My son turned 2 a few weeks ago, and I am already choosing a school for him. Talk about being pro active, but it is what it is. School in Pakistan starts early, and while most of the mothers are in a race to get the best schools and grades, I feel a school is a place a child feels happy in. For me it is important that a child develops his thinking power, even more so than being in the race to be first, which is why I keep looking at schools, curriculums etc.
When I heard of Alpha, and visited their launch, I couldn’t help but think if it was the place for Zakriya, so I decided to probe a little and ask some questions. Since I get a lot of queries of what schools I recommend, I decided to share what I found out about the school.
Alpha, represents the beginning of a limitless journey that sets to discover the self and the world. The Alpha faculty and management comprises of qualified and passionate educators who inherently understand the ever-evolving educational landscape. The team adopts and develops the best learning practices to create a systematic model of education that enhances the cognitive and social development of the individual student.
The curriculum objectives align with the Early Years Foundation Stage and Primary Cambridge framework that are taught using an integrated multi-disciplinary approach. Alpha’s instructional methodology strikes a refined balance between academic learning and co-curricular activities. The catch here is that there is an integrationof ICT and STEM education from day one. At their core is the strong relationship of trust inculcated through a friendly open-door policy, which fosters an active involvement in each child’s most precious formative years.
- What is the background of the school and principal?
The idea was to create a centre of educational excellence within the four walls of Pakistan. Alpha, fulfils this purpose because it, unlike any other educational institution, incorporates the curricular and the co-curricular. It is the brainchild of a family renowned for its success in education for the last forty years across the country. The Principal of the school will join the institute shortly. She is currently working in one of the company’s international programmes and is eagerly looking forward to leading Alpha. She is highly experienced and has exceptional knowledge of education on an international platform, to be able to run a state-of-the-art institute like Alpha.
- What “gap” is the school filling in the market?
Schools in Pakistan lack the integration between the academic and the co-curricular. Alpha expertly provides a holistic education for every child by combining the two into the timetable. The programme is specifically designed with a superb understanding of child psychology; an area often ignored. Finally STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) influences the curriculum from day one. This approach to the “gaps” ensures that the programme is accessible, personalised and child-centric.
- What is the curriculum like?
The Early Years Foundation Stage(EYFS) curriculum is being followed at the pre-primary level. It provides a well-balanced curriculum framework, emphasizing language development, intellectual, social, emotional, and motor skills – encouraging independence in a child. The objective is to make the transition into secondary school easier by aligning with Cambridge Primary, which equips students with the requisite skills to sit for the Cambridge Primary Checkpoint exams.
- What’s the philosophy of the school?
Alpha’s educational philosophy is rooted in the belief that children are born ready, able and eager to learn. They actively reach out to interact with other people, and in the world around them. However, development takes time. It depends on each child having the opportunity to interact in positive relationships and enabling environments. We ensure this by training our teachers to respond to the students in the manner that yields positive results, and is also able to work on each child individually. As their development progresses, so does their ability to acquire the concepts e.g. environmental awareness. Beginning with concrete concepts, they go on to acquire a wide range of abstract concepts e.g .truth through multi-sensory experiences within the classroom and outside.
- What is the co-curricular programme like?
The Alpha co-curricular programme offers a completely different approach where co-curricular activities are part of the whole academic experience. It enables the children to experience different ideas and aspects of life and choose the one that they enjoy doing best. It can range from activities like music, dance, drama, sports, art, cooking, and second language acquisition. It opens up the children to new perspectives and ways of life.
- What’s the examination system?
Alpha believes in creating the right amount of balance in its examination system, which is why two approaches to internal assessments are followed.
Summative assessments are an assessment of what the learners have already achieved or learned. These assessments tend to come at the end of a unit of work, a project, a term, a school year or a phase in schooling. Summative assessments are generally tests and exams and are often recorded by a grade or number but also indicate gaps in learning and serve to inform future planning.
While schools here focus entirely on summative assessments, Alpha has pledged to balance it out by introducing formative assessments. They are used to identify what the learner needs to know next. Formative assessments are often informal: they include discussion, observation, oral work in class, and written tasks. Formative assessments tend to be expressed through a comment rather than a grade and are of most use to a teacher because they are generally the basis for planning.
The combination of these two approaches prepares students to follow later either CIE (Cambridge International Exams) or IB (International Baccalaureate)
- Why would anyone want to see their child go to Alpha instead of say LGS or Aitchison?
By joining Alpha you are brought to the academic marketin a whole new with a completely different educational approach. Comparing one school with another is like comparing apples and oranges. We know what we personally like and just as when buying a house it “feels right” for the family.
- Does your school have an ongoing teacher training programme and what’s the criteria for hiring a teacher?
Yes, the school has round the year in-house training programmes, along with curriculum based online courses. These not only enable the teachers to understand their duties better but also ensure that the quality of the academic process remains up to the mark.
On the other hand, the criteria set for hiring a teacher is that the person is equipped with the knowledge of the relevant field, loves and enjoys teaching children, puts in the maximum effort possible, and is emotionally intelligent to assess the growth (both physical and mental) of the child.
- Will the campus be ready before admissions?
The availability of the campus is divided into pre-Eid and post-Eid phases of orientation for students and parents. From 7th September we will show the campus to parents. The formal launch of the school will be on 10thSeptember.
- Describe a perfect Alpha student.
The ideology that we follow here at Alpha prevents us from labelling students as perfect! Each child takes time to learn, which is why we focus individually on our students, giving them the time and the space to absorb concepts. A child who graduates from the Alpha system will becourageous, mindful, innovative, independent engaged, persevering and self-disciplined.
- Is there a homework policy and how often is the parent teacher interaction?
Alpha believes in establishing a learning culture conducive to the child’s wellbeing, and we assist our learners with homework during school hours. Therefore, we have a homeroom period at the end of the school day, which allows students to complete homework under the supervision of their teachers. What this does for the child is that it consolidates all that he has learnt throughout the day, with teachers providing appropriate help. At the end, it ensures quality time for the family at home. Occasionally, there will be homework assigned over a weekend.
- Is extra help provided to the weaker students?
We see students with varying skill sets and abilities and plan for every child accordingly. This is known as the differentiation approach.