In an exclusive interview with EducationWorld, Mr Ian Davies, Head of Garodia International Centre for Learning Mumbai (GICLM) – which has recently launched the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) – talks about the way forward for international schools in India.
EW: GICLM boasts excellent teaching faculty. In what ways does the school management ensure that the skills and knowledge of the teaching staff are in tune with the times?
We hold weekly in-service training sessions focusing on up to date learning issues and techniques. This is led by the Head of School – an IB World Educator who conducts workshops worldwide. We also have a mentoring system within school. Every staff member is observed every 2 weeks with a focus on improving learning. All teaching staff attend approved IB and Cambridge workshops annually to ensure they are up to date with current affairs.
EW: What do you think sets apart a good international school from others?
High quality international curriculum, High quality learning environment with specialised facilities eg. labs and design centre, appropriate high level of funding for continuous staff development and training, a vision that looks beyond national boundaries, the influence of international staff to bring the very best aspects of education together, an experienced international leadership at all levels but most of all aspirational students and parents who wish to open opportunities to study abroad and enhance their own career potentials.
EW: How is the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) beneficial for the primary students as compared to other international primary years curriculum such as the Cambridge Primary Years and IB PYP?
IPC is a course that goes beyond the surface learning often seen in schools whereby students might assimilate information but are rarely challenged to think conceptually and think about how to use knowledge in new situations. Even at primary level, students are encouraged to develop their own questions about topics, to challenge information, to develop skills to work with others but ultimately to experience learning in a really dynamic and fun environment using the latest resources and materials developed by international teachers.
EW: Considering the increasing competition, what kind of outlook/approach can help an international school thrive?
A focus on learning – getting the classroom right so that all our students make genuine and substantial progress every lesson and therefore every term and every year. The outlook must be one that values scholastic learning where we develop the skills and attitudes whereby students take a keen interest in their own learning so they can have responsibility for it. This goes beyond mere rote learning where students learn to regurgitate information without questioning its value and application. From that strong learning foundation (which includes a more holistic understanding and valuing of areas like Music, Sport, Drama etc), we then can develop the curriculum to include a greater range of opportunities working responsibly in the community to appreciate and help those who are less advantaged. So, it is a strong focus on the talents of individuals, their potentials and extending them using the best teachers, facilities and materials possible. Investment in actual monetary terms is an investment in our future leaders and our students and parents deserve that.