Head of Admissions (International School of Paris)
Our collective vision of learning at the International School of Paris accentuates the interconnectedness and multi-dimensional approach of our three-programme International Baccalaureate world school. It could, as well, summarize the challenge of growth and change management of our multi campus, urban footprint.
As Admissions professionals, we are typically the first connection for a prospective family to our school’s educational vision and learning environment, and the school visit and campus tour provide a unique opportunity to bring those messages alive. At ISP, our 700+ students are divided across two separate campuses in the heart of Paris’s XVI arrondissement. Our centralized admissions office is ‘housed’, so to speak, in a converted 18th century residential building on the Secondary School campus, but we spend upwards of 40% of our time during the peak season at our Primary School conducting individual meetings and tours.
Organizational optimisation must provide for flexibility of travel plans, late/early arrivals and meetings that have an authentic and unique rhythm. We consider the tour to be a privileged time for a prospective family to peek inside learning at the school, and those individual ‘Aha!’ moments are the first step of a family’s active engagement with our school’s message for innovative and experiential IB learning.
In late 2015, and in coordination with our recent 50-year anniversary, ISP began the process of building its updated strategic plan and development roadmap for the near future. Our six strategic planning areas include reflective engagement in the role of the educator, the student experience, curriculum development and innovation, finance and operations, communication and advancement, and embracing change.
In lockstep, the school was presented with a unique real estate opportunity in the purchase of our third campus, ‘Cortambert’. This new property offers a wink at both past and present and includes a neo-gothic townhouse from 1890 and a 1950’s open-plan office building, both to be entirely renovated as a state-of-the-art educational facility and joined together by more than 950 square meters of external space. This exceptional property maintains ISP’s privileged location in the XVI arrondissement, while offering a new ‘flow’ from each of the PYP, MYP and DP programmes of study.
While Cortambert will permit the school to strategically manage enrolment growth, it will also include large portions of common areas for all students, as well as specialist educational spaces such as new science labs, music, drama, technology and art. As well, it will house ISP’s flagship educational research center open to both the school, local and international community. The design will be inspired by the Fielding Nair approach to individualized learning spaces within a classroom environment.
As Head of Admissions, I am at once extremely excited as well as challenged about what this new campus will mean for our tried and true campus tour organization. While I may hope (and wish!) that prospective families will want to spend the better part of a day moving through the physicality of our three campuses, families with multiple children may have only one hour (or less!) to appreciate a school learning environment, and this amidst a whirlwind of other visits and apartment searches!
“How can we thoughtfully manage a prospective family’s time?”
Ideally, through planned information flow (before the meeting as much as practical – sending on a ‘mash-up’ of individualized links and content), authentic connections and ‘portholes’ that can offer step in/out examples of our learning community. We believe there are unique uses for new technology in situations such as this, when physical space and available time may not be in sync. Augmented reality using an application such as Aurasma allows individual objects and images to ‘come to life’ by linking multimedia content or additional detail to a pre-programmed ‘aura’. Now imagine what that framed vision statement in your office could offer! A two minute campus tour, student testimonials, a short slideshow of International Day or a list of Grade 11/12 extended essay topics? Standard objects in the admissions office and on campus could essentially ‘link’ to the other campus while touring. This is surely one area our office will be exploring as we seek to bridge our three campuses into one.
Effective use of resources is always a hot topic, and having separate offices for our team members across the three campuses may offer a more flexible time and meeting schedule. It is essential, though, that any separate person or programme not become ‘silo’d’, so earmarking collaborative exchanges and space across all three campuses will take some agility and planning.
I would love to hear your ideas about how you have made your campus tours come alive and connect to multiple campuses, programmes, etc. Please visit the International Ideas Linked In group to share!
And, if augmented reality and speed walking doesn’t go the way I’ve planned, perhaps I will get myself an ISP-branded hover board….!
Founded in 1964, the International School of Paris is the only school in France to offer all three International Baccalaureate programmes: the Primary Years Programme (Nursery to Grade 5), the Middle Years Programme (Grades 6 to 10) and the IB Diploma Programme (Grades 11 and 12). Their IB Diploma results have consistently been above the world average.