Mr. Honey-Jones, Principal of British International School Kuala Lumpur (BSKL), describes himself as part of the BSKL community, made up of kids, teachers, parents and support staff. This community has grown astoundingly fast since the school opened to students in 2009 – BSKL started with 90 kids and now has over 300. As it continues to grow, the BSKL community is preparing to move to a new home just down the road from the current location in Bandar Utama.
The new campus has been in development since 2008, and is now almost ready to open its doors. The main building works are complete, with only fit-out works remaining. This includes painting, landscaping and the installation of the much-anticipated specially-imported play-area equipment. According to Mr. Honey-Jones, “Everybody is excited about our new campus. It’s the topic of conversation amongst our whole community, and it’s all parents talk to me about at the moment.”
The new building has a capaci ty of 1,000 students, with two main buildings, one for secondary and one for primary. Dividing the two buildings is a covered Astroturf football pitch. In addition to this, there is a covered pool, several communal and play areas, the cafeteria and parents’ cafe, surrounded by sports fields and greenery. Classrooms and offices have glass walls, which bring a light open feel to the interiors, and allows BSKL to “celebrate how good our classrooms look,”says Mr. Honey-Jones. Not wanting to waste any of the space available to him, Mr. Honey-Jones also advocated a tennis court on the roof of one of the main buildings. This clever use of space is sure to please the 120 tennis-playing students of BSKL. (Tennis has taken off at BSKL in the last year – Mr. Honey-Jones’ passion for BSKL’s tennis programme seems to have infected the whole school!)
Mr. Honey-Jones’ extensive experience as an educator, alongside that of his development director with whom he also worked in China, has manifested itself in several aspects of the new facility. For instance, the two learned in China that wide bright corridors can double up as peaceful personal-study zones for students. The 500-seat auditorium and underground double-storey car parks are also inspired by lessons learned from past projects. Mr. Honey-Jones has seen many packed gymnasiums and rows of triple-parked cars in his time as a teacher – he knows auditoriums and parking lots won’t mean higher grades, but they are important to the school community nonetheless. The pair has also learned how to work with property developers to keep projects on track, which has resulted in BSKL’s new campus being precisely on schedule – an impressive feat by any standards.
Technology will be an important aspect of this campus, as it is on the existing campus. All classrooms will of course have interactive whiteboards (IWBs) – BSKL’s teachers are trained to a high level in IWB methodology and technology, and IWBs are a focal point of the classroom. Walk past BSKL classrooms now and you’ll see students of all ages and levels making use of the boards.
The school has also purchased a batch of iPads for use in the classrooms, and e-readers for Upper Key Stage 2 and 3 kids – students will be able to access and download e-books from a database in the library to read at home or on campus along side laptop trollies used in all classrooms. However, Mr. Honey-Jones takes a balanced view of learning technology: “It’s important that we don’t let technology take over. Kids still need to read books, write with a pen and paper. The basics of education are still very important.” Also new to BSKL this August is a lower secondary programme – until now, the school has catered only to students up to year 6. The current year 6 is now graduating to year 7, which will form a middle school made up of about 120 students from years 5, 6 & 7. This group will experience subject-specific teaching, as well as the increased independence and discipline required of secondary school students. BSKL’s intention in forming a middle school in this way is to help its students transition from primary to secondary school. In the coming years, BSKL will also introduce an upper secondary programme. This means that, unlike other top-tier British education schools in Malaysia, BSKL will have pre-school to A levels all on one campus – particularly important for families with a number of children of different ages, they can all arrive and leave together at the same.
The biggest difference in the new campus, according to Mr. Honey-Jones, is the space available to the BSKL community to explore and expand into in coming years. He comments: “We have the software, and come September we’ll have the hardware to do the best possible job for our students.” Indeed, the BSKL “software” is relocating along with the campus, including the uniquely intensive daily Mandarin lessons, excellent sports programmes in golf, swimming lessons conducted by six teachers, tennis, football and more, as well as the positive attitudes of all those involved or working with BSKL.
BSKL’s school council, made up of 10 students, recently visited the new campus and returned with rave reviews. In June, all parents and kids will be invited to tour the new campus: Mr. Honey-Jones is confident that the BSKL community is going to love its new campus, and can’t wait to share it with them.
This article was written by Katrina Melvin
Source: The Expat May 2011
This article has been edited for Expatgomalaysia.com
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