Samui Wining & Dining
WELL-ROUNDED
The International School of Samui believes in developing children that are ‘all-rounders’.


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Few would disagree that a good education is important. And in today’s competitive world, young school-leavers need every advantage in the fight for a good job, or a place at a reputable tertiary education institution.

      So what constitutes a good education? Sure, a comprehensive syllabus that covers all the language and mathematics skills, as well as the sciences, history and geography is important. But a good school teaches its pupils more than just ‘subjects’. A good school aims at creating a well-rounded child, who can not only answer factual questions in an exam, but one who has acquired life skills, social skills, and a love of the arts and sport. The International School of Samui (ISS) is one such school.

Firstly, ISS follows the National Curriculum of England, and caters for children from one to 17 years of age. What’s impressive though is the school’s emphasis on art, music, sport and providing a wide range of extra-curricular activities, both during and after school hours. Aside from the weekly music class, students can sign up for private lessons and choose from piano, guitar, drums, saxophone, recorder, ukulele and singing lessons during school time. Instruments are available for those who wish to ‘try before they buy’, and

due to high demand, the school has recently built an extra practice room. And you need only attend the annual school concert to see how talented the school’s pupils are with regards to music and drama, as well as behind-the-scenes creative and organisational skills such as props and set-design. The teachers certainly go the extra mile when it comes to putting together such events, going way beyond the call of duty and giving up much of their free time.

        Art is an important tool for children to express themselves. With art, there’s no right or wrong, only individual perception. In October 2012, ISS introduced their first-ever ‘Art Week’ that included the entire school. The programme allowed a high level of flexibility, as pupils could sign up for courses and workshops that interested them, and allowed them to venture into mediums they may not have had exposure to before. Projects included photography, puppet-making, sculpture, wall-painting, magazinemaking, decoupage, mosaic-tiling, weaving, cartoon-drawing and floristry, to mention but a few. Teachers, volunteer parents and specialists guided the children through their chosen projects and helped them to create pieces from start to finish, ending in a massexhibition of their work at the end of the week. Art Week 2012 was such a success, that it’s been confirmed as an annual event.

          From Monday to Thursday, for an hour after school, ISS offers pupils a wide variety of extra-curricular activities (ECAs), covering sports, languages, arts and skills. Attendance is not compulsory, but children are encouraged to attend as many ECAs as their time schedule allows. Most of these activities are offered free-of-charge, and others at a small fee, merely to cover the cost of hiring an expert in the skill. The ECAs vary from term to term, allowing a greater variety, and are presented in different age groups. ISS has its own swimming pool, as well as basketball courts and an AstroTurf field. This means that sports-based activities include basketball, football, swimming, and water-safety and life-saving. In the dance studio, students enjoy not only various forms of dance, but also yoga, martial arts and gymnastics. Have a budding scientist at home? Well, children with an enquiring mind can enjoy ECAs such as the ‘mad scientist club’ or the ‘imagination club’ for little ones. There’s also the school newspaper or creative writing for those with a knack for words. The choice of activities is as endless as the nationalities that attend ISS. And currently, there are children from 35 countries attending the school – not quite enough to host a ‘Junior United Nations’ meeting, but diverse nonetheless.

          The ‘Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award’ aims to build well-rounded young citizens. This international arm of the British ‘Duke of Edinburgh’s Award’ (DofE) is a leading youth charity that gives young people the chance to develop skills for work and life, fulfil their potential and ultimately have a brighter future. Young adults from the age of 14 can sign up for either the bronze, silver or gold awards, which differ in timeframe as well as degree of difficulty and workload. But whichever they choose will greatly enhance their resumé or CV, and therefore employment opportunities. The awards are divided into different sections, including volunteer work, learning new skills, physical training, expeditions, and for the gold there is also a ‘residential’ section which involves spending five days away from home on a shared activity. What’s great about this youth programme is that each individual can tailor it to suit their likes and interests. Within each category participants can choose what to volunteer for, what physical activities to partake in, what new skills to learn and what expeditions to join. ISS encourages its senior school students to sign up for the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, and has this as one of their extra-curricular activities.

          As The International School of Samui has grown in strength over the past few years, there’s been an increased need to cater for those pupils wanting to study for their A-level exams. With this in mind, building of the new sixth form block is under way to house year ten-and-eleven students and help them prepare for the examination. Now a child can begin their school life as a toddler at ISS, and carry on right through to taking their A-levels in this creative and supportive learning environment.

          Curriculum and extra-mural activities aside, there are many benefits to attending an international school. Children develop cross-cultural understanding, an international outlook and an ability to build relationships with people from very different backgrounds. With this concept in mind, ISS hosts termly ‘International Days’ with the focus being on a specific country and its culture. This allows all children to explore the language, food, art and dance, as well as the history of the country. Pupils and their parents of this nationality take pride in sharing knowledge of their homeland with their peers, and it’s a fun day for all.

          Studies show that children who attend international schools are more open-minded and better at problem solving as adults. Many of the world’s problems today arise from cultures not understanding or accepting each other. Perhaps all future politicians should do a stint at an international school before entering the political world. Food for thought...

 

 Rosanne Turner


 


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