Tobias W.– now Year 7 at BSN Senior School, Voorschoten, wrote about his thoughts -unprompted- as he moved from Junior to Senior school.
From the age of three (Foundation stage to Year 7), I have attended the British School in the Netherlands.
The approach to learning and the advanced manner in which the curriculum is offered makes it a one of a kind school. It is truly a privilege to attend the BSN. I personally credit and recognise my academic achievements as being a consequence of my education at the BSN; more specifically Junior School Vlaskamp (JSV).
The BSN’s high standard of learning, in which it teaches the importance of morals, is a critical part of the entire curriculum. Children, starting young, are introduced, taught and talk about the importance of principals in practice. Used exceptionally throughout junior years, the BSN has applied an Educational Ethics precept of attributes associated with a high standard learner. Commonly known as the ‘Learner Attributes’ (IB Learner Profile), this selection of principles is often referred to in peer assessments. As a student, this small collection of characteristics become essential to you and your learning environment. Lessons and assemblies will often also feature and use these attributes as guidelines.
The Learner Attributes include:
Open Minded: Thinking about others.
Reflective: Reflect on your past achievements
Principled: Doing whats best
Determined: Never giving up
Caring: Having an understanding of others
Risk Taker: Challenging yourself and maintaining a growth mindset
Knowledgeable: Observing and learning from your surroundings
Inquirer: Being curious of your surroundings
Thinker: Staying focused and putting thought into your decisions.
Communicator: Socially interacting with the people around you
Balanced: Look after yourself emotionally and physically
The BSN aspires to reinforce students’ motivation and approach towards learning. A concept originating from the International English curriculum, named the Learning Pit, is extensively used to describe a learning experience. Arguably, the motion to drive students to not be anxious when puzzled, has improved the approach to how students feel about ‘being stuck’.
The amiability and warmth with which the BSN welcomes new students, has always astonished me. In experience, the welcoming atmosphere has always comforted any visitor or new pupil. Socially, the stability and confidence of pupils creates a sensational ambience. Related to the learner attributes, the ethical awareness to welcome any visitor comes naturally to any student. All of this results in a positive learning environment; massively improving educational development. Disciplinary standards at the BSN are exceptionally high. Students, from all ages, are expected to give the teacher full attention in lesson time. As a student learns over time, being observant and attentive in lessons plays a crucial importance at the BSN. In opposition to this and as a consequence, students do receive extensive recess hours. This format, including the excellent outdoor facilities provided, works fantastically and results in a focused and balanced learning environment.
Overall, learning facilities at the BSN are outstanding. Specifically at JSV, the organization and layout of the entire school helps navigation around the campus and results in a innovative design. For Example: The JSL campus’ (Junior School Leidschenveen) spherical layout helps navigation, the overall learning process and the ability to separate age groups. Many students also find that overall campus designs stunning. Furthermore, the JSV campus won a award for it’s spectacular architecture. Moreover, the array of facilities is astonishing. From full out kitchens, to science labs. The Junior school campuses alone include a large range of different facilities. As a result, many creative sessions and co-curriculum opportunities are available.
The BSN also strives to construct environmentally friendly facilities and works hard on recycling biodegradable materials. Many areas of equipment have undergone the process of improvement which therefore resulted in a eco friendly outcome. The learning environments and the way they are managed contributes a lot to the speed in which the learning is provided. The large range of facilities also contributes a lot to the entire curriculum consequently introducing a substantial amount of new areas. FT, DT, PE and art all see a dramatic increase in availability; influencing possibility.
Discipline and Regulations
A subject which we have touched on in previously matters, the BSN delivers this crucial aspect ofeducation as a ethical must. The controlled manner in which the BSN handles and regulates it’s curriculum does not only play a vital role in the stability of the social environment but also in the manner in which students approach learning and a learning experience. In comparison to any widely available school in it’s vicinity, the enthusiasm and approach to learning, displayed at the BSN, is exceptional.
Again, associated to morality, the BSN’s dress codes and regulations help maintain a socially stable environment. Not only does the uniform help the establishment of group identity, it prevents any social grouping and judgment concerning clothing. The uniform, while not having this as it’s primary purpose, contributes heavily to factors such as the degree of peer pressure and social influence on pupils. While some might argue that dress codes obstruct students’ their ability to express themselves and influences confidence and identity, I personally believe that that is a compromise to be made.
A popular behavior management system, known as the ‘Turn-A-Card’ behavior plan, is often used in elementary environments including the BSN’s Junior schools. This application has proven to have had effects on students’ behavior. As a Junior School student, this set of regulations plays a vital role throughout the academic year.
Curriculum and Co-Curriculum
The BSN’s curriculum includes a vast selection of topics. Not only does it stimulate creativity by introducing many projects and art activities, it also stimulates students. In comparison to a average public school (Dutch curriculum), the focus on Physical and creative learning is extensive. The structure and core of the curriculum is supplied by the International English Curriculum. This basis helps the development of the curriculum at the BSN as attention can be focused on details, ultimately perfecting the school’s functionality.
The attention to emotional and social education (PSHE) is in my opinion impressive. Lessons containing such subjects help students undergo the experience of having to handle social stresses and peer pressures. This can be exceptionally useful for Y6 or Y7 students who are undergoing and entering adolescence. Other areas such as leadership and responsibility are also essential to the BSN. This is again reflected in the curriculum. While my understanding of what areas of the curriculum originate from the International English Curriculum is limited, the BSN has unquestionably refined the quality of education and the curriculum.
Similar to the curriculum, the Co-curriculum opportunities are incredible. From academic to athletic, the range of activities are large. Not only does the entire co-curriculum of the BSN help build on skills a student might already possess, it also helps students, with it’s vast selection, to discover and develop ambitions. The focus on creativity is extensive. In many ways, the BSN’ curriculum is comparable and corresponding to it’s Co-curriculum. As a student, the Co-curriculum functions as an extension to your learning and a expression of your passions. The BSN’s Co-curriculum is a true example of this and a Co-curriculum which has been crafted and designed as a form of expression, innovation, creativity and voracious learning. An area which is comparable with Co-curriculum: opportunity and responsibility, also helps students develop passions for debating and communication. From KS1 to the end of Year 13, the array of opportunities involving responsibilities, leadership and communication are an iconic part of how an child experiences and develops leadership.
In conclusion, the opportunities available at the BSN are undisputedly stunning. Not only does the BSN envision an inspiring future for it’s students, it aspires to obtain the best for every pupil. The Community and the bonds which I have developed at the BSN also have exceptional meaning to me. My education and its importance to me is also truly indescribable. I am grateful for my experiences at JSV and appreciate the exceptionally hard work which my teachers have
Great story and very well written. As a teacher at a regular public Dutch primary school I think we can learn a lot from some aspects you mentioned here.
Thank you very much, Enno. Our students are our ambassadors, and the reasons we do what we do!