Renaissance International School Saigon’s innovative approach to education is inspired by the well-rounded genius of Leonardo da Vinci. With an inquiry-based IB curriculum and a commitment to holistic student development, this school in Ho Chi Minh City is shaping the minds of tomorrow’s leaders.

“Leonardo da Vinci was a Renaissance student.” So goes a recent advertisement for the Renaissance International School Saigon, located in District 7. 

According to Mark Sayer, the school’s Head, the goal is to draw a throughline from da Vinci’s multifaceted intellect to the school’s approach to education. 

“He was so expansive in his genius and he saw the connections across subject areas. For example, his insights from a medical point of view were not scientifically proven until 400 years after his death,” Mr. Sayer said. “That caliber is a way for us to be able to link a man with a similar approach to IB learning and what we’re desiring for our students.” 

That means delivering an inquiry-based, constructivist education built around making thoughtful connections and backed by international verifications, which are unique among schools in Ho Chi Minh City. 

Renaissance, an International Baccalaureate (IB) school, offers comprehensive education for ages 2 to 17. The school has attained numerous prestigious authorizations including Diploma Programme (DP) in 2009, Primary Years Programme (PYP) in 2024, and is currently close to completing authorization for the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP). Mr. Sayer expects the school to become an IB continuum school, fully authorized across all three IB programs, by the end of the 2024-2025 academic year. 

This is all part of Renaissance’s four overarching strategic initiatives: exceptional experiences, outstanding education, first-class facilities, and unparalleled service. 

“These are not commercially minded, this is about the all-round experience for all stakeholders, whether you’re a student, a parent, teaching faculty, admin or support staff,” Mr. Sayer explained. “Combined, these dramatically change school culture for the better, which is a delight.” 

To that point, Renaissance is pursuing nearly 25 building projects this summer to make sure that the children have improvements in facilities, teaching quality, and educational offerings. 

“We will finish a complete refurbishment of the theater, sports hall, science laboratories, and many more, so there’s something for everyone,” Mr. Sayer shared. “Those are the big-ticket items.” 

In the classroom 

The IB authorizations mentioned above form the backbone of the entire educational experience at Renaissance International School.  

“These translate into the classroom in terms of the way that the curriculum is designed, and the way that the pedagogy is implemented. It will bring about changes in outcomes for students,” Mr. Sayer explained. “The outcome we want is for students to receive diplomas and then go on to chosen universities. To that end, we need to design the Diploma all the way back down through the school to get the curriculum aligned vertically and horizontally. This way, the children are as well-prepared as possible.” 

Specifically, this means introducing new courses such as Computing while also planning to redesign the school’s MakerSpace. 

“These are things that really play into the IB pedagogy of making connections in learning between one subject area and another,” Mr. Sayer said. “It’s both the in – terdisciplinary and transdisciplinary nature of education .” 

“It’s about seeing connections between maths, science and art, and even music. It’s such a rich world that we live in,” says Mark Sayer, the Renaissance International School’s Head of School. This means moving away from the traditional educational model of a 40-minute class in one subject—such as history—separated by a bell, when students move on to another subject area with no correlation between the two subjects. 

Beyond the classroom, Mr. Sayer points to Renaissance International School’s strength in emotional, social, and holistic support for students. 

“We believe in no child being left behind, and that’s a real plus point,” he said. “We’re very particular about issues related to child protection and safeguarding, and it’s always a challenge to make these things known to parents so that they buy into these ideals.”

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