The Director General of Institut Florimont shares his vision for the school
Geneva is an international and multilingual city so it is no surprise that the director general of Institut Florimont is British. Sean Power joined the school 11 years ago and his leadership has seen the introduction of a bilingual track and an international section at this formally Francophone school. We asked him about developments at the school.
SS: The Director General – you – is now English and the teachers are from different nationalities and cultures. What has been the effect of these developments?
SP: Florimont was originally a Francophone school and the staff who taught here were from a particular educational tradition. Bringing in teachers from other traditions has introduced different ways of teaching and learning. The approach is now more student-centred and caters for different learning styles. Florimont has always had students of different nationalities but now the student body is even more diverse, with over fifty nationalities represented among the 1,350 students. At the same time, all our students live in the Geneva area – we’re a local school with an international outlook. The bilingual track and our international focus in lessons and extra-curricular activities have had a great impact cymbalta dosage.
SS: Another development is that Florimont now accepts children from the age of three. Why did the school decide to open a kindergarten?
SP: We wanted to be able to provide the whole range of education starting from a young age. A kindergarten offers what you could call intelligent childcare. The children are not just being looked after – they are developing their social skills as they play with other children. When the kindergarten opened, it also meant that parents who already had a child at Florimont were able to enrol a younger child. This ‘one stop shop’ has become very popular and as a result the kindergarten is over-subscribed.
SS: You’ve talked about aspects of the school that have changed but what aspects of Florimont would the founding Fathers recognise and approve?
SP: They would recognise the emphasis on respect for self and others, the importance of community spirit and self-discipline – values that Florimont has always embodied – but not just that. The Fathers were ahead of their time academically and intellectually. One of the best known is Father Basile Luyet, a scientist who was involved in research into cryogenics in the 1930s and was president of the Society of Cryogenics. The Fathers always prized academic excellence and encouraged students to think beyond the programme so they would certainly approve of the opportunities that students are offered.
SS: You have talked about the importance of the relationship between pupils and also between pupils and staff. What about the school’s relationship with parents?
SP: Parents are one of our key consultative bodies and they provide an important source of feedback. Parents are free to contact the class teacher or the year head or the head of section as they prefer. Similarly, every teacher is encouraged to speak to every parent. Florimont also has a Parent Association with voluntary membership.
SS: One reason why parents choose to send their children to a private school is the school’s resources. Which of Florimont’s cultural and sports activities are you particularly proud of?
SP: I’m particularly proud of the extracurricular programme because it allows students to put theory into practice through community engagement, for example with the student UN project or the Global Issues project or the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. As a specialist language school, we organise exchanges with other schools for students as well as for teachers. Students also take part in ‘stages’ or work experience, which offers them something other than an exam result – these are all part of the ‘added value’.
SS: After the final diploma, what do pupils go on to do?
SP: All our students go on to further study. If they decide to take a gap year, we encourage them to gain practical experience rather than spend the time surfing in Australia! Our students go on to university in France, Switzerland and – increasingly – in the UK or the USA with offers from top institutions – Cambridge, Harvard, UCLA. Our students are ‘local internationals’, both local and global citizens: glocal citizens, you could say.
Article by Rosemary Wilson