FIS House System/CAS
The House System seeks to enhance students’ sense of belonging at FIS, the local community and the world. We strive to provide students with opportunities to enjoy creative expression, physical activity, and social engagement, reinforcing FIS’ mission and beliefs.
In our Upper School, Grade 6-10 students start building a foundation for the IB Program's Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) requirements by participating in a rich variety of events and activities through a shared House System.
Each of the eight houses – named after the school's founding board members’ families – are made up of students in Grades 6-12. Teachers oversee each of the groups as House Leaders.
The three strands, Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS), form the basis of House activities with an added element of "International Mindedness". Students in Grades 6-9 choose the activities they participate in, with House leaders monitoring student participation and encouraging balance.
In Grade 10, students begin preparing for the rigors of the IB’s CAS requirements by planning, recording and reflecting on their participation in House and other activities.
By the time students reach Grade 11 and 12, their experiences within the House System will have prepared them for the transition to the more traditional CAS learning opportunities, projects and activities required by the IB Diploma Program.
For more information on the House System, please see the FAQs here.
During the 2014-2015 school year a group of teachers met to review the school's delivery of the CAS (Creativity/Action/Service) Program in Grades 6-10. They concluded that the current provision no longer fully represented the goals of CAS as outlined by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). After much discussion and consultation with different interest groups, it became clear that a House System would best enable students to encounter and engage in the CAS learning outcomes in a more authentic way.
Since many teachers at FIS have experience either working in or being part of a House System, there was a high degree of enthusiasm for the idea. As planning progressed, additional benefits of a House System became apparent, including mentoring and leadership opportunities for students, and the chance for students to know and interact with others in different grade levels, thus creating smaller ‘family’ groups within a larger school.
Students are divided into eight Houses in consultation with grade-level Year Heads and the Counselors. Groupings strike a balance of gender, ethnicity, and talents within each House. Siblings belong to the same House.
FIS intentionally avoided discussing friendship groups, since there are already many opportunities for friends to play and work together. Instead, House activities offer new avenues for expanding friendship groups, rather than reinforcing them. Of course there will be cases where friends end up together, but this was not by design. Students will therefore not be given the opportunity to request to be in a particular House.
The Houses were named after the founding board members’ families, as well as the families of the first school custodians and the first Head of School. These historical FIS families were chosen as they represent the foundation that the school was built upon and will never change.
FIS decided that eight Houses would be an appropriate figure to divide all of our students remaining a manageable number to avoid logistical challenge.
House Leaders are teachers who have come forward because of their enthusiasm for the new program. Their role is to plan one major activity per year that all Houses will take part in, to develop the leadership capacity of their House members, ensure that the ethos of the House System is being upheld, and see that meetings and events run smoothly.
House names and their leaders are:
- House Hinkley: Dave Donlon
- House Neilson: Anne Flaherty
- House Matthews: Debbie Corsico
- House Lanigan: Nicola Shine
- House Carter: Scott Bain
- House La Clair: Cody Xavier
- House Ortel: Josh Keys
- House Harrison: Andrew Chaplin
The three strands, Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS), will form the basis of House activities. "International Mindedness" will be incorporated into events as well.
Students in Grades 6-9 will choose the activities they participate in, with House leaders monitoring student participation and encouraging balance. By Grade 10, students will begin preparing for the rigors of the IB’s CAS requirements by planing, recording and reflecting on their participation in House and other activities.
Student participation in House activities will not be graded, but a record will kept of individual student participation. We anticipate that in making activities fun and inclusive, participation will occur organically.
Active student participation will help overall Houses win the "House Cup," which is an honor awarded to one House at the end of an academic year.
As the House System evolves, we hope to add family events and encourage parents to support their family’s House in events. Each House will have a media team, gathering photos and videos of their House in action. These teams will provide material for the flat screen TV in the Upper School entrance, and FIS’ regular communication channels such as the FIS World Magazine, Principal Newsletters and other mediums.
Pastoral care based on the “House System” is widespread throughout the world and can be found in state schools, international schools and private schools in almost every country where quality education exists.
In addition to British schools, many international schools use House Systems because of the additional layer of pastoral care they can provide, as well as the range of school spirit, character and leadership opportunities they can provide for students.
Currently, there is only one full-day House event planned for the year, which will result in classes being suspended for the day. The majority of House events will take place at lunch or in extra curricular time. All dates and events will be shared as soon as they are finalized.
It is important to acknowledge that we value experiential learning and will endeavor to ensure that activities are worthwhile for all involved and reinforce the many of the Transdisciplinary Skills that we seek to develop in our students.
Students will meet monthly in their Houses during extended homeroom times. There will be opportunities for students to take broad leadership roles, or more specific ones. As House events draw near, students and their leaders will prepare their House to do as well as they can in the event. As new students and teachers arrive we will match them with the needs of the Houses as they emerge.
We spent much time last year discussing the concept of a House System and planning the details. This year is the first year of implementation and, as the year progresses and we review events, there will undoubtedly be modification and amendments to the program. A House Advisory Group will be formed to monitor and support the House System and ensure that it is meeting its intended goals.