Thinking about the Future and my visit to Southbank School.
This is a paid advertorial in collaboration with Southbank School
My day out in the big smoke.
It’s extremely rare that I get to do anything by myself without two children making minute by minute demands of me. Last week however, I was afforded the opportunity to get myself aboard a train, travel to the Big Smoke (London) and visit Southbank International School. Not on the Southbank as you would expect, I visited the Portland Place Campus in Westminster, which offers the Middle Year Programme, equivalent to Secondary.
The purpose for my jolly and most interesting visit was to get a feel for Southbank School. I wanted to understand their institutional ethos, discuss their learning and teaching philosophies and see what the school’s future plans were. All of this of course with a view to convey my experiences and create an interest in what is a rather exciting, dynamic and different learning establishment. I must add at this point that I was entirely impressed with the school, the Learning Staff and its principles upon which they conducted learning and education. If a different, dynamic and holistic educational experience sounds intriguing to you please read on.
A Bit of Background
Southbank International School was founded in 1979 and has over 30 years of teaching the International Baccalaureate. The school was originally situated on the Southbank (hence the name of the school) and is currently spread out over 4 different campuses, with an additional campus being built at present. As one might imagine the school has a real international flavour to it – not out of keeping with its location, the Portland Place Campus I attended was found amongst numerous International embassies. With over 70 nationalities on roll and an international Teaching Staff, it is a school which embraces and celebrates its eclectic makeup. The school has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, with a good relationship between students and teachers. The traditional ‘them and us’ dynamic has been replaced with a more collective vibe, where everyone is working together for a shared goal. The school building is well equipped throughout, with modern facilities such as iMacs computing suites. For sporting activities they have use of local pitches and facilities and the school participates in a wide range of sports competing with other international schools both nationally and internationally. While I was there I saw quite an impressive fixture list which included sporting trips and events right across Europe. As an ex-Primary Teacher who never saw opportunities like this, I was quite envious.
A School without Walls
When Southbank International School was established it was declared to be a ‘school without walls’, this is both in a more literal sense but also a way to encapsulate the schools wider ethos. What became abundantly clear during my visit was that the core principles upon which the school was founded are alive and well today and at the heart of every students learning experience. This facet of the school is certainly what I thought set it apart from a ‘traditional British school experience’. The students are keenly encouraged to take an active role in understanding and reflecting upon their education and to take responsibility for the nature and content of certain aspects of the curriculum.
Students are involved with local and international projects, of which they source and plan themselves. They are expected to manage their homework schedules and organise and attend extra curriculum activities. In addition to this, there is a level of trust and freedom given to the pupils which can be taken advantage of during lunch time and after class hours. From what I can gather the local Starbucks does very well from this! Allowing students to be involved in their education in this way certainly develops a sense of ownership and responsibility for their own progress. This aspect in particular is what impressed upon me the most; it was certainly a far cry from how I remember my relationship with education at a similar age.
What is the IB?
I think in order to get a true handle on the driving principles and ethos to the school it is essential to have a clear understanding of the International Baccalaureate (IB). Founded in 1968, the IB Diploma Programme was established as a progressive educational platform which aimed to instil children with the necessary skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalised world. Certainly living in an outward looking and internationally dynamic city as London, the benefit of learning the skills, ideas and life practices established in by the IB are clear to see. Today the IB works with over 4000 schools in 148 countries to develop and offer four challenging programmes to well over a million students aged 3 to 19 years. With a hard-earned reputation for high standards of teaching, innovative leadership and student engagement, the IB plays a central role in the development of children around the world. It is important to note, and perhaps to relieve any fears, the IB is well regarded by British Universities and is considered not just valid but a welcome qualification. More information regarding student’s progression to universities can be found on the school’s website.
With the expansion of Southbank International School, moving into a new campus and facilities the school are excited to expand the number of students they have on role. If anything from this piece sparks some interest or lines up with your own philosophies of education then I would seriously encourage you to have a look at the school’s web presence or even better arrange for a visit yourself. Perhaps the best recommendation I can give is this: if I were to have my school years again, Southbank International School is exactly where I would want to be.
For more info, check them out here: https://www.southbank.org/
Tel +44 (0)20 7243 3803
36-38 Kensington Park Road, London W11 3BU
We have been commissioned to write this piece in collaboration with The Southbank School. As always, all opinions are our own.