LYIS Visits Ascot International School Bangkok

by André Double

Our last school visit in Thailand, Ascot International School to meet the school’s inspirational Head Donnah Ciempka. It beautifully and organically turned into Amy Zhang张远远 and I spending the afternoon with Donnah – the campus buzzing with learning experiences and inquiry.

In the world of international schools, good people know good people and I’d lost count of the number of people who had suggested we visit Donnah. We discovered a leader so incredibly proud of her school and eager to share with us everything that was happening.

𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗴𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲 ‘𝗘𝘅𝗽𝗮𝘁 𝗡𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲’
We hear so much about the lack of international teachers in our schools. Donnah tried some different, describing to me with excitement about the Brazilian Primary Teacher she recently hired. As we walk through the campus at lunchtime, the teacher is playing his guitar and the school’s values are being sung remarkably. One of the best hires she’s made she tells me.

“𝙒𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙮𝙤𝙪’𝙧𝙚 𝙧𝙪𝙣𝙣𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙖 𝙨𝙘𝙝𝙤𝙤𝙡, 𝙮𝙤𝙪’𝙧𝙚 𝙧𝙪𝙣𝙣𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙣𝙖𝙢𝙚 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙗𝙪𝙨𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙨𝙨”.

𝗙𝗹𝗲𝘅𝗶𝗯𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗦𝘁𝗮𝗳𝗳
Like a lot of progressive schools we visit, Donnah places a high degree of trust in her staff. So if the day is done and core planning and assessments are in place, teachers are free to go home. Something that Donnah worked hard on in her early days was creating clarity around roles and expectations. As she tells me:
“𝙄 𝙖𝙢 𝙧𝙚𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙞𝙤𝙪𝙨𝙡𝙮 𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙞𝙘𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙣𝙤 𝙚𝙢𝙖𝙞𝙡𝙨 𝙖𝙛𝙩𝙚𝙧 𝙛𝙞𝙫𝙚 𝙋𝙈 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙣𝙤 𝙚𝙢𝙖𝙞𝙡𝙨 𝙗𝙚𝙛𝙤𝙧𝙚 6 𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙢𝙤𝙧𝙣𝙞𝙣𝙜”.
Something many of us in school leadership have possibly attempted, but can often slip into our old habits around.

𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗵𝗼𝗺𝗲 𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗴𝘂𝗮𝗴𝗲 𝘀𝘂𝗽𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁𝘀 𝗘𝗻𝗴𝗹𝗶𝘀𝗵
The school wants children to be happy, and confident and builds much of its early foundation in English around the needs of the child. There are no ‘hard and fast’ rules about ‘English only’ lessons or climates. The home language forms the foundational key to success in English. “We hold back on teaching letters and sounds to Year One, because unless the students have a deep understanding of language constructs and the way language works there’s nothing to hang it on”, says Donnah.

𝗔𝘂𝘁𝗼𝗻𝗼𝗺𝘆 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗖𝗹𝗮𝘀𝘀𝗿𝗼𝗼𝗺
We witness some of the incredible learning experiences curated by a very passionate and dedicated staff. Many references to the Arts and allowing students to be creative. Walls that were once whitewashed have been imaginatively repurposed as if they were huge living and breathing practical Montessori resources.

𝗪𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗯𝗲𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗙𝗶𝗿𝘀𝘁
Everything the school is, wants to be and how it wants to get there is underpinned by a deep culture of wellbeing.

Leading Your International School extends its warmest appreciation to Donnah Ciempka and everyone at the Ascot International School.

The waiting is now over for those of you who want to pre-order.

Starting Your International School is now available to order on Amazon and all good bookstores. You can order today and ensure that when the book is released on the 1st of July you don’t have to wait long to enjoy its informed guidance.

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