Head of Primary's Welcome

I have the privilege of being Head of Primary at The International School of Penang (Uplands). Thank you for visiting our website and taking an interest in our school. Our vision is to provide an exemplar international education in a dynamic multi-cultural environment, encouraging all students to be active learners and engage with the local and wider community. It is to this end we see The International School of Penang (Uplands) as an important part of both the Penang community and global society. Our campus is a stunning and unique environment and we work hard to ensure our learning programmes celebrate this. From teachers to team coordinators, and our Senior Leadership team, we are all committed to ensuring our students achieve their highest potential through a curriculum that aims to foster internationally-minded and well-rounded students.

Brendan Finn

Head of Primary

The Primary Years Programme

As an International School, we have a multicultural environment where exceptional opportunities are provided to our boys and girls to learn from expert practitioners, both in the classroom and from subject specialists. We pride ourselves on having a respectful, inclusive environment in which students are encouraged to support and care for one another, in line with our motto “Respect for self, Respect for others”. The size of our school allows for a wide range of opportunities and pathways for our students, but also means that we know every child as an individual….. we know that positive relationships are key in learners’ success

What do you want for your learners’ future?

At Uplands school our motto “Respect for self, Respect for others” drives every decision we make. We believe our purpose is to create self-directed learners who know what makes them unique, what they are good at, what they need to work on and what steps they need to take to get there. Students who are truly driving their learning and who strive to do their best. We celebrate diversity and the achievements and progress of our students in all areas of the curriculum.

At Uplands School we have a clear vision of what we would like to achieve. This vision has been created after extensive consultation with school stakeholders.

We understand that it is impossible to predict what it will be like for current learners in their futures and the knowledge that they will require, but we believe our IB PYP learner vision outlines the skills, values and dispositions that are essential for our learners to make a positive difference in their lives and the lives of others. Our unique school values provide a contextual framework where the IB Learner Profile is unpacked for our students along with our school values.

Our value statements are



My actions and words show I respect others and our environment.



I ask questions and seek new knowledge and experiences.



I share my thinking and I value other’s thoughts and ideas.



I never give up and I challenge myself to grow.



I use my energy to grow my mind and body.



I appreciate other’s strengths, cultures, and beliefs.



I make the right choice even when no-one is watching.

Teaching and Learning

While there is no formula that will guarantee learning for every student in every context, there is extensive, well-documented evidence about the kinds of teaching approaches that consistently have a positive impact on student learning. This evidence tells us that students learn best when teachers:

  • create a supportive learning environment
  • encourage reflective thought and action
  • enhance the relevance of new learning
  • facilitate shared learning
  • make connections to prior learning and experience
  • provide sufficient opportunities to learn
  • inquire into the teaching–learning relationship.

Primary Handbook

Please click here to download our Primary Handbook

Primary Mathematics Handbook

Please click here to download our Primary Mathematics Handbook

Primary Specialist Intro Handbook

Please click here to download our Primary Specialist Intro Handbook

Primary Reading Handbook

Please click here to download our Primary Reading Handbook

Primary Language Handbook

Please click here to download our Primary Language Handbook

Creating a supportive learning environment

Learning is inseparable from its social and cultural context. Students learn best when they feel accepted, when they enjoy positive relationships with their fellow students and teachers, and when they are able to be active, visible members of the learning community. Our teachers foster positive relationships that are caring, inclusive, nondiscriminatory, and cohesive. They also build good relationships with the wider school community, working with parents and caregivers as key partners who have unique knowledge of their children and countless opportunities to advance their children’s learning. Our teachers attend to the cultural and linguistic diversity of all their students. The classroom culture exists within and alongside many other cultures, including the cultures of the wider school and the local community.

Encouraging reflective thought and action

Students learn most effectively when they develop the ability to stand back from the information or ideas that they have engaged with and think about these objectively. Reflective learners assimilate new learning, relate it to what they already know, adapt it for their own purposes, and translate thought into action. Over time, they develop their creativity, their ability to think critically about information and ideas, and their metacognitive ability (that is, their ability to think about their own thinking). Teachers encourage such thinking when they design tasks and opportunities that require students to critically evaluate the material they use and consider the purposes for which it was originally created.

Enhancing the relevance of new learning

Students learn most effectively when they understand what they are learning, why they are learning it, and how they will be able to use their new learning. Our teachers stimulate the curiosity of their students, require them to search for relevant information and ideas, and challenge them to use or apply what they discover in new contexts or in new ways. They look for opportunities to involve students directly in decisions relating to their own learning. This encourages them to see what they are doing as relevant and to take greater ownership of their own learning.

Facilitating shared learning

Students learn as they engage in shared activities and conversations with other people, including family members and people in the wider community. Teachers encourage this process by cultivating the class as a learning community. In such a community, everyone, including the teacher, is a learner; learning conversations and learning partnerships are encouraged; and challenge, support, and feedback are always available. As they engage in reflective discourse with others, students build the language that they need to take their learning further.

Making connections to prior learning and experience

Students learn best when they are able to integrate new learning with what they already understand. Our teachers deliberately build on what their students know and have experienced, they maximise the use of learning time, anticipate students’ learning needs, and avoid unnecessary duplication of content. Teachers can help students to make connections across learning areas as well as to home practices and the wider world.

Providing sufficient opportunities to learn

Students learn most effectively when they have time and opportunity to engage with, practise, and transfer new learning. This means that they need to encounter new learning a number of times and in a variety of different tasks or contexts. It also means that when curriculum coverage and student understanding are in competition, the teacher may decide to cover less but cover it in greater depth. Appropriate assessment helps the teacher to determine what “sufficient” opportunities mean for an individual student and to sequence students’ learning experiences over time.

Assessment in the Primary School

Formative Assessment

Ongoing and regular assessment will take place during the teaching and learning process using a variety of methods to inform teachers and learners about the progress of learning. Formative assessment and learning are directly linked and provide feedback to teachers and learners that is responsive to learner needs and informs teaching practice. Formative assessment engages students actively in the process of learning. Students will learn to self-assess, peer-assess, and improve their performance with the aid of each teacher’s timely, detailed and meaningful feedback. Formative assessment provides our students with opportunities to learn new skills and to achieve better results while taking risks and not being afraid to make mistakes as they are not working towards the achievement of grades. Formative assessment can, for instance, be draft assignments, oral presentations, questioning, discussion, visual representations and quizzes.

Summative Assessment

Summative assessment takes place at the end of a teaching and learning process or experience and is planned for in advance. The assessment is designed for learners to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding in authentic tasks asking them to apply their skills in new ways. The tasks involved are modelled on those within the IB PYP and graded in accordance with IB PYP criteria. Summative assessments should take a variety of forms (including for example tests, oral and visual presentations, projects)

Specialist Subjects

At Uplands Primary School we provide specialist teachers in Art, Drama, Physical Education, Technology and Music. These lessons are delivered by highly trained, subject specific teachers who have a passion for, and expertise in, their specialist curriculum area.

Specialist teachers work alongside classroom teachers to integrate the inquiry concepts where authentic connections can be made. They co-teach with classroom teachers to aid the inquiry process, providing support to both teachers and students during the learning journey.