Set in 165 acres of verdant countryside in the Nilgiris Hills of Tamil Nadu, the Good Shepherd International School could be mistaken for a temple, albeit one of learning. The fully residential school welcomes students from around 40 countries into a stimulating environment that encourages academic, social and personal success. In 2016, it won the British Council International School Award for the period 2014–17 and was voted the Best Fully Residential School in India by Education World magazine.
“Being completely residential sets us apart from other schools,” says Founder and Principal Dr PC Thomas. “It means we can give equal importance to the academic programme as to sports and co-curricular activities.” Good Shepherd students benefit from 60 IT-enabled classrooms; 35 art, music and dance studios; and facilities for 20 sports and games, as well as a 50,000-volume library. “Parents expect their children to get into the best universities,” says Dr Thomas, “but they also want them to be fully rounded individuals.” A closely assessed programme of community service is another key aspect of every student’s development.
Expanding on excellence
The school opened in 1977 with 54 pupils and now has 850 boys and girls, who are on two campuses, from primary through to secondary school. The school celebrates its international character through its multi-faith teaching and in its faculty, with teachers from the UK, the US, Canada, Thailand and Ireland. “We aim to see that all the children develop into global citizens,” says Dr Thomas.
The school offers the Cambridge IGCSE and the International Baccalaureate (IB). “The advantage of the IB is that it is recognised anywhere in the world,” says Dr Thomas. Graduating students have gone on to study at institutions that include King’s College, London, the University of Edinburgh and the University of California, inspired by regular talks from the school’s international alumni.
Under Dr Thomas’s direction, the school is embarking on a $20 million expansion, which is due for completion in 2020. Good Shepherd is the only school in India with a Platinum rating from the Indian Green Building Council and the extension will further its eco credentials with rainwater collection, solar panels and energy efficient materials.
“There is no limit to growth in education,” says Dr Thomas, who received the Lifetime Achievement in Education Leadership Award in 2016 from Education World. “I’d like to see the school ranked internationally as one of the best schools in the world. This new $20 million extension is very much part of that plan.”