Last Easter, I travelled to Delhi, India, with three of my fellow ACS students on a unique journalism internship, sponsored by the ACS International Schools Foundation and Orbis.
Orbis has a global reach
Founded in 1982, Orbis, a global sight-saving charity, works to improve access to eye care by training local teams in developing countries. The charity has served 92 countries during its time using its fully equipped Flying Eye Hospital and hospital-based training programmes.
This year in the ACS Cobham Boarding House, we implemented our new Residential Life Programme. Through the programme, boarders can build up a record of personal achievement with a series of certificated courses, seminars and awards from each opportunity they complete. Courses we offer include first aid, lifeguarding, health and safety, and nutrition to name a few.
The programme aims to foster personal development, encouraging students to develop skills for life while boarding and learning here at ACS Cobham, so that they are well prepared for the next steps in their lives, whatever they may be.
ACS Egham’s Grade 10 students move to the IB Diploma this August equipped with thorough subject knowledge, deep conceptual understandings and essential skills for the next stage of their lives.
I believe that the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) is the best middle years programme available in our current global society. Whilst MYP students study a range of traditional subjects much like other teenagers, the MYP has a third dimension: providing students with the skills they need to integrate into the modern world. In a recent ACS Egham student survey, one student stated that: ‘The IB (MYP) is a lot more well-rounded, teaching about many different ways to think and learn rather than just memorising facts.’
The recent Personal Project Presentation Evening demonstrated this dimension of the programme. As the culmination of the MYP, each Grade 10 student completes a project individually designed and inspired by their own passions and interests over a period of six months. Independently inquiring and researching, students are able to apply the skills and knowledge that they have acquired across all subjects throughout the programme.
With pens hardly dry from writing exam papers, or from marking them, we turn to look at what has been gained from all this revision and exam work.
A new research report confirms what so many teachers fear, or feel, that there is far too much focus on subject knowledge and not enough focus on, well, ‘learning’ at secondary school level.
Many of you reading this will have done A levels and will be past masters at cramming facts. But how many of us were specifically taught at school how to learn for ourselves, how to apply information intelligently, perhaps to draw information or ideas from other people, and apply them to successfully solving a problem?
These are traditionally skills learned at university or in the workplace, but surely we should be asking why our education system has such a narrow focus, and why, by the time a 17 or 18 year old completes their mandatory education, they are not equipped with the right set of skills to help them thrive at university or in work?
This year at ACS Egham we dedicated the week after Spring break to learning to work. Sixty grade 10 students, aged 15-16 years, took part in a Work Experience Week, an exciting initiative that gave them the opportunity to experience the working world, to help them practice practical job skills and learn more about what kind of career they may like to pursue in the future.
While some students sourced their own placement through family contacts, many students secured their Work Experience Week placement through the non-profit organisation Learning at Work, which is dedicated to arranging work experiences for students.
The organisation helps find the right work experience match for each individual. Students at ACS Egham initially completed an application form, detailing their favourite classes and what kind of work they aspire to, and were then interviewed so that the team could understand their aspirations in greater depth. Learning to Work also ran a ‘Skills for Life Carousel’ workshop, which teaches students skills such as interview techniques, to prepare them for future work-related challenges.