Interview with headmaster and school founder Boris Prickarts
Why was AICS founded?
A growing number of international students at the Berlage Lyceum in Amsterdam were following the bilingual education programme even though they only spoke English. They really needed a more international learning programme in English. The school’s principal, Sylvia Visser, recognised this need and came into contact with the principal of the International School of the Hague, Jaap Mos. He explained the history of Dutch International Schools and the Berlage applied for a licence to set up such a school. The licence was granted in 2002 and I was recruited as the new head. It was a risky adventure. I drew up an educational business plan, phoned parents at the Berlage who might be interested and we opened our doors in September 2003. We had just 16 students aged between 11 and 16!
Can you tell me something about the early years?
We grew and we moved. In 2004 we merged with the Europa School and acquired their licence for a Dutch international primary school. That was the key to our growth as, of course, primary pupils feed into secondary school. The primary school occupied two different locations before we moved to our current location near Amsterdam South train station in 2007. In 2006 Sylvia Visser left and Kees van Ruitenbeek joined as the new AICS principal. We now have about 800 children aged 4 to 19 years. Most of this growth has been organic – the parents like what they see and tell others. We offer the international primary curriculum (IPC), a middle years programme and the International Baccalaureate programme (IB MYP and IB DP).
How have you grown without compromising educational quality?
Our growth has been very carefully planned with just a few classes being added each year. We are accredited by the CIS (Council of International Schools) and evaluated by the Dutch Education Inspectorate. We use the feedback from these accreditation and inspection procedures to improve our quality and consolidate our growth. However, most of all we are very careful about the selection and recruitment of our staff.