A through-train school offers students an education from the very start of their learning journey in the early years of school, all the way through to graduation. We spoke to parents and teachers about the benefits of this type of schooling.
THROUGH-TRAIN SCHOOL BENEFITS
One great plus of a through-train school is the ability for students of all ages to share and have access to the same resources. This allows for some mind-blowing student experiences and unique opportunities.
Principal Brian Cooklin from Nord Anglia International School (NAIS), a through-train school in Hong Kong, shares an inspiring example of how this works. “Our Year 4 students read Harry Potter together as a class and we have a very popular ‘Harry Potter Day’ where the students dress up and all the day’s learning is inspired by the novels.
During the day, the Secondary Science teachers also host a ‘Potions’ class in the high school labs for these younger students. Each year, this experience is a huge hit with Year 4 students, who get to see how the older year groups learn, in a fun way.”
At NAIS, the school has worked with MIT to develop its innovative STEAM programme. The MIT STEAM programme transitions right through the school and caters to students from three to 18 years of age.
Another programme that all students benefit from is the school’s collaboration with The Juilliard School, bringing performing arts expertise from New York. At NAIS, performing arts is a core feature of the curriculum for all age groups as it helps students to build confidence, try new experiences, and establish transferable life skills.
Anna Champion has two children at NAIS and shares, “I never expected my six-year-old to be having a session with someone from the MIT faculty! This happened as part of the recent STEAM Festival at NAIS. Staff from the Juilliard School have also visited the campuses on a regular basis to introduce musical instruments and dance.”
An uninterrupted journey from early years, to primary school, and into high school provides educational consistency for students attending through-train schools. This consistency of experience enables them to feel confident which helps them to more easily step outside their comfort zones.
At NAIS, the House system is central to this consistency and stability of experience. “The House system we have is vertical and that makes a real difference – the same family is in the same House all the way through school,” explains Brian. The NAIS Principal has led multiple schools over his decades of leadership and has introduced the House system at every one. “It allows students to build friendships across ages, subjects and campuses, which in turn reduces bullying”, he explains.
Curriculum consistency also benefits families choosing a through-train school. A consistent curriculum makes for a smooth learning experience. No matter where a student’s educational journey takes them, they can be truly prepared for each step. “Pupils are also familiar with the environment and the overriding ethos of the school. Whether they are moving to a new year group, from Primary to Secondary or starting their examination years, this gives them the added security which allows them to benefit positively from changes they may encounter.” Says Simone Reid, Transition Co-ordinator and Secondary Maths Teacher at NAIS.
This stability extends to parents, according to Principal Brian Cooklin: “It provides a sense of certainty for parents to know their child is looked after and cared for all the way through. It takes some of the stress out of education, especially here in Hong Kong.”
Anna adds, “Like many expats, we don’t know what the future will bring. So having the option of a school where our children can go all the way through is extremely comforting.” NAIS is part of a global family of 56 Nord Anglia Education schools around the world, meaning families can often choose to continue their child’s education at another sister school if they relocate.
Support is more easily provided when a school knows a student. Students who attend through-train schools receive heightened support because communication between teachers is more effective and there’s no disconnect when students traverse between different year groups.
At NAIS, this works through the House system, because it provides pastoral care, and also through the specialist teachers and the leadership team. Specialist teachers – in PE, Music, Art, Mandarin, Drama – work across the entire school from the early years through the Secondary, and provide a consistent learning resource for students as they move up. “Within NAIS we have specialist teachers who teach across all key stages so pupils have the reassurance of a familiar face, whichever campus or year group they are in.” says Simone Reid.
The NAIS leadership team is active across all three of the school’s campuses. This enables everyone at the school to really feel like they are part of one school family with three campuses, and not three separate schools.
#4: ROLE MODELS & FRIENDS
The way students are exposed to the experiences and achievements of older students is an incredible benefit of the through-train model. Role models are more prevalent in through-train schools. “Students get the benefit of seeing what comes next through role models,” says Brian Cooklin. “They can see what the older students are achieving and what they are doing – it’s aspirational leadership in action.”
A through-train school allows students to make friends for life that will share their experiences from the first day of school, all the way to high school graduation. The benefits also extend to the stability and support of the teaching staff, the learning opportunities, and the confidence it brings to children. If you want peace of mind for your child and their educational journey, a through-train school may be just your ticket!
Nord Anglia International School Hong Kong has three campuses; Sai Kung and Tai Tam are dedicated Early Years campuses; Lam Tin’s Primary and Secondary campus. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 3958 1428 for more details. nais.hk
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