In the primary school, we offer a comprehensive, inquiry-based curriculum that provides our students from preschool to Grade 5 with opportunities to develop skills, knowledge, and concepts that foster international-mindedness. It focuses on the development of the whole child, with a powerful emphasis on inquiry. As an International Baccalaureate school, we follow the Primary Years Programme (PYP).

At ISU, inquiry and play fulfill the same learning purpose. As ways of learning, inquiry and play represent the most respectful, student centered way for children to own and drive their own exploration.

Inquiry, interpreted in the broadest sense, is the process initiated by the student or the teacher that moves the student from his or her current level of understanding to a new and deeper level of understanding. Inquiry takes place at the knowing/not knowing intersection (Wells, Lindfors 1999).

Play is not only our creative drive; it is a fundamental mode of learning (Wood, E. 2004).

The Learner and the Early Learner

We believe one of the most important developments in children is student agency. It is the capacity to act intentionally and exercise choice, voice, and ownership of learning. In recognising and supporting agency, ISU actively creates a culture of mutual respect, acknowledging the rights and responsibilities of students, teachers, and the wider learning community. This enables students to take ownership of their learning and teachers of their teaching and modeling of life-long learning.

The Early Years section of the school includes Pre-kindergarten, Kindergarten and Grade 1. While the Early Years is part of the PYP at ISU, there are some characteristics that make this section different. Our inquiry curriculum is driven by play with deliberate application inside and outside of our classrooms. Teachers create dynamic, exciting and comfortable play experiences that nurture belonging and a sense of wonder. This enables children to pursue their own inquiries. Working with both children and their parents fosters positive learning relationships that are characteristic of intimacy and personal understanding of each child. Outside of our classrooms, our forest school experiences encourage exploration, discovery and opportunities to connect to the natural world. For early learners, this is a distinctly personal experience. Placing the child at the centre of their learning means that every child is seen as a unique, curious and capable learner with a sense of agency, who brings with them prior knowledge and experiences.

Learning and Teaching


  • addresses students’ academic, social and emotional well-being
  • encourages students to develop independence and to take responsibility for their own learning
  • supports students’ efforts to gain understanding of the world and to function comfortably within it
  • helps students establish personal values as a foundation upon which international-mindedness will develop and flourish.

The PYP is a framework guided by six transdisciplinary themes of local and global contexts and significance. Units are explored using knowledge, concepts, and approaches to learning skills.

Units of Inquiry

Organised around six transdisciplinary themes, ISU has developed a programme of inquiry, which reflects the cultural diversity of our school community. Each of these themes will be revisited emphasising those human commonalities and making connections between the six units of inquiry studied each year.

The Learning Community

At ISU, we believe that parent involvement in our programme of inquiry will positively impact our students, both socially and academically. We seek to build a strong partnership between home and school.


Subject Areas

There are six subject areas at the foundation of the Primary Years Programme. The learning outcomes for these form a continuum from Preschool to Grade 5 and then with the Middle Years Programme beginning in Grade 6. When authentic and meaningful, these subject areas are integrated into the unit of inquiry to support more connected student learning.

At ISU, specialist teachers are responsible for Visual Arts, Physical Education and Performing Arts, as well as Mongolian A and B studies. Where possible, specialist subjects are integrated into the units of inquiry.

Children who do not have English as a first language are assessed when they enter the school. Those needing assistance have access to English as an additional language (EAL) support.

Social Studies
Visual & Performing Arts
Physical Education