As the British International School of New York (BIS-NY) approaches its 10th anniversary, there is much for the school to reflect on. In the last decade, the private school landscape has transformed, and a growing variety of options has made the conversation around education and choosing a school for your children even more fascinating for parents to explore.
As we enter the midst of school admissions season, it’s time to take a look back at some of the biggest developments in NYC education over the past 10 years, and how they’ve influenced key factors in choosing a school for your child.
An International Outlook
One aspect of this growth which BIS-NY has helped pioneer has been the increase in demand for an international education. Unsurprisingly, this movement has been welcomed in New York, and aptly reflects a city renowned for its diverse and dynamic demographic.
As newer schools take to the international stage, it becomes even more vital to demonstrate just how valuable this style of education is in such a highly-competitive and sophisticated arena. At BIS-NY, a broader worldview and philosophy is delivered through the International Baccalaureate curriculum, which in addition to providing a framework for effective cross-curricular teaching, emphasizes humanity and compassion, recognizing similarities over differences, and channeling critical thinking—even from the earliest age.
Global education is no longer purely a case of a robust language program or a diverse student population; it’s also no longer just for visiting families or internationally born children; it is a deeper understanding and commitment to an improved world through a carefully structured and delivered curriculum. The British curriculum ensures this academic rigor, along with a wealth of specialist learning, and a thirst for knowledge and an appetite for success.
A Constructive Learning Environment
Interestingly, over the past decade the education conversation has shifted and deepened beyond opportunities for enrichment towards a focus on establishing and securing positive pathways and direction of travel for all our little ones growing up in New York City in 2016. The big questions have become: Where are the challenges, where are the opportunities, and how is each school best placed to help every child navigate and rise high?
The placement record of students who have left BIS-NY for the next phase of their education holds up the school’s standards of achievement, reinforcing the values and success of the students who have lived within the school community. While student placement after BIS-NY indicates what the school has done and how it serves its families to help them on to the next phase of education at the school of their choice, it’s just part of the picture. For families considering schools, it’s just as important to understand and to communicate what it is that the school is going to do while their child is there.
Schools are constantly evolving communities, inspiring their constituents to challenge and overcome, to grow and to flourish. At The British International School of New York, alongside an innovative new electives course, this past summer brought a new STEM center, an Early Years-specific art studio, an on-site garden and an outside classroom to the school, all pushing the boundaries of what a traditional learning environment looks and feels like.
Creating physical spaces where children can feel settled, creative, and intellectual is part of building a constructive learning environment. In New York, physical space is not always so easy to come by, so a school which offers a breadth of facilities, a well-considered and broad curriculum, and a first-rate faculty can make all the difference. Of course, a beautiful, sun-lit campus doesn’t hurt.
A Child-Centered Approach
As fall and admissions season begins, parents are starting to canvas their friends and colleagues, fast establishing that the process can be a little daunting, particularly in this new landscape where there is so much choice.
Despite all the choices, parents should be reassured that there are a number of common principles that underpin the experiences, environment, and academics that the very best schools offer: Common threads as to how all children learn and grow, and not just survive but thrive in these all-important, formative school years.
Important areas of consideration for parents include the balance of adult-led and child-initiated learning, in addition to ideology and pedagogy which have taken flight through the success and study of educational programs such as Montessori and the Early Years Foundation Stage of the English National Curriculum.
A child-centered approach to education has been proven to allow children to engage meaningfully with their peers and their learning, allowing them not only to influence some of the choices they make, but to take pride and pleasure as they learn. A careful balance of this style of learning with a robust and consistent curricular framework and skillful teacher-led interactions facilitates an educational journey for students where they are stretched and supported appropriately to meet their highest potential.
There is often discussion as to how this balance can be achieved, and how, once a curricular approach has been identified, it is in place to ensure the school itself is not just a place of learning and achievement, but a gentle start for young minds as their imaginations are honed and abilities take flight.
Small class sizes and skilled teachers can also contribute to a successful start at school. They guarantee that true differentiation can take place and offer all children the opportunity to learn individually, while being taught as a group.
Specialist teachers expose depth of learning in new subjects, allowing children who may have assumed they just weren’t musical, or not quite artistic, to explore and discover that within any subject or specialty there are areas in which we can all show promise, improve, and ultimately excel.
Wherever you live, the decision on schooling is one of the most important decisions you make, and whatever your choices, it should come down to finding an environment that best suits your child and the needs of your family. For us, it comes down to finding a school that has, above all, a healthy balance of rigor and recess, and is more than a school—it’s an education.
The best way to experience and appreciate what makes BIS-NY so special is to arrange a visit, or join them at an Open House or a private tour at your convenience. To learn more, visit bis-ny.org!