One of our current challenges at SCIS is the growing number of international and bilingual schools in shanghai. There is much more competition now compared to 20 years ago and the demand fora rigorous and international curriculum has increased. Foreigners expect a top-notch education from international schools, which is why we transitioned to an IB curriculum. SCIS is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to challenge students, improve learning and teaching methods and offer a rigorous curriculum.
Perhaps our greatest differentiator is the ability to create an school designed around the concept of international learning with a multicultural focus. With over 55 nationalities represented in our student body we are one of the most diverse institutions of any kind in Shanghai. Our students are constantly exposed to a multitude of nationalities and they flourish in a diverse, multicultural learning environment.
Being an international school that only accepts foreign nationals, there is a constant flow of expats coming and going. On one hand, we see an increasing amount of families who stay five or ten years with us, even longer. Last year, SCIS boasted graduates who had been with the school since kindergarten. However, it is not uncommon for students at international schools to attend for a year or two before moving on to another country. As such, families may not always see value in engaging deeply with China.
One way we have dealt with this lack of engagement is with annual China Trips. Students in Grade 6 through 12 travel to various parts of China, such as Yaolin, Mongolia, Hainan Island, Sichuan and Xiamen to spend a week learning about the area, its history, the environment and themselves. In addition, we have regular field trips and excursions outside of Shanghai to experience immersive, hands-on learning with our host culture.
Our emphasis is on well-rounded students in addition to students who are good test-takers. We see top-tier universities rejecting students who, on paper, are more than qualified, but lack well-roundedness. Students are often too focused on scoring top scores and neglect other interests and hobbies. At SCIS, our curriculum includes performing arts, visual arts, languages, and athletics, in addition to numerous extracurricular activities for students to learn and develop skills outside the classroom. We nurture students to be well versed in more than one discipline to prepare them for university and beyond.
SCIS places such importance on its shared community due to its international nature, with students from over 55 different countries. There is no dominant culture. With such a broad mix of nationalities, there lacks a home culture and home curriculum. The staff and students need to come together to create their own culture and own community, something they have done successfully since SCIS was founded two decades ago.
This sense of community is supported by technology. In 2008, SCIS embarked on a 1 to 1 Macbook program. The school purchased laptops and issued them to students in Grade 6 to 12. Students in lower grades have access to laptops carts and computer labs. It is an extra benefit for the students and it is included in the tuition. We want to offer students full flexibility to make learning accessible anytime, anywhere. It gives students and teachers more opportunities for collaboration and access to global resources.
By using school-issued laptops, students are also provided site-licensed software and programs, as well as online access to scholarly articles. This program has been a benefit for sutdents and teahers. With everyone using the same technology, we increased productivity and streamlined how we teach, learn, communicate, and collaborate.
As one of our graduates puts it, "SCIS has given me everything a child could ever have asked for from a school education: the right work ethic, a global and open-minded perspective, the opportunity to get involved outside the classroom, and to develop many other important skills for life. I really enjoyed the sense of community, the way everyone knew each other and the kind and supportive atmosphere created by the staff and students alike."
Original Link: Multinational Focus (Source: Shanghai Business Review | March/April, 2017)