Personal Development Programme

ages 12 - 18

Our unique SBW approach to Secondary Years

Personal Development Programme - Our unique SBW approach to Secondary Years (ages 12-18)

All learning partners within our Secondary School take part in ISW’s Personal Development Programme, which is supported by the unique SBW Haus des Lernens approach – and each Wednesday has been designated solely to this task.

The focus of this day is to give LPs a chance to explore new passions and talents, or to develop existing ones. The main areas of focus are:


Each of our learning partners in Secondary Years works with a personal coach who helps them explore their dreams, passions and talents and guides them towards personal goals they set together. ISW fosters a coaching culture throughout the school, based on respectful treatment. Coaching meetings, or ‘sessions’, take place as needed, and are possible thanks to flexible timetables and the process of compacting – making knowledge transfer as efficient as possible. The Coach is the first port of call for each of our learning partners and is someone who can not only help and support them with any academic challenges that they might face, but is also someone whom they can seek advice from pertaining to their personal and social development. Each Coach is carefully assigned to a learning partner based upon their own passions and experiences, so that they can best support the LP in their holistic development.

Approaches to Learning

Approaches to Learning (ATL) are essential tools needed across all subjects within the Secondary Years. The large focus on ATL ensures that our learning partners can adapt to any new knowledge content they need to acquire, and gives them the tools they need to be successful life-long learners. Approaches to Leaning sessions are led by a team of learning mentors who support our LPs in understanding how to learn. The skills that are taught are relevant to all academic disciplines and empower LPs to become more effective learners. Educational research emphasizes the importance of metacognition, which helps students recognize the gap between being familiar with a topic and understanding it deeply. Essentially our ATL programme is a course that helps LPs to learn how to learn. ATL also focuses on providing LPs with impactful study habits and thus supports them in becoming more independent autonomous learners. For example, a typical ATL lesson might focus on making effective use of Mind-Mapping, Graphic Organisers or Flash Cards. As facilitators of learning our mentors will present a variety of study techniques to our learning partners and guide them individually to find the study techniques that work best for them.


To help our learning partners discover new passions, affinities or talents, ISW offers a subject referred to as ‘Creativa’. These lessons offer a choice of teacher-led projects which are set up with the goal of offering learning partners real-life learning experiences. Creativa is led by a team of specialists drawn from our learning mentors specializing in the creative arts and the sciences. This approach offers LPs an opportunity to develop their creativity and to apply it to real world situations. The involvement of our Science mentors means that LPs can focus on the application of their learning in the fields of Biology and Chemistry to the arts. Subsequently the Creativa programme has evolved to include a focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.) ISW continues to increase its offer of Creativa choices and groups, giving learning partners a chance to experience real-life professional fields.


Careers sessions allow LPs to understand their work choices and options, practice interview skills and techniques, develop CVs, understand application processes and more. Like ATL, our Careers programme is led by a team of learning mentors who each bring their own perspective to lessons. LPs are tasked with researching into the sorts of careers that they may wish to work within in the future, whilst recognizing the ever-changing nature of the workplace, and how dramatically things may change over the coming decades. LPs are challenged to work on considering how they may best be able to flourish in the adult world and to formulate a life-plan that best enables them to take the necessary steps to fulfill their ambition. Part of this process includes a focus on the ‘next steps’ that LPs might take in order to meet their potential, including some consideration of what subjects they might need to study at A level and beyond in order to empower themselves for their potential workplace. LPs will also discuss how they might best live out their passions in their working lives and thus find happiness beyond their time in formal education.

Personal Projects

Each learning partner at ISW has the opportunity to work on a Personal Project of their choice each term. The projects can focus on anything that our learning partners are passionate about, and are typically designed to develop their research skills, entrepreneurial awareness, presentation skills and global awareness. Our learning mentors have a role in inspiring our learning partners to think deeply about the topics that they might focus their projects on and subsequently monitor and support the young people as they immerse themselves in their project work.

We encourage our learning partners to Dare to Dream when working on their personal projects, and to carefully consider the impact of their work on their schools and/or wider community.

Duke of Edinburgh Award

ISW offers the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award program ( - the world's leading youth personal development programme, run in over 140 countries. Since the Award's inception in 1956, over 8 million young people have participated in this prestigious programme.

Participation is highly regarded, especially by employers, but also by universities worldwide. The programme is about challenging yourself to find out what you are made of. All participants set SMART personal goals for themselves, and challenge themselves to achieve these goals. The participation for bronze level lasts for a minimum of 6 months and requires various sections to be completed:

  • Service: engaging with our school or community and showing social responsibility. For example: helping people, community action and raising awareness, working with the environment or animals, helping a charity or organization
  • Skills: Developing a special skill and increasing self-confidence. For example: life skills, performance arts, science and technology, media and communication, music, natural world, learning and collecting, games and recreational sport
  • Fitness: Improving fitness, developing sports-related skills and focusing on one’s health. For example: individual sport, fitness, racquet sports, dancing, martial arts, team sports, water sports
  • Expedition: Developing a spirit of adventure and enjoying challenges. Taking part in and completing two 2–4-day expeditions with a group of 4-7 young people without immediate supervision.

Each section requires 4 hours / month of activities that can be split weekly / bi-monthly or monthly; completed for a minimum of 3 months (13 hours), and 6 months (26 hours) for the major section.
The Duke of Edinburgh programme impacts the lives of our learning partners, who are challenged to dare to do what they dream!