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The KL Coding Cup: Shining a Spotlight on Coding in Schools

24 Oct 2019

By James Abela, Head of Computing at GIS 

A kid wearing a yellow GIS tshirt coding on a laptop

It is an undeniable fact that digital devices now affect every aspect of our lives. The ability to truly understand them – and control them through code – is an essential skill that will enable us to analyse data on a grand scale, share our ideas with millions and solve problems that we haven’t even dreamt of yet! 

The KL Coding Cup offers students just a taste of what is possible with coding skills. The event itself has gone from a one-city endeavour to an event that will soon be held across 10 countries.

The KL Coding Cup

Last year, I realised that students needed an outlet to use their coding to compete against the very best schools in Kuala Lumpur. As a result, I founded the KL Coding Cup.  The idea was to give our very best coders an opportunity to meet and work alongside like-minded students from other schools and have a friendly competition. Running 3-4 times each year, we host it at a different school each time. The event always places a strong emphasis on creativity and problem solving. 

Our latest event was our biggest ever, with approximately 80 students from the top 5 schools in Kuala Lumpur participating. What was truly impressive is that together they wrote a total of 189 programs during the event! And as was said on the day, “Everybody who attended is a winner, because this is where the future is!”

Our recent event was even more impressive, because it was student led. Year 13 Nicole Choong successfully led a team of Year 13s and 12s to help create the coding challenges, present on the day and then judge the competitors in real time! As a result of her excellent work organising and running this event, Nicole has been asked to run the event for the South East Computer Science Teachers Association (SEACSTA) which will be held in February and already has interest from a large number of international schools across Southeast Asia and the Middle East. 

The next KL Coding Cup event will be held on Saturday 23 November at Sri KDU International School, where we hope our Dragons continue to reign supreme!

 

A group of students brainstorming around laptops

 

Why code?

Students need to understand the digital world in which they live. Like it or not, many people now spend the majority of their waking lives doing tasks involving digital devices. Being able to code provides real understanding of these devices, and opens students’ eyes as to the infinite possibilities around them! For example, two of our Year 13s realised earlier this year that that there was no way to buy and sell textbooks in school. What did they do? They set up an eBay-styled site (https://marketplace.school/) to meet the need. 

School kids coding on their laptops in a presentation hall

Despite the omnipresence of technology in our world, there remains a huge shortage of people with degrees in Computing. 58% of all new jobs in Science and Engineering (STEM) are in Computing, and yet only 10% of STEM graduates are Computing graduates. This means that there are currently 500,000 job openings in the US alone. Moreover, a computer Science graduate can earn 40% more than the average graduate. (Source: code.org October 2019) 

Coding at School

Computational Thinking is the foundation to help children and adults apply logical thinking to solve problems as diverse as solving world hunger,  climate change and what to wear in the morning. In younger children, these logical skills can be taught using physical robots, logical thinking games such as chess and apps. 

Once students have mastered these basic ideas, then giving them the tools to express their logic becomes very important and this is where coding can really help and almost immediately students can solve problems in their immediate lives, such as maths problems, physics equations or how to put gravity in that game they would like to make.  We are now introducing Swift Playgrounds into Primary to enable them to make simple apps and express their logic.

Three students discussing coding on laptops

In Secondary, we begin teaching Python in Year 9. This is an important coding language for students to learn because it is the foundation of scientific research and analysis. Katie Bouman used it to generate the first image of a blackhole and Sara Marshall is employing it in her quest to sequence 500,000 people’s genomes in the UK. It is also being used widely in statistical analysis and machine learning.  The other big advantage is that Python is a very wide language that enables students to start getting results in 2 lines of code, but scales up to fully object-oriented design with huge databases. 

Coding at Home

If you are keen to encourage your child to learn coding, by far the best way to teach your children to code is to sit with them, engage with their interests and make it a parent & child experience.  For younger children, robots can be great toys to get children interested. For slightly older children, there are plenty of robots that can be built inexpensively and will give a real hands-on experience. 

Over the shoulder shot of a student coding on his laptop

The two languages I would encourage you to start with are Scratch for pre-teens and Python to give students a real programming language. Al Sweigart make a good range of books of free books that have interesting projects, but require a confident reader. (https://inventwithpython.com/

For those that don’t know code themselves, but want fun learning for their children. Apple make Swift Playgrounds for the iPad and CodeCombat is an engaging set of resources.  However, learning together will always be more fun than following online guides by themselves.

Have fun! 

James Abela is the Head of Computing at GIS.  If you have any questions on the importance of coding or computing in education, please email James at abela.j@gardenschool.edu.my. Interested to learn more about GIS? Book your personal tour online at gardenschool.edu.my or call our lovely admissions team at  +(603) 6209 6888

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Sixth Form Curriculum: Year 12 & 13
Year 1 & 2

Key Stage 5 (age 16 to 18)

Year 12 & 13 Curriculum

Introduction

The GIS Sixth Form promotes academic excellence in all students, offering international AS and A Level qualifications. These are delivered by outstanding teachers with knowledge and expertise in Key Stage 5 education, who are always ready to go the extra mile to set their students on the path to success.

However, our philosophy of education goes far beyond that. We are proud of our bespoke Sixth Form Diploma which allows students to enrich their studies beyond the formal curriculum, develop leadership skills and nourish a love of learning. In Sixth Form, we recognise the need to equip our students with the soft skills that will prepare them for like beyond our school, and are proud of the opportunities our students have to do this as part of our THRIVE Programme, GIS electives and through our extensive CCA programme.

Underpinning everything we do is our approach of academic care. As well as the care and support of their tutors team, our students complete lessons in Social and Emotional Learning to promote the wellbeing and understanding of others that helps support their success both during their time in GIS and beyond.

As a result of our track record of academic excellence, holistic approach and skills-based education, it is not surprising that GIS Sixth Form students are sought after by the world’s best universities. 

In The Classroom

Taught Curriculum

Students can select from a wide range of A Level subjects which are recognised globally and support our students’ progression to universities in a wide range of countries. These are taught by subject specialists who inspire students to explore their passions and provide rigour and challenge to develop higher-order thinking skills.

A Level
(Cambridge & Edexcel)

Beyond the Classroom

Wider Learning

The range of opportunities that our students benefit from beyond their taught curriculum causes them to really stand out. Our wider learning programme gives students the opportunity to get involved in things that they enjoy, build a sense of community and develop skills that they will use in later life.

Bespoke Learning

GIS Diploma Programme

At GIS, we believe in the importance of a holistic education, which is about more than just achieving fantastic A Levels. We believe it also needs to prepare our students for the future, enabling them to develop a broad knowledge and a wide range of skills. For this purpose, we have developed our curriculum, offering an extensive choice of electives that will help prepare students for the next steps and life beyond school. Our GIS Sixth Formers are given the opportunity to complete the GIS Diploma or the GIS Diploma with Honours.

A GIS Diploma is awarded to students who:

A GIS Diploma with Honours is awarded to students who:

Secondary Curriculum: Year 10 & 11
Year 10 & 11

Key Stage 4 (age 14 & 16)

Year 10 & 11 Curriculum

Introduction

The Secondary School curriculum at GIS focuses on supporting young confident adults to reach their potential, in line with our GIS Learner Skills and our commitment to ensuring academic care for all.

Our Year 10 to 11 (KS4) curriculum is designed to meet the academic, personal and cultural needs of our students and better equip them for future challenges, while at the same time creating enjoyable learning environments that inspire and motivate. Students begin to select courses that appeal to them and follow a broad range of examined and non-examined subjects that prepare them for success both in and out of the classroom. Alongside examined subjects, students follow courses designed to develop them as individuals through Social Emotional Learning and a range of elective subjects. The Year 10 and 11 curriculum creates young adults not only with strong academic credentials but who are also well rounded individuals ready for the next stage of their learning.

Our focus on involvement outside the classroom alongside academic excellence aims to create the opportunity for students to become world changers in both their local and global communities.

In The Classroom

Taught Curriculum

Our KS4 taught curriculum provides students with a balanced yet bespoke programme of study at GIS. At its core is a personalised combination of International GCSE qualifications that all students undertake and enhanced by our elective program. To ensure students are well rounded with successes beyond just academic achievements, the programme offers all students in KS4 a range of bespoke GIS elective courses as well as the study of Social and Emotional Learning. This balanced robust curriculum ensures students are well prepared for our our outstanding GCE (A Level) programme in Key Stage 5 (Years 12-13) or study beyond GIS. As with all other Key stages academic care remains central to our ethos with regular curriculum time allocated to the pastoral system and supported through contact with tutor groups.

Core Subjects

Option Subjects

Beyond the Classroom

Wider Learning

Our KS4 wider curriculum supports students in their engagement, enjoyment and personal personal development as they move through Years 10 and 11. A wide range of activities are available that take place beyond timetabled lessons enable all students to gain engage in our school community and develop as individuals.

Bespoke Learning

GIS Elective Programme

At GIS we believe in the importance of a holistic education that is more than just achieving fantastic IGCSEs: it also needs to prepare you for the future, which requires a broad knowledge and wide range of skills. For this purpose, we have developed our curriculum, offering an extensive choice of electives that will extend learning and help prepare you for your own next steps and life beyond education.

Secondary Curriculum: Year 7 to 9
Year 1 & 2

Key Stage 3 (age 11 to 14)

Year 7 to 9 Curriculum

Introduction

The Secondary School curriculum at GIS focuses on supporting young confident adults to reach their potential, in line with our GIS Learner Skills and our commitment to ensuring academic care for all.

Our Year 7 to 9 (KS3) curriculum is designed to meet the academic, personal and cultural needs of our students and better equip them for future challenges, while at the same time creating enjoyable learning environments that inspire and motivate. Students follow a broad and balanced range of subjects that are linked to the National Curriculum of England and Wales but modified to create courses appropriate for an international education.

Our focus on involvement outside the classroom alongside academic excellence aims to create the opportunity for students to become world changers in both their local and global communities.

In The Classroom

Taught Curriculum

Our KS3 taught curriculum provides students with a broad and balanced approach to study at GIS. A range of subjects are followed that gives learners a solid foundation to build upon in later years and ignite a passion for learning. Alongside delivering strong academic foundations, our KS3 taught curriculum is supported through our academic care provision. Students are supported by one-to-one conversations with subject teachers and tutors about their learning.

Core Subjects

Option Subjects

Beyond the Classroom

Wider Learning

Our KS3 wider curriculum supports students in their engagement, enjoyment and personal development as they move through Years 7 to 9. A wide range of activities are available that take place beyond timetabled lessons enable all students to gain engage in our school community and develop as individuals.

Early Years Curriculum: Nursery & Reception
Nursery & Reception

Early Years Foundation Stage (age 3 & 5)

Nursery & Reception Curriculum

Early Years

Our EYC learning environment, both inside and outside, is well-resourced and offers a wide range of multi-sensory learning opportunities that are linked to the UK Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Curriculum. We balance play-based learning with the teaching of fundamental literacy and numeracy skills, PE and music lessons, as well as social and emotional skill development.

Mandarin is taught as an additional language through a combination of discrete teacher-led sessions, and as part of continuous provision, with our outstanding teachers encouraging authentic and natural language acquisition amongst our youngest learners.

Throughout their time at EYC, our young learners have opportunities to follow their interests and take ownership over their learning. This is encouraged through first-hand experiences that create a sense of awe and wonder for children, inspiring them to learn more about the world around them.

Children’s brains develop connections faster in the first five years than at any other time in their lives. This is the time when the foundations for learning, health and behaviour throughout life are laid down. In fact, by the time they turn five 90% of their brain will have been developed.

Our curriculum and approach are designed to ensure that a strong foundation is laid down to support your child’s further development throughout their life.

In The Classroom

Taught Curriculum

Our Early Years offering consists of carefully designed opportunities to learn through play, directed curriculum and wider learning opportunities such as Jungle School, gardening and cooking.

A Unique Child

Prime

Specific

Mandarin

Jungle School Programme

Beyond the Classroom

Wider Learning

Even at EYC, we offer a broad curriculum, with the aim of igniting passions and developing new interests amongst our children. We offer swimming, Water Play Days, Woodwork, Cooking, Trips and CCAs. We also offer our Jungle School programme. Unique to Malaysia, this is a hands-on programme based on the ‘Forest School’ approach in Europe. At Jungle School, our EYC children are able to learn about nature, explore and take risks is a safe and controlled environment and learn to become responsible citizens of the earth who respect and preserve her resources.

Primary Curriculum: Year 3 to 6
Year 3 to 6

Key Stage 2 (age 7 to 11)

Year 3 to 6 Curriculum

Introduction

This stage builds upon the foundations laid in the Early Years and Key Stage 1, preparing children for the next phase of their education. English is taught daily with a strong emphasis on the development of speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. The development of practical, mental and applied mathematics is achieved through our mathematics lessons.

In Years 5 and 6, French and Spanish are added to the World Languages programme. Students can decide to continue learning the Asian language they have been learning or replace this choice with one of the European languages. Either way, they will still have the opportunity to learn the other language as part of the language club programme after school. Homework is provided throughout the school, and is aimed at consolidating skills taught at school and encouraging parents to play an active role in their children’s education.

Children’s progress is assessed throughout Key Stages 1 and 2 to ensure we have a good understanding of their ongoing progress, individual abilities and to ensure their future needs are met.

In The Classroom

Taught Curriculum

The Primary Curriculum follows a topic-based, cross-curriculum approach to learning with the British National Curriculum as it’s foundation. Soft skills are developed through a set of bespoke ‘Golden Threads’ that are carefully interwoven throughout the curriculum.

Subjects taught in our topic curriculum are:

Specialist Teaching subjects are

Beyond the Classroom

Wider Learning

In Year 3 to Year 6 we offer our students wider learning opportunities to encourage them to learn new interests and skills beyond the classroom including:

Primary Curriculum: Year 1 & 2
Year 1 & 2

Key Stage 1 (age 5 to 7)

Year 1 & 2 Curriculum

Introduction

The first key stage of school welcomes children from Early Years into the Primary School and encourages each child to continue their development and maintain the fun, active approach to learning. Information Communication Technology (ICT) is used to support the learning process. Classroom-based learning along with a broad co-curricular programme and education outside the classroom ensure we provide a holistic education for your child.

The majority of learning takes place in the nurturing environment of the classroom facilitated by the classroom teacher and assistant teachers. Specialist teachers support the teaching of Art, Music, ICT and Physical Education. In World Languages, students learn Mandarin or Bahasa Malaysia – the national language, helping them to develop the skills and passion to learn an additional language in depth. Students also have the opportunity to explore other languages as a part of the language club programme which happens after school. Science, History, Geography, Design Technology and Drama are taught through our exciting Topic Curriculum which is underpinned by the ‘Golden Threads’ of Intercultural Learning and Social and Emotional Learning.

GIS utilises both the classroom and education opportunities outside the classroom to provide a programme that develops World Changers. At GIS we believe that our responsibility goes beyond producing outstanding academic results. We are fully committed to providing a holistic, well-balanced education.

In The Classroom

Taught Curriculum

The Primary Curriculum follows a topic-based, cross-curriculum approach to learning with the British National Curriculum as it’s foundation. Soft skills are developed through a set of bespoke ‘Golden Threads’ that are carefully interwoven throughout the curriculum. The subjects taught in our topic curriculum are: English, Science, Mathematics, History, Geography, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Art & Design, Design Technology

Subjects taught in our topic curriculum are:

Specialist Teaching subject are:

Beyond the Classroom

Wider Learning

 

In Year 1 & 2 we offer our students wider learning opportunities to encourage them to learn new interests and skills beyond the classroom including:

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