UWCSEA is already well known as a school that fosters strong character and community spirit, and Principal Chris Edwards has us incredibly inspired with his belief that education has the power to transform lives. We love an inside story, so when it comes to choosing an international school in Singapore that’s perfect for your family, we think talking to parents who are already part of the school community is priceless. We had a chat with mum Liz Jackson, whose children Cara and Tom are enrolled at UWCSEA, to find out why she’s glad to have found just the right place for her kids.
Hi Liz, can you please tell us a little about your children who are studying at UWCSEA?
I have two children at the school: Cara, in Grade 8, and Tom, in Grade 1. They have been at the school for four years and three years respectively.
What were the most important factors for you in selecting an international school?
We were drawn to UWCSEA because of the breadth of the curriculum and that the curriculum places equal importance on all five elements it offers: academics, activities, outdoor education, community service and personal and social education.
How has the school lived up to your expectations?
The school has more than lived up to my expectations. My children feel valued and important for who they are, they are encouraged and pushed in all aspects of school life. My daughter in particular has grown in confidence almost immeasurably, as her empathy and compassion for others has been valued and put to good use. My son has had the best possible start to his education and has developed a love for school and learning that is infectious.
The music and arts development – and exposure my children have received in this field – is incredible; I tell them far too often how lucky they are to have such rich experiences. The performances that we get to see as a family through school productions and musical ensembles are of an incredibly high standard and are way beyond the usual school production.
What do your children like most about attending UWCSEA?
If you asked my son he would say PE without a doubt, but my daughter would say the incredible teachers and other students who value each person as a whole. From teachers who care enough to give an extra word of encouragement when its needed, to the incredible service ethos, everybody is committed is to making a difference not just to the wider world, but everyday life at school.
What stands out to you about this school’s curriculum?
The curriculum includes five areas of development – academics, service, activities, personal and social education and outdoor education. Many parents still focus on the academics and the achievements at the school are exemplary, but they come hand in hand with the vast array of the other four elements. The yearly outdoor expedition, which each child embarks on from Grade 2, pushes the children out of their comfort zone in the safest way possible and teaches the children the resilience they need to understand that there is, to paraphrase the words of Kurt Hahn (the UWC movement founder), ‘more to them than they think’.
What advice would you give other parents trying to choose a school?
Find the school that is right for your child, take other people’s view of a school with a pinch of salt and visit for yourself. Try to go to an arts performance at the school and find out about the service and activities that are available. Also find out about the outdoor education ethos. If you aren’t comfortable with it, ask yourself why – is it pushing your own boundaries of parenting Take your children’s needs individually: what might be an amazing school for one might be the worst possible choice for another. If your child is secondary school age, talk to the University Advisor at school: which universities do graduates go to? How does the education help them get where they want to go?
What do you value most about the school?
The ethos of the school; the open way in which the teachers want to work with parents for the best possible outcomes for each child; the way each child is valued for their individuality; and the way service is taught from such a young age that it is a natural part of the way many of the children think and behave towards each other and the world.
Are you satisfied with the level of communication you receive from the school and how they engage parents?
It takes a while to learn how to navigate your way through all the information that is available to us. The school works really hard not to send us too much information, while at the same time engaging us (parents) in our children’s education – from sharing what our children are doing in class, to latest research, or explaining why our school curriculum is the way it is and how we can best help our children at home.
How much homework is expected of your children?
It varies from grade to grade and by the time the students get to Middle School, it is very much their responsibility to work in the best way to get their homework done.
During the Early Years, there is no expected homework other than daily reading, although there are ideas for games that can be played at home that will benefit various aspects of academics.
At the moment I think that the amount of homework my children receive is appropriate for where they are in the school. I know that my daughter will get more in the High School but that is to be expected. I love that for my son that we get the chance to choose what to do in the afternoon which means if we want to play outside I do not have the thought of homework hanging over me so I can do what he wants to do.
This post is sponsored by UWCSEA.