All children have the potential and capacity to learn. Children have different strengths, encounter different challenges, work at different paces, have different languages, cultural and educational backgrounds and they may favour different approaches to learning. A totally homogenous group of students does not exist and any attempt to group students as such will always be imperfect. This recognition of children as individuals is one of the great strengths of international schools. Learning about diversity, as well as what we have in common, amongst our community, contributes to international mindedness and inter-culturalism. To learn to listen, debate, collaborate and achieve with others, even when they do not necessarily believe and act as we do, provides opportunity for our students to “exhibit integrity and a desire to make a positive impact in the world” (FIS Vision).
At the FIS, our classes are comprised of students of different backgrounds and abilities, enriching the learning environment. The positive impact is felt in academic as well as social and emotional learning. Curriculum, in its written and taught form, supports learning for all through differentiation. That is a teacher responding to the needs of the individuals within the class to support effective learning for all. Teachers proactively and collaboratively plan varied approaches to what students need to learn, how they will learn it, and/or how they will demonstrate their learning.
Some schools use approaches such as streaming, separating children into groups by global ability and teaching them in the same class for all subjects, or setting, separating children into different groups by ability for individual subjects. However trends vary from country to country, government to government and decade to decade and research is yet to definitively suggest benefits for these approaches. Much evidence supports detrimental effects in competitive learning environments that use such approaches. Hence, to foster “a caring and cooperative environment”, at the FIS, curriculum is differentiated to ensure it is challenging and appropriate to the needs of our students.
(Adopted June 2014)