With Samui evolving from being a simple holiday destination to a community that offers a spectrum of services, schooling has been high on the agenda for some time. Only a few years ago, international education had just started out on the island. Now there’s a range of choices for parents. SCL International School offers a broad curriculum, and caters for children right up until they’re ready to go to university. Based in Lamai, over the years it’s been in operation, SCL has gained a cachet for excellence, offering students a learning experience that is both practical and enjoyable. The school’s philosophy is to treat children as individuals rather than as a group. It’s a holistic process, and pays off with children scoring above average on the range of exams that they take. They enjoy going to school, inter-react with creative and brilliant teachers and enjoy a venue that boasts some amazing facilities.
With the new academic year starting at the beginning of September, everything is ready for a fresh intake of students, while those who are returning are doing so with eagerness to enjoy their next level of study.
SCL is naturally a registered centre for exams. It offers a very wide array of subjects when it comes to both IGCSEs and ‘A’-levels. This is in keeping with international schools, and children have the chance to study the following IGSCEs: English Language, English Literature, Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography, History, ICT, Spanish, French, Chinese, Russian, Graphic Design, Art, Business Studies, and Computer Science/ Programming. And for ‘A’-levels there’s English, Maths, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Graphic Design, Art, Accounting and Economics. As you can see, the range incorporates arts and science, languages and business; children certainly don’t need to miss out on a subject that they love. Incidentally, the school can accommodate students who are on holiday or who are doing their gap year and who need to re-sit their exams. It’s incredibly convenient for such students – they no longer need to interrupt their time abroad in order
to go back to the UK.
SCL never seems to rest on its laurels, but is a forward-looking entity, and there are always plans being realized. Currently, Emma Dyas, the school’s director, is bringing to fruition a project that is already a favourite amongst the children: a smallholding that is both farm and orchard. Half-a-dozen fruit trees have been planted and provide shade for students while they care for the animals that live on the farm – chickens, miniature goats, hedgehogs and a rabbit. The children
themselves designed the layout of the smallholding, and each class also has its own allotment. All this might seem like a pleasant yet unnecessary addition to the school’s assets, yet it plays a vital role that mirrors global concerns. It’s part of the school’s philosophy to be as ecological as possible, and for students to realize that all of us need to help preserve and nurture the world’s resources. Rainwater collection tanks provide the water for the soil, while a waterwheel connected to a generator provides electricity for the entire irrigation system. Students, while having fun, see how their own actions deliberately contribute to the well-being of all and give a helping hand to nature itself. This idea of being responsible is something that very much underpins everything that the school does. Responsibility isn’t seen as an earnest and heavy task, but something that can be made fun, and still bear an enormous yield.
One of Emma’s goals is for the school to be self-reliant, and even to have its own self-generated electricity. It’s a dream she knows will take many years to realize, and may never reach 100%. But the effort and motivation are there. Emma wants her students to be conscious of just how much they can partake in contributing to the life of the earth, rather than simply taking from it. It’s a long-term vision that is being steadily worked on. Other on-going plans consist of building a skate park and developing more play areas for students. The main building work – a new block of classrooms – is now complete.
One less visible yet absolutely crucial area of concern is the security of the children themselves. In times past, this simply meant safe play areas, safe classrooms and a secure perimeter. All of this has been dealt with by the school, and the children’s physical safety is assured. However, this being the modern age, new dangers threaten children, and many schools are still glaringly wide-open to these new menaces. We’re talking about on-line crime of various kinds and cyber-bullying. This is something that yesterday’s teachers didn’t need to worry about – it didn’t exist. SCL is very concerned to safeguard all students from this kind of harassment and danger. The school has met with CEOP, a UK police force initiative that sent officers to Thailand to help schools deal with the problem, and has implemented CEOP ideas.
SCL goes still further, and in case parents are worried, the school can also arrange for its IT expert to check children’s phones, computers and so on in order to provide protection. Emma also has connections with international police, and can seek assistance at any time. It goes without saying that when it comes to the teachers themselves, that they have
all been thoroughly vetted (sadly not always the case with international schools in South-East Asia).
The school prides itself on keeping in close contact with the parents. Help is never far away, and if parents need advice, then all they have to do is avail themselves of the school’s open-door policy. Says Emma, “Parents can come at any time to talk to us. It’s important that they can speak to teachers and get feedback on how their child is progressing. On our side, we also like to keep in touch with all parents; we regularly send feedback.” She stresses it’s not just a case of letting parents know if there’s a particular problem. “We like to give positive feedback and praise for the child wherever it’s due, and just generally let parents know what’s happening.” In addition, Emma sends out a newsletter to all parents every two weeks, which contains general information and any important updates. There are also one or two events every term that parents are encouraged to take part in. For example, the school held an interactive science day, where parents came to participate in classroom activities. It was great fun, with parents every bit as enthusiastic as their children, with hands-on projects and a palpable feeling of excitement.
As parents all know, there are usually no chances during a child’s education where they can actually see what’s going on in the classroom itself, let alone be part of it – but here, at SCL, things are different and parents love being able to join in. The school’s refreshingly modern in its approach, and thanks to its philosophy of putting children first, it moves from strength to strength. It definitely doesn’t have an institutional vibe about it but is instead a lively, ‘happening’ place to be.
For further information, telephone Emma Dyas on 0 810 910 714.