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So What Does ‘Ambition’ Look Like in a Primary School?

07 September 2017

In my blog last week, I reflected on my journey from Wales to Shanghai and why I chose Nord Anglia and BISS Puxi to fulfil my international ambitions in education. In particular, what a dynamic, progressive and ambitious school looks and feels like.

  • Arlow Rickford
  • Emma Paton

There are a lot of factors that contribute to this claim and I spoke about a few of my early observations last week. However, this got me thinking about how we measure this apparent success in Primary, particularly when we do not have examination benchmarks as a comparison as Secondary does.

It was Victoria Solway, my Deputy Head of Primary that provided me with the answer this week. It is through the pupils themselves. She was asked to write an article for a local magazine that through our pupils, told the community what ambition looks like. Below are the stories of just two of the many amazing children we have in our care. I am privileged to be leading their journey and the incredible staff team that make these things possible.

Emma Paton 5B Aged 9: 

Emma’s journey into music began with curiosity. At a young age Emma heard her older brother playing the piano and this sparked her curiosity and passion for music. She loved the sounds that were being made and she wanted to find out how such beautiful music was created. Prompted by this curiosity, Emma went on to show passion, dedication and hard work. She practises the piano for up to an hour every day and is now working towards her grade 7 exam in piano. Emma’s passion for music hasn’t stopped there. She is also a brilliant flautist, working towards taking her grade 5 exam in the new few months. She especially enjoys playing the flute in our whole school orchestra because she loves hearing how the instruments come together to create a whole piece. Emma enjoys the opportunities to supplement her own studies with the world class provision of music at The British International School Shanghai, whose music program has been developed in collaboration with the world famous Juilliard Music Conservatoire.

Arlo Rickford 2K Aged 6:

Arlo is a world changer. Quite a bold statement for a teacher to make of a 6 year old, but one that a mere five minutes talking with Arlo will reveal to be true. He has an irresistible curiosity about the world around him, which manifests itself in his approach to learning in a very special way. The world clearly needs problem solvers but Arlo is much more than that, he is that much more rare form of thinker; he's a problem finder. Problem solvers will be the key to our world successfully navigating the problems that lie in the years ahead. But problem finders will be those people that give the problem solvers direction. A conversation with Arlo is like taking a whistle stop tour through the wonderings and imagination of a highly agile mind. Whilst being perfectly poised and calm, his astute young mind is lively, moving from one perspective to another, making connections and making hypotheses and testing ideas as he investigates the world around him. At The British International School Shanghai, our approach to nurturing just this sort of lively creative mind is optimized in the way that we support learning in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) subjects in our world class Da Vinci Centre.

Jared Nolan, Head of Primary