The International School of Amsterdam: A Pioneer in Developing Minds, Character and Community

The History of ISA

In the early 1960s, Amsterdam was a very different place from what it is now. Back then, only 2% of the city’s residents were non-Dutch nationals. The global economy was booming, but the lack of English-language education options in Amsterdam was a major problem for the city in catering for international families and businesses that might have considered relocating. 

In 1964, the International School of Amsterdam was founded in a collaboration between the city of Amsterdam and local business leaders as a catalyst for the internationalisation of the city. 

ISA and the International Baccalaureate

In August 2019, ISA celebrated 40 years of being an IB school – a milestone we should treasure. ISA adopted the newly created Middle Years Programme (MYP) in the early nineties, and then played a leading role in the development of the Primary Years Programme (PYP) soon after. In 1997, ISA became the first school in the world to offer the PYP, and so the first school to offer an IB education from Pre-School through to the end of Grade 12.

ISA Today

Today, ISA has close to 1,300 enrolled students, representing over 60 different nationalities who are dedicated to the mission ‘To Educate for International Understanding’. As an independent, non-profit foundation, all efforts are focused on creating a vibrant, global community of lifelong learners. ISA is accredited by the Council of International Schools and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. International understanding was the reason for its foundation, and it is the reason why the community still comes together every day. ISA’s educational philosophy is centred around “Developing Minds, Character and Communities”. 

What Makes ISA Unique

ISA has been a pioneer in international education for decades. Teachers, parents, students and staff don’t just enter a building where teaching and learning happen day-to-day, but join a tradition of international understanding and IB education that has flourished over generations.

Academic Excellence

Although a narrow focus on academia alone is not ISA’s driving vision, they are extremely proud of the excellent results achieved and the huge effort given by Grade 11 and 12 students in their IB Diploma courses each year. 

A Culture of Thinking

For almost 20 years, ISA has collaborated closely with the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero and its Visible Thinking Network. Through this innovative, research-based approach to learning and teaching ISA seeks to develop not just students’ skills, but their thinking routines and dispositions. 

The Centre for Development, Learning and Technology was designed to provide educators with opportunities for professional development and collaboration across schools. Located within the International School of Amsterdam (ISA), the centre arose from ISA’s longstanding commitment to professional development and reputation as a leading international school in Europe. 

International Community

International understanding stems from much more than what happens in classrooms alone; it also means learning, growing and experiencing life together as a diverse and vibrant community. When you join ISA, you become a member of a special group that numbers thousands: from students to teachers, from staff to board members, and from parents to alumni. 


As the first accredited Eco-School first school in the Netherlands, sustainability is at the core of the ISA community. Through projects organised by the ISA Green Team, students, parents and staff come together to contribute locally and globally to the betterment of the planet.

State-of-the-art Facilities

One campus, purposefully built to facilitate learning. Located in the city of Amstelveen, ISA’s green and spacious campus includes many state-of-the-art facilities:

  • Early Childhood-devoted Facilities
  • 144m2 Theatre
  • 3 Gymnasia
  • 3 Libraries
  • Playgrounds and Outdoor Learning Spaces
  • Art and Design Studios
  • Subject Area Collaborative Learning Spaces
  • Professional Development Centre

Extra-curricular Opportunities

ISA offers a rich programme of extracurricular activities and school clubs to add diversity to the learning experience and an important social element to the lives of the students from Pre- School to Grade 12. The activities and clubs encompass interests as varied as Model UN, weekend forest schools, language academies, Bollywood dancing classes, swimming lessons, drama groups and much more.


ISA is a member of the Northwest European Council of International Schools (NECIS). The organisation is made up of 11 international schools situated across 7 countries, and it works to provide a structure for its member schools to participate in competitive, international sports tournaments throughout each academic year.