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Primary Years (Grades 1-5)

Our Primary School implements the internationally recognized IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) for students in Grades 1 to 5. The PYP offers a comprehensive curriculum framework that promotes inquiry-based and transdisciplinary learning, fostering conceptual understanding. It has gained recognition as a leading educational approach worldwide, addressing the challenges and opportunities faced by young learners in our rapidly evolving world.

At SSIS, Grade 1 to 5 homeroom classes are located in the CS building and are organized by grade level. Our dedicated teachers create regular opportunities for students to take ownership of their learning. They employ differentiated instruction and provide diverse learning experiences to cater to the unique needs of students who possess varying levels of language proficiency, conceptual understanding, skills, and knowledge. We firmly believe that an outstanding school should enable each student to grow and thrive both academically and personally.

Our teams of teachers engage in collaborative planning that values both formal and informal assessments. By placing every student at the center of our planning process, we ensure that our educational strategies are purposeful and responsive to their individual needs. We are committed to providing an excellent learning environment where every student can flourish as a learner and as an individual.

© International Baccalaureate Organization 2018

Subjects of Learning

Subject Area Subject Offered
Language English, Chinese
Social Studies Unit of Inquiry
Mathematics Math
Arts Music, Visual Arts, Drama & Dance
Science Unit of Inquiry

Physical Social & Personal Education

PE (Including Required Swimming Class)


unit of inquiry

There are six units of inquiry at each grade level, under the following transdisciplinary themes:

  • Who we are.
  • Where we are in place and time.
  • How we express ourselves.
  • How the world works.
  • How we organize ourselves.
  • Sharing the planet.


Inquiry based learning

Teaching methods build on students individual knowledge and interests. Inquiry, is the leading but not exclusive pedagogical approach of the PYP. It is recognised as being intimately connected with the development of children’s comprehension of the world. Inquiry is the process initiated by the learners or the teacher which moves the learners from their current level of understanding to a new and deeper level of understanding.


The school's homework philosophy recognizes that there is a need for balance between formal academic homework and opportunities to engage in enrichment activities such as sports, music, social opportunities and imaginative play. An appropriate level of homework is assigned at each grade level to support learning and encourage the development of effective time-management skills. It is an opportunity for children to share what they are learning with parents, and should be enjoyable for all involved.

Possible homework subjects – Unit of Inquiry, English including reading and spelling, Mathematics, Additional Language, Single Subjects.

Excursions & Field Trips

Children at all grade levels participate in field trips and excursions to support learning during the academic year. Most field trips take place in or around Suzhou; however other possible destinations include Shanghai, Taihu and Changzhou. These trips are linked closely to our programme of inquiry.

Children in Grade 3 are invited to spend a night at the Elementary School, where they take part in games, challenges, events and a sleepover. Children in Grades 4 and 5 have the chance to participate in camps. These camps last for three days and include many exciting activities that promote teamwork and leadership skills.

Special events

Classes take turns leading Elementary School assemblies during the year, to which parents are invited. Many additional special events are also celebrated in classes and at a whole school level. These include the Grade 5 Exhibition, Elementary Literacy Day, Primary Production, Early Years Arts Extravaganza, Book Week, Dragon Day, Elementary pool parties, concerts, choirs and other musical performances, plays, art exhibitions, as well as a grand Christmas and Chinese New Year celebration.