Just how good is any international school? This can be a very difficult judgement call to make for a number of reasons.
One of the criteria that could be used is the academic performance/ attainment grades of students.
However, the use of a variety of curriculum models and assessment frameworks mean that is hard to compare grades with local schools in their host nations or with other international schools.. Equally the very distinctive make-up of international schools(43 nationalities in EISP and 35% turnover of students per year) can make comparison with any standardised assessment scheme very difficult – even in international examinations such as IGCSE and IB. For example, how can you compare the grades of a native English speaking student who has studied an IG course for two years in one school with another student who may have studied the same course but over two terms and with English difficulties?
Therefore at EISP we have developed a culture and a system where the most important indicator of success – as well as the obvious ones which all schools excel at like safety, happiness, good facilities, great care and guidance, fabulous opportunities and so on – is the progress that young people make in their studies…
We have devised systems and processes – but more importantly high quality conversations and actions – which ensure that whatever their individual abilities, skills, and needs, and no matter how short or long their stay here (a real issue in international schools) – the progress of young people academically and personally is outstanding – evidentially, not just because I say so as Principal!
Progress in the Primary School
In 2011-12 progress – as judged by the standards of the Foundation Stage & English National Curriculum which we use – our children in the primary school ages 2- 11 made outstanding progress across English, Maths, Science , IT (the core subjects) – way more than would be expected in English schools using the same curriculum who have a much greater proportion of native English speakers.
This rate of progress was made by children almost regardless of their individual abilities and starting points.
Some individual progress stories are amazing…
Nathalie is a really determined young lady in Year 2 joined us with almost no English. She has an in-built desire to do her best in everything she does. This determination was mixed with a a really kind nature which ensured that she settled really quickly into school life. Last year she made outstanding progress in all bar one of her subjects – excellent work.
Vlad is a young man in Year 3 who finds academic work quite challenging because he has lots of commitments to sport outside of school . He also has difficulties with English and with handwriting. Last year he had a great deal of positive mentoring and simple targets from his class teacher. His confidence and self-esteem grew because of these tactics and his progress in Year 3 by the end of the year was outstanding – especially in IT, Science and
Lizi is another young lady in Year 6 had real problems on entering the school with language and self-belief. Our response was to use constant positive feedback complimented by a carefully personalised time table including some withdrawal from normal sessions. The response of these students was to listen and act on advice in a very mature and responsible way – her motivation has been transformed. This year she made outstanding progress in all bar one of her subjects.
Progress in the Senior School
In the senior school, progress in lower seniors was outstanding almost right across the whole range of subjects. The progress to targets was 99.3%. Almost all students (94%+) made outstanding progress in the core subjects. In the upper part of the senior school, students prepared themselves superbly for external IG and IB exams and there progress was very good overall and outstanding in many areas.
Yuri came to the school with no English at all. The school provided her with the support she needed to improve her English to a high level in a very short period of time. Yuri is a dedicated student who constantly wanted to be pushed to maximise her potential. She had 100% attendance to allow her to engage fully with the curriculum. During the year Yuri was helped with her social interactions which had an impact on her English ability and also her ability to engage with group work activities. Last year Yuri made an outstanding 3 sub levels progress or more in every subject.
One of our IB students Hang led the way with a score of 42 points which should secure his place at Cambridge University since it is better than scoring 4 x A* in A levels in the UK system and 6 x A+ in the US High School system. When Hang joined the school a mere 4 years ago Hang‘s English was really limited.
Hee Hun joined our Year 11 cohort in September 2011, with very little prior knowledge of English language. The presumption on our part was that we could ensure success at IG for Hee Hun and a personalised programme was built to support it. Hee Hun achieved excellent grades including 6 at A and above in that timescale. This is exceptional progress, based upon the premise that high performance (that is, outstanding progress from one’s present position) is achievable by all and EISP’s culture and action are then purposefully designed to drive it.
Judging a school is an extremely sophisticated art – let no one tell you any different. In a world of massive variety of facilities, curriculum, gradings and so forth, there is one thing you should always check:
Can the school you are choosing demonstrate with clear, regular and understandable evidence, the progress that children are making – academically ?
Can they evidence what is being done to ensure it is the best possible progress?
If they can, it may well be the one to choose, if they cannot …