The curriculum model at Gloucestershire International School has three distinct strands:
An international curriculum
Integrated outdoor education and practical learning
The use of targeted educational technology
The school follows the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme and we have applied for candidture. The MYP is a highly respected curriculum model which includes a requirement for all schools following it to meet stringent requirements of curriculum planning, subject range and depth and a substantial commitment to a holistic educational model. Gloucestershire International School will offer a full curriculum including, Maths, Sciences, English Language and Literature, Arts (Music, Drama and Visual Arts), Language Acquisition (MFL), Individuals and Societies (Humanities), PE (outdoor activities, sports and fitness), PSHE, Design (DT), Interdisciplinary studies and both Independent Research and Community Projects. The MYP concludes, at age 16, with a set of formal e-assessment exams. These are the equivalent of a high quality GCSE and are accredited by Ofqual as such. The MYP is recognised throughout the world by universities and provides a great platform to move on to either the IB Diploma Programme or other qualifications such as A-Level. More information can be found here: Middle Years Programme of the IBO.
Once a week, students will attend the Wilderness Centre, our outdoor education centre for a whole day of lessons in an outdoor setting. These lessons will be part of the formal taught curriculum, not just outdoor activities. Any topic which would benefit from an outdoor venue will be taught at the centre, but initially students will focus on Art, PE, creative writing as part of English, Biology and physical Geography as these subjects lend themselves particularly well to the beautiful setting at the centre and to the facilities available.
Wherever possible, students will learn through practical application of their knowledge. We have a beautiful setting and facilities at the two centres include a science lab, stage and sound system for drama and music, art room, sports facilities at the nearby university, outdoor activities including high and low ropes, archery, a mini-farm, kitchen and flower gardens, music practice rooms, climbing wall and a full-professional kitchen for learning how to cook and prepare food.
A recent publication by the University of Plymouth highlighted the benefits of learning in an outdoor setting. This is particularly important for children who are using technology each day. It is critical for them to learn how to value themselves enough that they can choose to ignore the attention-seeking of electronics. Technology is a wonderful tool for learning, but the ability to put it down is just as important! We see it as providing a key moment in each child’s week to enable them to look upward and outward from themselves.
Learning resources at Gloucestershire International School are online, where that is the most appropriate medium, and all courses will make use of targeted educational technology to enhance learning. This allows children to learn as fast as they want, or as slow as they need to. It also means that teachers can track children’s progress in real time without the need for an onerous testing regime. The flexible nature of the technology means that teachers (and parents) can access students work in real-time at any point in the learning process and can input into the formation of knowledge without any barriers. This does not mean that all the learning is conducted on computers, far from it. Technology is a means to an end and we will only use technology where it enhances learning. Where it is not suitable, we will not.
A good example of technology in action we have observed is children learning to draw the human eye. The class of children had laptops available and access to videos describing how to draw an eye in pencil or charcoal. Each child could follow the video, could pause, rewind or fast-forward as they mastered the complex techniques. They could also choose the style that suited their own expressive needs. This freed the teacher to concentrate on identifying those children who needed extra support, or where a child could be encouraged to be a little more ambitious. The end result was that children felt less restricted, had a greater sense of achievement and felt better supported by the teacher as she had more time to input into them when they needed it.
In short, educational technology is invaluable in modern teaching if used correctly and appropriately as part of a blended mix of traditional teaching, practical activity and student paced learning.