An Outstanding Learning Community…our vision in action! - Bangkok Prep

An Outstanding Learning Community…our vision in action!

In a recent survey that was sent to teachers, support staff and students at Bangkok Prep, the word ‘community’ came out as the most popular to best describe our School culture. For those that are long standing members of this wonderful community, this wouldn’t come as a surprise. Our community members are focussed on relationship building, supporting and improving. We are blessed and fortunate to have a culture in which our members value the tight knit, family feel approach that is ingrained in our DNA. As our School evolves, grows and develops, ensuring this strong culture of ‘community’ is firmly placed at the top of the priority list is on everyone’s agenda. After all, research has demonstrated that schools organised as communities are more likely to exhibit academic success (Goldring, Porter, Murphy, Elliott, & Cravens, 2007). One key area of focus for the Senior Leadership Team in Secondary this half term has been looking at our professional culture and how this underpins everything we do at Bangkok Prep to improve student outcomes and wellbeing. We didn’t have to look too far to find some exceptional examples of our vision of being an outstanding learning community lived out…

“The most successful corporation of the future will be a learning organisation.”

Since the start of the academic year, two teachers have been leading their very own professional learning community (PLC). One that is bringing our staff members together to enhance the teaching and learning process through evidence-based practice. Research would conclude these types of communities can have enormous benefits for our staff and students. Not just on an academic level but for motivation and resilience. Research by Newmann and Wehlage, (1997), found that if schools want to enhance their organisational capacity to boost student learning, they should work on building a professional community that is characterised by shared purpose, collaborative activity, and collective responsibility among staff. According to Sparks (2005), well-implemented professional learning communities are a powerful means of seamlessly blending teaching and professional learning in ways that produce complex, intelligent behaviour in all teachers.

This is exactly what Ms. Chiponda and Ms. Lucena have been successfully carrying out and cultivating since the start of the academic year. Both have led a professional learning community with Secondary staff members, focussing on retrieval practice as a pedagogical approach. In a recent interview with Ms. Chiponda and Ms. Lucena, we explored where it all started, what the impact has been and where they plan to go next…

What led you both to want to start a professional learning community?

It all started back in 2021 at a FOBISIA conference session led by Kate Jones who is a bit of a guru in the field of retrieval practice. Everything just seemed to click and answers started to appear. There is an ongoing revision battle in our subject which contends with large amounts of vocabulary. Retrieval practice is not a new teaching and learning phenomenon but research is clear and evident about its effectiveness in the classroom, so we decided to run some trials with our Spanish classes. The results startled us at first and we knew we were onto something big but we realised we had to continue research and upskilling ourselves to ensure the implementation was as effective as it possibly could be. A happy consequence…COVID impacted all of our lives, but arguably most destructively, it impacted our students’ learning. Retrieval practice was almost the perfect solution and when you add interleaving to this, it can be one powerful source and tool for learning. After more in depth research and gathering feedback, it was clear that we had to follow the core principles of retrieval practice for it to be most effective and impactful. We felt that teachers have had enough of ‘fads’ and this was a genuine pedagogical approach that was backed with categorically positive evidence that suggests it works for learning. It is also clearly backed up by the science of learning. We felt so strongly that this should be coming from the ground up so that the positive ripple effect was felt by the largest possible majority. This really has revolutionised our teaching and we hope it will have the same impact with our colleagues.



What is retrieval practice and how does it impact students?

Retrieval practice, in essence, is a learning technique revolving around repeatedly recalling learned material without seeing it in front of you. It is backed up by cognitive science which directly influences our ability to learn and memorise information and then recall it.

This has been hugely successful in the classroom as knowledge has become more embedded and students are able to retain information for longer periods of time. Their knowledge is transferred from shallow learning to deep learning through regular retrieval practice, ensuring the principles are followed and adhered to. Students are able to recall content covered and familiarise themselves with tasks, which in turn frees up their working memory to focus on more complex thought processes like problem solving and critical analysis. Studies have also found that students show greater levels of resilience, grit and motivation after regular periods of retrieval practice.

What have been your major achievements with the PLC group?

We feel that getting our fellow peers involved in the learning process has been a huge achievement. We have a diverse group ranging from Senior Leaders, Faculty Leaders, Pastoral Leaders and Classroom Practitioners. We feel that the group is able to make mistakes together and share successes with the same amount of vulnerability, honesty and challenge. We have also noticed a shift in dialogue between staff members and the focus has become on teaching and learning which can only have a positive impact on the culture. We want to cultivate a culture of high quality teaching and learning. Last week we had practitioners share their recent experiences with retrieval practice which was a great learning experience for all of us, especially us as the leaders.

What are your big plans moving forward?

On a large scale we want teachers to put their CPD at the forefront of their professional goals. We know that staff are very aspirational at Bangkok Prep so we feel this should be achievable. We certainly want teaching and learning to be a huge performance indicator in our DNA and culture and we feel it deserves to be as its part of our core business. We realise and have reflected that the toughest part of our process is yet to come and we are determined to ensure our strategy is ready for the rigorous test.

What are the challenges involved?

Time will always be an issue as it’s a very busy school and we have such great offerings and provision for our student body. We certainly don’t want to pile workload on teachers but we want them to see the value in it. Like any initiative, it’s about getting people onboard and if our strategy isn’t pitched right or has some flaws we could fall short of our goals. Another vitally important aspect to this is how we monitor the impact. It’s an incredibly exciting time but at the same time quite a daunting task but we feel we have the support from Senior Leadership and of course the staff members who are in the current group.

What have you learnt along the way about yourselves?

Ms. Chiponda – That anyone can have a positive impact on student outcomes. You just need passion, enthusiasm and determination and you can make a difference.

Ms. Lucena – I have learnt a lot from the other members of the group. How they have gone about their processes and how they have achieved their goals.

It’s clear that the initiative led by Ms. Chiponda and Ms. Lucena is already starting to have a positive impact. Marrying this with the research surrounding both retrieval practice and the impact of professional learning communities, it’s abundantly clear that we are fully living out our vision statement of being an outstanding learning community. The great quote from Nelson Mandela always resonates so strongly when I read our vision and think of lifelong learning, ‘You never lose, you only win or learn.’ A huge thank you to Ms. Chiponda and Ms. Lucena for having such a strong vision for this initiative and leading an incredibly powerful professional learning community.

 

Stephen Hurworth

Deputy Head of Secondary

Our Campus

BANGKOK PREP ADDRESS

77 SUKHUMVIT 77, VADHANA
BANGKOK, 10110

77 สุขุมวิท 77 วัฒนา
กรุงเทพมหานคร 10110

02-700-5858

Primary School

The Head of Primary at Bangkok Prep emphasizes the importance of primary education in shaping students’ lives academically and socially. The school aims to prepare global citizens capable of facing life’s challenges in an ever-changing world. With a dedicated team of educators, Bangkok Prep sets high standards, encouraging students to dream big and work hard towards their goals.

Aligned with the National Curriculum of England and Wales, the school’s curriculum is adapted to reflect Thai culture and society. Teaching follows an innovative thematic approach, integrating real-life contexts with academic rigor to develop well-rounded individuals. Learning is personalized to cater to diverse abilities and talents, fostering mutual respect, trust, and inclusivity.

Bangkok Prep’s primary curriculum extends beyond statutory requirements, focusing on engaging cross-curricular themes to facilitate high-quality learning. Emphasizing active and interactive learning experiences, the curriculum encourages exploration, questioning, and collaboration. The school aims to nurture students’ curiosity, helping them discover lifelong passions and talents while preparing them for a fulfilling future.

Admissions Procedure

When choosing Bangkok Prep for your child, you’re welcomed into the school family, ensuring a warm and supportive environment. The admissions process begins with completing a brief enquiry form, followed by an invitation for an introductory visit and tour. Conveniently located on Sukhumvit 77, Bangkok Prep offers both Primary and Secondary campuses. Upon deciding on Bangkok Prep, applicants submit their application form and required documents. Assessment sessions are then scheduled based on the applicant’s year level, ranging from 30 minutes to 3 hours. The assessment includes various activities and tests tailored to different age groups. After assessment, the admissions team evaluates the application and notifies the family of the decision within 1-2 weeks. Successful applicants receive a formal offer letter and an invoice for initial fees, including placement, security, and registration fees, which must be paid within the specified timeframe to secure the child’s place.

Early Years

At Bangkok Prep, the Early Years curriculum follows the Early Years Foundation Stage framework of England, emphasizing thematic topics and child-led learning for a stimulating and enjoyable school experience. It nurtures learning through play and focuses on developing concepts, skills, and positive attitudes across various areas including personal, social, emotional, communication, language, physical, literacy, mathematics, understanding of the world, and expressive arts and design. The curriculum prioritizes individualized learning, ensuring continuous progress while maintaining confidence and a can-do attitude. Specialist sessions in Thai language and culture, music, library, physical education, and swimming further enhance learning opportunities. Supervised by native English teachers and Thai-speaking teaching assistants, children immerse in language acquisition through the immersion method, preparing them for the international community. The Early Years program prioritizes outdoor learning environments, valuing them as essential for children’s wellbeing and development. It serves as ideal preparation for the transition into primary school and provides resources for parents on the Foundation Years website.

Secondary School

Bangkok Prep prides itself on being a distinct international secondary school in Bangkok, prioritizing student needs and providing a stimulating learning environment. Central to this is the pastoral system, where each student is assigned to a tutor group led by a Form Tutor, ensuring personalized care and support. The curriculum evolves to meet students’ changing needs, offering a core curriculum supplemented by option subjects as students mature. Key Stage 3 (Years 7-9) focuses on a broad curriculum adapted from the English National Curriculum, fostering personal growth. In Key Stage 4 (Years 10-11), students choose option subjects alongside a core curriculum, culminating in IGCSE examinations. Key Stage 5 (Years 12-13) sees students specialize in Advanced Level courses while also engaging in a core curriculum and receiving support for university applications. Bangkok Prep fosters a warm, inclusive community and actively participates in regional competitions and events. The school encourages student involvement and leadership, ensuring a thriving learning environment. Contact information is provided for further inquiries.

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