David Edwards, Head of School and CEO at GEMS World Academy (Singapore) (GWA) explains how the school is expanding opportunities for real-world learning and ensuring that students are well prepared for an exciting future.
“One of GWA’s core values is innovation; it’s in the DNA of our schools around the world. We’re committed to examining best practice and leading the way forward in education,” says David Edwards. This belief is more than words; GWA is in the midst of rolling out its “Future School” initiative, which, David explains, is focused on three core pillars.
1. Blended Learning
Launched in August as part of GWA’s International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme, the blended learning initiative is not just online or classroom learning, but the best of both. The programme pairs a global teacher with students from multiple GEMS Education schools around the world in a single class. Students in Singapore, Switzerland and Dubai are supported on the ground by a teacher in their respective schools.
“Children learn in a virtual classroom with kids around the world,” says David. “One teacher – who delivers the core content – is based anywhere in the world, while the co-teacher is based at GWA (Singapore) and takes care of the one-to-one and small group learning. It’s not unlike a university model.” The foundation is flexible learning; students can participate in open classes in real time, or collaborate on projects when it suits their schedule.
Why it’s great: Blended learning builds on the culture of global citizenship, and works with an even greater diversity of educators and students across the GEMS Education network. Students not only benefit from an enriched learning experience enhanced by a wider variety of perspectives, but they get to collaborate with peers from around the world.
2. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
“STEM is not a new concept, but at GWA we are in the second year of purposefully integrating STEM practice into every classroom and making connections with our external partners,” says David.
In partnering with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and The CREATE Lab, GWA joins only four other schools globally as a CMU Create Lab Satellite School. “They will work with us in the research of best-practice for STEM in the K-12 space, as well as connecting our students with worldleading robotics initiatives. In partnership, we will continue to integrate STEM within daily student learning in a meaningful way for every child,” says David.
Why it’s great: “The STEM approach lends context to learning to give students greater purpose. This deepens understanding of key concepts. Our partnership with Carnegie Mellon University gives our students and teachers access to the leading professors and research in STEM,” says David.
“Most schools tend to send kids out to business. We think we should be bringing business into the school,” says David. The result is the “entrepreneur-in-residence” programme, inspired in part by work the school did with Singularity University in Silicon Valley. GWA has committed a S$1,000,000 fund to support start-ups and early-stage EdTech businesses.
“We’ll provide seed funding for three start-ups initially, as well as office space on-site at GWA within our Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, beta-testing support and access to our global connections. They will operate their businesses on site and mentor our students, who can watch and learn as the businesses develop over 12 months. It’s about creating a start-up community and culture on campus. They’re not educators, they are business people, and we see the value in that partnership,” says David.
Why it’s great: GWA’s culture of entrepreneurship builds on the residence programme with an “externship with business” each year. Students from grade six and up will have opportunities at global companies to learn first hand through an annual internship programme. Bringing real businesses into the school gives students close-up experience watching a business grow, encouraging their curiosity in the nurturing and supportive environment of GWA.
GEMS World Academy (Singapore)
2 Yishun Street 42
6808 7300 | email@example.com | gwa.edu.sg/openhouse
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