What is the educational focus at International School of Bucharest?
At the International School of Bucharest we expect and help each child to reach their full potential. Obviously there is a focus on the academic areas of the children, but we also value and promote all areas of a child’s interest and talent potential.
For example, we have international champion fencers; youth team footballers at the Bucharest clubs, national chess competitors, marvellous musicians and fantastic artists, to name but a few. These children are celebrated in assemblies, through the displays in the school and the school’s magazine to promote to everyone what our children are capable of.
How do you promote a holistic approach?
Within the extra-curricular clubs we offer we have a range of opportunities, where children can demonstrate their skills and develop. Besides the U9 and U11 football teams for example, we have a Fun Football club, where children can confidently get involved, improve their skills and they have forced us to start a second U9 team due to the rate the children have developed and the way they are so eager to get involved in playing. Girl’s football has always been evident in our school, with several girls playing for the school teams over the years, but now we have a specific girls’ team we have enabled even more girls to be confident to play and show their potential talents.
The range and number of extra-curricular clubs keeps increasing. Football and art clubs are always popular, but we have also run Aikido, Magician’s Club, Maths Extension, Card Games, Young Adventurers (looking at maps and including adventure stories), Ballet, Story Time, Lego Engineers; the list goes on. This range and the fact we have three club sessions, allows children to experience new activities, which they can then choose to continue or to try something new. However the key element is that the children are encouraged to choose the activities themselves, giving them ownership of the way they have chosen to use their time and therefore to have new experiences.
How do these relate to the academic focus of the school?
These non-classroom based skills and celebrations have a big impact on the children’s development in the classroom too. The idea of everyone being able, everyone within a team being important and the confidence gained from success elsewhere all improves a child’s self-belief and ability to challenge themselves in academic areas too.
What about children who are less inclined to get involved?
All our children are valued as individuals, and we offer many ways in which they can show off their unique skills and talents. There are of course the academic successes celebrated and the sports teams, but also instrumental shows, productions and class assemblies for children to demonstrate their acting and singing talents to a wider audience.
Effort and perseverance are celebrated through the Stars of the Week and Stars of the Month, where either the class teacher rewards someone’s continuous achievement or recent improvements. Whilst the Stars of the Month enable children who perform well in the Specialist lessons to be celebrated, and it is always interesting to see children who maybe find it more challenging in the English and Maths lessons to be acknowledged for their Romanian or Turkish, Music or Computing skills.
We are also aware of support needed to encourage those less confident to take risks to increase their learning, and so offer English as a Second Language to children to boost their basic English skills to be able to tackle the curriculum on offer at the school; with many of the children entering with no previous history of English soon racing through the reading books and showing us their amazing language skills in writing and oral conversations.
The Student Support Services help students with specific learning needs and support the teachers of these children to offer a differentiated curriculum, which includes high achieving students and helping them to be extended in their learning. Counselling is also offered in small groups to help children to express their feelings and consider their actions, in order to promote respecting everyone who we share our lives with. A very important message in the world we live in today that needs to be learnt by everyone.
Do you take your children on learning journeys outside of the classroom?
Yes, every year group from Nursery to the top end of Secondary have educational trips during the year. The trips are all educational, but also they are all fun.
Nursery visit the farm to tie in with their study of animals; which is always a colourful and enjoyable visit. Year 3 visit the Chocolate Factory as part of their unit of work on the history of chocolate, linked with looking at the Spanish explorers and Fair Trade. However this promotion of a sugary sweet is then followed up immediately with a trip to the dentist to reinforce the message that all good things need to be enjoyed in moderation.
From Year 3 upwards the children attend a residential trip away from their homes for a night or three! These trips are excellent opportunities for the children to improve their independence and social skills in a situation that requires it. It is also amazing to see children who in the classroom environment are happy to work quietly and follow other people’s ideas, suddenly blossom in this new situation and excel at organising themselves, making friends and leading groups. These new traits of the child are then remembered by the other children and used in the classroom afterwards, so the classroom balance changes and these children are then valued even more for ways they can support others and the ideas they can offer.
To further help our students appreciate their lives and to improve their respect for all, we have had a second Inclusion Week organised by the Student Support Services department, with visits to and from special schools so we can see how talented all children are. The maths skills of a deaf child amazed our children, the music played by another was perfect, and all the children realised you respect the individual and not make prejudgements.
All children are amazing, and through our holistic approach we aim to demonstrate and celebrate that with the most important people concerned; the children themselves.