Computing Technology is the study of principles and practices that underpin an understanding and modelling of computation, and of their application in the development of computer systems. Computational thinking provides a framework within which to reason about systems and problems, well beyond the scope of hardware and software. This mode of thinking is supported and complemented by a substantial body of theoretical and practical knowledge, and by a set of powerful techniques for analysing, modelling and solving problems.
At West Island School we want to prepare our students for a world that doesn’t yet exist, involving technologies that have not yet been invented that present technical and ethical challenges of which we are not yet aware.
To do this, we aspire to teach disciplines with long term value, rather than skills with short term usefulness. Computing is a ‘discipline’ that is characterised by:
- A body of knowledge, including widely applicable ideas and concepts, and a theoretical framework into which they fit
- A set of techniques and methods that may be applied in the solution of problems, and in the advancement of knowledge
- A way of thinking and working that provides a perspective on the world that is distinct from other disciplines
- Longevity, a discipline does not “date” quickly even when the subject advances
- Independence from specific technologies, especially those that have a short shelf life
Computing shares attributes with Engineering, Mathematics, Science and Technology. It has its own theoretical foundations and mathematical underpinnings, and involves the application of logic and reasoning. It embraces a scientific approach to measurement and experiment. It involves design, construction, and testing. It requires understanding, appreciation, and application of a wide range of technologies.
Computing is not Information Technology although the two are complementary. Computing teaches the student how to be an effective author of computational tools while Information Technology teaches how to be a thoughtful user of those tools.
The key concepts that West Island School will endeavour to develop are:
- Languages, machines and computation
- Data representation
- Communication and coordination
- Abstraction and design
West Island School wants our students to understand and play an active role in the digital world that surrounds them, not to be passive consumers of the technology that surrounds them. An understanding of computing concepts will help them get the best from the systems they use, and help them solve problems when things go wrong. In a world which is becoming increasingly dependent on technology, every student should have an understanding of computing.
At West Island School we are building a dynamic community that cares for its people and fosters and celebrates knowledge, creativity and innovation. A vital community is one that embraces a sense of discovery, creativity and imagination at the same time as basic human values of compassion and respect. Our future depends on valuing the status of knowledge and being curious and exploratory about new ideas and new things. Ideas come from all around the world and from a variety of sources, and with such diversity comes new approaches and perspectives producing new and hopefully, innovative ideas.
Within our education community the Creative Arts faculty and Circle in the Water aims to develop a creative culture by emphasizing active engagement and reflection within the following subject and performance strands:
• Drama, Theatre, • Dance • Film and Film Studies • Music • Visual Arts, Art and Design • Circle in the Water
Our subjects provide opportunities for students to acquire knowledge, practices and dispositions that can be used to develop self-awareness, aesthetic awareness and the ability to solve problems, make decisions and communicate effectively.
Students have ways of working to develop and demonstrate their knowledge and understanding. They enhance their understanding of arts practice through active engagement, both individually and collaboratively using arts elements, techniques, skills and processes, working creatively and imaginatively, to take risks and focus on how the arts reinforce and challenge their own experiences and those of other artists. They develop their ability to critically analyse and reflect on the creative process that has occurred within one or across many arts disciplines. Students select and use a range of tools and technologies, including information and communication technologies (ICTs). They routinely demonstrate an autonomous and purposeful use of ICTs to inquire, create and present arts works, and to communicate their own arts practice and that of others. Students demonstrate evidence of their learning over time in relation to the following assessable elements:
• creating • presenting • evaluating • knowledge and understanding
Design and Technology
Design & Technology is a unique subject that offers a wide range of experiences, methods of working and challenging situations for students of all ages and abilities.
Design & Technology is a practical subject, which always involves students in designing and making products that have a function. Its practical nature involves students in developing their own personal abilities and knowledge across a wide range of skills, equipment and materials which includes textiles, graphic media, construction materials (wood, metal, and plastics) and food.
At West Island School we aim to involve all students in creatively applying knowledge, skills and experiences in designing, making and evaluating appropriate and high level outcomes that satisfy perceived needs. We aim to foster a sense of achievement, pride and satisfaction for all in their enjoyment of Design & Technology activities.
The Design & Technology Curriculum aims to develop in students a technological capability by providing them with the opportunity to solve problems by designing and making products. The department believes that Design & Technology activities should be challenging and stimulating for pupils in order to foster enjoyment, inquiry, excitement and satisfaction from the practical learning experiences they encounter. Students will also draw upon knowledge and skills from other curriculum areas – particularly science, art, mathematics and English.
The appropriate skills and knowledge in Design & Technology enables students to identify and respond to design opportunities with increasing competence and independence, exercising the intellectual skills of analysis, synthesis and evaluation in a wide range of contexts. We also aim for our students to:
- develop and acquire a wide range of communication skills – in particular presentation techniques
- foster the development of practical skills, independence, self-determination and the ability to work as a team where necessary.
- develop and acquire a range of practical skills, which will enable them to cut, shape, join, and combine a range of materials safely and appropriately.
This department has high expectations and is committed to encouraging the production of excellent standards of work from all our students, preparing them to be discriminating and informed participants in tomorrow’s rapidly changing technologies by combining practical skills with an understanding of design, industrial practices and new technologies.
English as an Additional Language
West Island School is a community of multilingual learners who have various nationalities and cultural backgrounds. We have more than 40 first languages / mother tongues in the school and this contributes a diversity and dynamism to our international school. Many students at WIS pursue and maintain their first and second languages both within and outside of school. However, students undertake a majority of their study through the medium of English which we realise could be their second, third or additional language. While we admire the linguistic prowess of these students, we are keen to ensure that they have the equal opportunity to fully access an English medium education.
Aims of the EAL Faculty:
- To foster academic English for cross-curricular success in a small group, language rich environment with supportive teachers. Student-teacher relationships form the centre of academic language teaching in this department and are highly valued by all members of the team.
- To provide targeted intervention for specific grammar and vocabulary points through a range of age-appropriate resources which are available online and through books and worksheets.
- To provide the time, support and scaffolds to review curriculum concepts and new terminology from other subjects through a theme-based and skills based curriculum.
- To provide targeted conferencing and advice with the drafting and editing coursework assignments, projects and homework through writing frames & identification of genre.
- Pre-teaching and review of the language and vocabulary used in subjects as appropriate.
- To explicitly teach study and organizational skills to make revision for tests and exams easier.
- To provide visual and kinaesthetic learning strategies like mind-mapping, concept mapping and brainstorming to improve your knowledge and understanding of subject work.
- To provide a range of specific academic language skills that are directly transferable across the curriculum.
Our aim in the English Faculty is to foster a passion for English Literature and an understanding and appreciation of the English Language; offering support and guidance in the language in which every student is educated here at West Island School. We aim to provide our students with a passion for reading, the ability to write accurately and adventurously and to speak with confidence. We actively encourage use of our excellent library and there is a strong emphasis on the teaching of Shakespeare across all years and abilities. Students in English are well motivated, engaged and prepared to take risks – key skills for life!
Our comprehensive and challenging MYD curriculum combines the rigour of British National Curriculum standards with the skills and ethos of international teaching, and provides students with the skills they need to achieve outstanding results in their IGCSEs and IB exams. We promote lessons which employ a range of resources and activities such as ICT, kinaesthetic teaching and regular speaking and listening tasks; all of which contribute to our students’ learning.
This is continued into Years 10 and 11 where students continue to be taught in mixed ability groups. Over the two years they study for two IGCSEs in English and English Literature. These are fully accredited and internationally recognised qualifications, at a level slightly more demanding than the UK based GCSE. Students will spend these two years covering coursework units and preparing for final examinations in both subjects.
For Post 16, Years 12 and 13, we offer three extensive and demanding A1 options as part of the International Baccalaureate: English Literature, English Language and Literature and English Literature and Performance (SL only). These courses assess a range of ideas and approaches from oral assessments, to coursework essays and exams. While the Literature course requires students to read a range of literary genres and to produce an analytical essay, the Language and Literature course provides students with the opportunity to produce several authentic text types and read an array of different types of non-fiction and fiction texts. The Literature and Performance course can only be studied at Standard Level but combines the study of literature with the analysis of performance. Students are provided with an opportunity to perform on stage and produce written coursework and exams. All three options offer a perfect starting point to university level study.
Advocating for the students is a vital part of the role of the Individual Needs Faculty. Partnership with parents and collaboration with staff at all levels are important factors to ensuring that students’ learning needs are catered for adequately. The Individual Needs Faculty caters for a diverse range of learning needs following the identification of need based on the ESF Levels of Adjustment 1 to 4 (levels 5 and 6 require special school intervention).
At West Island School, students’ learning needs are catered for in one of two ways:
Strategies for School (S4S) Programme: Students access the mainstream curriculum with minimal adjustment or support. They have difficulties in maintaining attention, delayed language and/or literacy development or difficulties with self-management and personal organization; alternatively they may just need some extra help and support in coping with the complex demands of the curriculum.
Learning Support Centre (LSC) Programme: The Learning Support Centre was established in 2009 with special funding arrangements for 7 students initially, with a growth potential to 24 students over four years. Students who have more complex needs may require more extensive teaching and learning adjustments or support in the areas of curriculum differentiation, expressive and receptive language, social competency and self-regulation. Students are offered a place in a discrete class in the Learning Centre according to their need and their programme is specifically tailor-made to suit this. Participation in a mainstream subject is wholly dependent on their level of ability and adaptability.
Individuals and Societies
The West Island School Learner Profile is one of the most important documents that the school has created. It states very clearly what we believe a West Island learner should be. In Years 7-9, students in the Individuals and Societies faculty follow a curriculum that encompasses elements of the learner profile and core skills required to achieve at IGCSE and beyond. Our curriculum enables all students to become better learners.
The courses offered ask questions of students’ creativity, require them to be resourceful, innovative and responsible. Students are expected to regularly reflect upon the tasks and inquiries that they have completed in order to set targets for future achievement. Students are being given more responsibility than they have ever had before and they are encouraged to understand the importance of perseverance. All of the courses offered require a degree of collaboration and more importantly the understanding of what makes successful collaboration. Students are investigating new ideas across a wide range of topics and perhaps most importantly of all, from start to finish, they are required to think about the learning process.
In order to make this learning effective, lower school Individuals and Societies students are on a rotation with four lessons every seven days. For example, Year 7 students will study a Geography orientated course (Planet Fashion), a History orientated course (Tyrants) and a Philosophy and Religious Studies course (Faith, Love and Hope). Some of these courses, such as Planet Fashion, involve experiential learning where students undertake an inquiry into the most suitable location for a new fashion boutique on Hong Kong Island. Once all students have studied these three courses, the learning in Year 7 and 8 culminates with an interdisciplinary inquiry. Students draw upon the learning they have experienced across the three courses in order to undertake an in-depth investigation. These inquiries and learning skills are showcased in an exhibition of learning at the end of the school year. Year 9 students have slightly longer rotations and no interdisciplinary inquiry as they use this time to explore their three subjects deeper, in preparation for IGCSE.
When students begin Year 10, they will all study Global Perspectives which utilises many of the skills that have been acquired in Years 7-9. There are also a wide variety of Individuals and Societies subjects open for students to study. Students can opt from Geography, History, Religious Studies, Business Studies or Economics. Should they wish, students can study up to two subjects from this group as well as Global Perspectives.
At International Baccalaureate Diploma Level, students will have the opportunity to study either Geography, Environmental Systems and Societies, History, Philosophy, Business Studies, Economics and Psychology.
All students in Years 7 to 11 take mathematics at West Island School. In the majority of cases this leads to the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) qualification. (edexcel.org.uk, cie.org.uk). The IGCSE is offered at two different entry levels, Foundation/Core and Higher/Extended. Foundation/Core allows students to attain up to Grade C and Higher/Extended up to Grade A*.
The scheme of work followed by students in Years 7 to 9 has been developed by the mathematics faculty and follows the National Curriculum of England and Wales (ncaction.org.uk). In Year 7 and Year 8, students are taught in mixed-ability form groups, with tasks being differentiated according to attainment and ability. These bands evolve during Year 9 and during Year 10, students are grouped in relation to tier of IGCSE entry.
Within each set, differentiated tasks are set which are appropriate to students’ ability, the aim being to provide support and consolidation whilst also making sure that all students are appropriately challenged. Inquiry-based learning is an important part of the mathematics curriculum.
For all ages and abilities, we aim to ensure that a wide range of teaching and learning techniques are employed. Students will work individually or in groups and are encouraged to ask questions and take an active role in lessons at all times. They are taught to employ investigative strategies to solve problems, which we aim to present in a real-world context as far as possible. Above all, we aim to ensure students see mathematics as a valuable and useful tool with many applications as well as an enjoyable and challenging subject in its own right.
At Post 16, students studying the IB Diploma Programme have one of three options, Mathematics Studies SL, Mathematics SL and Mathematics HL.
Modern Foreign Languages
Language provision at West Island reflects the nature of our community and aims to equip students with the skills and competences needed to adapt to and participate in both home and international environments.
We offer the opportunity to develop mother tongue in Chinese or Japanese and to study a European language. Currently our linguistic menu includes Chinese and Japanese as a first language, Chinese as a second language, Chinese as a foreign language, French and Spanish.
Our foreign language courses emphasise the use of the language for practical communication. Students develop their abilities in all four skill areas – listening, speaking, reading, and writing – through pair work, role play, games and a wealth of other activities and assignments. In accordance with the IB learner profile, students are also encouraged to show initiative and drive their own progress in the language by working more independently and at their own pace using the Faculty’s own websites as well as a host of excellent online materials. The skills of senior students (Year 10 – Year 13) are further enhanced and reinforced by regular contact with our Language Assistants. Through conversations with these native speakers, students are offered insights into the culture of the target-language countries as well as an immersion language experience. In Years 10 and 11 students may study either one or two languages at GCSE. They then continue with either one, or, if their university course requires this, two languages at IB level.
Our first language Chinese course emphasizes literature, genre and register and aims to develop learners who will study the IB bilingual diploma (A1 Chinese) in Years 12 and 13.
Physical Education and Sport
Lessons at West Island School are active and the students are challenged through the setting of suitable tasks within the framework of a curriculum designed to facilitate progression through each year. While developing competency and improving skill acquisition, the thinking capability of the students is challenged. Opportunities to plan tactics, strategies and sequences, perform and refine skills, and ultimately evaluate their own work and the work of others, are provided throughout the curriculum.
The aims of Physical Education at WIS:
- Encourage physical activity
- Promote fitness and well-being
- Develop movement skills and knowledge
- Social development
- To promote positive self-image and self-realisation
- Individual excellence
Curriculum: The Physical Education programme promotes mental, physical, emotional and social development through guided sports activities. The students work in an educational environment which promotes an enjoyment of lifelong sport, which provides opportunities for students of all skill levels to improve their skills, ability and understanding in the sport or activity being studied. Students are also encouraged to try out a variety of roles, such as leader and official.
This is achieved through the provision of:
- Competitive and non-competitive activities
- Contact and non-contact sports
- Group, pair and individual activities
In the lower school the students participate in 10 sports covering skills, games play, rules and tactics.
Sports Covered: Swimming, football, netball, hockey, badminton, athletics, gymnastics, water polo, volleyball, tag rugby, basketball and striking and fielding.
In the middle school a more whole game approach is adopted in practical sessions.
Sports Covered: Swimming, football, netball, hockey, badminton, athletics, trampolining, water polo, volleyball, tag rugby, basketball, cricket, rounders, dance and ultimate frisbee.
The Post 16 PE programme aims to educate students about the benefits of an active and physical lifestyle that will hopefully continue to develop after students have graduated from WIS. The programme provides students with the opportunity to participate in, and further develop their knowledge in 5 sports of their choice. Additionally all students will take part in athletics, cross country and swimming.