ZHUHAI International School has become an International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) World School -- "The first and only of its kind, adding another jewel in the crown of Zhuhai City," Hilton Munro, head of Zhuhai International School (ZIS) on Qi'ao Island, heralded in the school newsletter.
The news was also announced on the school’s closing day a week ago Friday, garnering enthusiastic applause.
The certificate from the IB Head Office in Geneva authorises Zhuhai to offer its complete repertoire of PYP, Middle Years Programme (MYP) and Diploma Programme (DP).
"It means our children can go to our school when they’re 3 years old and leave to college when they’re 18 years old. It’s inspiring for all staff, teachers, parents and students," Hilton exclaimed.
An excerpt from the report from the head office states:
"The staff have genuinely embraced the PYP framework and have worked individually and collectively towards developing curriculum documentation and are beginning to explore inquiry methodology. The openness and honesty of the staff during discussions was evidence of the manner in which the learner profile is embedded in their practice. The school has provided planning and professional development time in recognition that the journey the school is undertaking involves significant paradigm shifts. The staff are thanked for their honesty and openness in all discussions. They reflected on the achievements so far and are committed to continue the successful implementation of the PYP."
"It’s very positive. We’re very proud to achieve it," said Hilton, adding: "We all did a great job. It’s not just one person who can do that, rather, everybody has to work together as a team."
There are more than 4,000 candidates all over the world, and only half are authorised IB schools. The process takes three years. Sometimes when authorisation teams visit a school, they find it is not ready yet; maybe teachers are not fully qualified, or curriculum is not strong enough yet, or the management does not have enough experience.
"But we achieved this in two years, which is the shortest time that it can possibly be done. It’s amazing," said Hilton.
Once the application process is initiated, the school has to do a lot of work -- documentations, trainings and so on.
Two inspectors visited the school in May. They evaluated the preparedness of the school to continue to implement the PYP, determined whether the school is committed to the philosophy, aims, objectives, standards and practices of the PYP, obtained a clear overview of how the philosophy of the PYP compares with the educational philosophy of the school, conveyed clearly in the report a series of commendations (good practices), recommendations and matters to be addressed, and assisted the school management in making appropriate decisions concerning ongoing implementation of the programme.
Having examined the teachers, programme, curriculum and the facility, the inspectors said they were most impressed by the quality of the teachers who give a high standard of teaching in the school, Hilton explained.
Founded five years ago, ZIS has grown from 15 to more than 160 students and has expanded teaching staff, curriculum and facilities. Next year, students in the highest level will begin their pre-diploma year, sit their first International General Certificate of Secondary Education exams and many of classes will be at full capacity. Moreover, additional specialist teachers have been recruited, and new resources and facilities planned, Hilton revealed.
The PYP, for students aged 3 to 12, focuses on whole-child development as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world.
The MYP, for students aged 11 to 16, provides a framework of academic challenge that encourages them to embrace and understand the connections between traditional subjects and the real world, and become critical and reflective thinkers.
The DP is an academically challenging and balanced programme of education with final examinations that prepares students, normally aged 16 to 19, for success at university and afterwards, according to a spokesperson.
Apart from curricular, the school organises extracurricular activities such as excursions, drama presentations, baseball clinics and games, summer reading programmes, Great Wall Marathon and Saturday Soccer. Students also regularly visit the orphanage with donations they have raised, the spokesperson noted.
"The school is committed to continued growth and improvement. This is a shared commitment between the board, staff and broader ZIS community. Through a collaborative effort our mission of developing dynamic and principled global citizens is one that we can all be a part of," said Hilton.
-By Betty Lin, Zhuhai Daily