We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to education in Singapore, with a diverse range of international schools to suit a variety of needs. Some families will be interested in what a smaller school can offer, while others will opt for the benefits of a larger institution. We asked DR MARGARET ALVAREZ, Head of School at ISS International School (ISS), to identify what she sees as the five key attributes of small schools.
1. Small class size
Students at a small school benefit from close interaction with teachers and a low student-to-teacher ratio. With this personalised attention, they are less likely to feel lost or unnoticed, which can happen in a large student body. At ISS, for example, ratios can be as low as 8:1 at high school, 15:1 at middle school and 18:1 at elementary school.
2. Customised learning
journeys At small schools, the focus is on students as unique individuals. The progress of each student, and their learning journey, can be tracked – including how quickly non-English speaking students acquire English language skills. This influences the way the school plans and delivers its curriculum; we have a diverse range of classes and activities to accommodate different learner profiles. Undoubtedly, close and authentic student-teacher interaction gives students the best chance to reach their potential.
3. Passion in teaching
Within a small school, faculty members are better able to form a close-knit and supportive community, while receiving more opportunities for professional training. The close student-teacher bonds also add to their job fulfilment, which in turn fuels their passion to shape the best learning experience for students.
4. Big fish, small pond
A small school is able to offer an extensive range of extra-curricular and leadership activities to complement the academic subjects and nurture the students’ personal development. The difference is that there are more chances for students to get involved. For example, there are greater opportunities for participation in various activities, especially in leadership positions, and to represent the school at different events.
5. Close-knit community
Small schools pride themselves on offering a safe and nurturing “family” environment where all faculty and staff members know each student by name. They are able to care for the students’ wellbeing and address any bullying or emotional problems in a timely manner. Parents are integral to a close-knit community and to the students’ progress. After all, every parent wants his or her children to feel at home while they’re at school.
This article first appeared in the January 2017 edition. Get a copy or subscribe so you’ll never miss an issue!
Check out more school stories in our Education section.