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Pursuing academic excellence image

Pursuing Academic Excellence

Last term, The British International School of Kuala Lumpur (BSKL) received the ‘Best IGCSE Results’ at this year’s ‘Be Ambitious Awards,’ coming in 1st place out of 56 Nord Anglia Education (NAE) schools from 25 countries across the world.

BSKL has consistently produced outstanding results and the 2017/18 academic year was no different. In the IGCSE examinations 75% of our students achieved A*-A (the global average is 22%) and 50% were A* or the equivalent numerical grade. 93% achieved A*-B and 66% of all the new numerically graded IGCSEs were graded ‘9’ (A** equivalent) which is awarded only to the top 3% of entries globally. 100% of students achieved A*-C in their Maths and English - also well above the global average.

Our A Level students also had another successful year. 75% of all grades achieved were A*-B and 50% were A*-A; again considerably beating the global averages of 43% and 26.4% respectively. 9 out of 10 students received their 1st choice place at top universities around the world.

Results at a glance:

gcse results graph

So what is BSKL’s secret to academic success?

Pupils
The school has an atmosphere and a culture within the pupil body of being hungry for success and progress, as well as being a supportive community with each other. This atmosphere and culture is maintained and strengthened year on year.

Teachers
As staff we focus heavily on knowing our pupils as well as possible in a rounded way and therefore tailoring intervention and support. Our teachers are well-qualified, diligent and hardworking professionals that go the extra mile to drive success. They know how to teach well and what activities really drive performance (key things like marking and feedback) and we give them the leeway to focus their time on such important things.

Parents
At BSKL we are lucky to have close links with our parents who are very hands on and engaged. They work with us to understand the intervention and support mechanisms we put in place to help their children, and regularly provide us with feedback on how they are getting on at home.

Process
We have effective, tried, tested and refined mechanisms for monitoring progress constantly and, importantly, doing something constructive with that data. We regularly target pupils for additional interventions and support and we aim to encourage them by celebrating success.

Pastoral Care
Our focus as a school is on more than academic success. We treat the pupil as a whole and concentrate on their wellbeing and personal development -  "the other 50%" - as much as the academic, i.e. activities beyond exams and curriculum such as sports, music, drama and other extra-curricular activities, the International Award, BSKL Award, supporting charities and additional House events. This is a virtuous circle feeding back into academic success. These activities breed confidence and engagement which support academic pursuits, as well as leading to more rounded individuals ready to take on the world. Our pupils are also supported by an established, structured pastoral system: a form tutor, a co-tutor, a head of year and a head of key stage. We focus on the individual and personalise the provision to ensure all needs are met.

What type of skills and characteristics create a high performing student?

There are some obvious ones such as:

  • Hard work: There is no getting away from this - it is key for any pupil's success and luckily it is supported by the culture in the school. Hard work is one of our cultural attributes, recognised by pupils as much as by staff.

  • Organisation: This is critical particularly for exam success. Public exams are competitive by nature and therefore the more "return for learning" you can get from each minute you spend, the better. We focus on teaching organisation throughout each pupil's journey in order to maximise this return.

  • Respect: Being respectful of teachers and other pupils alike. It is key for fostering a good positive atmosphere that allows for constructive criticism that leads to improvements in whatever the pupils are learning.
     

Additionally we encourage characteristics such as:

  • Independence: This helps pupils prepare for exams effectively with their own drive, as well as helping with success in their day to day learning.

  • Self Reflection: An attribute which is key for evaluating and improving performance; from something as simple as very carefully considering marking and feedback and always doing something more with that feedback.

  • Risk-taking: Pushing the boat out to do a little more than the standard and accepting a set back as a step along the way to doing well.

  • Resilience: Risk taking leads to resilience which is another important characteristic of a high performing student that we aim to instill in our pupils.


Written by Bruce Geddes, Assistant Head (Achievement, Progression and Standards) and Head of Computer Science.