Annual Report of the School,
delivered by Ann Rispin, Advisory Director, on May 21st 2011.
Welcome to Our School, I do appreciate that it is sometimes difficult to make domestic arrangements on a Saturday afternoon, especially in the wedding season. Please forgive me for starting with a personal note, looking back on my own school life more than half a century ago.
I as a child sang “God Save the King” as a proud member of the British Empire, an Empire upon which the sun never set and at school I learnt that China was a closed country, swathed in the mystery of isolation.
How times have changed! One thing I know – your children’s generation will see even greater changes in their life times than I have in mine. They will need to develop the capacity to be confident, resilient, adaptable, understanding and globally, even cosmically, aware.
We are here to prepare them for this adventure, offering them the values and principles of life which have been developed by society over centuries to get us where we are today.
We are here to eliminate POVERTY- poverty of spirit, poverty of thought and poverty of relationships as well as poverty in the monetary sense.
We were proud to see our first 12 graduates, who passed their grade 12 examinations with flying colours go off to Ethiopian Universities to read Medicine, Public Health, Civil Engineering and Computer Science. One has even gone to China to learn Chinese!
More than half of these students were from deserving backgrounds supported on scholarships from the school ownership and Cruwys Global Trust. We thank them for their support.
The theme of my report last year was that we were entering a period of consolidation, following five years of rapid growth. Let me now give account to you as to how this has been enacted during the course of the last 12 months.
Our consolidation team has worked hard to formalise procedures and processes. We now possess handbooks, with an administrative manual, incorporating
- A Teacher’s Handbook
- A Parents’ Handbook
- A Student’s Handbook
We shall be in a position to customise these documents with detailed information about the coming year and distribute them as part of the registration and first terms fees package for 2011-2012. We are busy even now examining your responses to the Parental Questionnaire we distributed, considering the comments and devising strategies for improvement.
Who are we?
The British International School forms a learning community of just under 600 students, together with 85 teachers, supported by 48 administrative and ancillary workers. We hail from more than 55 nations, with the largest representation coming from our host country, Ethiopia.
Why are we here?
We are all here to LEARN. Whether we are 6 years old or 66, every day brings new information and skills to each one of us. How we learn is just as important as what we learn.
The world has changed beyond recognition since my childhood, and dramatically in the last 10 years. So has this country.
What are we teaching?
Our curriculum objective has been to offer the best of both worlds, with the Ethiopian and British curricula melded together until the later grades, when some students select to take the Ethiopian route for National Universities and others opt for International Qualifications.
Our future plans include enhancing the Ethiopian curriculum by adding extra hours of more international work, and establishing some A.P. (Advanced placement for American Colleges) courses at grades 11 and 12.
Our teaching programmes are accredited by AISA (Association of International Schools in Africa), Edexcel (The largest international examination board in the world), City and Guilds of London Institute and the Institute of Leadership and Management, UK, as well as the Ethiopian Ministry of Education.
What about class sizes?
We are committed to teaching in groups where individuals can develop and respond actively, so our maximum desirable class size is 24. Some of our classes have exceeded 24 due to incoming international families during the course of the school year.
We are now consolidating our school size to be 3-form entry, which means having 3 classes of 24 capacity in each year group up to year 6. That is 72 places in each year group, which gives us some extra places, allowing Gerji to expand by 17 ½ %.
Unfortunately we will no longer be able to operate 3 pre-kgs. For children over 3 years 8 months, who have siblings already in the school, we will have one single pre-kg class.
How well are we doing?
Academically our school has 100% record of success in Ethiopia National Examinations. In I.G.C.S.Es our pass rated are increasing at approximately 14% per year, and now are on a par with students taking the same set of examinations in U.K . The only difference is that many of our students are working in their second, third or even fourth languages as opposed to those in Britain who are operating in their mother tongue.
Where are we going?
We are looking to the future by considering the establishment of a school boarding house, where youngsters can benefit from the structure such an environment brings. We are also aware that the school needs to acquire more sporting facilities, and offer more opportunities for drama, art and music.
Annual Report of the School,
delivered by Ann Rispin, Advisory Director on 26th May 2010
As Parents will have gathered from my tone in recent newsletters, this academic year has in many ways become our most successful yet. The school has developed through to Grade 12, and our first students will be graduating in a few weeks time. This is no mean feat for a school that started a mere 5 years ago.
We now have exactly 600 students, 36 of whom are on scholarships. They hail from more than 55 nationalities. The diversity of the school is such that in one class alone, with typically 20 students, there can be up to 14 nationalities represented. So in the last year we have gained 100 pupils and 20 more nationalities. A truly global environment!
Yet, exciting as this may be, we still look at our original vision and objectives, which were to create a school that would be accessible to Ethiopians, the kind of Ethiopians who would help this country grow economically: local people who would be able to make a difference – who have had exposure to international standards and want such for their children. It is our desire to serve this nation in the way we can, with our educational expertise.
The British Curriculum is set at six key stages:
- Early Years Foundation Stage
- Key Stage One-Upper KG and Grade One
- Key Stage Two- Grades Two, Three, Four and Five
- Key Stage Three- Grades Six, Seven and Eight
- Key Stage Four- Grades Nine and Ten
- Key Stage Five- Grades Eleven and Twelve
Our Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum follows the British DFES Early Learning Goals, which are very similar, but a little more advanced than the Ethiopian Curriculum in the KG area. Grades 1-5 are equivalent to British Key Stages One and Two, with the addition of Amharic and Social Studies. French is to be studied for all students from Grade 2 upwards.
The pattern continues in Grades 5 and 6, ensuring that Ethiopian students cover their designated curriculum fully.
Pupils of Ethiopian nationality should specialise at Grade 7 level, pursuing the grades through to the completion of Grade 10.
At Key Stage Four, the International strand offers IGCSEs, AS and A2s from Edexcel, London, and the Ethiopian strand follows Grades 8, 10 and 12 National examinations.
In the coming year we shall be offering the following subjects:
IGCSEs will be followed in Grades 9 and 10. Students who fail to achieve 5 Grade Cs or above will be required to repeat Grade 10 rather than progress on to AS levels.
IGCSE courses available include English Language, English Literature, English as a Second Language, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography, French, History and Business Studies.
IT certificates at a level equivalent to IGCSE will be awarded by City and Guilds, London
AS level courses will be taken within the Study Center rather than the main school. The base for this centre is the ground floor of the Bole Campus. The main reason for this is that, in line with policies and practices in Britain, the organisation of subject choices forces a longer working day from 8.30 in the morning until 6.30 in the evening, often with long periods of ‘non-contact’ time in between. This form of organisation needs a well-disciplined, more adult approach to attendance and self-study than can be monitored and controlled in a formal school environment.
AS level courses will be offered in Mathematics, Business Studies, English Language and Literature, Geography and History. Once successful at the AS level examinations, students may proceed to A2.
Science subjects may also be available according to demand.
The minimum group size for any subject to be offered is 5. Since these subjects will be conducted as part of The Study Center, the courses will be marketed widely, and may attract adult learners who wish to gain British University Entrance Qualifications.
An Advanced Diploma in Information Technology is being offered as part of the Study Center. This diploma has a value of one and a half A levels, and is a highly recommended method of gaining university entrance when supplemented by one or two AS courses.
Other minor courses, such as IELTS will also be offered.
We are seriously considering making the IT Advanced Diploma compulsory for students studying with us beyond IGCSE, since in this modern world skills in Information Technology and English are key.
The Ethiopian National Curriculum is offered up to Grade 12 (Science Stream). Ethiopian students are strongly advised not to opt out of the Ethiopian curriculum, but to complete it to the appropriate level, and only leave it if they are 100% certain that they will be studying at degree level abroad. The Ministry’s curriculum will be followed exactly in both subject content and time allocations. It will be significantly enhanced by enrichment in English Language and Literature, and Mathematics and the opportunity will be given for Grade 10 students to take IGCSEs in English and Mathematics and gain IT Certificates at the same time as taking Grade 10 National examinations.
Post Grade 10, individual educational and the options available will be carefully considered by personal interviews, from which recommendations will be made.
Extra Curricular Activities
It has been evident that our Extra-Curricular programmes have increased over the last year, with more opportunities available for participation. We aim to continue developing these programmes until every child is actively participating in activities which enhance them physically, socially and creatively
Currently Bole Campus has mobile broadband access, which is currently being installed on the Gerji Campus. The school now possesses an active website – www.bisaddis.com, which is intended to be a portal for communication to parents, as well as a method by which teachers will have on-line customised induction, training and access to relevant curriculum resources.
I urge you to view the site, which is currently a seed, due to grow and be fruitful over the coming two years. By that time we shall have the curriculum on line, pupil, staff and parents handbooks, the calendar of events, newsletters and information for parents.
Already students are able to collect their IGCSE results from anywhere in the world they happen to be on the results day.
The main objective of all this is enhanced, meaningful communication between all parties in order to enhance and significantly improve your children’s educational experience.
Staffing including Continuous Professional Development
I am very pleased with the calibre of our academic staff this year. There is a definite improvement in professional attitudes, and the lead given by the new expatriate and internationally experienced Ethiopian staff has been exceptional. However, those who continue to fail to meet the high standards we demand will be dealt with in a professional, developmental way as part of our appraisal programme. If they do not respond, heads will roll, within the procedures of Ethiopian Employment Law.
Academic staff and support departments are involved in comprehensive programmes of Continuous Professional Development which take place throughout the year. Examples of these are:
- Workshops on curriculum and lesson planning
- English Language upgrading
- A talk on methods of dealing with Dyslexia
- Experience-sharing sessions
- The development of peer observation
- Exposure visits to other educational establishments in Bahir Dar and Gondar
- Three staff spending a month each in a British International School in Kenya
- Ten staff members working towards British Institute of Leadership and Management Awards. This course is taught here at the school
- Six teachers will be sitting the Advanced Diploma in Teaching, Training and Assessing Learning on June 1st. This is an international post-graduate teaching qualification from City and Guilds of London Institute.
- One staff member attending a three-week course sponsored by the US state department in Oregon this coming July
Changes in Our Organisation
The status of the school has changed this academic year. It is now benefiting from a change of status to that of a foreign investment with Ethiopian partners. It was set up originally as a single-ownership. It has grown over the last five years to a large organisation of international standing. For legal reasons, it has needed to re-establish itself as a PLC. This process has been hard and long, and much credit has to be given to the Tewfik Family for their resilience and tenacity in their pursuit of many legal issues. One hundred and twenty five files of finance documents needed auditing at the sub-city. This process alone took many months.
This organisation is now owned by Tewfik Sherif and Family International School PLC.
What difference does this make to you and me?
- We are still the British International School, but for finance purposes cheques now need to be made out to the PLC, rather than the name of the school.
- The capital base of the organisation has been raised from 600,000 birr to 15,000,000, putting it on a sounder, less vulnerable footing.
- There is now a board which is legally responsible for the running of the school.
- As a PLC there are different rules and regulation regarding taxation, transportation allowances and so on.
- There is now potential for establishing a provident fund.
- Purchasing of goods may have to be dealt with through more thorough procedures.
Overall, both customers and employees will benefit from this move, so please do not be suspicious if you are asked to write cheques payable to Tewfik Sherif and Family International School PLC in future, or indeed if you receive cheques from that source!
Committees – Parents and Staff
The issues raised here today obviously need further explanations, clarifications and discussion. I am happy to say that we now have elected groups who can be instrumental in helping the way forward.
Both the Primary and Secondary Schools have Parents’ Committees. Teachers have been elected as representatives to form a staff committee. I know that there is a strong desire to merge these on certain occasions into Parent-Teacher Committees. It is our desire to see these active.
The first way the parents have been seen to be active is in the action of commissioning a school uniform survey, the results of which will be announced at the end of this meeting.