It was 1961, and a group of young mothers were sitting together at a waffle party, sipping coffee and discussing the strict and uninspiring schools in Mumbai. Many of the women were expatriates, some were Indian. But they all hated the idea of exposing their children to academic pressure, punishment and rote learning. It was at that point that one mother suggested getting together and setting up an informal little school in their own drawing rooms and back-gardens.
The idea of a gentle and happy school held enormous appeal, and both expats and Indians responded wholeheartedly. Within months, the Bombay International School Association was registered.
Eventually 183 people signed up as founder members. The impressive list included artist Jehangir Sabavala and his wife Shirin. Also Page and Harsh Mehta, whose father Jivraj Mehta was the first Chief Minister of Gujarat and mother Hansa Mehta was Vice-Chancellor of Baroda University. Then there was H.J. Kania, who later became the Chief Justice of India and Dr. Suma Chitnis who later became the Vice-Chancellor of SNDT University. Not to forget H.M. Seervai, the then Advocate General of Maharashtra, and Kamla Bhoota who founded the Bal Vikas nursery.
Early parents of the school included artist M.F.Husain, physicist Dr Raja Ramanna, architect Charles Correa, actors Shashi and Jennifer Kapoor, Sujata Manohar, who was later a judge of the Bombay High Court and Supreme Court, and industrialist Keshub Mahindra.
On June 11, 1962 about 90 children entered their new school—accommodated in six rooms and a terrace near Napean Sea Road.
Along with all the excitement and chaos—not to mention the new mother-run kitchen and bus-routes—came problems. The landlord at Bhavani Bhavan asked BIS to leave. The school managed to buy Gilbert Building at Babulnath and moved into its very own home in 1964.
The Growing Years
Once it settled down in Gilbert Building, BIS began to grow, flourish and experiment. And more than 50 years later, students continue to benefit from the brave blueprints and unusual ideas generated in those early years.
From the outset, the philosophy with which the school was started was enshrined in practice.
- Class sizes were kept small, and till today are not allowed to exceed 20.
- Children were encouraged to ask questions and give their opinions
- Parents were an essential pillar of the school – stakeholders who contributed their expertise to the various activities of the school, and their time and energies to everything from extra-curricular activities, to supervising school lunches and ensuring that the school buses ran on well-oiled tracks.
November 2007 Recognised as an IGCSE Centre
The IGCSE curriculum introduced from Std VI
March 2011 IBDP Section Launched
The two-year IB course was introduced at BIS
November 2012 First IGCSE Batch Passes Out
20 students received certification from the IGCSE Board
2012-13 BIS Golden Jubilee Year
Celebrating five decades of excellence and innovation
March 2013 First IBDP Batch Passes Out
Students receive IB certification from the Cambridge Board
July-August 2016 New Principal at BIS
Dr. Cyrus Vakil takes over to steer the BIS journey in its next new phase
June 2017 BIS receives PYP Authorisation
Young children embark on an inquiry-led, transdisciplinary-based lifelong journey of learning
January 2018 Gilbert Building gets a new look
Students and teachers return to their familiar, but now completely modernised, home
January – July 2018 Split classes introduced with two groups per grade
Carrying forward the Founders’ vision of small batches with personalised teaching
It’s been an eventful and colourful journey which has brought us from the baby steps taken in early days to the huge strides the school has made as a beacon of quality education and a institution for the all-round development of the children who study here.