Middle School Program

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Equip – 1st Curriculum

The core purpose of Island Pacific School is to equip and inspire students to cultivate their humanity. To “cultivate our humanity” is to strive always to express the very best of what it is to be a human that is, our intelligence, creativity, physicality, moral sensibility, courage, curiosity, compassion and integrity. We have developed dynamic learning strategies and an exceptional middle school curriculum to achieve our purpose.

To “equip” students to cultivate their humanity is to help them acquire the knowledge, skills and dispositions they need to be an active participant in the human story. We call this element of our program the first curriculum because it lays the foundation for ever-increasing understanding and ability as individuals make their way in the world. This first curriculum encompasses all the elements of our core instructional programs: the teaching approach, the curriculum, the instructional schedule, our assessment system, and our approach to learning strategies.

Inspire – 2nd Curriculum

This second curriculum for our middle school education program encompasses all those threads which, drawn together, give our middle school students the experiences they need to help them become confident and caring members of society as a whole. Our middle school education program is about more than pure academic excellence (1st curriculum): it’s a balance between academics and cultivating our humanity.

To “cultivate our humanity” is to strive always to express the very best of what it is to be a human, that is, our intelligence, creativity, physicality, moral sensibility, courage, curiosity, compassion and integrity. To inspire students to cultivate their humanity is to show them how they can take responsibility for their own actions and progressively increase their own self-agency in a manner that reflects well on who they are as persons.

We call this element of our program the second curriculum because we want to highlight the importance of helping our adolescent students to become persons of character. The second curriculum includes middle school activities such as outdoor expeditions, extra-curricular activities and challenges, service contributions, and includes our unique approach to school culture and student discipline.

Our Middle School Programs

The middle school programs at Island Pacific School are designed to prepare our students to be successful in their continuing education – from grades 10 through 12 and beyond. The IPS teaching environment is both intimate and engaging. It is structured around an environment of shared trust and mutual respect. 

Throughout the day, and throughout the year, students participate in a wide range of academic, artistic, and recreational pursuits designed to foster critical inquiry, community engagement and leadership.

Guided by a highly qualified teaching staff, the middle school programs at IPS are designed to equip and inspire. They provide a foundation for Grade 6-9 students who may wish to pursue International Baccalaureate (IB) or Advanced Placement (AP) programmes in high school. Every IPS graduate is prepared to successfully complete Grades 10 through 12 in the B.C. Ministry Graduation Program.

At Island Pacific School, our middle school programs are developed to provide opportunities to experience new adventures. We are committed to delivering an exceptional middle school education – one that engages and inspires students for life.

The Grade 9 Masterworks Program

The Masterworks Program is a graduation requirement for our grade 9 students. They must:

  • Produce work that surpasses their previous accomplishments
  • Conduct in-depth research
  • Communicate their understanding to academic advisors and the general public in an oral presentation that also serves as a defence of their scholarly and creative pursuits
  • Critically reflect on input they receive throughout the school year by experts and mentors who serve as external committee members.

Read more about Masterworks

IPS Curriculum (Academics)

We help initiate students into the great conversations of human inquiry, so that they might eventually find their own voice. Island Pacific School is dedicated to exceeding the needs of adolescence and fostering personal excellence.

Our curriculum is dedicated to exceeding the needs of middle school students and setting them up for personal excellence.  It is built around the IPS tenets of Equip (1st Curriculum) and Inspire (2nd Curriculum) and the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (IB MYP). In addition: 

  • The distinctly different IPS curriculum is a 4-year program
  • We are middle school experts (grades 6, 7, 8 & 9 )
  • The program is intentionally designed to ensure progression of responsibility and student agency.

The central goal of the instructional curriculum at IPS is to help initiate students into the great conversations of human inquiry, so that they might eventually find their own voice.  This initiation necessarily includes active investigation of the knowledge, skills and dispositions that have (enabled) brought about some of our greatest human achievements: language, arts, music, literature, athletics, philosophy, science, mathematics design and technology.

IPS uses the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP) as the instructional framework to deliver the New BC Curriculum.

Wisdom. Courage. Integrity.

Island Pacific School’s Core Values

Wisdom: People with wisdom commit to learning how to have intelligent conversations and to use that skill for finding the truth, if it can be found. If it cannot, they seek for a better understanding of the problems at hand.

Courage: people with courage accept new challenges willingly and with a spirit of anticipated success. They enthusiastically encourage others to do the same. They defend their convictions vigorously with good argument, but are equally ready to change their mind when given a better argument.

Integrity: People of integrity hold themselves accountable for both what they do and what they fail to do. They treat themselves and others with respect.

The Island Pacific School core values are at the heart of our teaching approach, learning strategies, and curriculum development. We integrate these values into everything we do, and we encourage our students to do the same.

Teaching & Learning

Our middle school teachers work together to create the capacity for students to ask intelligent questions. Teachers at Island Pacific School have the latitude to determine the best learning strategies to do this for their own subjects and for each student. They work as a team and they know every student in the building. Every week the teachers meet at a round table to stay up to date on what they are teaching, how they are teaching it and how students are responding. 

Students learn by approaching ideas and content through critical thinking and inquiry. As they are exposed to new forms of knowledge, they progress from a baseline understanding, to application and then extension.

Here is an example of baseline, application and extension from our Grade 6 Math Curriculum:

Baseline: Students learn about repeating patterns and then translate them into algebra.

Application: The teacher creates an imaginary trip to Turkey to learn about repeating patterns in Islamic art. They analyse the use of patterns in  art and culture (embedding a cross-curricular connection.) Students go to work for the imaginary Sultan to build him a fountain, and must determine the number of tiles that they will use to repeat their pattern a number of times in their creation.

Extension: They learn to repeat the pattern a greater number of times whilst calculating the cost of the fountain based on the number of tiles.


We think it important that students get out and see the world around them. So, once a month we take students on excursions, or field trips. These experiential learning outings are meant to give students academic, cultural and fun experiences they could not get within the confines of a regular classroom setting.

Island Pacific School students have watched Brutus stab Caesar at Bard on the Beach, seen raw sewage flow into the Annacis Island Treatment Plant, picked through bins of dried squid in Chinatown, sat in on a service at a Sikh Temple, climbed a rock wall, scored goals on an hockey rink, listened to the organist play in a cathedral, counted birds at Reifel Island, launched rockets at the H. R. Macmillan Observatory, ordered poutine in French at a local chip joint, and studied abstract paintings at the Vancouver Art Gallery, to name but a few experiential learning excursions.

At Island Pacific School it is our job as educators to equip and inspire students to cultivate their humanity.

-Ted Spear, Founder