical engineering, etc. particularly encourage MINT subjects. 

In the ipso! Sciences module, interconnected and sustainable thinking as well as experimental design is encouraged. All relevant working techniques as well as the self-determined and critical use of technology are learned. Networking with all other subjects simultaneously takes place.

ipso! Life module 

An important mission at secondary level is to practise life skills with the young people so as to prepare them for independent living as young adults. Exciting subjects such as design technology (handicrafts), fabric design (textile design) and food technology (cookery) are great fun for all students and train fine motor skills that are useful in many professions, as well as in everyday life.  

Skills also include experiencing and learning about our natural environment. Our young people explore and sense the secrets of nature and the absolute necessity to understand and preserve the sensitivity of ecosystems. This is done as part of projects in natural surroundings or in the classroom.

Social competence will be more in demand than ever! As part of social internships and projects, our young people experience the living conditions of other people, develop empathy and the ability to support people in sometimes restricted lifestyles or to understand their special circumstances.

ipso! Career module

Many young people feel overwhelmed when choosing a career. Not with us! We work closely with instructors, specialists and managers from a wide range of industries to open lots of doors for our students. 

As part of career coaching, they experience taster days, experience intensive application training and learn how to present themselves with confidence and authenticity for writing application documents and speaking at job interviews. A successful start in your professional career is no coincidence.

In the ipso! Career module, our young people choose from one of the three focal points:

  • Career
    finding apprenticeships and career planning
  • Studies
    Preparation for grammar school and schools for economics (WMS), upper secondary specialised school (FMS)


After-School Activities

The ipso! International School also offers after-school activities (optional subjects) that are constantly being expanded, such as help with homework, tech labs (learning how to program), drama, chess and ballgames.

Access and transfer options after three years of Secondary Level I

On the one hand, the curriculum of the Canton Aargau is being implemented. The same teaching materials as in state schools are used for German, mathematics and French. As a result, switching to and from the public, local school system is possible at any time, with the certificates and individual recommendation from ipso! International School, up to and including SY2 (8th school year). 

On the other hand, we create the basis for transfer to further English-speaking, bilingual or international schools, in Switzerland or abroad. ipso! International School students have already completed international transfers to a wide variety of school systems in Australia, Singapore, the Netherlands, Brazil, Portugal, Germany, the UK, etc. with great success. We achieve this thanks to better English language skills due to the partly bilingual teaching using international, English study materials as well as our innovative teaching methods. 

State, four-year, grammar school in Basel-Stadt or Basel-Landschaft or technical college, school of economics college or IT school

Admission conditions vary depending on the students’ place of residence. 

Place of residence – Canton Basel-Landschaft: individual competence tests 
Grammar schools in Basel-Landschaft conduct short, individual competence tests to assess the aptitude of students. This test consists of an oral and a written element and takes into account the differences in the curriculum between different schools. The grades for the previous year and the character of the candidates are a further factor in the decision-making process. Based on their experience, students are accepted for admission to the grammar school if they complete the competence test successfully. Students are registered directly for these tests by their parents at the appropriate grammar school between March and April of the previous academic year (SY3 at the ipso! International School). So far, interested candidates have managed this admission without any problems. 

Place of residence – Canton Aargau
All students attending a private school or do not achieve the required average grade for transfer to a state grammar school must pass an entrance examination. Beginning with the first implementation, our students have achieved a 100% success rate, which we are very proud of!

Written tests in German, Mathematics, French and English are sat during the entrance examination. The German and Mathematics tests are 90 minutes each, while the French and English examinations each take 60 minutes. The tests take place over two days and are based on the requirements profile of the grammar school. Skills are tested which are essential for entry into Year 1 at grammar school. These are based on the curricula of the final year at Bezirksschule.

The average grade for French and English gives the examination grade for the Foreign Languages subject. The examination is passed if the results of the foreign language tests, combined with those of the other core subjects, give a grade average of 4.0. Notwithstanding this, however, no more than one test result may be below a grade of 4.0. The decision on whether to admit a candidate is made by the school administration at the grammar school. The entrance examination may only be retaken once. If the examination grades are above 4.0, there is generally unlimited admission to the grammar school. 

Students attending private schools may register for these examinations in the final year at their school (ipso! International School= SY3). However, examination preparation is very demanding from the third year of teaching as the examination material is only compiled at that time. Simultaneous examination training is recommended only for very capable, motivated students.

The chances of diligent students at ipso! International School passing these entrance examinations are good, provided that they have studied appropriately. This is made possible by the intensive small group lessons and the individual support by the passionate teachers.

At the ipso! International School, preparation for these entrance examinations begins in the second SY2 semester and is largely integrated into the teaching by the teaching staff. In the final year at ipso! International School (SY3), at least two to three hours of examination preparation classes are included as part of the ipso! Career modul in the weekly timetable. In addition, multiple mock examinations (sample examinations) take place, the examination situation, duration and tasks set being based on the original examinations.

Responsibility for registration rests with the parents and takes place online. Registration for the March examinations must be completed between 15th January and 28th February. 

Alternatively, our students prepare for challenging apprenticeships or other options. Another possibility is that they prepare for the entrance examination in a 10th school year, in exactly the same way as other young people who previously attended a Bezirksschule, Sekundarschule or Realschule and did not achieve the required grade average for admission to a grammar school. 

Students, for whom bilingualism and one-on-one support in tutorials is less important, may transfer to Year 3 at the Bezirksschule Rheinfelden or Möhlin after the SY2 year, if they have a good grade average and on the basis of a letter of recommendation from the ipso! International School.

International Matura with Cambridge International IGCSE plus A-levels

ipso! International School lives according to its motto: “Passion for Learning and Success”. The mission of Cambridge University is perfectly tuned to this: “Our mission is to provide educational benefit through provision of international programmes and qualifications for school education and to be the world leader in this field. Cambridge International Examinations prepare school students for life, helping them develop an informed curiosity and a lasting passion for learning”.

The programmes and examinations at Cambridge International are very well recognised by universities and employers worldwide and have been established for decades. These examinations were first held in 1858, and at present more than 8 million students prepare for these examinations each year in 10,000 schools and 160 countries. High quality is guaranteed by subject experts, continuous research and strict requirements.

As our School is still a very new, opened in January 2014, the number of students at secondary level is still developing. Therefore, attempts will only be made to achieve accreditation as a Cambridge Examination Centre in a few years’ time. Until then, there is a direct access option thanks to our cooperation with Academia Gymnasium/College in Basel.

Ipso! International School students pursuing an international Matura and already with a good command of English can take a mock examination with the first-year college students at Academia. This is used to prepare for the internationally recognised International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) of the Cambridge International Organisation. Following their assessment, Academia College will decide whether admission directly into the second year of college is possible, or more time is needed and admission into the first year of college is recommended. This means that our students with good English language skills can sit the IGCSE examinations at Academia College from the age of 16. 

Any students who need more time to consolidate their English language skills will sit the IGCSE examinations at the age of 17, after 2 years at Academia Gymnasium/College. The IGCSE includes the Cambridge International Secondary 2 curriculum for 14-16 year olds. This is an internationally recognised qualification which is obtained by passing strict centralised examinations. Two of the examinations passed are already accepted in Switzerland as part of the university admission process. 

The two-year Cambridge International A-levels Programme builds on this, specialising in four subjects. Of these subjects, three are taught at A-level (Advanced) and one at AS-level (Advanced Subsidiary) (approx. half the scope of the examination). This is the most common Matura in the world, and is therefore taken by former students either at 18 or 19 years of age at Academia Gymnasium, a Cambridge International accredited examination centre.

Alternatively, ipso! International School Secondary School graduates may transfer to other bilingual, Anglophone or German-speaking grammar schools regionally or internationally or – as is the case with the state school system – may attend other secondary schools or embark upon an apprenticeship. Furthermore, the entrance examination for the Vocational Matura can also be sat.

Detailed Information (only available in German)