‘If you could build a school for the students, what would that school look like?’ – This was the question that the headteacher of Copperfield International School, Dr Hugh McCormick, started with.
During his years as a teacher in the UK, he constantly wondered what the ideal school might look like, and whether he might be able to build it himself. Hugh studied at the University of Oxford and worked at Harrow and Sevenoaks before founding Copperfield International School Verbier.
The school opened its doors during the height of the pandemic in January 2021 with a vision and mission; to create an educational experience that was informed by a modern philosophy and the latest educational research, and that was very much for the students, as the most important stakeholder.
“Being situated in a thrilling natural landscape makes the possibilities outside the classroom very unique.”
We strive to educate students who are globally minded, compassionate, confident and kind. Copperfield students will be academically rounded, skilled and able to both lead and follow. Above all, it is our aim that Copperfield students will be designers of their own lives and of a better world for others.
Our location is a huge asset. Set at the foot of the Swiss Alps in Verbier, the school is the world’s only ski-in, ski-out international school. Being situated in a town which is at the same time extremely safe and set in a thrilling natural landscape makes the possibilities outside the classroom very unique.
For example, we have recently incorporated “mountain days” into our curriculum. These involve each year group spending time doing hands-on learning in nature one day a week, up on the mountain. This is indicative of our modern approach to learning as not something done when students sit down, shut up, and listen, but rather as a process of discovery, often occurring collaboratively.
“We have our own little café, run by one of the parents, where students, teachers and parents can grab a snack at any time.”
We are based in a small complex called Le Hameau, just outside of the centre of town, so there is no main road for the children to be wary of. Many of our students make their own way to school by using the free bus service that runs in the town all year round.
Within the school itself, all classrooms have whiteboard walls, which are often used by the students for collaborative learning projects, as well as smart TVs, which presentations can be beamed onto. Our expanding library is equipped with a wide selection of books, appropriate for all ages and abilities.
Our sporting facilities make good use of our mountainous surroundings (in summer we offer sports ranging from horse riding to downhill mountain biking). We have tennis courts, and our playground features a multipurpose sport area, with basketball hoops, where students are able to play football, basketball and a number of other sports. We also have a weights room, which students on our intensive ski programme use. We also have our own little café, run by one of the parents, where students, teachers and parents can grab a snack at any time of the day.
“We are a young institution and have achieved a lot in a short period of time.”
Despite only having existed for a relatively short period of time, Copperfield International School managed to attain a number of accreditations. These are a result of the persistent effort of our community to create a world-class institution. Earlier this year, we became a centre able to offer qualifications with Cambridge Assessment International Education, enabling us to offer IGCSEs and A levels.
We are an International Baccalaureate candidate school for the Diploma Programme and the Primary Years Programme, and expect to receive these accreditations in the coming academic year. On top of this, we are able to offer ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal School of Music) music examinations, and are the only centre within quite some distance able to do this. Finally, we take great pride in being the only international school to have been asked to be featured in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee commemorative book, which will showcase our institution.
We are a young institution and have achieved a lot in a short period of time, but there is much more to do. This coming academic year, we will be accepting up to four students from around the world on fully funded scholarships as part of our “Global Scholars” scheme. We are very excited to become an IB World School after the accreditation process is finished. We also plan on becoming a Pearson Edexcel centre, to increase the diversity of qualifications on offer.
“We have embraced the trend for digitisation from the outset.”
Covid has accelerated many pre-existing trends in education, particularly the digitisation of learning through use of online resources to distribute and share school work. We have embraced this trend from the outset, and use the Google Classroom platform, particularly with students in our secondary school.
As well as this, we use ManageBac, the leading online platform for IB World schools. In an increasingly interconnected and globalised world, we aim to bear in mind our school mission to develop young people who do not think of their subjects in isolation, but rather as constituent parts of an interconnected whole.
By doing so we prepare our students to be lifelong learners ready for a future full of challenges, many of which do not yet exist. This is reflected in our choice of international curriculums, and the regular collaboration between subject teachers to produce unique and inspiring lessons with interconnected and relevant themes.