Alice Smith School stands out with Purpose-driven education
Promoted by The Alice Smith School

Alice Smith School stands out with Purpose-driven education

The Alice Smith School needs no introduction in Malaysia and the region. The original not-for-profit international school in Kuala Lumpur, founded shortly after the Second World War, has provided generations of local and expatriate children with an outstanding and thriving all-rounded education based on the British curriculum.

Always evolving and looking forward, The Alice Smith School is no ordinary school and this year  introduced a new Purpose statement: “Spark courageous exploration to inspire a better world.” Bravery has always been a core value of the school — after all, the school was started by one bold biology graduate from Harvard University, Alice Fairfield-Smith. When she was unable to find a suitable school for her daughter in Kuala Lumpur, she started one on her own. As the first British international school in Malaysia, it started with just two students, but this didn’t hold Fairfield-Smith back. Instead, she got other families to join. It wasn’t long before the school became a home away from home for thousands of families.

“This sense of innovation and establishing our own way of doing things still remains at the heart of Alice Smith,” says Sian May, Head of School. “This is made possible by our independence, strong community and passionate sense of belonging. This has enabled us to reaffirm our purpose for both our current and future generations of students.” 

Sian is a leader with a vision that extends far beyond the boundaries of conventional teaching. She was appointed in 2021 after a five-month search by the school’s Council of Governors. Passionate and ambitious, she brings years of experience directing educational strategy and vision across 10 schools in Singapore, China and Korea. 

At Alice Smith, Sian found a school where young children are learning and exploring in lush green spaces and beyond, evolving into global citizens beyond their years. Every year, many attain the highest levels in external examinations and go on to some of the best universities in the world. 

Through the new Purpose statement, which replaces the usual mission and vision, Sian is planning a pivot. “We are a thriving community but we need to ensure we keep our eyes on the horizon and the future,” she says. “Purpose is in our DNA as we were founded by someone who believed in doing things differently and providing their child with opportunities which were personalised, relevant and forward-thinking.”

Source: Alice Smith School

Turning Purpose into Impact

To put this purpose into action, the team at Alice Smith is working with Heriot-Watt University’s Provost, Prof. Mushtak Al-Atabi to embed an IMPACT programme across each campus. It starts with workshops for teachers, educators and professional services staff that get them to consider what their impact will be in shaping the world. Alice Smith students are asked to discover their IMPACT QUEST. This takes them on a journey of discovery. In this search for their purpose, it gets them to investigate how to mobilise it into a positive impact on the world around them.

The school actively invites external experts to engage with both students and teachers, broadening their perspectives and providing a global context to their learning experiences. This interaction with influencers beyond the school environment serves to prompt reflection on their impact in the broader world, fostering a deeper sense of belonging and encouraging collaborative thinking. Notable recent visitors have included:

Dr. Stuart Lawrence, a distinguished orator and author, who is known for advocating personal strength-building and courage. His impactful presentations inspire individuals to navigate challenges and build resilience.

Natalie Chan is an accomplished engineer, film producer, entrepreneur, and educator. Her unconventional career trajectory led her to recognise the pivotal role of education in shaping the purpose of the next generation. In 2016, she founded OWN Academy, an educational platform that integrates real-world learning into classrooms through career samplers designed in collaboration with industry professionals and global companies.

Dr. Shanton Chang, a renowned figure from the University of Melbourne, whose expertise centres on imparting crucial skills and knowledge vital for preparing students for an ever-evolving, technology-driven future.

David Bott is an esteemed author and expert in applied wellbeing science. His focus revolves around understanding the psychological needs of children and implementing strategies to meet these needs, thereby enhancing their overall wellbeing and development.

These influential speakers contribute significantly to the school’s efforts in broadening horizons, instilling resilience, and equipping students with the skills necessary to thrive in an ever-changing world. Their diverse expertise and insights play a vital role in shaping the holistic development of both students and educators alike.

Exploration Pathways provides another avenue for Alice Smith students to each become the leader of this journey to becoming their best selves. Through the comprehensive four-season extracurricular enrichment programme — Health & wellbeing, Futures, Creativity and A Better World — students embark on diverse paths filled with self-discovery and personal growth. For example, Primary Year students can play sports such as badminton, get involved in animation, participate in drama clubs and learn languages like Chinese. Whereas, Secondary School students can engage in more intense sports like kickboxing, explore coding, practise and perform jazz music, and master the French language.

Source: Alice Smith School

From Alice Smith to success at university and beyond

An Alice Smith education is the foundation for a bright future. It starts from as young as 3 years old, in the Early Years, where each child learns by playing and exploring, being active, and through creative and critical thinking indoors and outdoors. The Alice Smith Early Years curriculum combines the English National Curriculum with influences from Reggio Emilia, Anna Ephgrave, Maria Montessori, and Alistair Bryce-Clegg. This approach ensures children develop strong communication skills and grow up resilient and socially and emotionally prepared for the future while having a rigorous and enjoyable experience.

Moving from Early Years to Primary School is seamless. Early Years educators work as a team to closely plan and teach students a refined curriculum from preschool to Year 1 and beyond which ensures each child’s background is understood and the appropriate approaches are used. The innovative Primary School curriculum includes a wide range of learning opportunities through a broad and bespoke wellbeing curriculum, trips, excursions and a wide range of enrichment opportunities. 

In Secondary School, students acquire a wide range of skills through taking 14 different subjects including English, maths, science and two languages. In Years 10 and 11, they learn English, Mathematics, Science and a Language whilst also specialising in subject areas which reflect their interests, strengths and aspirations. This stage culminates in (I)GCSE examinations. The purpose-built 25-acre Secondary Campus in Equine Park has plenty of natural light, collaborative spaces, technology integration, and ample rooms — offering the ideal setting for social interactions and exam preparation.

At the Sixth Form, students benefit from the dedicated Sixth Form Centre that facilitates the transition from school to university-style learning, offering a dynamic environment that supports independent learning, peer collaboration, and continuity from secondary school to higher education. The modern, clean, comfortable, and bright facilities resemble university classrooms, with picturesque buildings designed to encourage fresh air circulation.

Through nurturing purpose, inspiring exploration, and promoting lifelong learning, Alice Smith ensures that its students are well-equipped to become the best version of themselves, ready to face the uncertainties of the world and make a meaningful impact. 

Click here to learn more about The Alice Smith School. 

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