Geneva English School receives excellent review by national inspectorate.
Moving to a new country comes with a mountain of laborious tasks and one can quickly become paralyzed by the various demands. Among setting up a bank account, securing residency permits and the logistics of finding a place to live there are also numerous concerns for one’s children, most especially their education. How does one make an informed decision on where to enrol?
One barometer of educational success is the Independent Schools Inspectorate, a government approved inspection of British schools overseas. It is a rigorous investigation designed to explore and evaluate pupil satisfaction, effective curriculum instruction and the overall quality of education.
Recently Geneva English School passed the examination with top marks. Dedicated to implementing the English National Curriculum, Geneva English School offers education for children aged three to 11. Here you will find an environment that cultivates students who are “independent thinkers, academically curious and socially confident,” as expressed by the school’s mission statement. When deciding on a school there are many factors to consider. The school’s atmosphere is of utmost importance, according to Stephen Baird, headmaster for Geneva English School. “Observe how the children are responding in different situations. Are they engaged? Are they interested? Is the ‘buzz’ a happy and positive one?” On the tour conducted by the Independent Schools Inspectorate, that ‘buzz’ was extremely positive.
Among all the findings in the inspectorate perhaps the most inspiring discovery is that the school has been made a true haven for students. With pupils coming from all over the world it is imperative that the school be a safe and welcoming space if they are able to truly focus on their studies. The inspectorate reports, “The pupils are confident and articulate; they are well-adjusted and show a sense of responsibility for themselves, other people and their surroundings.” In addition, the students’ “international diversity contributes to their cultural awareness.”Students are cared for both socially and emotionally, but also academically. Baird was appointed headmaster in 2010 and has put tremendous effort into encouraging forward-thinking practices as well as honouring previous traditions of the school and curriculum.
According to the inspectorate, “With great purpose and sense of mission, the headmaster has worked successfully with the leadership group and whole school community to introduce initiatives which are intended to improve standards of teaching and learning throughout the school.”
These efforts are easily translated into student accomplishment and engagement as the inspectorate notes evidence of pupils realising their full potential and achieving academic excellence.
While a moderately sized school, classes at Geneva English School are intentionally kept small to create more meaningful student-teacher relationships. Classroom assistants and learning support teachers play a vital role in scaffolding efforts from students with special needs and/or disabilities or those who are learning English as a second language. The small class size allows teachers and administrators to “engage with the pastoral development of each child in a very special way, beyond the academic and other developments one would expect,” says Baird. The classroom thus fosters a rich collegial climate with efficient teamwork and collaboration.
For those who are relatively new to the area or country, the school takes care to integrate both students and families into local customs. “The school makes good use of local facilities for the benefit of pupils, ranging from a choir regularly singing at an old people’s home to themed visits to the United Nations and invitations to speakers from international and local organizations,” as specified by the Independent Schools Inspectorate. Students develop a strong bond with the community, which helps ensure a smooth transition for new students.
As the school works to achieve goals in their future, a new system for monitoring pupil progress will continue to be implemented and modified. This system—which involves reasoning tests and progress tests throughout the year—will inform curriculum choices. The inspectorate discovered that the process “will strongly facilitate the planning of teaching to match the needs of the pupils, and, in the absence of national tests, will enable the school to benchmark its own data efficiently.” The forward-thinking momentum inspired by Baird is clearly in effect through this system management.
Naturally there are always strides to be made on the path to educational success and Geneva English School appears to be making every effort to resist plateauing. Baird explains, “We are looking to bring in a brand new appraisal system for our staff which will benefit the school and all the staff enormously, as it will fit very well with continuous professional development.” In addition he says that the positive findings from the Independent Schools Inspectorate present “external evidence and judgment for parents at GES and prospective parents.” They offer proof of high achievements and even higher goals for the future.
Geneva English School prides itself on being highly international and forward looking. Since it was founded in 1961 it has been lauded as a top institution for expatriates and locals alike. This most recent inspection shows that in no way has the school’s commitment to top-quality education and student satisfaction diminished.
Article by Kristina Held