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Walking the Talk: An Argument for Explicit Skills Development | Garden International School Blog

08 Oct 2017

Walking the Talk
An Argument for Explicit Skills Development

GIS blog walking the talk

The Ladders for GIS Students

Garden International School students can utilise these ladders in many ways. They are a guide for personal development. By identifying and actioning ways of moving up the ladders students will become more skillful, empathetic, and well rounded people. Through the evidencing of personal progress, and considered reflection upon this process, our students will be genuinely prepared for the wider world that awaits them.

The Ladders for GIS Teachers

The skills ladders are a guide to aid the continued development of our learners across the length and breadth of the school. They are common goals that transcend the individual areas of the curriculum and unite us in a shared belief of what young people can, and should become. They are a tool to help teachers plan and deliver meaningful skills based learning opportunities.

The Ladders for Parents

The skills ladders demonstrate to parents our aspirations for their children. We hope and intend for parents to read them and use them at home. The creation of opportunities to develop these skills and qualities are all around us. We believe that our parents join us in a shared responsibility for the development of these skills, and the value we place in them.

The GIS Learner Skills have developed and evolved over the last seven years at GIS. Originally drawn from our student vision they were created to explicitly state what skills, qualities and competencies we believe all students should develop, grow and nurture during their time at GIS and beyond. If they do, they will have much of what they need to lead successful and happy lives.

We have become increasingly interested in ensuring that we “walk the talk” in this area. After all, we are certainly not unique in explicitly stating that we want students to be able to work together effectively or develop strategies to manage their emotions. In order to achieve this we recognise that there is a responsibility placed upon us to create real opportunities to develop these “skills” within our curriculum.

This in itself becomes problematic. We can of course  hope that through a process of osmosis like learning the young people in our care will just get better at these things through being exposed to them. We are not convinced by this. An empirically solid example might be that of collaboration. We know from our experience and what we see in both the child and adult world that simply working in groups does not automatically lead us to being more effective collaborators. For this to occur we need some kind of intervention. Self awareness, third party coaching or meaningful personal reflection are all examples of methods to improve. Without any intervention however we are essentially just hoping it happens. For many it doesn’t;. Just think about the last team you worked or played in!

So this has led us to some really difficult but very important “wicked questions”.

How you effectively plan and implement skills learning?
How do we track progress?

Both questions are being answered to some extent by the creation of the GIS Learner Skills Ladders. These ladders map out what progress could look like across our 15 skill strands. They are not age specific and they do not imply that all students should reach the top of every ladder. Instead they act as a guide for the development for our students, parents and teachers.

Tracking progress of these kinds of skills or qualities is a real challenge. Many of the ways schools traditionally gather data on student progression are woefully inefficient. There are those who say we should not try. The argument goes that for something like our strand of “managing emotions” it is almost impossible to master. As we through our lives new and unfamiliar situations will arise that will take their emotional toll. Therefore one can never reach the “top” of this ladder.

This argument makes sense at a surface level but by accepting it we find ourselves returning to the “osmosis” problem. Just hoping that we kind of work out how to deal with stressful situations or emotionally challenging occurrences. It also betrays the advocate as someone who is thinking in terms of a “when it’s done, it’s done” model of education. No wonder really as our systems tend to lead towards a summative assessment that produces a final grade. If we think of the ladder in this way it is fatally flawed. The point is that this is not how it has been designed. If we can lose this baggage and hold firm to the belief that we never stop learning, and that new learning will almost always be built upon old then we start to open ourselves up to exciting possibilities.

The managing emotions ladder sets out a guide. It forces students and teachers to explore and utilise strategies. It promotes self reflection and continuous learning based upon that reflection. In other words it aims to provide a learner with a solid base from which to draw upon when those difficult and unfamiliar emotional challenges arise. It does not matter if this is when you are 14 or 40. By verbalising what personal development in managing one’s emotions (and it can be developed) looks like, we are much more likely to have success in cultivating these strategies in young people.

Athena is our bespoke portfolioing mechanism that allows students to build up a set of evidence and reflections documenting their personal skills journey against the ladders. The development of professional and reflective portfolios is becoming an increasingly important skill in industry and higher education, and it seems like an effective way of charting progress for some of these more fluid concepts.

The system is designed for iPad but also works well on a Macbook. Students upload evidence against steps on the ladders and, when ready, write or record a justification as to why they have achieved a step. Where the system is different to other portfolios is that their “application” is then sent to a peer who has been trained as an evaluator. The evaluator decides on whether the application has been successful or not and provides the applicant with detailed feedback and possible next steps. Students have ownership of a process that in itself promotes effective reflection and the development of critical evaluation. Teachers moderate and quality assure the process within the system.

Athena is currently in a trial phase involving 120 students and 20 teachers from across the full range of the school.

The Learner Skills, Ladders and Athena provide us with a “triple threat” set of tools to take on the challenge of developing these skills within our learners. We have set ourselves ambitious, challenging and necessary goals. We accept that the world is a changing and we accept that education needs to be aware, if not ahead, of these changes. If our students go out into this world without having the necessary foundations to be able to succeed in it we will have failed. Plain and simple.

Watch the video below for an overview of Athena.

This is GIS Learning Culture.

To download a copy of our iBook “Enjoy the Journey – Creating a Learning Culture at GIS” please click here. Kindly note that the link will only open from iOS device, provided the device has  iTunes U and iBook installed.

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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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