Published by SchoolAdvisor on Dec 23, 2019, 09:21 AM
The school we visited next was The British International School Kuala Lumpur (BSKL) where we had a chat with Ms Celine Ocean, the Admissions Manager and Mr Phil Leaman, the Head of Marketing and Communications. Ms Ocean also took us on a tour of the school and here is what we think.
What team SA thinks – the first word that came to our mind when we arrived at the campus of BSKL was serenity. The surrounding is full of greenery and the neighbourhood is quiet, a place that is ideal for education. There are also residential complexes around the school, which makes it easier for expats and locals alike to stay near the school.
About the school
A part of the renowned Nord Anglia education, BSKL has already completed a decade in Malaysia and have grown over the years. They follow the British curriculum and caters from nursery to year 13.
Being part of Nord Anglia means that the school has access to some incredible facilities, such as ties with businesses and organisations around the world, which includes UNICEF, MIT and The Julliard School.
Mr Leaman elaborates, “Our students are able to actually be involved in projects where they get to work alongside these companies and organisations directly. This past summer some of our students were involved in a UNICEF project and they visited the headquarters in America.”
Presently there are around 66 schools in 29 countries that are part of the Nord Anglia network and Ms Ocean believes this provides consistency to especially expat students in terms of their education.
“It is reassuring for parents and the children when they are moving countries because the kind of education the children receive still stays the same even though things like facilities might differ slightly,” she says.
What team SA thinks – Very few schools offer such great collaborations with renowned international bodies where students get hands-on experience of visiting the headquarters and actually working. It, indeed, is a great opportunity for students to receive global exposure from an early age and this is what true global education should be about.
BSKL follows the British curriculum and Mr Leaman believes this curriculum prepares students for life.
He explains, “It is more of an inquiry-based curriculum, so it is all about asking lots of questions, instead of just sitting back with the teacher standing in front of the classroom and dictating things and reading out of a textbook.”
Ms Ocean adds, “We also teach through themes and help children to learn the subjects such as geography, history, science by exposing them to situations whereby they ask questions and look for answers themselves, with the teachers guiding them towards the right direction.”
What team SA thinks – Inquiry-based learning is the way forward since critical thinking, creativity, asking questions and finding their solutions would be skills that will be most valued in the near future.
The school session follows the UK and is from September to August. However, BSKL allows rolling admission, which means students can join any time of the year except during the exams. There are open days but according to Mr Leaman, parents can call up the admissions office and fix an appointment for touring the school anytime. Along with a personalised tour, parents can also see lessons in progress and talk to the teachers and students.
For admission to BSKL, three factors are considered as Ms Ocean explains, “We look for school reports to get an idea of where the student is at, in terms of learning. The other thing we ask for is a teacher’s reference who can provide information about the student, and the third one is the assessment test. This three-step process means that if a student fails the assessment test it does not take away their chances of securing a place in the school right away, because all three elements are taken into consideration.”
What team SA thinks – The three-step admission process is a good way to analyse if a student would fit within the school and it also takes away the anxiety and tension that would otherwise surround the assessment test.
The list of extra-curricular activities offered by BSKL is seemingly endless, from fencing, kickboxing, taekwondo, football, basketball, swimming and all kinds of sports to piano, drama and singing classes to even cooking and knitting.
There are also clubs including chess club and scouts that students are encouraged to participate in.
What team SA thinks – Is there any extra-curricular activity that is NOT offered by BSKL? Probably not!
“We have parents in a partnership which is similar to a parent-teacher association, whereby they have different roles and part of their roles is to help organise school events, particularly around holidays. We also have a parent representative in every primary class and parent ambassadors who talk to new prospective students’ parents.
“We have an open-door policy when it comes to parent involvement, so parents can drop their kids off and then they are more than welcome to stay, grab a coffee or work in our campus. We have coffee shops, working area for parents and also hold parent classes such as gym, yoga and Zumba,” says Mr Leaman.
What team SA thinks – This is a great initiative by BSKL to involve expat parents who can socialise when they meet other parents within the school campus. Many expat spouses do not have permission to work here and this offers them the much-needed involvement.
Team SA Verdict
Talking about what to look for in a school, Mr Leaman has a piece of very important advice for parents. He says, “See if the students are smiling and notice if they are happy when you have a look around, especially during recess. If kids are walking around with stress on their faces, then there is something that is not quite right. The priority of schools should be to make sure that children are safe and excited to be there because if they feel supported and happy in their environment, they will want to return to school every day to learn.”
While touring the school with Ms Ocean, after our brief chat, we saw the truth in Mr Leaman’s words reflected in the faces of the students. They not only seemed excited and full of enthusiasm to be in school, but it looked like they are having a lot of fun. At the end of the day, isn’t it what matters most?
For more information about the school, click here
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