Curriculum Information

At GSIS ESD we aim to maximise the potential of each individual student as they progress through the school.

Students joining the school become part of a vibrant multi-cultural environment that encompasses all school sections from age eleven through to students graduating to leading universities around the world.

GSIS ESD offers comprehensive, broad and balanced curricula that cater to the individual needs of our students as they move from Year 7 to Year 9, to IGCSE/GCSE and finally into the IB Diploma Programme. We encourage all of our students to strive for the highest possible academic standards and to be active participants in our school community and beyond.

Our close attention to detail ensures curriculum entitlement, continuity, progression and accountability across the age ranges.

The Curriculum Information pages of the GSIS web site aim to share essential curriculum and assessment information from the individual subjects, to celebrate the achievements of our students and to provide an insight into the rigorous and rewarding world of GSIS ESD.

ArtBiologyChemistryDramaEconomicsEnglishFrenchGeographyGermanHistoryMandarinMathematicsMusicPhysical EducationPhysics

(art) can connect people more deeply to the world and open them to new ways of seeing.

The Visual Arts curriculum at GSIS seeks to develop the technical, the design process and the philosophical understanding of Art. In Years 7-9 students will develop skills in a range of art techniques and processes such as drawing, painting, printmaking, graphics, sculpture and media. At the same time we also develop in students a historical and cultural perspective of art and it’s concept.

This foundation at Year 7-9, prepares students for the higher level of GCSE and IB which students have the option to take. Our approach to the education of art and the very nature of art itself fits in perfectly with the IB Learning Profile as it encourages students to be inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, open-minded, rick-takers, balanced, reflective, caring and principled.

Research of the importance of Art in the curriculum has proven that the study of art enhances academic achievement as it introduces and encourages critical and creative thinking, social skills, problem finding and solving, independent and collaborated working and enhances cultural appreciation and awareness.

Biology is the study of living organisms and as such, it’s one of the broadest subject areas. It ranges from the sub-cellular to whole organisms and environments.

Biological knowledge is increasing at an unprecedented rate. New techniques such as genetic modification and genome sequencing give us extraordinary new tools for understanding how life works and for using that understanding – but with our new abilities also come new responsibilities.

Biology is more important than ever in today’s world!

GSIS has an impressive history of producing graduates who continue onto pure or applied science study at prestigious institutions such as Oxbridge and the London Universities in the UK, Ivy League and Stanford in the US, and HKU/CUHK in HK. Medicine, engineering and pure science are all very popular tertiary study and career choices amongst our graduates.

With such a target audience in mind, Chemistry at GSIS is focused on providing the underpinning rigour of understanding and practice of manual skills required for successful continuation in this tertiary environment.

The ethos of the ESD Drama Department is to give GSIS students as wide and varied an experience and understanding of drama, theatre and performance as possible. We aim to provide an environment, which encourages the students in their own journey of creative discovery and self-expression, and to enable them to experience, understand and develop the skills necessary to create drama.

It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.”
Murray N. Rothbard

The study of economics enables students to understand how the material resources of an individual, community, country or the world are managed. The courses studied at GSIS enables students to develop an appreciation of economic concepts and theories through a critical consideration of current economic issues that affect everyday life.

The study of economics is essentially about dealing with scarcity, resource allocation and the methods and processes by which choices are made in order to satisfy unlimited human wants.

English is a core subject and the language of communication and instruction in the English Departments of our school. Because English is the language of instruction, we recognize that we have an obligation to promote speaking, reading and writing skills that will enable students to access and convey information successfully in other subjects. Thus, we must teach students the skills that they will need in order to communicate with others and to make sense of their world so that they are able to operate independently.

At the same time, we hope to develop in our students a genuine interest in reading as a reader is a lifetime learner. We also hope to engender an appreciation of works of literature because they convey moral truths in the most entertaining way, and thereby enrich our lives.

It has always been a marvel to me – that French language; it has always been a puzzle to me. How beautiful that language is! How expressive it seems to be! How full of grace it is!
Mark Twain

In Years 7 to 9, students are introduced to the French language and its use in practical situations within the scope of their experience: giving personal details such as name, age, nationality, greetings, and so on. They also learn to ask and answer questions and learn about verbs and their endings (past, present tense and so forth).

The GCSE course begins in Year 9, with examinations usually taken at the end of Year 10. Year 11 focusses on skills development and bridging the gap to IB Diploma French.

Geography is a subject enjoyed by all students who are interested in the world that we live in. It develops a full range of skills that are useful in other subjects, encouraging a discussion of current affairs and issues, focuses on the environment, and encourages study through enquiry and investigation.

Geography is studied by all students as part of the curriculum through Years 7-9. Aspects of both Human and Physical Geography are studied, with mapwork being one of the skills learnt. Students can choose to continue on with Geography at GCSE and at IB Diploma level.

German as a Foreign Language in the ESD

Given the importance of German at GSIS and the relatively high exposure to the language our students have in comparison to students in the UK or at other international schools operating the British National Curriculum, it is natural that our aims and expectations for performance in the language should go beyond those of the National Curriculum.

The emphasis is on the balanced exercising of listening, speaking, reading and writing, which are the four important necessary skills, to learn and master a foreign language. The intercultural contrasts between other countries and Germany are always an interesting recurring theme during the lessons.

Some of our students join the ESD having begun learning German at various stages of GSIS primary school, others join during Year 7 to Year 10, having no prior exposure to the language. It is also a fact of life that some students pick up a language more quickly than others. It is our aim to bring students on as quickly as possible in their learning whilst helping them to achieve according to their ability and experience in the language. A flexible, modern teaching approach takes into consideration the student’s particular linguistic background, needs and motivations.

To this end there are various possible pathways through a student’s career in the ESD. More on this later.


Year 7 – Year 9
Year 10 – Year 13


There are various examinations offered in German at GSIS, both from the UK and Germany and the curriculum taught to a given group largely mirrors the expectations of these examinations.

As a brief overview:

Exam Pathways / Progression
Year Groups Y13 IB Diploma

Sprachdiplom II (B2/C1)

IB Diploma

Sprachdiplom II (B2/C1)

Y12 Sprachdiplom I (A2/ B1)
Y11 IGCSE AS Level

Sprachdiplom I (A2/ B1)

Language Groups Beginners Lower Intermediate Upper
IB Diploma
AS Level

That people do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.
Aldous Huxley

There are lots of good stories in History but the subject is not about learning the ‘received version’ of our past. There are facts, but which do we select as significant? There are events, but how do we interpret them?

The way we think of our history strongly influences how we view our own world. It is an important subject – sometimes subversive, often enlightening, endlessly fascinating, always challenging. History at GSIS will help students develop international perspectives, a greater appreciation of world problems and a greater understanding of other viewpoints.

The subject is truly international and is an ideal subject for study at an international school. Students learn of the problems faced by their own and other countries. There is great emphasis on discussion of different views. History also develops a good understanding of the events, personalities and factors that have created the modern world. It provides a critical grounding in modern politics, both national and international.

An Introduction
Chinese at GSIS focuses upon the development of reading, writing, speaking and listening, thus our curriculum is balanced to give students equal access to each important skill. At GSIS ISD, we aim to prepare our students to take GCSE, AS and AL Chinese examinations at the appropriate stages. (See chart below)

Student progression

Year Group Examination Path
Y13 AL AS*
Y11 AL/AS Int’l GCSE Int’l GCSE Int’l GCSE
Y10 AS Int’l GCSE Int’l GCSE Int’l GCSE
Y09 Int’l GCSE
Groups Advanced Upper Intermediate Lower


  • *Very few students chose to do AS at this stage.
  • For further information regarding the GSIS ESD Chinese Programme please contact Ita Lam at
  • Modern standard writing is required for all written task.
  • Since Mandarin is the teaching media, thus materials used will be printed in simplified Chinese characters only. However, if students come to GSIS with the knowledge of traditional characters, it will be allowed in written tasks and assessment.

Grouping: Students are separated into 4 main differentiated groups according to their attainment level. Movement will be made termly if a student progresses or digresses from his/her current group based on the student’s performance and the professional judgement of the teacher.

Years 7 to 9
Years 10 and 11: IGCSE
Years 12 and 13: IB Diploma

For further information, please contact Paul Jackson.

Through the music course students develop their knowledge and potential as musicians, both personally and collaboratively. Involving aspects of the composition, performance and critical analysis of music. The course exposes students to forms, styles and functions of music from a wide range of historical and socio-cultural contexts. Students create, participate in, and reflect upon music from their own background and those of others. They develop practical and communicative skills, which provide them with the opportunity to engage in music for further study, as well as for lifetime enjoyment.

Music Technology
Year 7
Year 8
Year 9
Years 10 and 11
Year 12 and 13
Music Ensembles

It is the intention of the Music Department to expose our students to as much music as possible. Therefore concert trips, workshops and visiting performances are regularly organised to broaden students’ musical horizons. GSIS are members of ISCMS (International Schools Choral Music Society), and every February take 30 gifted & talented choral and orchestral students to participate in the prestigious ISCMS Festival (Beijing 2014, Shanghai 2015, Singapore 2016).

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask Mr Gleeson, Director of Music.

Our goal is for all students to pursue and be involved in an active and healthy lifestyle during their lives.

This program has taken elements from both the German and British National Curriculum and acknowledges the restrictions and opportunities encountered by students in Hong Kong.

In GSIS, we offer Inter house competitions, Inter school competitions and the Hong Kong Award for Young People. In addition, we will offer opportunities for pupils to:

  • develop a cross stream, active and sporting culture.
  • acquire and develop skills, performing with increasing physical competence and confidence, in a range of physical activities and contexts;
  • learn how to select and apply skills, tactics and compositional ideas to suit activities that need different approaches and ways of thinking;
  • develop their ideas in a creative way;
  • set targets for themselves and compete against others, individually and as team members;
  • understand what it takes to persevere, succeed and acknowledge others' success;
  • respond to a variety of challenges in a range of physical contexts and environments;
  • take the initiative, lead activity and focus on improving aspects of their own performance;
  • discover their own aptitudes and preferences for different activities;
  • make informed decisions about the importance of exercise in their lives;
  • develop positive attitudes to participation in physical activity.

Content of PE for Key Stages 3 and 4
Please refer to the dedicated Physical Education pages of the website for further information.

Assessment is based on the attainment targets 1-8 set out in the National Curriculum. Parents and students will receive a description of the attainment targets for PE with their reports. However the GSD is also required to provide a grade as well as a level descriptor.

For additional information please contact Paula Wymond.

The Physics teachers at GSIS strive to develop and foster an appreciation of the basic processes that govern all aspects of physical interactions, and that are the true foundation of all of the sciences and engineering topics. At all levels, students are encouraged, and expected, to work safely and cooperatively with their peers, each playing an equal role in any tasks that are given. Students are also encouraged to develop their skills, both written and verbal, in communicating their understanding and progress in this subject.

In the Year 7 to 9 courses the broad conceptual areas are introduced, and students are expected to develop the ability to think critically and constructively. As well as sustaining a certain recall of physical fundamentals, emphasis is focused on developing the understanding of the basic concepts that are covered.

In Years 10 and 11 the Cambridge IGCSE Physics syllabus is followed, and students are further encouraged to conduct follow-up research outside of school hours.

In Years 12 and 13, the IB Diploma Physics Specifications are followed at both Higher and Standard Level. Much emphasis is placed on problem solving, in both numerical and practical applications, and a greater level of independent study is expected.

German Swiss International School 德瑞國際學校