Firm foundations: helping students progress step by step
Dayan D L Fernando joined Wycherley International School, Colombo as Principal at the start of the 2021/22 academic year, having previously worked in an international school that also offered Cambridge exams. Here, he explains how Cambridge Primary and Lower Secondary provides a solid foundation for the future – and how each stage of the Cambridge Pathway prepares students for the next.
'Wycherley International School, Colombo was founded in 1985. It is one of the oldest international schools in Sri Lanka and has approximately 1100 students. We have students from a range of nationalities including Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Korean, Turkish, Indonesian, Maldivian and Japanese. This mix helps to widen the social and cultural development of the entire student body.
'We use English as the medium of instruction from Elementary to Senior school, preparing students to sit Cambridge exams. The English language draws together students from a multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society, uniting Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, Malay, Burgher and international students.'
Continuity of teaching and learning
'We have been delivering Cambridge programmes and qualifications since 2009. We are the first international school in Sri Lanka to offer a total Cambridge experience from Year 1 to Year 13. Following the entire Cambridge pathway enhances the teaching and learning process at the school as both teachers and students have continuity. The four stages – Cambridge Primary, Cambridge Lower Secondary, Cambridge Upper Secondary and Cambridge Advanced – build on learners’ development from ages 5 to 19.
‘Cambridge Primary provides a solid foundation for secondary education. It helps our teachers identify learners’ strengths and weaknesses, so we can support learning and development, and enable our students to progress seamlessly into the middle years curricula.
‘Cambridge Lower Secondary helps prepare students for the next step of their education, providing a clear path as they build on the foundations of Cambridge Primary and progress through the middle years to Cambridge O Level and Cambridge International AS & A Level. It helps them discover new abilities and gives them the skills they need for life.
‘Our students sit the Cambridge Primary and Lower Secondary Checkpoint tests, which cover all major areas of learning and provide teachers with an optional external benchmark so they can easily measure learners’ progress over time.'
Improvements to core subjects
'At Cambridge Primary and Lower Secondary level, we offer English, Mathematics, Science, Global Perspectives, Digital Literacy and Music. The curricula for English, Maths and Science were revised for first teaching in 2021, and fit perfectly within the Cambridge Pathway.
‘The changes to the curricula for Mathematics better prepare learners with the skills they need to foster a deeper understanding of data analysis. The learning is often presented in real-world contexts and supports learners in developing a collection of mathematical strategies.
'The changes to the Science curricula provide a broader range of skills that learners are expected to develop. The new focus on developing and understanding scientific models is very practical.
'In English, there is greater focus on pronunciation and fluency in the strands of Speaking and Writing. This is a very useful and beneficial change.'
Developing skills beyond the core subjects
'The Cambridge curriculum offers a balanced education for our students, helping them to not only thrive in core subjects but also gives them an opportunity to develop creativity, expression and self-awareness.
'We started teaching Cambridge Primary and Lower Secondary Digital Literacy and Music last year. Digital Literacy helps students to understand the role and importance of digital technology in society today. It provides them with the opportunity to understand how to use digital technology safely and how to protect their own physical and emotional wellbeing.
'The Music curriculum helps learners cultivate a joy of music through participating in meaningful and enjoyable experiences. It also helps them relax and trains them to be more creative.
‘We are planning to introduce Cambridge Primary and Lower Secondary Art & Design and Physical Education soon. Art & Design helps students develop the skills needed to express creative ideas and to communicate visually. Physical Education provides the opportunity to participate and perform as individuals and group members in respectful and responsible ways. It will enable them to engage appropriately and safely in team/group activities and help them to develop their knowledge and understanding of how physical education can contribute to a healthy and active lifestyle.'
Continued professional development for staff
'The support resources recommended by Cambridge International, as well as professional development and assessment tools, help us to develop skills for a complete and balanced education for our students.'
'Many members of our staff have been teaching at Wycherley for at least two decades and more than 70 per cent have been at the school for over 10 years. Teachers are encouraged to take part in training, workshops and webinars conducted by Cambridge International, which ensures their knowledge is regularly updated and they can develop their skills further.
'Cambridge International supports us and provides everything we need to deliver the programmes and qualifications successfully.’