Middle School is a time when students experience physical, emotional, and cognitive growth—and at BISC South Loop, our international Middle School in Chicago, it's when they’re introduced to a vast array of new and fascinating ideas designed to challenge their assumptions and teach them integral life skills. 
BIS South Loop Middle School students in class

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 Year group is divided into advisory groups. Every day, your child will start their day with their Advisory group and their advisor. Their advisor will check that their uniform is correct and that they have everything they need to be successful. They will take them through the Daily BISCuit - our Middle School notices - and will ensure that they are ready to learn.

The role of the advisor is to be a primary point of contact with home - they will contact you when your child experiences successes or with any concerns they may have about your child's well-being or progress. They will also lead on the delivery of our PSHE (Personal, Social, and Health Education) curriculum which takes place on Monday afternoons. In addition to PSHE students will have weekly Head of Phase and Middle School assemblies where they will come together as a Year group or school.

Some children may at times require greater support than that which can be offered through their advisor and Head of Phase. To support children we have a Learning Support Manager, a Guidance Counselor and a Diversity Equity and Inclusion lead.

We also run a schoolhouse system of which there are four Houses: Great Wall, Pyramids, Rushmore, and Stonehenge. Your child will be placed in one of these houses as part of a bigger team of students and staff. Throughout the year your child will receive House based rewards, have the opportunity to attend team building activities in Houses, participate in House competitions, and make their contribution towards the coveted House Cup.

Middle School Curriculum

The Middle School curriculum is broad and balanced and reflects our goal to create students with experience of a wide range of subject disciplines. Students study the five core subjects (English, Math, World Languages, Science, and Social Studies) for three lessons per week . The remainder of their timetable is compiled of a broad range of subject disciplines outlined below.

In Year 9, students will begin to follow an honors program in Math. Students in Year 9 will be invited to select one elective from a range of subject electives to enrich their Year 9 program of study and begin to prepare them for their elective choices in High School.


English skills empower students in all aspects of their schooling and adult lives. As well as communication, grammar, and analytical skills, English provides students with an opportunity to enhance their ability to think critically and make evaluations. Through their study of English, Middle School students develop their formal essay writing, problem solving, presentation delivery, and persuasion. English is a challenging and rewarding subject that allows students to experience classical literature along with contemporary texts. In this sense, English is less a set of rules to be followed, and more a way of developing empathy by exploring culture, places, and people. Methods of assessment include creative writing, formal analytical essays, discussion with peers, speeches, and presentations about writers’ skills and techniques. The study of grammar is embedded in all areas of the curriculum, and our goal is to foster students who reflect on their targets and evaluate the effectiveness of their choices. From the start of Year 7 (Grade 6), students are allocated to ability groups that are continuously monitored and reviewed against progress and assessments.



Mathematics is taught holistically, covering algebra, number, geometry, and statistics. Focusing on these four topics throughout Middle School means students can consolidate and extend their learning. The course also incorporates investigation work and real-world applications. The curriculum is enriched by participation in both U.S. and U.K. math competitions, which take place in and out of school. From the start of Year 7 (Grade 6), students are allocated to ability groups that are continuously monitored and reviewed against progress and assessments.

World Languages

Learning world languages is a gateway to different cultures and countries. They help students develop awareness of their own languages, cultures, and customs, encouraging them to become sensitive to others and developing confident communication skills. Students are expected to effectively use the target language beginning with everyday conversation and spanning to more intricate and developed subjects, deepening their knowledge of culture and grammar along the way. Aside from grammatical rules, which are explained in English to ensure full clarification, World Languages teachers primarily instruct in the target language using a communicative approach.

Teachers also employ a variety of creative resources and activities that appeal to all learning styles while encompassing the four key skill areas of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. We offer a number of language options across our four taught World Languages: French, German, Mandarin and Spanish.


Science is an essential skill and an inspirational subject that sets students on paths to a broad spectrum of opportunities. The enthusiastic nature of our approach to Science is one of the school’s most exciting features.

Unlike the majority of schools in America, we do not select blocks of single Science courses. Instead, all students sit a rigorous and well-produced integrated course that builds from year to year. Beginning in Year 7 (Grade 6), students embark on a course that contains the foundations of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.

Social Studies


The study of Geography has never been more relevant, and careers connected with Geography have never been more plentiful. Geographers become cartographers, climatologists, geographic information systems specialists, meteorologists, real estate developers, surveyors, and urban planners. Geographers think critically and globally, a key skill that employers seek. Students have the chance to apply their knowledge and understanding of Geography through a series of fieldwork studies at a local and regional level. Previous fieldwork studies include beach profiles, urban transects and environmental surveys.



History focuses on the core skills of interpretation, cause and consequence, change and continuity, and significance. The development of these transferable skills helps students gain meaningful understanding of the past and become independent, inquisitive historians. This course covers the Ancient era to the 20th century, with a focus on international and American history. Students delve into fascinating periods with a broad chronological and international scope. Focus is placed on writing throughout the course with the intention of developing literacy skills, building confidence and preparing students for an external examination, should they choose to take History 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, and an understanding of the Holocaust and the importance of peacekeeping in today's world. By studying Civics alongside History and Geography, we aim to educate students on the world around them in a way that prepares them for life beyond school.


Performing Arts


Dance is the comprehensive study of the performing art in physical, artistic, aesthetic, and cultural context. In addition to helping students acquire subject knowledge, the curriculum promotes in collaboration with The Juilliard School a sense of creativity, fitness, teamwork, character, leadership and performance. Middle School students take part in units on performance/recall, research and choreography across six styles: Contemporary, Ballet, Hip Hop, Jazz, STOMP, and African dance.



From imagination and empathy to solid communication, Drama teaches skills that students can apply in all school subjects and their lives outside of school. The benefits of studying Drama are considerable, so Middle School students take part in one Drama lesson each week. Students cover a wide range of topics, learning technical elements and vocabulary across genres, styles, and famous works. Students work in a variety of group sizes and regularly create performance work during their lessons. Many elements are also cross-curricular and support learning in more than one subject.



In music, students develop the ability to perform, compose and analyze music from a range of countries and cultures. They will develop skills on a range of classroom instruments, learn how to use music technology to express their ideas and be able to compose in a variety of styles, with the courses designed directly to allow them the skills they need to take music in the high school. The curriculum is supported and enriched by the Juilliard-Nord Anglia Performing Arts Program, which engages students in a range of carefully selected core works, which are explored through a range of activities created by specialists from the Juilliard School. Students are also able to enhance their musicality by partaking in extra-curricular music activities such as School Production, Orchestra and Choir.


Visual Arts

Engineering and Design

Students learn through a series of topics which span the breadth of Engineering and Design. In Year 7 the students are first introduced to Freehand Graphics as a topic of study where they learn to sketch and shade to overcome the hurdles felt by many in presenting design ideas. Our second topic of study for Year 7 is an electronics and coding topic where the students learn to use Arduino boards to solve a range of mechanical problems. The final project in Year 7 brings CAD to the students where we design and create a Jumping Bug. Designed on the computer, it offers an opportunity for the students to learn some CAD/CAM skills in creating parts for both the laser cutter and 3D printers.

Students in Year 8 step up to the design challenge of our F1 in Schools inspired project. The research and investigation here bring opportunity for learning about Newtons Laws as well as the study of aerodynamics and the design of F1 race cars. The project offers a chance for the students to work in groups and to learn important skills in many aspects of project work. The second project for Year 8 is our Rocket Project. Students will design and make paper rockets to launch and compete to see who can go the highest, testing their understanding of the skills researched for aerodynamics and requiring some careful CAD work to maximize the effectiveness of their designs.

In Year 9 our students' first project is focused on the study of Structures and Forces. Students learn about the influence of natural structures on our designs for building and everyday objects. They gain an understanding of the effects of both dynamic and static loads as well as being introduced to resonance and deflection through the study of bridges. The second part of the topic offers them a group challenge to build the best bridge from a strict set of criteria and to test this to see which group has the most efficient design. For the final project in Middle School our Year 9 will design a desk lamp and create a solution based upon the materials in our workshop – a practical hands-on project where they will learn to develop some tool skills and consider the needs of the end user. The Middle School Engineering and Design course is structured to provide the students with a taste of what is to come in High School and they are encouraged to take risks and step out from their comfort zone.



Art, craft, and design embody some of the highest forms of human creativity. A high-quality art and design education should engage, inspire, and challenge pupils, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to experiment, invent and create their own works of art, craft, and design. As pupils progress, they should be able to think critically and develop a more rigorous understanding of art and design. They should also know how art and design both reflect and shape our history, and contribute to the cultures, creativity, and wealth of our society. Art is an important element of the curriculum, as we aim to nurture students’ ability to express and communicate their ideas. While creating their artwork, students develop transferable skills: making observations, experimentation, and critical and contextual studies. Our middle school Art curriculum comprises of a range of projects, and we explore a range of materials that include painting, drawing, collage, textiles, sculpture, printmaking, and mixed media. The goal of our Art curriculum is to develop independent, inquisitive, and resilient learners, active researchers, and team players!


Computer Science

The study of Computer Science is unique because of the ever-changing subject matter, as software evolves at a rapid pace. Computer Science introduces students to the fundamentals of programming, data analysis and visual design. Middle School students work under three umbrellas of learning that build in complexity each year: Digital Literacy, Programming, and Digital Design Graphics. Students learn how and why a task is completed to understand the significance of the practical activities they perform. Learning is based on individual projects, through which students are assessed on their written understanding and practical skills. Students develop and improve skills through practice. They creatively demonstrate their skills to ensure they can adapt them in real-life situations and build upon previously acquired skills, which encourage confident use of computers and other technology tools. We also discuss related real-world topics such as digital divide and home and leisure.

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.


Curriculum Guide

Middle School Curriculum Guide 2023-24




A Nord Anglia education means your child will have the knowledge, confidence and creativity to excel at whatever they choose to do or be in life.

More about academic excellence