With some 70 schools in eight countries, Cognita is ideally placed to put innovation at the heart of its offering. That’s because it can leverage an extensive range of knowledge from its global network of schools, all of which share a common focus on strong academics, character development and instilling a global mindset.
Take the case of bilingual learning. The group has been instrumental in developing a bilingual offering in a number of its schools around the world. For instance, Brazil’s first bilingual school, PlayPen Bilingual Education in São Paulo, delivers a comprehensive, integrated programme in English and Portuguese, based on the Brazilian national curriculum. And Cognita’s 10 schools in Chile offer combined learning in both English and Spanish – the result of best practice sharing between schools in the global group.
In that instance, teachers from the British School of Barcelona travelled to Chile to give Cognita’s teachers there an intensive immersion into the principles of effective English-language development in the early years, allowing them to develop distinctive programmes of study. “Our work in Chile was groundbreaking,” says Chris Jansen, CEO of Cognita. “The students in our Chilean schools were already learning English as an additional language to a high level – quite a unique offering in itself – but we went a step further by developing streams of genuine bilingual education.”
Technology is another area in which Cognita is powering ahead. Stamford American International School in Singapore, for example, leads the way in the use of virtual reality in the classroom, enabling children to experience topics in order to enhance their learning. Stamford also incorporates the likes of robotic programming, coding, game design and progressive hands-on experience with 3D printers, laser cutters and CNC router electronics as it prepares children to become the problem solvers that the world needs for tomorrow.
For Cognita, innovation takes many forms, including the learning environment itself. The International School Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam (pictured, opposite) really captures the essence of this. Classrooms are technologically advanced, built with collaborative learning spaces and senior student study areas. It is also the only school in the city to offer pure air filtration systems, as well as unique facilities such as Vietnam’s first Innovation Center, which helps to prepare students for the realities of the commercial world.
With schools in the UK and Spain as well as Latin America and Southeast Asia, Cognita employs over 5,000 teaching and support staff in the care and education of more than 30,000 students.
“For us, innovation means constant and never-ending improvement,” says Jansen. “It’s about keeping up with external trends as well as tracking the expertise within our own ranks and sharing that. It’s about academic excellence, but not as an end in itself. Success for any young person is about more than exam results; it’s about having the confidence and ability to adapt to new challenges. As a diverse group we can draw upon our best practice and expertise in one area and share it in order to push our provision on elsewhere.
“We can also seek new ways of bringing students together to learn about different experiences and cultures first-hand. That’s the kind of enrichment and global perspective we seek for our students and which the average classroom cannot provide.”