Last updated 23 August 2016

Interview with Caroline Jacoby – Head of International School of Uganda



ExpatFinder talked to Caroline Jacoby, Head of School, International School of Uganda (ISU) who is equipped with almost three decades’ worth of teaching experience. We found out from her that ISU offers international programmes for students at various stages of their lives. Ensuring that no one lags behind, ISU provides hands-on programmes for the Special Needs as well as English classes and professional counselling for students in need. In the Q&A below, Caroline outlines the school’s facilities, efforts to build good character and more.

Company: International School of Uganda

Category: International schools

Established since: 1967

Geographical coverage: Uganda



Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and the teachers at the school.

A: I have been an educator for 27 years. I was originally trained as a Junior (Elementary) School teacher in Australia and had taught there for five years. The rest of my career has been spent working in international schools around the world in Italy, Spain, Vietnam, Japan, Zambia, Bangladesh, Mali and now, Uganda. I completed my Masters in International Education at the University of Bath in the UK. 

Like me, many of our teachers have worked at international schools around the world. Our faculty come from 20 countries, including Uganda. 46 per cent of them have a Masters degree.

Q: What makes your school stand out in terms of teaching methods, curriculum and facilities?

A: ISU is the oldest international school in Uganda and the only one to offer all three International Baccalaureate programmes – the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the Diploma Programme. All three tracks help to prepare students to be global citizens. The programme focuses on educating the child holistically and teaches creative and critical thinking.

Teaching in the PYP and MYP, in particular, is interdisciplinary, helping students make connections across subjects. Students are required to complete community service in all three programmes to understand and help others in the wider community.

The Diploma Programme is a two-year course that students complete at the end of their schooling. It is rigorous and culminates in external exams. This high school qualification is recognised by universities around the world. Students who earn good IB scores are often given credits in their first year of university in the US and therefore, saving their parents some money!

ISU’s campus is like a botanical garden. 33 acres of lush grounds make for the perfect setting for students to learn and play in. We have a state-of-the-art science centre, a self-contained early childhood centre, one of the best-resourced libraries in Uganda, computer labs, playing fields, a 25m swimming pool, basketball courts and much more. We are in the early stages of building a Performing Arts Centre, which will be available for the public to use once it is completed in a couple of years’ time.

Q: Do you feel the need to incorporate the local culture with your international program?

A: As mentioned above, community service is built into all three programmes. In addition, the arts focus on African and in particular, Ugandan music, art and performance. Ugandan history is incorporated into social students and history classes. Ugandan Independence Day is one of ISU’s major whole school celebrations in which the whole community joins in.

Q: Which are the most represented nationalities in your student population?

A: USA, Uganda, UK, Germany, India, China, Denmark, Belgium, France.

Q: What are the major challenges that you face as an international school in Uganda?

A: Taxes are very high in Uganda which makes running a school very challenging.

Q: How do you help students overcome language and cultural barriers with their schoolmates?

A: ISU has an English and a Second Language (ESOL) programme to support students who arrive at the school speaking little or no English. Students receive 1-1 support and also extra support in class until they develop English skills so that they can be independent in class.

Q: Do you provide personalised assistance and extra-curricular programmes to help students adapting to the new country and international school?

A: ISU employs two counsellors. Part of their responsibility is to help new students (and their families) to settle in. About 75 per cent of our students have moved during their school life so most students are very understanding and empathetic towards students who are new to ISU. Most of them remember what it is like to be new at school.

Q: Do you have a special needs program?

A: ISU welcomes students with special learning needs. Our Optimal Learning Centre (OLC) supports students who have gaps in their learning from moving from school to school or students who have special learning needs. We have a life skills programme for students who find the academic programme too challenging. This teaches students skills in the area of horticulture, culinary arts, and tailoring, as well as, basic skills in English and Maths.

Q: In your opinion, what attitude and attributes should a student possess to thrive in an international school environment?

A: The environment at ISU is really a microcosm of the global community. With students from over 60 nationalities, there is an expectation that students and staff are open-minded and welcoming to others. Students who are hard-working, inquirers, flexible, kind and empathetic are going to be successful in school and in life. These are qualities that we foster at ISU.

Q: What is one advice you'd give to parents looking for the right international school for their children?

A: Visit your child’s potential school and ask lots of questions. Check that the school is accredited by (at least one) international bodies, that the teachers are all qualified and that the school is preparing students to be knowledgeable, caring and hard-working adults who can help make the world a better place in the future.


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