on the past

Our History

Three entrepreneurs in education from China and Taiwan decided to open a school in Shanghai in 2003 and so The Western International School of Shanghai (WISS) was born. WISS was granted approval by the Ministry of Education in Beijing in 2004 and opened its doors in Fall of 2006, founded by the then Director, Dr. Alfonso Orsini as an all-IB environment.

The first day of school at WISS was September 6, 2006, with only 17 students from Nursery to Grade 2 and the school year ended with 37 students. By Fall 2007, enrollment rose to 171 across Nursery to Grade 8. The student body was represented by 21 nationalities. Today, WISS is truly an international school with a student body of almost 800 students represented by over 50 nationalities speaking nearly 40 languages.

The school campus is spread across an 18-acre site which was designed by Weimar Architects of the Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany. The Board of Directors established the Academic Advisory Board, comprised of highly esteemed international educational experts. The Board, with input from the Advisory Board and the school’s administration, was responsible for establishing the overall policy and objectives of the school and for ensuring that an excellent education is provided to students.

The school was first authorized for the IB Diploma Programme and the Primary Years Programme in 2010, and then the Middle Years Programme in 2012. In 2017, WISS received accreditation for the Career-related Programme which makes WISS the first and only four programme IB world school in mainland China.

Mr. Jin Hong Jian
Chairman of the Board

The Western International School of Shanghai (WISS) was founded on the IB educational philosophy and principles of preparing students to be globally minded, as well as the common Chinese educational philosophy of: De (heart) Zhi (mind) Ti (body), so that our students go into the world understanding others, being empathic, and expressing the desire to reduce conflict.

As an IB school, we believe that every student that walks through the doors of WISS is unique and deserves to be recognized as an individual. We understand that the needs, aptitudes, and interests are not the same for everyone. At WISS, we take pride in helping students develop the motivation to reach their full potential, challenging themselves to always strive for excellence in all they do. That is not to say every student will turn out the same; they require different approaches to develop different strengths and to improve in other areas. Through our commitment to the IB programmes, WISS is here to support the students and their development however we can.

The IB approach aligns with the concept of De-Zhi-Ti, creating a philosophy shared with students, families, and staff that is uniquely “WISS” and allows us to welcome and support the growth of students with many different backgrounds, strengths, and life challenges.

De (德) – An education is not just the content that is covered in school. At WISS, we expect our students to develop healthy relationships with others based on being caring, collaborative, respectful, responsible, helpful, and giving back to the community.

Zhi (智) – When a school develops the mind of its students, it gives them knowledge and skills and helps them become more critical, increasing their ability to solve problems that they may have never encountered before. Therefore, at WISS, success is not just a number on a test but also how students approach challenges.

Ti (体) – Students need not only compassion for others and the intelligence to solve problems, but they need to look after themselves with a healthy mind, body, and lifestyle. WISS’s balanced approach to education nurtures the whole child.

It is through the hard work of the teachers, students, and families at WISS that this vision and identity grows even stronger as we enter our 14th year.



Jin Hong Jian


Mr. Jian
Chairman of the Board
Western International School of Shanghai




September 6, 2006
WISS opens its doors with 17 students from Nursery-Grade 2.


Fall 2007
Enrollment rises to 171 students from Nursery-Grade 8.

December 2007
WISS partners with Couleurs de Chine with our first donation of 3,000 RMB to sponsor 6 girls.

Spring 2007
A beloved tradition celebrating our diverse community is begun with the first WISS International Day.


Fall 2008
Saturday School is born. Saturday School begins when a WISS teacher reaches out to children in the farmlands behind WISS and invites them to come learn English at WISS. Today, approximately 200 local migrant children come to WISS each week to learn English from our passionate students, parents, and teachers.



Spring 2010
WISS is authorized for IBDP and IBPYP.

September 2010
WISS takes learning out of the classroom and into various parts of China with the launch of the Explore China program.


April 2011
Students, parents, and teachers travel to Cambodia for the first WISS international service trip.



April 2012
WISS students earn diving certifications in the Philippines during the first overseas activity trip.

July 2012
Under Director Tom Kline, WISS partners with English Premier League Team, Stoke City Football Club, bringing elite coaching to football players at WISS and in Shanghai.

October 2012
WISS is authorized for IBMYP.


February 2013
WISS students are invited to the Moscow Space Olympiad and speak from Moscow Mission Control to the International Space Station.



Spring 2014
WISS receives the ACS WASC accreditation.

Fall 2014
WISS partners with International Schools Theatre Association (ISTA) Performing Arts Academy bringing world-class theater practitioners to workshops hosted at WISS for budding thespians across Shanghai.


Fall 2015
The Creative Arts Carousel is implemented in Grades 6-8, allowing students to explore a variety of different art forms.

Summer 2015
WISS joins GAIL and attends the GAIL Conference in India.


Spring 2016
John Cucinello, Director of Community Service, is awarded the prestigious Magnolia Award from the city of Shanghai for his efforts in Saturday School and other service projects in the Xujing area community.



Fall 2017
WISS forms a Robotics Club and enters their first robotics competition.

Fall 2017
WISS is authorized for IBCP. WISS receives accreditation for the Career-related Programme which makes WISS the first four programme IB school in mainland China offering Sports and Production Arts pathways.

Winter 2017
The Greenhouse Gym, developed as a multipurpose learning environment for CP Sports and DP Biology students, is unveiled.



April 2018
WISS partners with SCAD and FirstPoint USA, offering CP Art and Design and CP Sports students one-of-a-kind learning experiences as well as scholarship opportunities.

June 2018
His Royal Highness The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex visits WISS as the patron of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award and dedicates Tiger Hall in the opening ceremony.



April 2019
The WISS IBCP Sports Pathway is recognized as an entry track into 12 sport-related programs at the University of Stirling.

June 2019
WISS is granted CIS membership.

September 2019
The WISS IBCP Production Arts Pathway is recognized as an entry track into the Bachelor of Fine Arts programs in the University of Melbourne.



March 2020
WISS partners with SUMAS to offer a new IBCP Pathway in Business and Sustainability.