Retiring to Bali is one thing, but settling in with a family with school-aged kids is another ball of wax. If you live in Bali – or would like to – and you’re looking for a school, this is the man to talk to.
GARTH WYNCOLL is the principal of Bali Island School (BIS). He’s also a father of a student (his youngest child is in the 9th grade). We sat down to ask him more about the school and what parents and students can expect.
Where are you from, and what’s your teaching background?
I’m originally from Toronto, Canada. I’ve been teaching for 30 years now and have taught in the USA, Philippines, Nigeria, Ecuador and now beautiful Bali, Indonesia.
Tell us about the students and families at your school.
A growing number of our families have chosen to make Bali their home while one parent or guardian works in a large city like Jakarta or Singapore. These families move for the lifestyle and environment. They are pleased to know that their children are earning a wonderful education, which will provide them access to universities around the world.
And your teachers?
About a quarter of our teachers are from Asia. The rest are from North America, Australia/New Zealand and Europe. Over 80 percent of our teachers are expats.
Your youngest child attends BIS. What is important to you in a school as a parent?
My wife and I chose to send our children to schools that are based on the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. We feel these schools follow a curriculum and ethos that prepares children for a meaningful future. It also opens doors to universities around the world and supports and teaches global values.
For those unfamiliar with the IB curriculum, please explain how the programme works.
Many curricula pay lip service to “educating the whole child”, but the IB requires it. Let me explain. The programme comprises three parts: the Primary Years Programme, Middle Years Programme and the Diploma Programme. All courses and units require students to consider their learning from different perspectives – be it in the classroom, on our fields and at our lunch tables. IB students develop the ability to think critically and creatively. The curriculum requires students to innovate and solve real-world problems.
Additionally, the IB Programme is rigorous. It makes students own their own learning by developing their Approaches to Learning (ATL) skills. These are the soft skills we employ daily to navigate day-to-day life. These include things like organisation, time management, communication and research skills. At BIS, we make these ATLs the centre of all conversations with students and parents.
I think the best example of the IB’s rigour comes from returning graduates who report that they arrive at university completely prepared for the coursework. This preparation is ensured by the program’s externally-assessed student work. Schools are held accountable through the IB’s cyclical accreditation process, too.
You mentioned global values earlier. What non-academic components does the IB curriculum teach?
The IB programme develops caring individuals. Students must engage with their community. Through this engagement, they learn about their impact on their community and the issues the community faces. They can then act to solve problems. Students become caring and principled, which are two of the IB’s values.
What sorts of projects are BIS students involved in?
They are teaching English to Indonesian students. They are helping to find solutions to our reliance on plastic. A team of BIS students provide opportunities for children who have disabilities; others are rescuing street animals. Our students are doing a lot for the local community.
What languages are taught at your school?
Global mindedness is a big part of the IB curriculum. Students are expected to learn at least two languages. All students study English at BIS and also learn Bahasa Indonesia in the Primary programme. They can continue with Bahasa or opt to study French or Spanish in Secondary school. Languages are a portal into a culture. Being able to communicate in more than one language opens doors.
You have stated that the IB curriculum can save parents money. How?
Many universities around the world accept IB coursework as first-year university coursework. This can be a huge savings to the family in university fees.
BIS at a glance:
Average years of faculty teaching experience: 16
Percent of teachers with Master’s Degrees: +50
Student to teacher ratio: 7-to-1
Number of student nationalities: 25
Number of teacher nationalities: 15