Thailand’s prestigious Kensington International Kindergarten showcased ‘design and philosophy’ at this year’s 4th annual Next Generation Learning Spaces conference in Singapore. Directors, Nitiphan Phanwiroj and Varaporn Kanchanawat portrayed a passionate vision that became an outstanding reality and now a key benchmark for future schools throughout SE Asia.
Filling a building with eager, happy children and providing a team of dedicated, qualified teachers and then calling it a ‘school’ is no longer an acceptable starting point in modern education. We have to revisit the ‘building’ because unless we get that right, our expectations may not be met.
“Bridging Pedagogy, Spaces and Technology to Enhance Learning Environments” was the marker for the 4th Annual Learning Spaces conference held in Singapore in May 2018.
Nitiphan Phanwiroj, Director of Kensington International Kindergarten, accompanied by fellow director, Varaporn Kanchanawat, were invited to the conference and proudly represented their country as the flagship International school from Thailand. As a prominent guest speaker, Nitiphan focused passionately on the Kensington story, how starting their dream school was meticulously planned several years before the first child ever walked through the door.
He states that, “This intricate process can be broken down into four clear phases.”
Understand- A clear understanding of the future curriculum and philosophy that you’re going to develop, including the learning spaces. This must include the owners, head teacher and other key management whose feedback to the designer and architect are crucial.
Define- Script beliefs so that they become real, draw working spaces to start the creation of a Learner-Centric Eco System that will support the school’s philosophy and curriculum. Dedicate time to this because soon, you will have to convey your vision to the designer/architect.
Design- Choose your designer/architect well, research tirelessly, then communicate and translate your vision of what will be your unfolding dream. Explore all possibilities and options and don’t be afraid to test them and learn.
Make it come alive- Select the right Head Teacher, the right leaders and staff who understand the curriculum and buy into your school’s philosophy, so they utilise the learning spaces and make it come alive! Don’t be distracted by internal/external pressures, stay with your beliefs and commit firmly to your goals.
“Define beliefs and Define spaces to create Learner-Centric Eco Systems that support the philosophy and curriculum.”
Today, Kensington International Kindergarten is not only a Thai national icon of school design/philosophy but has attracted attention from governments and educational experts throughout South East Asia. Results at graduation are a resounding success with pupils regularly gaining places at some of the most prestigious schools in Bangkok.
Has this futuristic development, “Uncovered the optimal design that supports philosophy and curriculum while enabling multiple sources of stimulation to encourage the development of physical, creative, cognitive, emotional and social skills?”
Varaporn smiles confidently, “We know that our purposeful school design, the professional team who work here and our pupils are exceptional but we are never complacent. We are all lifelong learners and we owe it to each other and society as a whole to continually strive to improve education for future generations.”