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Branksome Hall Asia: Where dreams become reality

Image courtesy of Branksome Hall Asia

Off the coast of South Korea lies Jeju Island. It’s a beautiful island that’s listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is also home to a reputable all-girls International School called Branksome Hall Asia.

Founded in 2012, Branksome Hall Asia is the sister school to Branksome Hall, a 114-year old independent girls school located in Toronto, Canada that consistently ranks as one of the best boarding schools worldwide. Here, girls take the lead in an environment that’s committed to creating an unforgettable learning journey, encouraging them to find their voice, discover their remarkable talent, take risks and step out of their comfort zones.

“Dedicated to provide [sic] exemplary educational programs, our students grow as globally minded learners and leaders prepared for the challenges and opportunities they will meet in a rapidly changing interdependent world,” says Dr Beverley von Zielonka, Principal of Branksome Hall Asia. “They grow as architects, athletes, debaters, doctors, engineers, historians, lawyers, mathematicians, musicians, researchers, scientists, writers and much more, and often at the same time.”

Challenging stereotypes and gender bias, the school seeks to teach students to reach their fullest potential through the provision of a study environment that encourages them to build self-confidence through responsibility and self-direction, encouraging growth of analytical skills, teamwork, exploring assumptions and considering goals and developing strategies to help achieve them.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) World School welcomes students from Junior Kindergarten Prep through to Grade 12. Under the IB program, students will participate in a liberal arts education that’s viewed as the gold standard by universities around the world. At Branksome Hall Asia, the IB program has specific frameworks specifically-designed for each stage of a student’s educational journey.

IB Primary Years Program (PYP)

Image courtesy of Branksome Hall Asia

Catering to students aged 3 to 11, the Primary Years Program focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and the outside world. Cultivating curiosity in children, the faculty urges girls to ask questions in order to understand, discover and learn more about themselves, while making connections between their learning and the real world.

Classes are kept to a maximum of 20 to ensure each student receives sufficient time with their teachers and educational assistants. During the early years of your daughter’s education, she will learn through inquiry-based approaches to learning and teaching, while familiarising herself with technology, participating in student-initiated actions that make a difference locally, and learning about gender equality and diversity.

IB Middle Years Program (MYP)

For students age 11 to 16, the Middle Years Program provides a framework of academic activities that allow students to embrace their disciplinary studies and build on their inter-disciplinary understanding. This program provides each girl with the best preparation for the IB Diploma Program and higher education. Here, students work on projects that require complex problem-solving expertise, ethical decision making skills and the development of international perspectives.

On top of this, the taught curriculum heightens the creative, critical and reflective thinking skills of each child. At this stage, students also tackle relevant societal issues and apply their ideas to local, national and global contexts. To prep for an increasingly globalised world, the faculty ensures each student is skilled in the art of communication, intercultural studies, and global engagement -qualities that are essential for life in the digital age.

In one of Branksome Hall Asia MYP Design Program, students focus on building projects and designs around the concept of empathy. To be successful designers, students need to understand and empathize with a user group and design for them. The concept of empathy for the user is central to Design Thinking, and connects well with the school’s International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. Using the MYP Design Cycle, students investigate a design challenge or problem, design a range of possible solutions, create the solution using our state-of-the-art design lab, and then test and evaluate their solution. In Grade 9, for example, students

One such recent project is the Microlight Project. Each student is given an LED bulb and one battery. Their task is to identify a user group and design a microlight that fits their needs. Many students investigate the concept of safety at night, and how adequate lighting can contribute to safety. Students explore different contexts such as campers and hikers, to city dwellers and even students who live on our sprawling campus.

Image courtesy of Branksome Hall Asia

The design below is by a Grade 9 student inquiring into a design solution for female campers that allows all members of a group to feel safe and secure. The design is actually two flashlights in one–the lights can be separated to share with a person, so that neither is left without a light source; or the lights can be combined to provide a brighter light. In addition, additional modules can be added as the group grows.

Design by Grade 9 Hyeyeon Yun. Image courtesy of Branksome Hall Asia

Because the students were using industry-grade parametric modeling software (Autodesk Fusion 360) and 3D printers, students are easily able to iterate their designs and continually improve and develop their designs. In the case of this design, small changes were made to the switch mechanism to better accommodate the battery and make it more reliable. This combination of rapid-prototyping technology and the inquiry approach to design allows our students to explore possibilities and continually refine their design. More importantly, students design for real users, real contexts, and real outcomes.

Image courtesy of Branksome Hall Asia

IB Diploma Program (DP)

From 16 to 19, students will be preparing for final examinations through a series of academically challenging programs that are externally assessed at an international standard. The Diploma Program continues to enhance student’s ability to be a creative and critical thinker who is confident when it comes to the challenges of life after graduation.

The IB Diploma Program requires students to study a subject from a variety of disciplines; three at the Higher Level and three at the Standard Level. Additionally, students will undergo ‘The Theory of Knowledge’ course, write an extended essay (a 4,000-word independent research paper), and participate in a minimum of 150-hours of enrichment activities that are a part of the Diploma requirements. Students will also learn to work independently and collaboratively through a series of projects.

With more than 2,200 universities worldwide accepting the IB Diploma Program as a secondary school credential, students of Branksome Hall Asia have the chance to apply to the world-leading higher education providers. Over 90% of previous students have been accepted into the world top 100 universities in Asia, Canada, UK and the U.S.

To ensure each student is equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to further their studies, the School offers university counselling with professional counselors. Teachers offer educational, social, and career advice as well as assistance with developing effective work habits, research work, and exploring new academic and career opportunities. For students in Grades 10 – 12, the School offers specific help in areas like time management, reflective essay writing, community work and university applications.

So, if you’re looking for a school that offers a well-balanced student experience, an established reputation, and also provides stellar academic results, Branksome Hall Asia really could be the ideal School for your daughter. Intellectual rigor, aesthetic appreciation, empowering women and a commitment to service reflects the typical Branksome Hall Asia experience.

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