What it takes to be the winners of the Outstanding Strategic Initiative Award 2018

What it takes to be the winners of the Outstanding Strategic Initiative Award 2018

On 22nd January 2018, Jerudong International School won the Outstanding Strategic Initiative Award sponsored by Pearson at the prestigious British International Schools Award (BISA). The ceremony took place at The Connaught Hotel in London where Mr Chris McGeorge collected the award on behalf of the...

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On 22nd January 2018, Jerudong International School won the Outstanding Strategic Initiative Award sponsored by Pearson at the prestigious British International Schools Award (BISA). The ceremony took place at The Connaught Hotel in London where Mr Chris McGeorge collected the award on behalf of the school.

Principal Barnaby Sandow said, “I am tremendously proud to hear that Jerudong International School has won this award. It highlights the presence of such an outstanding school in Brunei on a global platform – something we all can be proud of. It is also testimony to the dedicated students and hard working, inspirational teachers at JIS who have united to set up and create the ODC.”

The initiative for which the school has been shortlisted is their Outdoor Discovery Centre (ODC). Early in 2016, the School set aside 10,000m2 of land within the extensive campus. Part of the land is forested whilst in other sections the tropical heathland had been beaten back, leading the soil quality to be diminished. A group of teachers and students saw this and wanted to do something about it. The project to restore and use this area has been primarily student led.

Since May 2016 when the first boundary was established, this Outdoor Discovery Centre has now become a learning space of which the school community are very proud.

Initially, the students mapped the area and established the boundary. The baseline study and initial planning took place in June 2016 when students drew up a land use map of the area. Botanists from the nearby Universiti Brunei Darussalam assisted in identifying plants in the remaining areas of woodland. The students tested the soil and indigenous Bruneian saplings, such as the Simpur, were planted in the open areas.

Since September 2016, a group of students have met weekly, mentored by a local permaculture expert to focus on using garden waste in a composting project. The infrastructure for the ODC was developed with pathways, seating, signs and fencing being installed by the students, assisted by teachers. In April 2017, Earth Week presented the first opportunity to showcase the ODC to the local community in Brunei. The ODC was used as the backdrop and focus for the celebrations that week. Activities were arranged for the whole school and a range of local NGOs were invited to participate. Many of the local NGOs continue to be involved at the site. The school is delighted that the local community can participate in educating the students in this way.

Junior school students and Middle Years students visit the Outdoor Discovery Centre to discover more about the natural world and also to learn from projects older students are running. This includes curriculum-based topics and also after school, as part of the co-curricular sessions. Many of the school’s Duke of Edinburgh Award students have chosen to carry out their Service or Skills activities in the ODC. The School’s Eco-JIS recycling team are also currently looking into ways that they can use the ODC to help them recycle and upcycle waste. This was celebrated in October 2017 when Prince Edward and Sophie the Countess of Wessex paid a visit to the school. As patrons of the Duke of Edinburgh’s scheme, they congratulated the successful scheme participants and thanked the award leaders for providing the students with such wonderful opportunities.

As Year 12 student, Shanie Chauhan (who volunteered to help in the ODC as part of her Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award), commented, “It has given me an overwhelming sense of accomplishment for everyone who was a part of it. I am especially pleased to know that the ODC will continue to grow and develop. I will be proud to be able to say that I witnessed the development from the very beginning. Working as part of a team of all ages has inspired me that when you have an idea and you truly believe in it, it will grow into something to be proud of. Going from a deserted space, the ODC has transformed into a unique learning facility for all ages and all the faculties of my school. From the sensory path, to the herb spirals and the compost area, these have all impacted many people from my school community and I’m glad to have been a part of it and will continue to be.”

The senior students are using the ODC in a variety of ways. For example, Physics students have an ongoing solar study to determine how to provide solar energy to the hub. Geography students are undertaking research into issues such as ‘What conditions promote the growth of the pioneer species Simpur?’ and ‘What factors affect the early stages of plant succession?’. Art students regularly visit the ODC as a source of inspiration for their work. The list is endless!

“We are genuinely proud that the Outdoor Discovery Centre has become an inspirational learning environment and will be an ongoing, living, developing legacy, which current students will leave behind for the students of JIS in the future. Human beings are like plants, we are all different and have different needs, but we grow better when we work together.”

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