Our School - The British Academy
When I tell people that our school is a different kind of school, they tend to look sceptically at me – after all – it is difficult to conceive of any type of formal education setting being different to what we ourselves have experienced. But the plain truth is that The British Academy is different from other established learning environments in Trinidad.
First of all, our students – from Reception (Age 4 – 5) to Upper 6 facing Cambridge Advanced Level Examinations – are the centre of our existence – their needs and development are the reason we do what we do. And what exactly is it that the staff do here? We put each individual child’s learning and personal development needs first. We identify strengths and encourage them, we look for learning gaps and set out to systematically close them, we consider social and interpersonal needs and create opportunities for strengthening each child. Our classes are small – teacher to student ratio of 1:10 supports individualised teaching and learning. Differentiated teaching is the norm rather than the exception.
At the British Academy we believe that every child can learn, but at the same time, we acknowledge that not every child learns in the same way, and certainly not every child takes the same route – but every child grows, makes progress, develops confidence and experiences success at every opportunity – be it in or outside of the classroom. Sometimes it takes a sporting or music activity for the child to experience a level of achievement which feeds their fledging confidence and allows the child to believe he or she can achieve. Progress automatically follows. Sometimes it is a class role and a responsibility that shows them they can and that they are part of something good and enriching. Sometimes it is a hug, “you were missed” and an acknowledgement that each child is valued and appreciated. For some others, it is the support and belief of the teachers that encourages them to try and to preserve. Or it can be all of these things combined, to instil a sense of self, of being part of a greater whole, of shining, and moving forward. When children do not experience positive success, they learn that failure is who they are, but when they experience success, achievement in whatever way – big or small – they learn that they can achieve, and their belief in themselves is powerful.
The UK National Curriculum prepares our students for the International standards at the Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education and Cambridge Advance Levels. Our students’ outstanding results and easy admission into tertiary institutions in the UK, Europe, Canada and the USA speak for themselves.
This curriculum prepares our students for the future – a future that I often say may not fully exist yet. So what are we preparing our graduates for? They are Cambridge Learners – which means that they are developing the Cambridge Learner Attributes: They are Confident, Responsible, Reflective, Innovative and Engaged. They are problem solvers, creative and critical thinkers, learners with the ability to apply what they have learnt, to analyse and discuss in an informed manner. They are not rote learners. They are encouraged to think and to engage with the material so as to participate in informed and analytical discussions. Our students are outspoken, have ideas and opinions, are leaders, willing to participate in Community Service activities, to be part of and contribute to their school community.
Our students and teachers develop strong bonds; they know that their teachers are genuinely interested in them, in their learning and in their progress. They are safe knowing that their teachers care whether they are learning, and when they mess up, as all children will at some time, the reprimand is more developmental to bring them to the understanding of how they could have behaved differently the next time a situation arises. No one is allowed to slip through the cracks – as one new student said when asked how was his first day with us – “Miss you can’t hide here. Everyone I met today knew my name, knew I was new and was interested in what I already knew”. Indeed you can’t hide in a class of ten or fifteen students.
Our teachers collectively make it their personal mission to ensure that every child learns and is able to progress. And our students are encouraged to develop their sense of responsibility, to be accountable, to feel empowered and to acknowledge when they could have behaved differently, when they could have performed better, and when they could have been more of a leader.
After more than thirty years (30) experience in the local education system, where we often paid lip service to “child centered education”, while we were bound by the common curriculum and the “one size fits all” philosophy of education, I can now honestly say that The British Academy provides a child centered teaching and learning environment that is flexible to meet the varying needs of every one of our students.
The British Academy