While many schools expect students to adapt, Lycée Condorcet de Sydney (LCS) embraces a different philosophy. With every new student it welcomes, it’s the school that flexes to their needs. LCS considers their unique perspectives a strength. The more, the better in evolving LCS to be as diverse and inclusive as it can be.
“It truly is a community within itself,” says teacher Marcel Hennes. “We focus on individual growth and strengthening our global nature because we have kids here representing many different backgrounds and cultures. By just walking along our corridor, you’ll see a cross-section of the world.”
It’s unlike anything Hennes has ever witnessed, despite having spent decades teaching across various single-gender, co-educational, private, public, and international schools around the world. As Head of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme at LCS, his role revolves around keeping classrooms personable and individualised — including his own.
Hennes teaches History and works tirelessly to ensure his students can explore topics closest to their hearts. “For example, they have to undergo individual assessments in the IB, and many of them end up choosing topics related to their cultural background,” he says. “So, in any given year, I will receive a mix of assessments that vary from Europe, Asia, North America, and Africa.”
This is the level of passion LCS aims to nurture through its emphasis on flexibility, which permeates every aspect of the IB Diploma Programme. While the two-year end-of-secondary school pathway is available at schools in 150 different countries, the LCS version offers something special. Here, there’s less emphasis on what students should know, and more focus on what they want to know or what they could see themselves specialising in soon as university students and, one day, as professionals.
“One misconception about the IB is that it’s a ‘one shoe fits all’ program,” says Hennes. “We tell students to bring their strength to us and let it influence how they go about pursuing the course.”
At LCS, students can choose from a range of IB Subject Groups, namely Studies in Language and Literature: English; Language Acquisition: French; Individuals and Societies: Economics, History or Psychology; Sciences: Biology, Chemistry or Physics; Mathematics: AI or AA; and The Arts: Visual Arts.
All lessons are as relevant as can be, conducted by faculty members well-versed in current global affairs. Hennes and his team believe the school’s diverse cohort must understand the world around them to truly identify their place within it. In History classes, for instance, teachers encourage students to explore the many perspectives in a political conflict and develop independent investigative skills rather than solely relying on any news site that pops up in their social media feeds.
“Basically, here, the curriculum is the starting point, not the endpoint,” explains Hennes. “We prepare our students for exams based on what is printed in textbooks, but we also equip them with context, which comes with knowledge of the world.”
It’s an approach that works — evident in the fact that LCS boasts a 100% success rate at the French Baccalaureate (BAC) and IB, with 100% of students achieving distinctions. Many go on to the university of their dreams, beaming with confidence. This is typical of IB students. Research has found that IB Diploma Programme students were more likely to achieve many positive higher education outcomes compared to matched A Level students, including being three times more likely to join a top 20 university.
LCS is located in Maroubra, New South Wales, Australia — a melting pot of many people and places that mirrors the school’s diverse student body. Think of Australian beach culture mingling seamlessly with a vibrant arts scene, high-ranked universities and an eclectic dining landscape — here, there quite literally is something for everyone.
The city is just as safe as it is vibrant. With numerous primary and middle schools in the vicinity, safety and security are paramount, even during the late hours. Community spirit is cherished and celebrated, which explains the abundance of park, beach and metropolis gatherings always bringing residents together and spurring LCS students to explore.
“On campus, you’ll see kids stepping into class fresh off a surfboard or you might come across some on their second or third coffee because they were immersed in a theatre production the night before,” says Hennes.
“They walk into the same classroom, and they’re perfectly equal. This is what the IB experience is all about — ‘you be you’. This geographical area allows for that because it’s where socioeconomic divides dissolve, and global influences converge.”