Academic Year 2020-2021 has been a year like no other. While our minds are usually filled with the challenges and difficulties of today and the fears and uncertainties of tomorrow, the power of community and support always gets us through days of uncharted territory
At NAIS Manila, we take pride in our school’s strength of inclusivity and sense of belonging. When I started work at NAIS MANILA back in 2019, I was amazed by the integration of both neurotypical and neurodiverse students in the school. Everyone was working together whether, in small or big groups in the classroom, students across year groups planned for and participated in school events and carried out fantastic activities both in and outside of the classroom. More importantly, students enjoyed each other’s company and happily got together during school downtimes like break and lunch to talk about life beyond the campus.
In Secondary School, Form groups are arranged by the four houses: Normans, Romans, Saxons, and Vikings. This creates opportunities for students from different year groups to interact, to collaborate and use their strengths in creating a truly unique Form time. Students are given the chance to take on leadership roles and act as peer mentors within their Form. They provide a support system to those who are experiencing more challenges particularly now while NAIS MANILA continues to be on a virtual school setup. Additionally, with the school’s mantra of being ‘together again’ in the midst of a long lockdown, the Be Ambitious - Be Better classes held every Tuesday and Thursday in place of enrichment lessons have allowed the whole of Secondary School to come together as a community twice a week to participate in themed weekly activities and has become an extension of the school-wide Global Campus initiative.
To further assist students in their Secondary School journey, the Learning Support (LS) Pathways take off this academic year with eleven students currently in Pathway B where they have access to supervised study lessons with Individual Support Teachers or Learning Support teachers and a student in Pathway D with a personalised timetable and access to ASDAN which is an alternative program to IGCSE that focuses on more practical skills and building a portfolio of evidence of the student’s work and achievements.
This is our first year to introduce the ASDAN programmes in Secondary School. ASDAN stands for Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network. It is a British education charity and awarding organisation based in Bristol, England, United Kingdom. It provides curriculum programmes and qualifications to help young people develop knowledge and skills for learning, work, and life.
NAIS MANILA begins its first Preparation for Adulthood - Towards Independence programme this year which is an activity-based curriculum resource that provides real-life context to promote the development of personal, social, independent, IT and work-related skills. This is designed for students with moderate, profound, or multiple learning difficulties.
There are more than 70 modules available to choose from which can be tailored to the needs of the student particularly those in line with their Individual Educational Plan or IEP. The learners gather a portfolio of evidence including photos, videos, observation checklists, and witness statements to support the activities they have accomplished for internal and external moderation.
Below are photos of some of the activities and lessons done in the different modules being undertaken by our Year 11 Pathway D student.
Knowing About Myself
This module focuses on personal or self-knowledge: family, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, personal preferences, clothes and similarity or difference from others. Some of the activities undertaken in this module include scrapbook making as well as planning and performing a fashion vlog type presentation. Rubrics are used in evaluating the activities and giving feedback to the student. Students take a more active role in reflecting on their work and noting what went well and what needs improvement in their output.
This module puts focus on understanding the concept of money and financial elements such as recognising money, looking after your own money, and practical elements such as buying something regularly, using a shop or using a cafe. While in virtual school, we are working on the concepts that can be covered from online interaction and work on money concepts for browsing online shopping sites or restaurant and cafe menus.
Developing Numeracy Skills: Introduction
Complementing the module on Money is Numeracy which focuses on functional Maths concepts such as numbers, measure, shape, space, position, pattern, sorting, time, and data. Activities here are incorporated with the student's routine and daily living. While in virtual school, concepts like prepositions and positions are learned through interactive websites where students can take more active roles in their learning and enhance their skills in using a computer.
After learning the concepts like graphs and charts, for example, I asked the student to do a food survey: asking family members what their favourite food is. We then analysed the information by putting it into a bar graph. We are also incorporating other skills such as typing and writing by creating a script for presenting the results in a recorded video to share back to family members.
Lessons and topics are incorporated with themes from events or holidays celebrated within a particular month, like Halloween, to make it more fun. It is also a wonderful way to involve everyone at home with the student. For instance, each ‘ghost’ in the Halloween banner below is a handprint of each member of the family.
In addition to Towards Independence, there are also a lot of meaningful and practical activities that are assigned in ASDAN classes using activities from ASDAN’s Life Skills Challenges, an online bank of challenges for all types of learners. Tasks vary in levels of difficulty and focus on different subject and vocational areas, which enables us to meet individual needs, personalise the curriculum, and encourage the learner to build on their skills such as IT, literacy, numeracy, problem-solving, ability to learn and teamwork.
LS lessons and in-class support
This school year, Ms. Stefhanie Teodoro, our whole school Art teacher, and Romans Form Tutor, extends extra hands to the Learning Support Department in secondary.
Students in Learning Support who have dropped subjects, such as Chinese, attend LS classes instead in order to use the extra time to catch up on classwork, get a head start on homework, revisit concepts from previous lessons, prepare for upcoming exams, or to get organised and to plan ahead. Students are taught skills in time management, organisation, and self-advocacy. It also allows for a more relaxed environment to interact with peers and be productive at the same time.
Moreover, students with additional needs who are in LS classes also have the opportunity to work with their neurotypical peers who are on the same pathway as them.
Besides the LS classes, LS staff also attend lessons to provide in-class support in core subjects such as Maths, English and Science. This involves analysing the tasks or questions and breaking it down to more manageable steps for the supported student and using scaffolds and templates to guide students in putting order to their workflow.
LS staff look for teachable moments to encourage students to use learning strategies, to create a toolbox of revision techniques and to develop their own awareness of their ability to learn - knowing what works and what doesn’t work for each student.
Furthermore, the close working relationship between the class teachers and the LS staff creates an amazing environment for students to develop a positive attitude to learning and confidence to go beyond their comfort zone and not be afraid to try, to fail and to succeed.
At NAIS Manila, this is who we strive to be. We believe that every child should have the opportunity to learn and to discover their strengths and to find their place in the world.
And recently, we were informed that we've been shortlisted as one of three schools for the 'International Schools Awards' in the "Initiative to Support Inclusion" Category.
Out of 264 entries from 62 countries, NAIS Manila is one of the three schools up for the award! This is a testament to the incredible dedication of the Secondary Teaching Team and Learning Support Department and the unique programme we have in place. We thank all our parents, caregivers, teachers and support staff who makes this all possible.
If you wish to learn more about our amazing Inclusion Programme, you may meet or speak with our Admissions Team online via our Virtual Discovery Meeting. Schedule a meeting at your most convenient and preferred date and time. Click the link below for more information.