Growing technology has left no industry untouched, and the education sector is also no different. The revolutionary digitization has given birth to new modes in our incessant education system. India is making significant progress with its 1.4 million schools and 230 million students participating in the modern K-12 education concept. “By now, everyone has understood how the education sector is going to operate in the future. We are fine-tuning our students and teachers with the technical acumen along with our stakeholders. We are all set to adopt a blended learning system, i.e., if the government says to open the school, we open the school along with conducting online classes for the next coming years,” opines Hillary Clare Hinchliff, Principal, GEMS Modern Academy, Kochi.
Providing a conducive learning environment for students to achieve intellectual, emotional, academic, and personal excellence, GEMS Modern Academy is meaningfully participating and responsibly contributing to the global world through education. The school has been thoughtfully constructed to provide a learning environment filled with opportunities to discover, explore and have fun. “Our learning experience is also aided with a state of the art facility that enables students to prepare themselves for an increasingly globalized technology-driven world,” adds Hillary.
GEMS Modern Academy is built on four core values; Care (I respect the needs of my stakeholders. I ensure they feel listened to and cared for), Excellence (I dream big, setting ambitious goals, delivering the highest quality and aiming to be the best at what I do), One Team (I am a team player. I work with the bigger picture in mind. I put the team’s needs above my own) and Always Learning (My open minded curiosity fuels my love for learning. I ask questions and listen so that I continuously learn and improve). These are helping GEMS Modern Academy students to become not just great students but great people too. “We are educating our students to become outstanding contributors to society and foster global learning through our academic curriculum and diverse school activities in a technologically progressive environment,” opines Hillary.
Promoting Student Supporters – Teachers and Parents
Teachers across the country made adjustments and devised new teaching strategies during the coronavirus-induced lockdown. Among the most common changes adopted by teachers are the use of multimedia content, reduction of pen-and-paper usage during classes, changes in what and how homework is assigned, and use of mind mapping tools for assessment in class. Helping teachers update according to the needs of the education sector, GEMS Education has TELLAL, a training academy for teachers where we conduct various training courses in order to upskill our staff. They also undergo training from the IB and the IGCSE Board to continue to help them provide the best quality education.
The best predictor of student success is the extent to which families encourage learning at home and involve themselves in their child’s education. Encouraging parent engagement is more than common courtesy. It’s one of the best ways to create a positive learning environment for every student. Educating, training, and discussing with parents, GEMS Modern Academy has a solid relationship with the parents of their students. “They are a huge part of our success as we take care of their views before we frame or come up with new initiatives,” says Hillary.
When schools closed in March, this traditional system, built around person-to-person contact, suddenly had to depend on virtual connections. Schools were not prepared, and many families did not have access to the necessary technology, but distance learning was seen as a temporary measure. Disrupting various activities of the institution, GEMS Modern Academy had to go entirely online, which happened quite seamlessly. Having the capability of their online set, it was for the school to conduct online classes from June 1st, 2020. The Pheonix Classroom at the academy has synchronized learning, helping them manage remote learning better than other schools as they were all set with technical know-how and glitches. “During this period, we updated our IT team and parent relations executive. We connected with all the parents and gave them proper training regarding the online classes. We put precautionary measures in place so that the parents and students were aware of how the online classes were going to be conducted,” adds Hillary.
Encouraging Innovative Global Leaders
Creativity is more skill than inborn talent. It is an ability that both parents and teachers can facilitate among the kids by giving an outlet. Being creative allows one to be more flexible and emerge as better problem solvers, making them more capable of adapting to technological advances and making the most of new opportunities. The teachers identify the students’ skills, and they are encouraged to practice and be more creative and innovative. The children exhibit their capabilities both in their day to day lessons and during extracurricular activities.
The school also hosted an exhibition called ‘Postcards from the Pandemic’, an art and photographic exhibition, out of which the artwork of 30 of our students was exhibited at the London Art Gallery for Children. “We hosted the International Literature Festival, where the children showcased their poetry, creative writing, and all forms of art. Dignitaries from all over the world attended and gave lectures at this festival. We also had an online National Chess Championship where Koneru Humpy played with our children and we won the overall trophy,” Hillary proudly shares.
With an excellent global reputation, the acceptance rate of GEMS students at colleges worldwide is very high. The students have been accepted in well-known universities like Penn University, University of Oxford, Harvard, Berkeley, Imperial College London, Yale University, University of Cambridge, University of Chicago, Massachusetts University, and Stanford University.
The global economy is changing the nature of work, and the kinds of careers children will pursue. It is more important than ever that students have the knowledge and skills they will need to succeed in an ever-more competitive global environment. The only school in Kochi, Kerala, to be authorized by both the International Baccalaureate for the Primary Years Programme and Cambridge Assessment International Curriculum in Senior School, Gems Modern Academy is planning many activities internationally.
About Hillary Clare Hinchliff, Principal
Hillary Clare Hinchliff is a personable, creative, resilient school leader with experience in mainstream, special and international schools. In her long career in education, she has turned a failing school around through reinventing the curriculum, building a highly skilled workforce and designing a new school building. Hinchliff has a passion for curriculum design and has implemented a systematic and pedagogical change in the schools she has led. She has a Bachelor of Education Honors Degree and Postgraduate qualifications in Special Educational Needs. Hinchliff has achieved the National Professional Qualification for Headship and has recently been honoured to accept a Fellowship with the Chartered College for Teaching in the UK in recognition of her 30 years of service to education.