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What is the difference between a school experience and an education?

Samuel Gipson
Samuel Gipson (16 posts) Head of Secondary View Profile

This is a question I have asked myself quite a lot over the last year since we found ourselves in lockdown and learning online.

As we move towards the close of this academic year, I think it is important to pause, reflect and consider this question as the answer to it is the reason why the NAIS Manila Secondary School has experienced so much success over the past 12 months, despite the challenging circumstances we find ourselves in.

In the 21st century we all can get an education at the click of a button. There are thousands of quality and reliable places where we can learn a new skill, find out about a new topic, or expand our world view, all online. From Wikipedia to YouTube to Khan Academy, access to free education has never been easier. If access to education is so easy and so ubiquitous, what then is the value of a school?


From a purely academic point of view, schools have a significant responsibility ensuring the quality of education and that certain standards are upheld and learning outcomes are met.

However, on a much deeper level, schools provide so much more than just delivering and quality assuring an education. Schools are centres of community, places of connection and shared meaning. Schools are a second home and a place of belonging. Schools provide a platform and avenue for individuals to develop and hone not just curriculum knowledge, but the soft skills of emotional intelligence, perseverance, collaboration, and teamwork. One can have an education without going to school, but by going to a great school like NAIS Manila one gets an education and so much more.

If the last year has taught us anything, it is the value of human connection, of being a member of a community and of being surrounded by people who care about us. NAIS Manila’s emphasis on community, on interaction between students and teachers, and on supporting wellbeing, has made this last year such a success. It has been our focus on providing not just an education, but continuing our school experience, that has set us apart.

While many schools in a similar position to us opted to label this last year as ‘online learning’ or ‘distance education’, here at NAIS Manila we have talked about our Virtual School Experience. While this may seem like semantics, this important choice of words has framed our approach to everything we have done. We have endeavoured to replicate the face-to-face school experience in the digital space so far as possible and provide as many opportunities as possible for students to interact, exchange ideas and collaborate.

The impact of this approach is clear in the results of the recent 2020/2021 Parent Satisfaction Survey:

2020/21 survey results

Our focus on providing a Virtual School Experience, rather than just an online education, has resulted in more successes than I have room to list and has been a key factor in why the NAIS Manila Secondary School is the only Secondary School I know of in similar circumstances that have shown positive net growth from the beginning of this academic year to now. We continue to go from strength to strength and are set to open next year with a range number of new subjects being launched across the Secondary School as well as many additional students who are joining specifically to experience the personalised, community-focused, virtual school experience we offer.

This year has not been easy for any of us, least of all the students, however, what has always lifted my spirits and kept me energised is dropping into a House Time call or a BABB Session and seeing the students engaging so actively and enthusiastically in whatever activity is taking place. To see the smiles on their faces as they not only get an education, but a world-leading Virtual School Experience has been amazing.

To know more about our outstanding Virtual School Experience, click the link below

Male student using laptop

Our Virtual School Experience

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