Letter from Principal

Lisa Ellery
Primary Principal

Dear Primary Families,

Within Primary at the Western International School of Shanghai (WISS), we place the student at the center of all that we do. We value each child as a unique learner on an individual journey of discovery and inspiration to develop their true potential. 

Through the philosophy of the PYP and our own mission and vision, our students develop a love of learning in a caring, nurturing environment. Our dedicated Primary Team empowers each student to thrive as a lifelong learner by building on the strong foundations laid out within Early Years. We provide a world-renowned curriculum that balances academic rigor with a holistic ethos, enabling students to take ownership of their learning and increase their confidence and self-motivation. They become engaged, self-driven, agentic learners who can set their own goals, reflect on their experiences and challenge themselves as they look ahead to the future.  

At WISS, students also experience a broad variety of opportunities to explore the dynamic and historical country that we live in beyond the classroom walls. Students further develop their skills as they take on cultural, environmental, creative, physical, team-building and leadership challenges.  

We want our students to be empowered, responsible global citizens who learn from each other’s perspectives and strive to make the world a better place.   

We look forward to welcoming your family to the WISS community! 

Lisa Ellery

Primary

The Primary building at the Western International School of Shanghai is home to Grades 1-5. In Primary, we focus on developing the whole child as an inquirer, both in school and beyond. We offer a rich and transformative experience for students through an inquiry-based approach. Hands-on, highly engaging instructional lessons provide a wealth of opportunities for students to make connections to their own lives, the local community, and through more global contexts.  

Our Primary students are empowered to take ownership of their learning, collaborating with teachers to deepen understanding and increase their confidence and self-motivation. 

PRIMARY CURRICULUM

In Primary, we continue to build upon the inquiry-driven, concept-based program of learning which sets the foundation for learning in the Early Years.   

Guided by six transdisciplinary themes of global significance, students broaden their learning by developing their conceptual understandings, strengthening their knowledge and skills across, between, and beyond subject areas. Math, Science, Literacy, Social Studies, Arts, and Physical, and Social Education are all developed through Units of Inquiry, offering a robust challenge to acquire knowledge and put it into practice. This approach in PYP provides a rigorous, meaningful, and relevant learning journey to better understand the world in which we live.  

In Primary, students are supported in their language learning by meeting them where they are and then designing a pathway for them to be challenged as they build fluency. This is our approach in Literacy, as well as in Chinese Language and English for Beginners.

In Primary, every teacher is a language teacher! 

ROUTINES

In Primary, we begin each day with community-building in our classrooms. This strengthens the feeling of community within our classrooms and provides opportunities to model, learn, and practice oral language skills.  

Throughout the week, a Primary student will attend two Music classes, two PE classes, two Arts classes, and many homeroom sessions in which maths, Literacy, and our Units of Inquiry are explored. Students new to English are supported five days a week through our English for Beginners program, while other students are in Chinese Language classes.  

Student’s first languages are honored and celebrated through translanguaging, as we help them make connections between languages they are learning. 

On Friday, Primary students engaged in student-selected electives called Friday Afternoon Activities (FAAs). Several sessions of FAAs are run throughout the school year, giving students ample time to explore new hobbies or areas of interest, such as robotics, cooking, video-editing, basketball, and more! 

SPECIAL PROGRAMS / ACTIVITIES

At WISS, we believe in providing opportunities to grow in a variety of ways, far beyond the experiences that take place in the classroom. Our programs also provide the opportunity to connect with many other children beyond those in their homeroom. Students acquire interpersonal skills that encourage them to cultivate meaningful and diverse relationships. Participating in various activities helps develop confidence and self-motivation, enhancing students’ abilities to work as a team, problem-solve, and think critically and creatively. Developing in young children provides a strong foundation for a future of health and well-being.

Students in Early Years have plentiful opportunities to explore their passions from a young age and try new activities, from optional after school activities to afternoon activities during the school day.

HOME-SCHOOL PARTNERSHIP

In Primary at the Western International School of Shanghai, building three-way relationships between families, the students, and the school is paramount to support the well-being and education of all of our learners. We pride ourselves as an open, caring community that believes in the importance of solid home-school communications to ensure the success of every one of our students.

We focus on providing clear and easy communication channels for our parents to stay up to date on student learning, school news, and information. Communications with each family are centered on building our understanding of your child as we continue the learning journey together with you.

TEACHING APPROACH

In Primary, we embrace collaboration as an approach for learning and teaching, but also as part of the culture of our learning community. Grades 1 and 2 are taught by an International & Chinese co-teacher to offer high levels of personalized support to our youngest learners. This support includes using translanguaging to remove obstacles to learning and understanding while strengthening our learning communities. In Grades 3-5, each class is led by an international teacher, and the grade level is supported by Chinese co-teachers, who collaborate across the grade-level classes.

As the PYP is an inquiry-based, concept-driven framework for learning and teaching, this is reflected in the lesson designs, planning, and instructional delivery throughout Primary. Teachers carefully and thoughtfully plan pathways for each student to construct their own meaning. They are supported to go beyond mere memorization of facts or performance of skills to demonstrate further genuine understanding and real-life application of what they are learning. This approach keeps the students at the center of the learning and provides teachers evidence of the next steps to continue moving learning forward.

Students learn to self-assess their growth and self-adjust their learning, setting goals for themselves with opportunities to co-construct action plans and reflect upon their progress. Empowering students to embrace the tools and strategies that develop them as life-long learners is an essential part of the Primary experience and prepares them well for the MYP.

Special Programs/ Activities

At WISS, we believe in providing opportunities to grow in a variety of ways, far beyond the experiences that take place in the classroom.  Our programs also provide the opportunity to connect with many other children beyond those in their homeroom. Students acquire interpersonal skills that encourage them to cultivate meaningful and diverse relationships. Participating in various activities helps develop confidence and self-motivation, enhancing students’ abilities to work as a team, problem-solve, and think critically and creatively. Developing  in young children provides a strong foundation for a future of health and well-being.

Students in Early Years have plentiful opportunities to explore their passions from a young age and try new activities, from optional after school activities to afternoon activities during the school day.

Friday Afternoon Activities

Afternoon activities are a mandatory part of the school day for Grades 1 -5 at WISS.   

The activities are teacher-driven and based on our teachers sharing their hobbies, passions, and expertise with our students. Various activities are offered and led by our teachers ranging from yoga to rock-climbing to junior iron chef.  

These activities are built into the school day to allow students to try new activities and encourage them to embrace the IB learner attribute of being a risk-taker in trying something new. Primary students participate in afternoon activities on Friday afternoons.  

The activities run on a 6-week block schedule giving students the chance to sample various activities throughout the year. We offer a variety of activities that provide an opportunity to experience activities beyond the classroom. These include:  

  • Chess Club
  • Coding for beginners
  • Junior Iron Chef
  • Lego Engineers
  • Mini Clay Making Fun
  • Ping Pong Table Tennis
  • Rock Climbing
  • Roller skating
  • Scrapbooking
  • Zumba Dance

**The activities listed are just a sampling of our after school activities at the Western International School of Shanghai. The after school activities offered may change throughout the year.

After School Activities

After school activities are intended to extend the students’ opportunities to develop their passions and skills further. These activities are student-driven and represent a cross-section of local and school-based providers. You can find a list of the Primary after school activities below:

  • Capital Sportz Basketball
  • Capital Sportz Cheer Squad
  • Computer Scratch Coding
  • CSU 360˚ Swimming
  • CSU Hip hop
  • Jump 360
  • Kickboxing
  • Kung Fu
  • Little Medical School
  • Stoke Primary Potters Soccer
  • Tiger Robotics Junior

Explore China Residential Trips

At WISS, students experience various opportunities to explore China, the dynamic and historical country that we call home. Students have the opportunity to develop individual and interpersonal skills in Grade 4 during an overnight excursion and in Grade 5 during a four-day planned program. Students develop a broad range of skills as they take on cultural, environmental, creative, team-building, leadership, and physical challenges.  

You can read more about Explore China and the trips that WISS students can take here.

Facilities

Located just as you enter the spacious and green campus, WISS Primary building is the hub of activity for the entire school. Indeed, the Primary building houses the school canteen and cafe, which caters delicious and nutritious meals to hungry PYP, MYP, DP, and CP students. Additionally, the Primary building accommodates a beautifully equipped gym hall and 25-meter salt-water swimming pool.  

Walking into the building, you cannot help but be amazed by beautiful art pieces that adorn every inch of wall space through the entire first floor.
Learning spaces are a key component to effective and enjoyable teaching and learning. The WISS Primary building has warm and bright classroom spaces with various seating arrangements to suit students with different learning needs. Soft furnishings and rugs allow teachers to create new areas to guide their students’ learning.
As well as the superbly stocked main library, the Primary building also has an extensive library collection of leveled informative text, picture, and chapter books for students at all literacy and developmental levels of learning.
Science and nature enthusiasts will be in their element in the Jungle Room. This unique learning area is utilized for exciting scientific experimentation, such as Tiger Science Club. Opposite this is the Da Vinci Room, a wonderful bright and open space with ultra-modern furniture designed to be reconfigured for any purpose. The building also houses two large and well-resourced art rooms on the top floor.

Adjacent to the building, students have access to a large grassy playing area, basketball hoops, sandpits, painted collaborative floor games, and a large adventure playground. There is truly something for everyone to get involved in during recess and lunchtimes. Students who wish to have a quieter recess time can hide in the little nook, the brainchild of student creativeness and agency from the student Actions Cubs Group. In here, students can chat, play board games, or have quiet reading time.

The teachers are not left out either! When they have a moment, they can retire to the teachers’ Zen Den, a calm and tranquil space with beanbags, sofas, and facilities to relax and catch a breath.