A Tradition of English-Speaking Education
In Autumn 1961, the International School of Berne (ISBerne) was founded in Switzerland's capital city and served its international community for over 60 years.
Expatriates Harry George French, Russell Smith, and Don Logan realized that their children could not continue their education in the local schools. So, with the help of the US Ambassador to Switzerland, Robert M. McKinley, they decided to set up a small day school for their families and created the English Speaking School of Berne.
Three floors of a house in Thunstrasse 97 were the rented accommodation for the school, and it received donated school materials from various US military bases around Europe.
A local Swiss teacher, Mrs. Padel, was appointed to be the first Principal, and she led four other staff members. They taught some 40 students ranging in age from 5 to 14, who came from English-speaking diplomatic and business families.
By 1965, our school's enrolment had reached 52 students. When even the kitchen was used as a classroom, it was evident that the situation had to change. The land was acquired in 3073 Gümligen by the Chairman of the Board, Malcolm Lawrence, and the Headmaster, John Curtis, and there they built a new, dedicated campus.
Over the years, ISBerne continued to grow alongside the Canton of Bern, and we also changed our name to the International School of Berne. In 2001, our Primary School expanded into the Geelhaar building, located across the street from the original campus. In Spring 2017, with 370 students, the school moved to a new state-of-the-art, purpose-built campus at Allmendingenweg 9, 3073 Gümligen, not far from our original location. It's just two tram stops away!
ISBerne's dedication to excellence in international education has resulted in our development as an International Baccalaureate World School. After establishing the IB Diploma programme in 1995, the school set the goal to offer all three programmes. Accordingly, we were authorized to offer the IB Primary Years Programme in January 2007 and the IB Middle Years Programme in April 2007.
In 1984 our school was first accredited by the world's leading agencies, the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). We received re-accreditation in 1994, 2004, and 2015.
Our school continues to serve a transitory expatriate clientele comprised of diplomatic and international professional families with an average residency in Switzerland of 3.5 years. ISBerne serves as a home away from home for students, parents, faculty, and staff during their residency in Switzerland. It's the basis of many fond memories!
If you are an alumnus of the English Speaking School of Berne or ISBerne, please visit our Alumni page to learn more.