Dear RISS Community,

I am really excited to welcome you all to the new RISS academic year. I hope you had an enjoyable and relaxing summer break somewhere warm and sunny with your families and are now ready to hit the ground running as we build on all that we achieved last year with renewed energy, humour, enthusiasm - and more than just a few new faces.

Last year was, as I'm sure you will appreciate, a very hectic one during which we were able to introduce a great many improvements to make everyone's time at RISS even more enjoyable and productive. The full list of what we have achieved in one short year is hugely impressive - and long - but here are some personal highlights for me:

  • A new timetable to help us deliver our existing subject areas in a way that brought a better balance to the school day.
  • A new 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.
  • A new system of curriculum leaders with new roles and responsibilities for many experienced staff.
  • A new approach to developing leadership skills across the student body.
  • A focus on opportunities for our school to work on projects in the wider Rotterdam community.
  • A new RISS 'look' across the school along with a wonderful new website which we are very proud of.
  • The Phase 2 development for our new Campus, which we all hope will be finished for January 2019.

And, of course, a renewed focus on the quality of teaching and learning in the classrooms - which is what it is all about after all. Talking of which, we were delighted that 100% of our grade 10 students passed their iGCSEs with many acquiring the ICE certificate along with so many distinctions and passes and, in Grade 12, 86% of our students earned a Diploma in their IB studies and are now heading off to universities across the Netherlands and further afield. Congratulations to them and to their hard-working teachers and support staff - and their equally hard-working families!

This coming year will be one where we consolidate these achievements through the commitment, creativity and dedication not only of our existing staff but also the many new staff members we are welcoming this week who bring expertise, experience and wisdom from schools all around the world. And with over 50 new students starting in grade six, there will be new faces across the whole school - welcome to you all.

One particular area we are really keen to improve is the curriculum provision for our younger students. Rather than simply seeing school as one-long process of working towards external exams, 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 best 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. Building in such opportunities will be top of our 'to-do list' this coming year and we look forward to sharing important news about this as our plans develop.

Personally, I can't believe how quickly my first year at RISS has passed by and thank you to all the members of school community who have risen to the challenges we have been through this year and are as excited as I am by what lies ahead.

With all best wishes for the 2018-19 RISS school year.

Ms Gilbert-Sáez
Principal - RISS