EDUCATION – Educating for the Future


ACS Schools understand that partnerships are at the heart of delivering academic excellence to every student

Article from FOCUS Magazine – Summer 13 issue.

ACS International Schools

ACS Schools understand that partnerships are at the heart of delivering academic excellence to every student

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” So said Socrates and it’s an approach to learning which continues to remain relevant in the 21st Century. A true education should develop all aspects of a child’s personality and well-being, teaching a child not just the skills needed to succeed academically, but give them the curiosity, creativity and motivation to continue to develop and grow in all areas of their lives well into the future.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) programme is one curriculum taught at ACS International Schools which especially lends itself to nurturing students’ all round wellbeing. It instils a life-long curiosity to learn, and a broad appreciation of foreign cultures and citizenship from an early age. The IB spans ages 3 – 18, split into the Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the most well-known Diploma programme (IBDP) at post-16 level. The IB Learner Profile is central to every level, encouraging students to be inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective.

In each of the programmes, IB subjects are approached with an emphasis on pursuing cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary links. Students learn about different subjects together, and are encouraged to develop both independence in their learning, and an understanding of how the knowledge they acquire is applied to the world around them.
In the PYP, the pinnacle of this programme is the Grade 5 exhibition, where students engage in an ‘active learning’ project, when they pose a question of their own and are asked to come to a conclusion through research and discussion. Many other curricula broach this concept at a much later stage in a child’s development. However, through this process, a child learns about collaboration, self-management, setting agendas, agreeing roles and tasks, presentation skills, consulting with and interviewing other people; all very powerful skills which will be developed and built on in their later education.

In the MYP, students continue to develop their knowledge and curiosity to learn in an international context. This is through compulsory elements of the MYP, such as language acquisition, as well as the inter-disciplinary approach to learning in maths, experimental science and social science subjects, alongside an arts based subject. Moving on to the Diploma Programme, students continue to develop their knowledge and academic skill, as well as deepen their understanding of the tools and methods used to gain such learning, and grow in confidence in their abilities.

To quote a former ACS International School student from the schools recent Alumni research, “The beauty of the IB is that you learn to appreciate learning and how to apply the knowledge, rather than simply memorising facts.”

Ultimately, the IB teaches not only life skills needed for the future – but that the ability to learn is a skill in its own right. One that will only continue to stand students in good stead in the years to come.

ACS Cobham +44 (0)1932 869744
ACS Egham +44 (0)1784 430611
ACS Hillingdon +44 (0)1895 818402

Halliford Scool

Headmaster, Mr Philip Cottam, teaching history at Halliford

Halliford School

Just as the history of science is littered with wrong-headed theories, so futurology is littered with inaccurate predictions and education with short-lived fads. At first sight educating for the future would seem to be a forlorn hope. In reality it isn’t. Success comes from not being overwhelmed by the fads and, instead, remaining focused on the timeless essentials, developing the fundamental skills and character traits that have always been needed to face up to life’s challenges. Contexts will differ, our understanding of the brain is more sophisticated, there are new skills to learn and our pupils will probably have to pursue more than one career but these essentials remain much the same.

The essential skills include the ability to express oneself clearly orally and on paper, learning too how to learn and research, the ability to think through problems, make decisions, be organised and manage people. The key character traits include self-belief, moral courage, individual initiative, resilience, integrity, reliability, teamwork and adaptability – the latter more important than ever given the rate of change in today’s world.

The challenge is to ensure young people can develop these skills and character traits. The skills can mostly be acquired through the normal academic programme but need to be learnt as a series of sequential building blocks that become second nature. Developing character traits is more complex and requires more time. It is here extra-curricular activities play such an important role in providing opportunities for young people to test and develop themselves. Such challenges can be found as readily in a theatre production or musical ensemble as on a sports field. The key is making them take on responsibility and handle situations outside their comfort zone.

For this reason, at Halliford we offer as broad and challenging a programme as possible. Of course one must take note of changes in educational practice and the impact of new technologies as well as expose our pupils to the globalised world in which we all now live. Thirty students have just returned from China and sixteen are heading to Ethiopia later this year, in addition to many other regular adventures.

It is easy to underestimate the role the creative arts play in developing the skills and character traits needed to face the future. For some they provide a career path and for all a deepening of their hinterland and their breadth of vision. Halliford is well known for its sport but recent years have seen the creative arts flourish in equal measure. To give one example, last term saw 200 pupils out of a school of 440 voluntarily enter a creative writing competition and, when selected for the final, stand up and read out their poetry or prose in front of a large audience. These were thoughtful young people equipped with the self-belief and courage needed to face whatever the future holds.

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