Author: Lauren Dean
Project Nepal Coordinator and International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme Teacher
As teachers, we choose to work with children because we love working with them. We choose this work because we believe that we can make a positive impact on their lives, which—we hope—will extend far beyond our time with them.
This can be a tough thing to teach. Often we just have to hope and wait to see if they put to use what we say and do. But Project Nepal offers an exception; here we have the phenomenal opportunity to not only serve the greater good, but to watch our children applying what we’ve taught them where it really counts.
I have the unparalleled privilege of coordinating Project Nepal, a service project with a simple goal: two communities helping each other. Our ACS Egham International School community raised awareness and funds for nearly a year to support Shree Mahendra Upper Primary School in Bhaktapur, which is just outside Central Kathmandu.
Author: David Rea
IB Diploma ESS, TOK Teacher and Speech and Debate Coordinator
The process of debate offers lasting benefits, which serve individuals throughout their school years and professional working lives. Through debating, students must evaluate their opponents’ values and evidence whilst making a strong case for their own arguments, developing invaluable critical thinking skills.
At ACS Egham, debate is promoted and fostered through class discussion as well as through active participation in extra-curricular events. Structured and competitive environments provide students with the opportunity to advance their public speaking and critical thinking skills. The verbal argument of a debate is often the culmination of weeks spent researching and developing an idea or claim. As a result students develop strong research and writing skills, which can also be extended across their academic studies.
Travel and relocation provides a huge amount of adventure and excitement, yet, it can also be a turbulent and unsettling experience for both parents and students. International schools are very experienced at helping new families integrate into the local community and provide specialist care and support.
ACS Egham takes a capillary approach to integrating students and families into school life. Over the summer holidays, when the bulk of our new students arrive, we hold informal social events on campus to facilitate a soft start to the school. The school’s PTO (Parent Teacher Organisation) runs a ‘buddy’ scheme, where new arrivals are matched with existing families with a similar background. The buddy family supports newcomers helping them to get settled into the local area and school life. Both activities offer opportunities for new and returning students to make friends before the start of school, so that they can see familiar faces on their first day of school, greatly easing their nerves.
Over the last few academic years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of music exam entries at ACS Egham, from 12 in 2010 -2011 to 54 this year across a wide variety of exam boards including Trinity, The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and London College of Music. I wondered what had caused the jump and what benefits our students found by taking exams?
Students are often able to develop core music skills through especially crafted music board curriculums; making sure students develop a proficiency playing pieces, learning scales, sight-reading and answering aural questions.
As students develop their general musicianship, there too, is a direct correlation with increased enjoyment of playing as they tackle more complex and interesting pieces. There is nothing more satisfying than playing your first Mozart piece perfect! Of course, the time and commitment needed to develop these core skills and pass exams has to be weighed up against other school and social life activities.
As ACS Egham’s High School students graduate this week, they leave equipped with the characteristics of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Learner profile and importantly, an inquiring mindset, which will prepare them for higher education and life beyond.
The IB is based on the principle that students should ‘learn how to learn’, how to analyse, how to reach considered conclusions about people, their languages and literature, their ways in society, and the scientific forces of their environment. At ACS Egham as a four programme school we embrace these principles from their first years of schooling in Early Years all the way through to their final years in Grade 12 in the IB Diploma Programme.