Samui Wining & Dining
ENJOYABLY EFFECTIVE EDUCATION
SCL International School’s reach now includes not just children, but adults too.

SCL International School’s reach now includes not just children, but adults too.With a new year already underway, people on the island are asking what’s happening at SCL International School – after all, it’s always been a go-ahead type of place, and people look to it for inspiration. And the answer is that plenty’s been happening; the school’s been moving ahead in quite a few different ways.

          

Six purpose-built classrooms have recently been completed, using ecologically sound principles, such as solar panels. For Emma Dyas, the school principle, the entire school should ultimately aim – if possible – to use energy that’s sustainable. It’s a massive goal and may never be 100% complete, but the important thing in her eyes was to get started with the project. The new classrooms reflect this spirit. Children love them, and will in turn be inspired to think ecologically.

          

Building work is also now complete on the football pitch; and it’s completely covered, allowing protection from the rain and sun. There’s also a new science lab, which enables children to experience at first hand some of the exciting possibilities of physics and chemistry.

          

SCL goes way beyond what you’d expect of the average school. And it now caters for adults in more than just dancing and fitness. Take the field of language learning, for example. As you can imagine, knowing how to speak English on Samui is a vital skill if you’re doing business internationally, or if you just want to be able to speak the island’s second language. There are some options for this already in place at various schools, but at SCL there’s a new and different approach, which works well. Rather than endless classes requiring not just learning time but travel time, there’s a niftier way of acquiring English. Requiring only two hours per week class time, students learn in four month blocks, always during term-time.

          

The programme was designed by a staff member, and is ideal for anyone wanting to engage with the international community. But it’s also of use in business, and courses are filtered to very specific needs. For example, if you’re running a resort, your staff will need to be able to communicate in English. But courses can be tailor-made for specific teams in the resort. SCL International School’s reach now includes not just children, but adults too.For example, housekeepers will need to know a rather different vocabulary than, say, front-of-house staff. Similarly, courses can be structured for other businesses, such as banks and medical facilities.

          

“It’s very flexible,” says Emma. “It’s called a ‘blended learning experience’ as students get unique access to on-line programmes and can work at their own pace. There’s also classroom time too, but it’s a lot less than it’d normally be. So if you’re working or looking after children, it’s going to be an easier way to learn faster.”

          

To go a little into detail, courses meet the international standards as set down by CEFR (Common European Framework), which has six levels of competence. Learners are assessed before, during and at the end of the course. It’s very popular to say the least – 100,000 learners took courses in the last year alone. For island residents wishing to learn Thai at SCL, there’s a separate programme, which starts at beginner level.

          

On a completely different front, SCL’s foundation course continues to thrive. It’s a lot more than simple day care, and children here are taught by highly qualified UK teachers. The structure of the foundation year is all play-based learning, involving the development of skills such as reading and problem-solving. The upside is quite amazing. As Emma puts it,SCL International School’s reach now includes not just children, but adults too. “We have five year olds who are going into year one who can read and write simple words, and who are successful in terms of both numeracy and literacy. There’s no pressure put on children; they naturally acquire the skills through play. It’s fun, and they gain a head start this way.”

          

At SCL the accent is always on the child, rather than on an academic system; each child, young or old, is treated as a unique individual. This means that learning is as pleasurable as possible, and students are looked after, rather than endlessly pushed to perform. Students love to come here and enjoy themselves, but this doesn’t mean that there’s anything slack about the school; on the contrary, academic standards are extremely high. Says Emma, “Making children’s happiness and confidence is the most important priority for us; if a child is relaxed, he or she will certainly do better academically. We therefore cater for the whole child. Not only are the students happy, but they’re also getting the grades they require for their future.”

          

SCL is certainly setting trends and constantly strives to do more. With expanded facilities and new courses on the agenda, it’s not just parents and children who’re happy with what the school’s doing, but adult learners, too. Everyone who opts for SCL will experience a strikingly different kind of school, where enjoyment and learning come together in a seamless meld. The future’s assured for not just the school but for all its students, both young and old. And since SCL is always moving steadily ahead, it’s certainly worth checking in every so often to see what’s new!

          

 Dimitri Waring


 


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