Resilience is admirable. Resilience in young people through the many ups and downs in a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic is greater still — and a clear sign of education done right.
“During the pandemic, educators around the world had thought creatively about how best to support learners via Distance Learning platforms. We were incredibly proud of how our students, teachers, and parents smoothly and effectively transitioned from regular school to Zoom lessons and back to face-to-face school,” says Sarah Shine, Alice Smith School’s Vice Principal with responsibility for Learning and Teaching.
At Alice Smith Primary School, students are nurtured to flourish and thrive. The school offers a wide range of learning opportunities through a broad and balanced enriched English National curriculum, a bespoke wellbeing curriculum, trips, excursions and a wide range of enrichment opportunities.
Alice Smith Primary School is innovative. This means that it ensures learning and teaching practice is informed by robust research evidence from around the world. Most recently, the school has embedded the principles of cognitive science and positive psychology into its primary curriculum.
The result is a curriculum that is sequenced and progressive, scientifically mapped to support deep, long-term learning. It is rich in powerful knowledge, skills and vocabulary, complemented with assessments to enhance learning. It has adaptations for those with talents and special educational needs. It is unapologetically ambitious to include desirable difficulties.
Educators teach key knowledge, skills and vocabulary. They curate environments to provoke learning, interest, creativity and thought. They are trained to focus on supporting learning through the intelligent use of theories.
The Alice Smith Primary School has a bespoke wellbeing curriculum. This empowers all in the school community to become architects of their own health and wellbeing within an enabling environment.
Positive psychology here is more than just a class to talk about feelings — children are building a toolkit of vocabulary for the trials and tribulations of their future lives.
Character is the combination of thoughts, actions and behaviours. Shine explains that research by Seligmen and Peterson has shown that the same 24 Character Strengths have been shared by humans in virtually all cultures over three millennia.
“Character Strengths aren’t about ignoring the negative. Rather, developing them may help us overcome the inevitable challenges of life,” says Shine. “For example, you can’t show perseverance without first wanting to quit; you can’t show self-control without first being tempted to do something you know you shouldn’t.”
At Alice Smith Primary School, they teach children about character strengths and how to reflect on their own character. This offers their students the opportunity for them to develop genuine emotional intelligence.
As well as this, it helps them better understand how everyone is different and how to appreciate those differences. This knowledge equips students to enjoy positive relationships. The school believes that by learning about character strengths their students will be well placed to grow as kind and respectful global citizens.
Such lessons can have a phenomenal impact — Shine shared stories about how students live and breathe the practice of positive psychology. For example, a six-year-old Year One student told her, “I am very grateful to be back at school.”
The Alice Smith School was the first British international school in Malaysia and the only British international school in Kuala Lumpur which is “not for profit.” Walk through the Primary School and visitors will not just find children wiser beyond their years. Among abundance of green, open spaces, this diverse community of children, young as they may be, is evolving into future global citizens.
With over 45 nationalities in its student body, opportunities to do this abound. One of the ways the Primary School does this is by bringing the UNESCO and Sustainable Development Goals to life. “We’ve prioritised nine of those, and we call them the KLASS eco themes.”
The goal of all this is to equip children to be “future leaders, future innovators, and future changemakers,” says Shine.
Through the KLASS eco theme lessons the Alice Smith students are provoked to think about how they can make a positive difference to the world. Shine shared the story of how children across the school recently learned about the UNESCO Global Goal no. 14: Life below water. The children astounded their teachers with how to address ocean pollution; they shared ideas such as machines that eat plastic in the sea and a Tik Tok campaign to raise awareness about sea pollution. The Alice Smith Primary School teachers aim to inspire all students to find their place in this world.
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