Transition to Middle school
We ensure children’s transition from Primary to Middle School is smooth, and work to maintain that love of learning they’ve developed in their earlier school years.
School Day and Structure
Each day begins with students meeting with their Form Tutor and Advisory group. Each Tutor will ensure that their students have everything they need for another great day at BISC - South Loop making sure that they are supported not just academically, but also socially and emotionally. Together, the Advisory group goes through the Daily BISCuit—our Middle School notices—and gets ready to learn.
Your child’s Tutor is your primary point of contact. They will contact you about your child’s successes and any concerns they have for their wellbeing or progress. They will lead your child’s Personal, Social, and Health Education on Wednesday afternoons. Students also have weekly Head of Year and Middle School Assemblies, where they come together with their Year group or the whole school.
Some students may need more support than that provided by their Tutor and Head of Year. That’s why South Loop also has a Learning Support Manager, School Counselors, and four House Leaders who work as mentors across the Middle School.
Each Year group is divided into four Advisory subgroups based around the House system. There are four Houses: Great Wall, Pyramids, Rushmore, and Stonehenge. Throughout the year, students receive House-based rewards, take part in team-building activities in their Houses, participate in House competitions, and contribute to their House’s efforts to win the famous House Cup!
Middle School Curriculum
Our Middle School curriculum is broad and balanced, and reflects our goal to provide students experience in a wide range of subjects and disciplines so that they can explore different possibilities in an environment where it feels safe to try new things and take risks. Students study the five core subjects of English, Math, Science, Social Studies, and World Languages for three lessons per week. The rest of their schedule comprises a wide range of subjects.
Our Middle School curriculum is renowned for being adaptable to students’ specific needs, and for encouraging independence. In this way, our Middle Schoolers grow into ambitious, humble, empowered individuals, ready to forge a place for themselves as global citizens of the world.
Year 9 students now follow honors programs in English, Math, and World Languages, and receive two World Languages lessons per week to reflect this change in course. Year 9 students are also invited to select one elective from Performance, Arts, or Engineering to enrich their education and prepare them for the path to High School.
Studying English doesn’t just improve students’ communication, grammar, and analytical skills, but also enhances their ability to think critically and evaluate situations. It helps Middle School students develop their essay writing, problem solving, and presentation delivery, and teaches them how to be speak and write more persuasively. Students study both classic and contemporary texts, which helps them understand other cultures, peoples, and places.
Students are assessed through creative writing, formal analytical essays, peer discussions, speeches, and presentations about writers’ skills, techniques, and legacies. From the start of Year 7, students are allocated to ability groups, and continually monitored and reviewed against expected progress.
Math is taught holistically, covering algebra, numbers, geometry, and statistics. By focusing on these four topics throughout Middle School, students embed a natural understanding of mathematics in their thinking, which prepares them for countless challenges in later life.
The course incorporates investigation work and real-world applications. The curriculum is enriched by participation in both US and UK math competitions, which take place in and out of school. From the start of Year 7, students are allocated to ability groups, and continually monitored and reviewed against expected progress.
Learning a foreign language is a gateway to a multitude of countries and cultures. It encourages students to better appreciate their own language and environment, and helps them become more confident communicators.
We offer French, Spanish, Mandarin, and German with a dual French and Spanish option for strong linguists. Students begin with everyday conversation, then move to more intricate subjects, deepening their knowledge of the language’s associated cultures and strengthening their understanding of its rules. But aside from grammar, which is taught in English for clarity, World Languages teachers primarily instruct in the target language to instill it in students from the moment they enter the classroom. They employ a variety of creative resources and activities to appeal to all learning styles, while honing the four key skill areas: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
Science gives students a myriad of essential life skills and sets them on the path to a broad spectrum of exciting opportunities. Our approach to the subject is one of BISC - South Loop’s most defining features: Unlike most schools in the US, we don't select blocks of single Science courses to be taught independently. Instead, students study a rigorous integrated course of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics which builds year on year.
In an increasingly connected planet, Geography has never been more relevant—and careers that draw on its skills have never been in greater demand. Geographers can become cartographers, climatologists, information systems specialists, meteorologists, real estate developers, surveyors, and urban planners. They think critically and with a global mindset, traits that employers all of the world seek.
Students apply their knowledge and understanding of Geography through a series of fieldwork studies at both a local and regional level. Previous fieldwork has included beach profiles, urban transects, and environmental surveys.
History at BISC - South Loop hones the core skills of interpretation, cause and consequence, change and continuity, and significance. Developing these transferable skills helps students gain a meaningful understanding of the past, and become independent and inquisitive historians.
The course covers the prehistoric era to the 20th century, with a particular focus on American and international history. Students delve deep into fascinating periods with a broad chronological scope. They are encouraged to improve their literacy skills through essays, and prepare for external exams should they choose to take the subject in High School.
Civics aims to support students in better understanding the world around them. Topics include US History and Government, World Religions, Philosophy, Law, Crime and Punishment, The Holocaust, Bystanderism, and Peacekeeping. By studying Civics along with History and Geography, students better understand the world around them, and prepare for a successful life after their education. Students also take the Constitution Test during their Middle School studies.
Dance is so much more than a physical performance: It involves the study of art, culture, and aesthetics. The curriculum has been co-created in collaboration with The Juilliard School, and instills in students a sense of creativity, fitness, teamwork, character, leadership, and performance. Middle School students don’t just learn how to perform, but also engage with the subject through independent research, and study choreography across six genres: contemporary, ballet, hip-hop, jazz, STOMP, and African dance.
Drama teaches students a wide range of transferable skills which are of immense value both in and out of school, including empathy, communication, and self-expression. Because Drama is so renowned for boosting students’ confidence, they have one lesson a week, learning technical elements and vocabulary across genres, styles, and famous works. Students collaborate in groups of different sizes, and regularly perform during lesson time. What’s more, a lot of the Drama curriculum supports students’ learning in a variety of their other subjects.
Music is integral to developing students’ creativity, ambition, and innovation. As part of Nord Anglia’s collaboration with The Juilliard School, we’re proud to offer the Juilliard–Nord Performing Arts Program, in which students focus on a specially curated repertoire of core work spanning an array of genres and styles, opening doors to a variety of cultures and periods. Students explore music through practical performance, theoretical study, and music theory based on keyboard skills.
Engineering and Design
Students cover one topic per semester to incorporate a cohesive approach to the integration of a range of engineering and design skills in the projects we teach. Projects include CAD/CAM, Jumping Bug, F1 in Schools, Micro Controlled Music, Stereo Amplifier, and Forces and Structures. Assessment of students' work is ongoing through their projects and takes the form of both classwork assessment of skills as well as homework activities.
The Art curriculum empowers students to nurture their creativity, as well as their abilities to express themselves and communicate their ideas in radically different ways, while helping them become independent, inquisitive, and resilient learners. They learn about a range of cultures and traditions and develop transferable skills, such as the abilities to experiment, observe, and think critically.
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
ICT is unique because of how rapidly its subject matter evolves. Students discover the fundamentals of programming, data analysis, and visual design, and work under three umbrellas of learning which grow in complexity year on year: Digital Literacy, Programming, and Digital Design Graphics. Learning is based on individual projects, and students are assessed on both their written understanding and practical skills. They demonstrate their capabilities in creative ways to ensure they can adapt them to real-life situations, and build on previously learned skills to boost their confidence with computers and other technology.
Personal, Social, and Health Education (PSHE)
PSHE explores such issues as global citizenship, mental health and well-being, internet safety, personal development, sex and relationships, and social skills. It helps students gain the knowledge and understanding they’ll need to manage their lives both now and in the future. Through a wide-ranging curriculum, students learn to recognize the most critical challenges, opportunities, and responsibilities they may face in life, and enables them to connect what they’ve learned in other subjects to real-life situations.
Our Athletics course gives students the opportunity to learn about personal fitness while developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. For three hours a week, they take part in Physical Education and Games, both of which are designed to help them explore a variety of activities. Physical Education is based on academic reports, while Games isn’t. Physical Education assessments also consider students’ moral, social, and physical skills. Topics include Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Cricket, Field Hockey, Gymnastics, Indoor Rowing, Kinetic Wellbeing (Personal Fitness), Pop Lacrosse, Rounders, Rugby, Soccer, Softball, Sports Leadership, Swimming, Track and Field, Volleyball, and Yoga.
Middle School Curriculum Guide 2021-22