With its aim of ensuring ‘education does not take place in isolation’, Fairview International School’s renowned International Baccalaureate curriculum places an equal focus upon the academic and personal development of its pupils, reveals Agnes Stevenson.

In a fast-changing world, there comes a point when it is time to re-evaluate the fundamentals of education – and at Fairview International School in Bridge of Allan, the acquisition of knowledge is only part of the equation.

This new independent school, which opened in 2019, has rapidly established a reputation for teaching in a wider context, providing children with newfound self-confidence and critical thinking.

The key, says headmaster David Hicks, is the International Baccalaureate curriculum, which introduces children as young as five to the concept that education does not take place in isolation, but instead is part of absolutely everything that goes on in the world.

Until now Fairview has offered both IB primary and middle years programmes, but in the near future as its senior pupils are progressing through the school it is soon to embark upon preparations to launch the IB Diploma programme, which is internationally recognised and welcomed by leading universities around the world.

This is education in its broadest sense, and one renowned for developing creative problem-solvers and independent thinkers.

Like all the programmes at Fairview, it stems from the core subject areas of languages, social studies, mathematics, arts, science and physical education and as part of it pupils are required to complete a 25 hour personal project, which draws upon everything they have learnt with a topic or focus of the student’s own choosing.

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It is a substantial undertaking and one that stretches pupils across all their knowledge and personal skills and it is only possible because the IB programmes foster joined-up learning.

“The difference with an IB school such as Fairview is that subjects are not taught in isolation,” says Hicks.

“As well as subject groups, within the Primary Years for example, we use themes such as ‘Where we are in place and time’ and every lesson, from maths to PE, will be taught through that lens.”

One example of this might be the primary students’study of space and planets, through which they are introduced to the concepts of time, distance and 3D shapes while in music lessons children are introduced to Holst’s ‘The Planets.’

Meanwhile creative writing tasks would involve imagining life on Mars.

“By teaching all these subjects under one umbrella we demonstrate to children how everything in life is connected. This encourages them to make further connections and broadens their understanding of the world around them.”

But equally important to outcomes is the fact that, at each step of the way, children are supported not just in their academic studies but with the development of their social skills and their ability to organise themselves.  This is something that is appreciated by parents, some of whom have experience of the IB system in other parts of the world and others who have chosen Fairview as an alternative to state education in this country.

Amongst the first groups is Samantha Walther-Jones who admits that when her family was re-locating from Bali she had only one condition on their destination: “I didn’t mind where we went so long as there was an international school.”

So the discovery of Fairview International School in Bridge of Allan made Scotland a positive choice and one she has never regretted.

“Bali was a hard act to follow but the people in Scotland have been so welcoming and the countryside is so beautiful and we all love it,” she says.

Best of all her daughters Mariye (13) and Leah (14) are thriving at Fairview where they enrolled as pupils in November 2019. “They have only ever been in the IB system and I am firmly convinced that it is best for them.

“All the subjects are taught in a way that connects them and makes them relevant. If they are studying a unit on ‘how the world works’, then that topic is carried through maths, languages and every other subject on the curriculum. This way of teaching gives them great confidence because they can relate it to the world around them.

“But it isn’t just the teaching, which is excellent, it is the whole ethos of the school. For expats like us, that makes such a difference because we don’t have family around us, so we need the sense of community that Fairview gives us.”

Clare MacFarlane’s reasons for choosing Fairview International School for her daughter Hazel (12), were different but the results have been very similar, with Hazel now flourishing.

“Hazel was that very clever little girl who wouldn’t put her hand up in class, even though she knew the answer, she was painfully shy,” says Clare. Finding somewhere that would nurture her abilities while boosting her confidence was of paramount importance and Clare says she has found it at Fairview. “She takes part in discussions and her self-belief has grown so much, she is like a different girl.”

Hazel (12) has found other things to love about Fairview. “The campus is beautiful, there is so much green space with flowers and trees, and the lunches are amazing.” And now as she is embarking through the IB Middle Years Programme, she is eager to embrace the challenges that lie ahead.

“Science will be more in-depth and I am really looking forward to learning it.”

Whether through enjoying wildlife in the campus or exciting challenges of the curriculum, headmaster David Hicks says what is most important is that Fairview’s pupils are content. “Children only learn when they are happy,” he says. “That’s why we place equal importance on wellbeing as we do on academic education.”

enquiries@fairviewinternational.uk

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Perspective: Principal David Hicks
‘Academic results are important, but not the whole story’

WHEN Covid-19 closed our campus, we switched immediately to home learning and the children responded really well.

And although we followed the timetable, delivering live lessons throughout the day, we were also conscious that we had to do things a little differently on-line, so we had the occasional digital detoxes, dance competitions and yoga sessions to keep things fun.

During the whole of Lockdown, no one missed a day of learning except for the most legitimate of reasons such as for dental appointments or moving house, which was quite remarkable and a testament to both our teachers and the children.

Now that they are back in school our pupils are still making good use of the technology and can transition from on-line sessions with Google Classroom to live lessons quickly, but we are also encouraging them to get outdoors as much as possible for exercise and fresh air.

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Wellbeing is an intrinsic part of what we do at Fairview and our six and half acres of campus gives pupils lots of opportunity to be amongst nature, doing PE, watching wildlife, using the fitness trails or taking part in outdoors learning across the whole of the syllabus.

Academic results are important, but they are not the whole story and we take an holistic approach to education, recognising individuals’ strengths and talents and supporting them to have confidence in their own abilities.

We encourage our pupils to believe in themselves while still respecting the views of others and in our IB Primary programme in particular the children respond very positively to issues concerning wildlife.

They want to put the world right, to know, for example, why deforestation is still happening and what can be done to stop more animals from going extinct.

We encourage them to take action, to recognise what they can do to make a difference and this helps to make them responsible and caring individuals from a young age.

This article appears as part of The Herald's The Future Of Education campaign, in association with Fairview International School.

If you would like to become a partner in our Future of Education Series, contact Stephen McDevitt, Head of Digital and Branded Content campaign@heraldandtimes.co.uk