As the Deputy Head for Inclusion, David Burren oversees what sets Dover Court International School (DCIS) apart from other schools: its bespoke Pathway programme. “My role is to work across the Dover Court community to promote inclusion within the school provision. This is an ongoing journey of reflection, engagement and challenge which contributes to the development of our school,” he explains.
Dover Court International School is a community with inclusion at its heart. As the only fully inclusive international school delivering a curriculum built on the framework of the National Curriculum for England in Singapore, DCIS prepares students to be active participants in a globally connected world. At Dover Court, it’s understood and acknowledged that one size does not fit all.
“The key elements of the Pathway programme include integration, flexibility and expertise,” says Burren. “Ensuring that students have access to excellent teaching is fundamental to their success. This, combined with opportunities for individuals to access different lessons, support, and school activities across different pathways, helps to personalise the experience for each child and provide the most appropriate levels of challenge and support that we can offer.”
Dover Court offers three distinct yet fluid pathways. Pathway 1, in which the majority of students are enrolled, follows the mainstream curriculum. Students in Pathway 1 are stretched and supported according to their individual needs, with access to short-term learning support and/or therapy, if needed.
In Pathway 2, adjusted outcomes for each student, as well as smaller classes, ensure that all students can reach their full potential, whilst following an adapted version of the mainstream curriculum. Students in Pathway 3 are supported through an individualised curriculum and integrated support programme. The teachers and teaching assistants are highly qualified and specialised at supporting children with additional needs. The students have access to services such as Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy, as well as sessions with an Educational Psychologist.
This inclusive approach is distinctive and highly successful. Not only does this approach foster a spirit of kindness and respect within the school community, it also creates a learning environment that is more reflective of real-world diversity. Students learn how to communicate and collaborate with others from many backgrounds and abilities. The result is a warm and caring environment in which students feel safe and supported to go further than they thought possible.
Dover Court’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) class of 2022 had a 100% passing rate, with an average score of 39 out of 45 points. More than half (56%) of the students achieved 40 points or more, whilst three students scored a near perfect 44 points.
According to Burren, what makes the personalised pathways and the outstanding academic results possible are the dedicated educators in the school. “The inclusive provision at DCIS relies on the expertise of all the teachers and support staff that we have,” he says. “The colleagues who I work alongside include the special educational needs coordinators, therapists, pathway teachers and mentors, learning support teachers, English as an Additional Language teachers, and our educational psychologist. These specialists work to support individual students, as well as develop department and whole school provision focussed on inclusion, benefitting students of all abilities.”
Alongside the IBDP, Dover Court also offers more career-oriented, vocational options to ensure a successful future for all students. In Years 12 and 13, students can choose to study IB courses or the BTEC International Diploma Levels 2 and 3 in Business. The ASDAN personal effectiveness qualifications empower students by enhancing their confidence and self-esteem, as well as developing critical core skills in teamwork, communication, problem solving, research and self-management.
Located on the same green 12-acre site on Dover Road in Singapore since it opened its doors to students in 1972, Dover Court celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. With a reputation for providing first-class education that is both inclusive and personalised for international families, the school goes out of its way to ensure students feel welcome.
Having been with the school for just over three years, and with his three children attending the school, Burren feels that the warm and friendly community makes students feel right at home. “We have a wonderful parent association that organises events throughout the year which help to bring our parent and student community together,” he says. “We support new students with a comprehensive orientation programme which helps them to settle into their new school.” There is also a pastoral system of teachers and year group leaders ensuring the welfare of all students, as well as student transition mentors from the upper years to help students adjust quickly.
Every student is unique, from their goals and aspirations to their individual abilities, which is something that Dover Court understands and recognises. Its excellence in education has a more long-term effect, ensuring that the students have all the tools necessary to further their education and or develop successful professional careers and lives. Burren adds, “We are always striving to maximise opportunities for a flexible and personalised curriculum, to allow each and every one of our students to thrive.”