Names and ages of children: Georgia (10), Charlotte (9), Jack (7), William (5) and Ava (2)
1. Tell us about the child/children you have attending the school?
I have four children at GEMS World Academy Singapore in grades 5, 4, 2, and 1. My fifth child will start kindergarten there next year..
2. What were the most important factors for you in selecting a school?
We were looking for a school that is family-oriented, and has a real community spirit. GEMS has established a Parental Encouragement Program to foster this community spirit, and help parents get more involved in their child’s education. GEMS is able to offer us a value driven, holistic education program, state of the art facilities, smaller classroom sizes for our children, and teaching staff with exceptional experience and training. It was also a school that advocated its moral responsibility in the community, evident in the wonderful work by the Varkey GEMS Foundation. We hope this will be something that our children can become more involved with as they grow older.
3. How has the school lived up to your expectations?
The school has certainly exceeded the high expectations we had, even though it has only been a few weeks. The teachers are extremely professional, enthusiastic and passionate about what they want to achieve. The senior executive team has been of great help in welcoming each student personally at the start of the school day which has helped to create a sense of belonging amongst their students in a short period of time.
4. What does your child/children like most about attending this school?
Given the small size of the school, the children are known by most of the teaching staff. They enjoy the chats they have with all the staff members each day, and meeting other children from all across the globe. The school has also begun the school year with an experiential learning programme, which has enabled all the children and teachers to spend the first few days getting to know one another outside of the classroom environment. This has been fantastic in establishing a strong rapport between both peers and teaching staff, and I think it’s critical in a student’s social and emotional development, as well as building a conducive learning environment. The school also offers violin or cello lessons to all students from Grade 1 onwards as part of their music education, and our children are all very excited about this. They have also been enjoying the Mandarin lessons, PE lessons and swimming lessons.
5.What sort of curriculum does this school offer?
GWA provides a balanced international programme, which focuses upon holistic excellence across the Arts, Sports and Academics. They are in the process of seeking candidacy for the IB Primary and Middle Years Programmes, and already have IB candidate status for the Diploma Programme. There is equal attention to nuture creativity and sports, which is quite unique to Singapore and appealing to many families.
6. Does your child participate in any extra-curricular activities at the school?
We’re still in the early days at the school, and the after-school- activity programme commences from the start of October. The initial information provided lists multiple activities across sports, arts and academics, including kinder golf, rock-climbing, basketball, swimming, tennis, orchestra, dance, technology and school newspaper. GWA also has a partnership with FC Barcelona to provide after-school soccer programmes – something my children are interested in joining. There’s a bus service home for the children after these extra-circular activities.
7. What advice would you give other parents trying to choose a school?
Find a school that you believe your child will thrive in, and not just survive in. Their education is a lifelong journey and it is important to find a school that can offer them a supportive framework in which to grow and develop in. Research different schools to help you decide what school might be best for your child and your family, and try to meet as many of the teaching and support staff as possible, as they ultimately will be the people influencing your child on a daily basis. Ask lots of questions, and in the end, go with your gut instinct.
8.What do you value most about the school?
It’s community spirit in a truly international environment, with students coming from all over the globe. Our children are making friends with children from different countries and the school is still small enough that they still get to see each other on the playground at lunchtime. As a new school, there is so much enthusiasm, drive and energy. It’s a motivational environment for the students to be in.
9. What has your experience of the school bus service been like (if used)?
My children will start to use the bus service next week and are excited. The bus service crew had been introduced to me, and I know the school is undertaking regular training with them to assist them in their job. My children will be travelling on a small mini bus and I feel very comfortable about that also because it means less drop off and pick ups, therefore less commuting time.
10. Are you satisfied with the level of communication you receive from the school and how they engage parents?
The communication has been excellent from both the executive team and also individual teachers. Any question or concerns I have raised have been addressed immediately, and feedback provided to me promptly.
11. How much homework is expected of your child/children?
The school homework policy reinforces the learning from their various classes. This starts at Grade 1 with 10-20 minutes three days per week, scaling to Grade 4 who have 30-40 minutes four days per week, with Grade 8 having 60-80 minutes of homework daily.