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India’s education landscape is rapidly changing in response to the demands and aspirations of the middle class. The government is reshaping the national education policy and seeking active engagement of all stakeholders in the process. Schools are recognising the urgent need to provide ‘fit-for-future’ education with an application-based curriculum and experiential learning opportunities for their learners. This is one of the drivers for the sharp increase in schools looking to international education providers including Cambridge International Examinations.
Every year 30 to 40 schools across India begin their journey as a Cambridge school. While schools do a lot of preparation before approaching Cambridge, and receive comprehensive support from us once they have registered, the expectations of an international curriculum, new pedagogical approaches and unique administrative processes can be very challenging.
October 2014 was a special milestone for Cambridge, when we registered our 10,000th school: Sanskaar Valley School in Bhopal, India. It was at that time that Jyoti Aggarwal, Director of Sanskaar Valley, approached Vanita Uppal OBE, Director of The British School New Delhi, for guidance on teacher training and leadership skills development.
The British School New Delhi introduced Cambridge IGCSE in 1990 and provides education to 850 students from over 55 nationalities. The school is highly regarded and has strong experience in conducting workshops for schools on pedagogical approaches, assessment practices, leadership skills and subject seminars.
The team at The British School New Delhi has been supporting Sanskaar Valley through activities, such as workshops, classroom observations and work shadowing. They have delivered several presentations focusing on the development of an interdisciplinary pedagogical approach which encourages students to think critically and creatively, an important aspect of Cambridge programmes.
The team has also provided an overview of assessment practices and shared good practice for curriculum mapping and design. Sanskaar Valley is very grateful for this mentoring support: “The British School New Delhi, with its expertise in running the IGCSE programme, is going all out to support our school in our initial stages of implementing the programme. They are guiding our teachers about curriculum, pedagogy and whatever else the school requires”, says Jyoti Agarwal.
It is obvious that a mentoring relationship benefits the one being mentored. However, the impact on the mentor can be just as rewarding, as Vanita Uppal acknowledges: “Collaborating and sharing our learnings and expertise with a like-minded school has been an extremely fulfilling experience. It has reaffirmed our commitment to establish professional communities, all committed to improving the quality of educational provision for all our learners.”
And the ultimate prize comes in the form of a lasting bond that the mentor and mentee schools develop during this journey together. This is best described by Vasundara Bhalla, Key Stage 4 Coordinator and part of the mentor team: “While mentorship programmes do serve as an affirmation of one’s professional competence and help build one’s leadership skills, the most rewarding aspect of working with our mentee school has been the friendships and the relationships that have been forged with colleagues. In addition, we, as the mentor school, have gained from fresh insights and a renewed impetus to re-evaluate our own programmes and practices. It’s a win-win situation for both schools.”