Creating caring citizens: Service Learning in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme

Creating caring citizens: Service Learning in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme


Learning about community service can enrich your child's life, whilst simultaneously helping the local community. The British School in the Netherlands (BSN) knows this. 

CAS: Creativity, Activity and Service

A core element in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) of The British School in the Netherlands is CAS: Creativity, Activity and Service. 

All IB-Students are expected to spend time on CAS in addition to their academic studies during the two years of their course.

CAS not only provides them with "time out" from studying but has many other benefits, not least giving students unique opportunities to participate in community support.

Helen Kirkwood is the CAS coordinator at The British School in the Netherlands and reflects on the seven years she’s been in her post: "I find Service is perhaps the most exciting part of CAS, as students often experience Service for the first time."

How can schools implement community service?

Community service is about addressing a need in a community; local to the school or further afield. Students can work with young children, animals, elderly, refugees or disabled.

Helen explains: "At the start of year 12, students take part in the "Generation Walk" by taking elderly residents from a local residential home to a café in the woods, giving them a tour around The British School in the Netherlands and providing them with a high tea at the end of the week." 

"The benefits to the elderly are clear; fresh air, interacting with a younger generation, a change from the usual routine, a topic of conversation and a cherished memory to name just a few."

So, schools like The British School in the Netherlands can make a huge impact and lasting impression by building long-term relationships with their local community groups.

What are the benefits of the Service Learning programme for students?

The Service Learning programme is very beneficial to students. Thanks to this programme, students:
Get insight into the lives of others
Step out of their comfort zone and use a foreign language to communicate
Gain hands-on experience (possibly leading to an internship or job later in life)
Will have a greater understanding of diverse cultures and communities
Learn about social issues
Become more flexible and open to change
Enhance their skills in areas of communication, collaboration and leadership

Project Africa BSN Project Africa

 Connect with professionals whom they can learn from
 Learn to care for others
 Experience increased self-confidence
 Get a chance to reflect on their lives and the lives of others
 Experience other people’s enthusiasm for a field of work

Enthusiasm for a subject is the very thing teachers can show their students. It may be an interest in foreign languages or in physical geography or psychology, but it can also be enthusiasm for a charity or after-school club.

For example, The British School in the Netherlands has created many charitable initiatives that are student-led, from Project Africa which has raised almost 35k to support people in need around Kenya’s Rift Valle, to the popular UNICEF video created by the school’s music department.

A clear sense of social responsibility is deeply rooted in schools when community service is advocated and, when introduced into a school’s programme, allows students to develop many skills such as organising and planning.

The Service Learning programme helps to put students in someone else’s shoes - the building blocks for creating caring citizens.

Now accepting applications for September 2017

The British School in the Netherlands is now accepting applications for September 2017. To find out more about its four campuses and excellent 3-18 programmes, please explore the website or:
› Call: +31 (0)70 315 4077
› Email:

BSN logo




Leave a comment