Q+A: Garden International School, Kuala Lumpur
Garden International School, Kuala Lumpur, provides an English National Curriculum education for students aged three to 18 years. Here the school answers our questions and takes us on a virtual tour...
What happens when parents visit the school?
Parents who visit Garden International School (GIS) by appointment will be offered a personal tour to experience our school and get to know about our community and what we do to bring out the best in our students. Open Days are held at least twice a year when parents can meet our teachers and register their children for trial classes.
How many students do you have?
We have over 2,200 students at the Kuala Lumpur campus. We take up to 25 students per class for Secondary School, 22 for Primary School and 20 for the Early Years Centre in Desa Sri Hartamas.
What accreditations do you have?
GIS is accredited by renowned institutions and has received awards for its innovative teaching approach and quality of education. The school is in its seventh year of accreditation with the Council of International Schools (CIS). Accreditation with CIS both endorses and insures the quality of education provided by GIS while supporting our development and improvement planning process.
GIS is a member of several prominent international education groups. We are part of the Schools Division of the Taylor’s Education Group and a member of FOBISIA. We are also affiliated to a number of organisations which enhance the opportunities that are provided for our students and the development of the school such as Association of International Malaysian Schools (AIMS), East Asia Regional Council of Schools (EARCOS), and South East Asian Student Activities Conference (SEASAC).
Why should I send my child to your school?
GIS's 360-degree learning approach enables us to offer the best possible support system to our students as well as attracting and retaining the best teachers. Our goal is to offer the best learning environment to our students at school and at home.
GIS's teaching and learning vision is modern and innovative. We are at the forefront of the learning revolution. GIS provides a wide range of opportunities for students to experience innovative learning, from activities outside the classroom to a five-day large-scale enquiry-based programme.
An education at GIS provides young learners with the opportunity to gain the resources, values, capacities and passion to be valuable, active, caring citizens and to have a positive impact in their community. We have excellent academic results because our students are well-rounded individuals. Our heritage of excellence is more than academic results; it is all about giving the tools to our students to develop soft skills on top of academic knowledge, so they will truly be World Changers.
At GIS we aim to develop each child’s full potential, and to achieve this we continually develop our teachers to be the best that they can be. According to the OECD, there should be 75 hours of internally dedicated professional learning time. GIS is now providing similar learning opportunities for its teachers, in line with the highest performing schools in the world.
What curriculum do you follow?
We base our curriculum on the British National Curriculum of England and Wales, with modifications designed to meet the needs of international students. This curriculum is designed to bring out the best in our students and to provide a high quality and broad education which enables them to move to any other country equipped to succeed. Across the school our courses are designed to enable students to acquire important subject knowledge, understanding and skills, and also to develop their GIS Learner Skills as they strive to become effective global citizens.
What is your teaching philosophy?
Learning is at the heart of everything we do; we are committed to developing our students to be adaptable lifelong learners and global citizens. To enable this we design our programmes around the five components of GIS Learner Skills: Be Resilient, Ask Questions, Learn Together, Get Involved and Think Differently.
Do you offer a wide range of field trips?
Yes, we run residential camps for Years 7 to 10 every year at local destinations such as Broga, Gopeng, Janda Baik and Port Dickson. Year 7 to 13 students embark on an inspirational and enriching learning programme during the Discovery Week held annually. Subject field trips are organised throughout the year to various places such as the War Museum, the Google headquarters in Malaysia, Langkawi, universities etc.
Do you do much work in your community?
Since 2010, GIS has run a regular street feeding programme to support Kuala Lumpur’s urban poor. Come rain or shine, every week students, teachers and parent volunteers take 180 meals to our street friends in Kuala Lumpur city centre. It is an opportunity for students not only to make a contribution to society but also to gain a broader understanding of the world by experiencing how others live.
Street Store is also held annually where students serve meals, play music and act as personal shopping assistants to our street friends, making this a truly human-centred community-service event. Many more community and fundraising events are organised from time to time such as Mufti Day, Jeans for Genes, Bake Sale etc.
How do you encourage enquiry-based learning?
GIS’s unique and innovative Large-Scale Enquiry Programme features a five-day socially oriented enquiry event carried out in the school annually. Students aged from 7 to 14 work in a team of three or four to address one of the 17 UN global goals by creating an entrepreneurial solution which would be actionable by children of their age.
Led by James Wellings, GIS Director of Innovative Learning, the programme has become an Apple Distinguished Program, and GIS has published an iBook based on its flexible learning and large-scale enquiry initiatives. The programme has inspired a large action-based research project led by Apple with six schools in Asia.
The implementation of this programme has also won GIS the Innovative Learning Program Award by 21st Century Learning. Beating entries from 26 countries, GIS is the only school in Malaysia to have received a Global Innovation Awards in 2016, which recognises those who demonstrate exemplary values and best practice in teaching and learning in 21st Century schools.
GIS has also been shortlisted for the British International School Initiative of the Year category of the TES Independent School Awards 2016. This nomination is a recognition of GIS's outstanding strategic achievement through its unique and innovative Large-Scale Enquiry Programme. GIS is the only school in South East Asia to get shortlisted for this prestigious award, which is a solid testament to the implementation and integration of ethical world-changing education in the traditional curriculum.
What is your approach to languages in the school?
We believe in a communicative approach to teaching. This means that many of our lessons are conducted in the target language, which gives students the opportunity to hear correct usage of the language and its pronunciation, and to develop the skills needed to pick up on cues and deduce meaning from various contexts.
Our classrooms are rarely quiet as our students are given a lot of opportunity to practise speaking the language with structured guidance. A walk down our lovely new MFL corridor of glass classrooms is far more likely to reveal vibrant atmospheres, in which classes are moving around carrying out surveys, creating dialogues or performing role-plays, than groups working independently and in silence.
That said, we also pay a great deal of attention to grammar as we believe in enabling our students to master and build upon firm foundations of grammatical accuracy. We also use a wide range of resources and take full advantage of students' iPads and some great websites that allow students to learn and practise at home and to compete with each other and other students from all over the world.
Do parents come in and help with reading?
Yes, from Nursery to Secondary, parents are actively involved in reading sessions with students.
Do you offer parent workshops relating to what the children are doing?
Parent workshops are designed to support the learning and development of our parents, often with a focus on understanding and supporting their children. They might focus on an area of the school, such as the school's curriculum or values to aid parent understanding; a topic that might be of interest to parents (for example, how to use online learning platforms); or topics that help parents support their children (for example understanding the stages of child development).
Do you arrange for guest speakers, such as authors and experts to come to the school?
We regularly invite international speakers and coaches to conduct talks, seminars and workshops in the school. We have had visiting authors such as Peter Carnavas, Ian Billings, Simon Higgins, Bryn Barnard and Matt Dickinson, and experts such as Clive Leach, Dannielle Miller, Ben Barber and Bill Cael, to name a few.
What performing arts opportunities do students have?
Students in the GIS Secondary school have weekly Drama and Music lessons. They then have the option of studying both courses to IGCSE and A Level. In addition, there is a well-established programme of class plays in the primary school as well as the annual Year 4 to 6 musical theatre performance. There are lots of performing-arts-based co-curricular activities hosted in school that students are encouraged to join.
Do you have an annual production?
Our Year 7 to 9 Drama students produce plays yearly. We regard drama as a collective form of art combining a broad range of skills. The main goals of the Drama faculty are to awaken the creative thoughts and ideas of our students, to build confidence to perform in front of peers and to critically analyse live performances. This provides the students with the opportunity to develop communication skills as well as promoting self-confidence by allowing them to experience a sense of achievement.
Do you offer Royal School of Music examinations?
Yes, and we also offer the Rockschool Exams as well.
Do you have a school choir?
Yes, there is the lower primary choir (Years 2 and 3), the upper primary choir (Years 4 to 6), the KS3 choir (Years 7 to 9) and the Community Choir (Secondary Students and Staff). Choir practices are held as part of the extra-curricular activities.
Do you have a school orchestra?
Yes, there are primary and secondary orchestras and Latin Express (jazz band) which perform at school functions and outside-of-school venues.
Do you offer the Duke of Edinburgh Award?
The International Award (IA) has been running at Garden International School since 1989. The International Award teaches our students to become independent learners, it builds their confidence and challenges them to think for themselves and learn how to be self-sufficient.
They work as an individual and as part of a team, and learn what role they play, and how to evaluate and learn from their experiences. It is a valuable opportunity and a great enhancement to their everyday studies.
Do students have the opportunity to participate in Model United Nations?
The KLMUN is one of the major events anticipated by our students every year. They are given the opportunity to participate in the event and possibly organise it too when the school is selected as the host.
Do you have a swimming pool on site?
Yes, we have a 25m pool with eight lanes.
Is there a school bus service?
Bus services are available for students who are not traveling to school with a parent or guardian. Our school bus services are operated by an independent company. All buses and vans are air-conditioned, fitted with seat belts and equipped with CCTV. The departure of the buses is supervised by duty members of the teaching staff.
Do you have a cafeteria?
The BIG Group via Gen B is the GIS cafeteria provider, offering hearty, home-cooking-inspired meals at reasonable prices to students and staff. Set in a trendy café culture environment for students to enjoy their meals in a comfortable setting, Gen B aims to encourage students to look forward to mealtimes and to eat properly. Students are provided with breakfast and lunch, Western and Asian variety. Our school has a no-sugar drink policy, providing only water, coconut water, fresh bottled juices and milk.
Do you have a “House” system?
Yes, we do. The “House” system consists of Sultan (red), Queen (blue), Chancellor (yellow) and Crest (green).
All images: Garden International School
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