Published by SchoolAdvisor on Feb 25, 2020, 01:40 AM
The fourth school Team SchoolAdvisor visited was the Australian International School Malaysia (AISM). There we had a chat with the very friendly and humorous Mr Ivan McLean, the Head of Middle and Senior School, while he gave us a tour of the school and shared some interesting facts AISM.
Unfortunately, we came during a school holiday when students were on their vacations, hence, we missed out on the hustle and bustle of a regular school day.
Team SchoolAdvisor’s First impression of AISM
The last leg of our journey to AISM was filled with breath taking greeneries as the school is located after a stretch of secluded area, making it a very calm and peaceful environment that is ideal for learning. There are also housing areas nearby suitable for families to live in. Once we reached the entrance, we found it to be well guarded and secured.
From the entrance the school looks quite small. But as we walk further into the school, we noticed that there was more than meets the eye for this school as it slowly unfolded itself.
Mr McLean describes this as an often occurrence with visitors of the school and says, “One thing we quite often hear is that from the exterior view it is impossible to decipher that the school has such amazing facilities inside. It looks like a little package from outside, but when you get in, there’s something for everyone.”
AISM proves just how true the saying “never judge a book by its cover” is.
About the school
Founded in 2000, AISM has continued to deliver excellent education through exploration and Visible Learning, helping every child extend their potential and excel in their chosen paths. All the students at AISM are taught using the Visible Learning Approach, that is proven the world over and today. In fact, the school is recognized as the first Certified Visible Learning school in the world.
Mr McLean was delighted to say that they might not be a school of 2000-3000 students with 60 nationalities, but they’ve got 29 different nationalities with just over 500 well-performing students. There were flags decorated in the auditorium representing the student’s countries. This auditorium is used and maintained by the responsible students of AISM.
Instead of structured education, AISM mix holistic approach into the students’ education by not only encouraging them to pursue what they are passionate about but also encourage them to go for the things they aren’t good at.
“You just got to give it a go, the Australian way,” says Mr McLean.
AISM produced top Mathematic students and won in mathematic competitions early this year and Mr Mclean couldn’t be any prouder. He elaborates, “Competitions are not only good ways to celebrate students’ achievements, but also shows how we compare to others.”
No homework?! (junior years)
AISM agrees that homework in middle and senior school is very influential as it has a very significant effect on the development of skills among students. However, he mentions that exercise and homework in primary school had shown no such effects, so no homework in the junior years for the students of AISM. It doesn’t mean that they would not be doing anything at home; basic counting practices or reading are encouraged to be done as homework. AISM offers teachings based on the most up to date research done by the teachers and staffs on what actually works, rather than implement things that they think will work.
What Team SA thinks - It is vital to keep in mind that children do need to explore and have fun instead of having their time taken away doing homework at the prime of childhood. The No Homework is a good initiative to allow kids to be more engaged in activities and have hand-on learning experiences through exploration.
Extracurricular activities and Facilities
The school has over 60+ official activities that students can choose to take part in, ranging from performing arts and music to sports and technology. The school provides the students with opportunities to start up their own club!
AISM makes sure that students can get access to facilities that can help them excel in the area of their interest. There’s a dance studio, drama room, auditorium, black box theatre and many more. Each facility is well equipped with the technologies and props needed for students to really dive into what they want to try and pick up.
Mr McLean explains, “It’s part of the drama class to use the bio box, lights, and audio. Because not everyone wants to be in front of the camera or on stage. Instead, they learn the technical elements. Hence there is an opportunity for everyone to be involved.”
How is Australian curriculum different?
“Explore, extend, excel”, the 3-great mortar of AISM and Australian curriculum.
Mr McLean agrees, “Having a go-getter mentality is very important to us. We want students to be able to have a go in whatever field they choose or want to explore.” AISM also focuses on not only gaining knowledge but the capability of sharing it through effective communication.
One of the other big differences is the incorporation of technology into classes and in workshops where team of students create their own things such as cars, trucks, aeroplanes and so on, by designing and testing them out on the computer software before modeling it on 3D printers. Working as a team, each student plays an important role in bringing the design to life.
What team SA thinks – We were flabbergasted to see the amazing designs in the workshops. It is unbelievable that students not only had these great ideas but actually designed and created the racing cars, the food truck and the aeroplanes. Must see to believe it!
The school looks at the history of students’ earlier schooling and there will be a test in numeracy and general English proficiency. It is not an entrance test but more of an information collection to understand where the student stands. Even though the school year runs through January till December there can be new students who might even join 4 weeks from the end of the school year and according to Mr McLean, this is a norm for any international school.
AISM also holds two university fairs every year with over 50 universities participating in it, including Malaysian, Australian, US, Canadian and UK universities to assist the senior school students in getting admission to universities after school.
Advice for parents when they are considering AISM
“Looking through reviews online and listening to what people say about the school is not enough,” says Mr McLean.
He adds, “Visit the school, inspect it yourself, feel the heartbeat and then consider if it suits the needs of your child. Not to mention, being present on the spot makes you feel more connected to a place and helps you get a feel of the school.”
AISM has open days, but parents are welcome anytime. In fact, Mr McLean believes that coming on days other than open weeks can be a better thing because parents can tour around the school when it is in operation. “I really recommend any parent to visit a school on a day where there are children about,” suggest Mr McLean.
SchoolAdvisor’s Team Verdict
After the tour and conversation with Mr McLean, we can conclude that AISM is the true definition of quality over quantity. Even though with a small number of students, their performance in academics and extra-curricular are noteworthy. It is a school that encourages students to get out of their comfort zone to try out new things, offer top-notch facilities and allows every student equal opportunity to partake in activities that the school offers. The staffs of AISM are very approachable too, making the overall environment-friendly and relaxed!
We recommend giving taking a tour of the school and just like what Mr McLean says, “If people came in and saw us, we’d probably be a bit bigger. But we are this beautiful little secret hidden away from the crowd.”
Interested to know more about the school? Click on thislinkto know about the fees, contact information and more.
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