The class has paused for a moment and students are engaged in an exercise, drawing circles in one direction while rotating their ankles the other way. It’s just for a minute and then the class is back to business, their focus rebooted by this brief “brain break” to improve concentration and energise the mind for learning. It’s one of many measures that have been introduced to enhance the well-being of students at Grange School in Lagos, Nigeria, which celebrates 60 years of quality international education this year.
A lot of changes have taken place over the past 12 months. “There’s been an emphasis on what we call ‘authentic happiness’,” says Headmaster Guy Cassarchis. “Our philosophy is that if our students are happy and the teachers are happy then the parents are happy. And that climate is going to produce strong results.”
To that end, a survey system has been introduced for students to provide their teachers with feedback. The idea is to inspire open discussion about what kind of classes engage and inspire students, and to weed out methods found to be less effective. “We want to open up the educational journey and create a stronger partnership in the classroom environment,” explains Cassarchis.
Staff are encouraged to monitor the development of each student in class via “visible learning” techniques – by which teachers see education through the eyes of the child. Grange School has always had a reputation for strong academic performance, but the introduction of the latest education philosophies has created a climate of innovation, inspiring students and staff to reach further.
Parents are also encouraged to participate. “We listen closely to them,” says Cassarchis, “especially those with strong connections to the UK, who tell
us what they admire about the schools their children have attended there.” A new partnership with an Australia-based platform that provides online-study programmes enables students to continue their learning at home in disciplines that range from time management and dealing with distractions to tips on taking notes and preparing for exams.
Beyond the academic
“In the past, life for a Grange School students was very results-based,” says Cassarchis. “These days we’re more balanced. Students are encouraged to explore the variety of extracurricular activities on offer, from arts, music, drama, dance and sports, to robotics, STEM club and other after-school clubs that nurture an interest in sciences and technology.” Last year, the school hosted a writer-in-residence, offering students a chance to co-author and publish their own works.
An artist-in-residence will soon provide similar scope to learn the finer skills in drawing and painting.
This spirit of learning informs every aspect of life at Grange School, which has adopted a “think global teach local” theme this year under which every person on campus – from teachers and students to maintenance staff and drivers – has been upskilled in teaching, learning and well-being.
There has also been a big push to give back to the community. The school was selected by the Vice-President of Nigeria to provide teacher training at a new facility set up by the North-East Children’s Trust to provide a safe education space for children living in areas where Boko Haram operates. It’s one of the many initiatives that Grange School is taking on to give back to communities while providing students with an education that implements the latest learning techniques in a local context.