ASMA Education Leadership Conclave – School Leadership Conclave featuring IB & Boarding Schools
The virtual event witnessed 2 riveting panel discussions on ‘How to Ensure Safety, Mental and Emotional Wellbeing of Students in the New Normal’
ASMA Education Leadership Conclave – School Leadership Conclave featuring IB & Boarding Schools was held on the 30th October 2020 and examined ‘How to Ensure Safety, Mental and Emotional Wellbeing of Students in the New Normal’ and ‘How Technology is revamping the Indian School Education’.
The virtual event featured 2 distinguished panels from the boarding school and IB school sector.
The first panel was moderated by Rajesh Vasudevan, Head of School, Manchester International School, Coimbatore and comprised of Jasmine Madhani, Head of School, Jamnabai Narsee International School, Mumbai, Sudha Goyal, School Director, Scottish High International School, Gurgaon, Anvita Gupta, Principal, Candor International School, Bangalore, Chandrashekar DP, CEO, Jain Group of Schools, Bangalore and Ian Davies, Head of School, Garodia International Centre for Learning Mumbai.
The panel explored how International Boards such as IB, IGCSE & Cambridge are helpful and equipped for a balanced approach to school education.
Moderator Rajesh Vasudevan, Head of School, Manchester International School, Coimbatore opened the discussion by asking Ian Davies, Head of School, Garodia International Centre for Learning Mumbai how does he view the new normal, as an opportunity; as a challenge and how does he see the post-COVID education system, through the lens of his international experience.
Davies replied, “I would wrap COVID up with the government’s NEP. I see a groundswell and potential for revolutionary change in India with the emphases and the principles behind the NEP, particularly with the move away from rote learning and the move towards critical thinking and creativity. There is also a huge emphasis on conceptual understanding and the ability to use information, rather just repeat information dictated from the teacher”.
He continued, “There has been less emphasis on the exam system, but more on building the profile and recognising and building the individual strengths and qualities of every single student. COVID has added to that because I think Indian parents are far more aware that out of COVID, must come new opportunities, and I think the international curriculums build beautifully into the potential the Indian government are looking for, particularly in early years education and I think that’s where the impact will be biggest”.
Davies added, “I think the international boards are already doing exactly what the NEP is looking for”.
Jasmine Madhani, Head of School, Jamnabai Narsee International School, Mumbai, said, “When it comes to the students, the human touch is most important. When the lockdown was declared the first thing that we thought of was how we can now give the same experience so that there is less impact on the students’ wellbeing and balancing this with academics. So this was the challenge brought on by the pandemic”.
Madhani continued, “After going through this over the past months, I can see the adaptability and flexibility in all stakeholders, including the students, parents, teachers and the administrators”.
Chandrashekar DP, CEO, Jain Group of Schools, Bangalore, spoke about how education can prepare children for the VOCA world. He remarked, “I believe children are unaffected by the VOCA world because they make the VOCA in the world; they are at the centre of the universe of educational institutions. They are technology natives and they breathe innovation in everything they do. However, with the pandemic, the one thing that has happened across is the world has gotten into an accelerated mode”.
He added, “The school building might have been shut, the institutions might have closed, but learning has not stopped”.
Sudha Goyal, School Director, Scottish High International School, Gurgaon, added to the discussion by saying, “When it comes to online learning, I think somewhere all curricula have come become similar due to the use of technology. While using technology, we have kept in mind the mental, emotional and physical wellbeing of the children”.
She added, “We have changed STEM learning to STEAM learning and we have introduced a lot of activities where children are participating and are kept entertained”.
Anvita Gupta, Principal, Candor International School, Bangalore, discussed how the pandemic has brought about a disruptive change in Indian education. She commented, “The advantage from the disruption of the pandemic has already happened. We have been thrown into technology and we have used it very well. The learning we have had from the disruption is going to change the face of education when we start school. With each challenge that has been thrown at us, we have come up with solutions for that”.
Gupta continued, ‘We as a school, had the responsibility to create a wellbeing balance among the students. Teachers were also coping with their own challenges at that time. We came up with regular classes on mindfulness and this disruption gave us the opportunity to do this. We also worked to ensure that our students were involved with each other and the school despite being behind a computer screen”.
Gupta added that the topmost priority when it comes to reopening schools will be the safety and security of students.
The second panel of the day was moderated by Aditi Garodia, Managing Director, Billimoria High School and comprised of Dilip George, Principal, Doon International School, Riverside Campus, Dehradun, Meeta Sharma, Principal, Mussoorie International School, Mussoorie, Sanjeeva Kumar Sinha, Principal, The Indian Public School, Dehradun, Bharti Madhok, Group Director, Sunbeam Group of Educational Institutions, Varanasi and Shankar Singh Adhikari, Principal, The Rajkumar College, Rajkot.
Moderator Aditi Garodia, Managing Director, Billimoria High School began the discussion by drawing attention to the fact that boarding schools have unique challenges especially in the face of the ongoing pandemic.
Dilip George, Principal, Doon International School, Riverside Campus commented on the challenges his institutions faced during the pandemic and how they faced those challenges. He said, ‘Most of us have been able to adapt to it quickly. The transition has been smooth and the school management took steps to invest in technology. We introduced a learning management system, which is a platform for all the teaching and learning activities that happen. We have been able to take all our planned activities online”.
Agreeing with what Dilip George, Meeta Sharma, Principal, Mussoorie International School, Mussoorie, added that “There was no choice, we were forced into this transition. Not everyone was tech-savvy enough to conduct classes online, but the teachers reinvented themselves on the job and they became better. We went on to conduct a lot of co-curricular activities online because a boarding school goes much more beyond academics”.
Sanjeeva Kumar Sinha, Principal, The Indian Public School, Dehradun remarked that online learning is sufficient for just academics, however, boarding schools go beyond academics. He said, “These past months have been a learning experience for all of us. We have also learned so many things from our students”.
Bharti Madhok, Group Director, Sunbeam Group of Educational Institutions said, ‘These past months have been more learning for the teachers. The next big challenge is reopening schools with regards to how to keep students safe and how to observe social distancing rules”.
Shankar Singh Adhikari, Principal, The Rajkumar College, Rajkot commented on the challenges school face in relation to admission for boarding.
He said, “The biggest question right now is what if the COVID pandemic continues and there is no vaccine? Financially any school will be affected by this. I am lucky because unlike other boarding schools, I have day scholars to fall back on”.
Speaking on his institution’s plans to accommodate both day students and boarding students after schools reopen, Adhikari explained, “It has been decided, through a change in SOPs, that day students will have classes in the morning and boarders will have theirs in the evenings”.
He added, “I am very confident that boarding schools will bounce back”.