Learn more about our fantastic Early Years provision at NAIS Pudong in this interview with Tamara Keenan, Deputy Head of Primary. Tamara is an experienced Early Years practitioner who is passionate about ensuring that all children have the best possible opportunities to embrace and benefit from our Be Ambitious philosophy. You want your child to excel, so do we.
Q: Please give us an overall introduction of the Early Years department at NAIS Pudong (history, student/teacher background, curriculum system, student-teacher ratio, etc..)
A: Nord Anglia International School Shanghai, Pudong was founded in 2002 and has always offered a whole through school education from Early Years to Secondary (2 to 18 years old). At NAIS Pudong, we follow the English Early Years Foundation Stage framework which is a holistic approach to teaching. In 2013, the Early Years’ classrooms saw a transformation where they were renovated from individual classrooms to open plan learning environments. Thus, providing a wider range of learning opportunities and experiences for our students. Collectively, our qualified teaching body have an average of over 16 years teaching experience and are Early Years specialists. All our teaching staff are native English speakers, most originating from the United Kingdom. In addition to this, we are enhanced by wonderful teaching assistants and Mandarin teachers. With such a strong team, we are very proud of our high adult to student ratio, ensuring the well-being of all the children in our care, personally, socially and emotionally as well as academically.
Q: Parents are really anxious about the safety and well-being of their little kids. What do you do to ensure that every child here is well protected?
It is only natural, and understandably so, that a parent should feel anxious about the safety and well-being of their child. Entrusting a school with their child is the first biggest challenge any parent will face. We often talk about separation-anxiety from the child’s perspective; however, here at NAIS Pudong we also consider the challenges parents face when they say goodbye to their little ones for the very first time. It is exactly for this reason that it is important that parents have trust in their child’s school. Here at NAIS Pudong, first and foremost we ensure we have airtight procedures and policies in place to earn that trust. This begins as early as recruitment, where we make sure we hire outstanding teachers and staff. All our staff, from ancillary to teaching, undergo training in child protection and safeguarding before starting their role and this is updated yearly throughout their careers with us. Our Early Years building is secure with security guards and keypad locks. Additionally, we have regular practice drills such as fire drills. At NAIS Pudong, each department has a number of First Aiders and we always have qualified nurses on-site and follow the guidance and regulations of the Shanghai Health Authority. To us, the physical aspect of the safety of our children and the well-being and happiness of our students, are equally just as important. Within our EYFS framework, a Prime Area of Learning is Personal, Social & Emotional Development. This underpins all other learning and is the basis of everything we do from planning lessons to setting up our learning environments. We are proud to be part of our Parent Community and we nurture close home-school links. Our teachers and staff actively encourage a partnership between parents and school to best support their child on their learning journey. We have an open-door policy, often inviting parents in to share their child’s learning experiences through ‘Stay & Play Sessions’ and other events. At NAIS Pudong, we have high expectations of ensuring strong communication with parents. Not only do Early Years’ parents receive daily information on their child’s class news via a classroom communication app, they also receive regular personalised reports on their child’s progress via our online assessment tool. We strongly believe that great communication builds trust and nurtures positive relationships with our parents.
Q: What is your educational philosophy? How do you carry it out in daily teaching activities?
A: Pedagogy is at the heart of everything that we do – we consider the ‘art’ and the ‘science’ of teaching. By art we mean the craft of teaching and when we refer to science, we mean the understanding of child development, how children’s brains work and learn. Innovative and active learning is in every part of our philosophy to education. We believe in building strong foundations in early education. In Early Years, it is about creating enabling environments and developing all our students with the confidence to be ambitious. When planning for a class, as well as for our Early Years’ learning environments, we provide a breadth of opportunities to encourage our students to explore, be critical thinkers and become global life-long learners.
Q: Compared with kindergartens, what are the unique advantages of NAIS Pudong’s Early Years’ programme?
A: Firstly, the fact that we are part of Nord Anglia Education who works in collaboration with MIT, Juilliard and our very own Global Campus, we offer unique and ‘once in a lifetime’ learning experiences. Secondly, our Early Years is part of a bigger school, the facilities alone (such as our outdoor field, sports halls, swimming pool, music rooms and auditorium) provide additional learning opportunities to our students in a variety of contexts. The other benefit of being part of a whole through school also means that transitions from one age phase to the next are smoother. Our Early Years’ Team work closely with our Primary Team to ensure our Reception children have the smoothest of experiences when moving up to Year One. Lastly, and most importantly, through our framework, robust assessment and collaborative planning, we offer the students in our care individualised learning experiences in both, the indoor and outdoor learning environments.