A CONFIDENT START
“When our graduates leave us, they are confident, motivated and organised young people,” says Avto Gagnidze, Deputy Principal at the European School in Tbilisi. Graduates regularly go on to study at Ivy League universities and leading universities in the UK, such as the London School of Economic and University College London. “In all, we send students to around 20 different countries. They are fully integrated into the global community.”
The European School was established in 2007 and by 2008 it was teaching the Inter national Baccalaureate (IB) alongside the Georgian curriculum. Since then, an American High School section has been introduced at the request of parents keen to help their children gain good university places in the US.
“The advantage we have in being a private school,” says Head of College Counselling Kate Maglakelidze, “is that we can make changes to the state curriculum. We can adapt to what we feel our students need to give them the best chances. It’s a programme that suits our ambition for our students.”
The IB and Georgian sections are the school’s core offering, the goal being to incorporate elements of the IB into the Georgian curriculum. “The two departments have different content, but how we teach them is bound by the same strategy,” says Gagnidze. Students can change section during their education if they feel one or the other curriculum better suits their future plans.
A TWO-WAY EDUCATION
The highly qualified staff has, adds Gagnidze, helped the school earn an excellent reputation across all areas of maths, sciences and the humanities. Course content is regularly reassessed to incorporate best teaching practice. The school was the first in Georgia, for example, to begin robotics classes within its STEM subjects. The school also embr aces feedback from pupils and parents. “We have an open-door attitude to our students,” says Gagnidze. “They are encouraged to come and talk to us and we always listen.”
The academically rigorous IB and Georgian programmes do not, typically, allow much time for extracurricular activities. However, the European School has put its own stamp on how it approaches teaching beyond the classroom with the introduction of music, art and sports clubs, as well as a school TV channel. It also trains its students in public speaking and supports the student film festival, which screens films from as far afield as Brazil.
A HOME FOR DEBATE
Typical of the European School’s mission to introduce its pupils to international current affairs is its United Nations simulation club, in which students debate real-world issues in a formal debate setting. “After the final exams, we take a group of students overseas to one of the UN simulation debates arranged with other schools,” says Maglakelidze. “It’s important that they get this exposure.”
There are currently 740 students at the European School, spanning from, kindergarten through to the equivalent of A levels. “When students graduate, they plant a tree in the school grounds,” says Maglakelidze, “so we are looking forward to being surrounded by a forest.” There are no plans to increase student n umbers, rather to continue refining the IB , Georgian and American programmes to provide the widest opportunities at graduation. “For each student, the aim is to produce not just business leaders, but social leaders; young people who have a strong idea of where they want to go in the world and the confidence to get there.”