The independent schools landscape in the UK is changing. Challenged by an increasingly competitive market, new school groups up and down the land are developing of various size and scale, and creating some of the most cutting edge, international learning communities, capable of attracting dynamic educationalists who are leading the way in pedagogy and curriculum innovation.
Claremont is part of a network of 50 schools, with over 45,000 students, 7,000 staff, operating in 15 different countries and offering 15 different curricula. It’s an amazing network to be plugged into. The security, stability and support afforded by being part of a schools group with the student learning experience genuinely at the heart of its decision making, has had a tangible and profound effect on Claremont from the outset. We are part of a learning community of enormous scale, with central departments dedicated to improving student pathways, developing and sharing education innovations and technologies, and delivering an evolving programme of unique international learning experiences that we believe set us apart from many other independent ‘through schools’ in the UK.
The ISP Buddy Exchange programme has brought a new dimension of internationalism to our school; opening up the world to our teenagers so they can safely immerse themselves in new cultures and the type of learning opportunities abroad that are often reserved for the pre-university ‘gap year’. In its pilot year, Claremont students flew off to Malaga, the British school of Vila Real in the Castilon region and to Costa Rica to stay and study with their buddies, before we played host to them back at Blighty. Adapting to a virtual model throughout the pandemic has certainly got us thinking about the scope for enriched learning experiences in our modern foreign language departments!
Model United Nations is a stalwart of many Senior School enrichment programmes, but for us it is hosted in a different ISP school each year and sees students travel to countries all over the world to meet and work alongside their international counterparts. The result is a dynamic and authentic learning experience that enables students to develop their understanding of global citizenship and international relations in a real world setting, as well as hone their public speaking and debating skills. The residential Student Leaders Conference provides further opportunity for students across the ISP network to develop communication skills and explore leadership styles before presenting their findings and ideas back to an international audience of their peers. Advances in Technology continue to play a key role in bringing our international learning community close together from afar. During the pandemic, promising school chess teams from across the ISP family have had their cognitive and critical thinking skills put to the test in the annual ISP Chess Tournament, whilst speed and accuracy of mathematics fluency is the name of the game in the annual ISP Maths Challenge. Most recently, the launch of The ISP International Film Festival 2021 inspired our Performing Artists and over 30 teams in the ISP schools group to write, direct and produce their own five minute film to showcase their talents and creativity on the international stage. The standard of work was quite remarkable with Claremont students’ interpretation of the theme ‘I wish I hadn’t done that’ rewarded with the win in the Best Production Design category.
The scope for connecting and collaborating with students from all around the world as part of the ISP group is so extraordinary and unique. A centralised programme of learning experiences that enable ISP students across the globe to meet, create, share, expand their minds and broaden their educational horizons continues to evolve. More exciting international opportunities await Claremont students next next year to include a programme dedicated to equipping students with the knowledge and skills needed to address issues of global sustainability, a ‘real-world’ STEM research project, International Summer Schools and camps and new ways for our global community to come together in support of ISP’s Street Child United Charity Partnership.
Importantly for us, Claremont remains Claremont, with its own distinctive character, ethos and spirit. Our partnership with ISP has empowered us to continue to develop as a progressive, local school but with a more relevant and authentic global outlook. As such we believe we have found the best place for our school and students as we press on with the next stage in our evolution. We have much to look forward to.