Principal

Rotterdam International Secondary School (RISS) is a remarkable school indeed and has earned its place as Rotterdam’s international school.

Starting as a small department within the Wolfert Bilingual School over 30 years ago, it has grown to become an emblem of Rotterdam’s growth, international importance and multicultural awareness.

An ambitious internationally-minded city needs to attract world-class talent - new venturers and risk-taking migrants from all walks of life and from across the globe. For this to happen, it needs to provide an education that celebrates diverse cultures and languages and yet is also fully embedded in the local community.

This is what RISS is all about.

We are a school that is now fully engaging with its identity and purpose as a true international school and we are committed to being a high-quality provider of education that is academically successful, values driven and genuinely internationally minded with both staff and students from over 40 different countries… and counting.

We seek to embed our values - courage, respect, responsibility and relationships - in all we do as we pursue our overall vision which we have proudly declared to be educating for self-awareness, curiosity and integrity in a changing world.

Yet that is not enough.

We also have made a public declaration that we want all children and young people to enjoy being just that, children and young people. Rather than simply seeing school as one long process of working towards external exams, university and beyond, we need to make sure we are living by our stated mission of all our students 'enjoying their youth'. It is in their early teens that young people should have the opportunity to explore the world around them, develop and practise the skills they need to work with other members of the communities they are part of, develop a sense of mission and service to something bigger than they are and, most importantly, learn about themselves through a wide range of opportunities and challenges.

This is the promise we have made to the students who come to RISS and to the families who entrust their children to us each day and it is at the heart of the many recent developments in our journey. 

Over the last two years in particular, there has been a great deal of change as a result of a deep rethinking of what we do and how we do it and we are proud of the progress we have made in all areas of our school life. In particular, we have learned as a school community, that we can and should come together to seek innovation, change and new opportunities to create a school we continue to be genuinely proud of. 

A quick glance of some highlights of recent innovations shows how far we have come in such a short time:

  • A new timetable to help us deliver our existing subject areas in a way that brings a better balance to the school day.
  • A reformed pastoral care system to ensure all our students are fully supported throughout their time at RISS.
  • A new leadership team structure to bring us in line with other top schools worldwide.
  • The appointment of Curriculum Leaders who act as curators of learning school-wide.
  • A new approach to developing leadership skills across the student body.
  • A new focus on opportunities for our school to work on projects in the wider Rotterdam community.
  • A revamped RISS 'look' across the whole school combined with a brand new website and social media presence that clearly reveals our values, mission and vision. 
  • A new Senior Campus with academic, pastoral and HE services that support students but also allows them to become independent in preparation for life beyond RISS. 
  • Many new and robust policy implementations. 
  • A new focus on professional training that is based on collaboration and joint development amongst staff.

Of course, any school can never stand still and there is still plenty more to do as we review our curriculum, our policies and our overall strategies, all with the aim of improving what goes in and outside of the classroom.

And perhaps a special mention for our new Teaching and Learning Policy. This exciting new  commitment was drawn up in collaboration with stakeholders from every area of our school life - teachers, leaders, parents and students. In black and white, it makes clear our definition of and commitment to the highest international standards in teaching and learning, making it easy to promote, support and recognise outstanding practice across our school. It is this policy - values-focused and aspirational in its content - that will be leading our core educational business this year. 

It is clear to see, as both student and staff numbers grow steadily, that RISS is reinventing itself via the opportunities it is creating for all, via a renewed belief in the capacity of its staff to deliver world-class teaching, via its commitment to childhood and youth as an important period of time in and of itself and via its constant seeking out of new scenarios with which to enrich the lives of all of those who wish to engage with us and be part of our community.

The resilience and determination to build and rebuild combined with the creativity, bravery, confidence and vision to do so in a way that is innovative and world-class is what makes Rotterdam the great city it is. 

And RISS is proud to be playing an increasingly important part in this wonderful city’s success and do so in a way that truly makes us Rotterdam’s international school.

"I like the coffee, cheese, and biking"

"The transition from Hong Kong to Rotterdam is not as great as you would think. Both cities are in safe countries and children are raised in freedom. You can see students bike through the city to go to school. And the commitment to education in both countries is great, from the government as well as parents." 

Please find the full interview with Ms. Gilbert-Saez by Stichting BOOR here.

"A remarkable school indeed!"

In the new edition of the XPat Journal, you can find a two-page article regarding RISS and we like to share it with you. In conversation with our Principal Ms. Gilbert-Saéz, the article tells about our mission statement and how we implement it within our school and through our community, the reaccreditation by the CIS and NEASC and how the school is a reflection of the city of Rotterdam. We invite you all to read and share it. 

Find the full article here.