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Ruchira Ghosh, former Regional Director at Cambridge International, is Principal of Sancta Maria International School, Hyderabad, India. The school has been offering Cambridge Primary and Cambridge Lower Secondary for 10 years. Ruchira tells us why she welcomes the new subjects on offer, as well as recent revisions to existing syllabuses.
'Sancta Maria International School has 1357 students from Early Years (2–3 year olds) to High School (18–19 year olds). About 70 per cent of students are Indian nationals, 20 per cent are US passport holders and the remaining 10 per cent are nationals of the UK, Singapore, the Netherlands, Greece and New Zealand. All our students follow the Cambridge curriculum.'
'The school offers all stages of the Cambridge Pathway. We started with Cambridge Primary and Cambridge Lower Secondary, then added Cambridge Upper Secondary and Cambridge Advanced as the school grew. In 2021 we were approved as a Cambridge Early Years Centre.
'We feel Cambridge gives our students the greatest choice and flexibility of subjects, the greatest level of challenge, and enables us to fulfil our vision to unlock every student’s potential. The high-quality professional development and resources offered by Cambridge International build teacher competence, which directly benefits our students.'
'We offer all 10 subjects that are available at Cambridge Primary and Cambridge Lower Secondary levels, including Cambridge Global Perspectives™. I was part of the working group for Cambridge Primary and Lower Secondary Global Perspectives, working closely with colleagues to implement a whole-school Global Perspectives programme. The programme helps us engage students in global issues and develop their skills in research, communication, analytical thinking and collaboration. It has also encouraged us to develop project-based global school partnerships.
'More recently, we introduced the new Music, Art & Design, Physical Education and Digital Literacy curricula. Until these subjects were introduced for first teaching in 2019, we were offering our own programme for these subject areas but, as a Cambridge Pathway school, it was a logical move for us. Teachers of these subjects finally feel they are formally part of the Cambridge family.'
'We are very happy with the increased focus on skills, along with knowledge and understanding, in the revised Cambridge Primary and Lower Secondary English, Mathematics and Science syllabuses (introduced for first teaching in September 2021).
'At Sancta Maria, we fully believe in developing the thinking skills of our students from when they are very young – we want them to understand how they learn, so they can manage setbacks in their learning and find solutions that work for them. The new feature of the Cambridge Primary and Lower Secondary Mathematics programme – Thinking and Working Mathematically – will accentuate thinking and problem-solving skills. They have always been in the Mathematics curriculum, but are now more pronounced. These skills are transferable and students will find them especially useful in the later stages of their education and across all subjects.'
‘We find the syllabus frameworks and progression grids for all subjects very useful. The progression grids provide a smooth transition between stages and we are happy that, from 2022, new Cambridge Progression Tests will be available every year, rather than once every three years.
'We use every kind of Cambridge assessment – Progression Tests, Checkpoint, Cambridge IGCSE™ and Cambridge International AS & A Levels. Now we have been approved to offer Cambridge Early Years, we will also be using Cambridge CEM baseline assessments for our youngest learners.
'I believe assessments are a reality check for teachers more than our students. They help to determine the gap between the desired academic standards and current performance so that teachers can make appropriate adjustments or do course correction. I also feel schools have the responsibility to look beyond assessments to report and recognise overall student progress.’
'I am in a unique position, having moved two years ago from the role of Regional Director, South Asia for Cambridge International to being the principal of a Cambridge school. I greatly respect the talent and expertise at Cambridge that is working behind the scenes.
'We’ve had excellent support from Cambridge since the Covid-19 outbreak in the form of webinars on critical themes like social and emotional wellbeing and teaching and learning during the pandemic. We've also had online professional development events and conferences, free access to digital textbooks and resources, and advice and guidance to manage student performance and progression when written exams were not feasible due to school closure.
'Working within a school has allowed me to experience first-hand the journey of Cambridge students and how good-quality curricula and teaching have a lifelong impact on young people. I am able to put all my experience and learning from my previous role to good use at school. I have a deep understanding of the Cambridge philosophy and pedagogical approaches, which has enabled me to build trust with my faculty and parent community, and lead an impactful delivery of the curriculum at Sancta Maria.’