Happy schools make happy children

By May May   August 30, 2021 | 07:00 pm PT
As one of the top-tier international schools in Hanoi and the only international school in Ha Dong District, The International School@ParkCity Hanoi (ISPH) is considered a role model in creating a happy school for students.

"Happy Schools" is a UNESCO project launched in 2014 and aimed to promote learner well-being and holistic development, value and nurture diverse talents and strengths rather than academic results.

Curriculum, teaching approach and methods

ISPH programs are based on the U.K. National Curriculum combined with the most popular international curricula like the International Primary Program (IPC), Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and Advanced Level (A-Level). This combination creates a broad-balance and challenging curriculum that is accessible and engaging, which helps stimulate a love for learning and inspires exploration.

The interesting approach in each subject and topic encourages student curiosity and interest in the subject. Each new learning topic will start with a special ‘Entry point’ event. This is followed by a series of activities and learning tasks to help students acquire and expand their knowledge from basic to advanced levels in different subjects like history, geography, literature, maths, science, and language. A learning topic ends with an ‘Exit point’ where students present their knowledge in a variety of forms individually or in a group to the school.

Year 3 students at ISPH are looking for dinosaur fossils. Photo by: ISPH

Year 3 students at ISPH search for dinosaur fossil models. Photo by ISPH

At ISPH, teachers use a student-led approach that sees learners explore, lead and acquire knowledge through curiosity. This proven method is key to student happiness, academic achievement and future success.

Co-curricular programs and outside classroom activities

Understanding that each student is a unique individual with abilities and talents in different areas, ISPH has developed a comprehensive and dynamic co-curricular program with a wide range of options in sports, arts, computing, science, craft, and life skills. This program helps students explore their strengths and talents and build friendships between those who have similar interests in different year groups.

ISPH students in a CCA session. Photo by: Photo by: ISPH

ISPH students in a sport session. Photo by ISPH

Outside classroom activities like 'Student Council', 'House Captain', 'Head Boy and Head Girl' also provide students with opportunities to develop themselves and their leadership skills. The ‘House' system helps connect all members of the school to create a warm and welcoming community where all thoughts and ideas are shared, listened to and respected.

The relationship between the school, parents and students

According to Rik Millington, principal of ISPH, creating a happy school is not only the responsibility of the school, but depends on the close relationship between the school, students, and parents. This cooperation is described as three sides of a triangle, which can only be strong when joined together and support each other. However, that is a necessary condition only, a sufficient condition to create a happy school is that all these three entities must be happy.

"Only happy teachers and happy parents have a positive influence on students. And conversely, happy students will perform better and achieve higher results, which creates a positive impact on parents and teachers and inspire them to develop a better learning environment for students."

ISPH Parent group in a meeting with teachers and Leadership Team. Photo by: ISPH

ISPH Parent group in a meeting with teachers and Leadership Team. Photo by ISPH

According to Rik Millington, the educational philosophy and core values that each school is pursuing also play a very important role because they will be used as guidelines for every decision from the Board of Directors, along with every action of teachers, students, parents, and school staff.

Assessment and reward methods

Methods of assessment and reward at ISPH is not only based on academic results but also the evaluation of student learning attitude and behavior at school. This helps encourage positive behavior, boosts student confidence and avoids attention-seeking behavior or overconfidence in some high-achieving students.

The progress of each student is also evaluated by observing and comparing their results in each and every period. There is absolutely no comparison and ranking between students in the class. The way that the school confidentially handles improper student behavior makes them feel respected and cared for, avoiding feelings of shame or self-deprecation. As a result, the school is very proud to have an attendance rate of up to 95 percent along with excellent academic achievements in the last term of the academic year: 2020-2021.

End of Term 2 Ceremony at ISPH. Photo by: ISPH

End of Term 2 Ceremony at ISPH. Photo by ISPH

Learning environment

According to John Paul, head of primary at ISPH, the learning environment in each class also plays an important role in building a happy school because in addition to outdoor physical activities and break time, children spend most of the day in their classroom. Therefore, the classroom should be decorated beautifully and smartly for each year group with bright tones to stimulate student creativity and desire for learning. School supplies and tools should be arranged reasonably and be suitable for each age group, making them convenient and comfortable for student use.

The transition period is always considered a difficult and stressful time for both students and parents. Given its importance, ISPH creates a transition plan for students from the beginning of the year with gradual changes in learning methods and routines in and out of the classroom, so that they could gradually get used to the activities of the next grade level.

In the last term of the academic year, the school organized special school days called "Transition Days". On these days, senior primary and secondary students will experience a day of learning in the next year’s group under the guidance of teachers. This not only helps them mentally prepare better, become more confident when transitioning, but also practice the ability to accept and cope with other big and small changes in higher education.

Yuki, a Year 7 student at ISPH, who won a gold prize in the UKMT (United Kingdom Mathematics Trust) in the last school year, shared: "ISPH teachers always think about the students first and treat everyone equally with a big smile! They get us interested in many things and show us that learning is fun. In our school reports, you can see that the teachers watch the students carefully - by getting compliments and evaluations, I feel that my efforts have paid off, which makes me feel "I'll do my best."

For more information about The International School ParkCity Hanoi or to book a school tour and join their Discovery Day, visit isph.edu.vn or dial +84 93 4455 228.

The International School ParkCity Hanoi (ISPH) is at ParkCity Hanoi, Le Trong Tan, Ha Dong, Hanoi.

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