St Andrews S107: An inspiring world of education – why learning environments matter!

by Dr John Moore
S107

Dr John Moore, the Head of School at St Andrews Sukhumvit 107 (S107), writes about one of the ways the school is working to create ‘an inspiring world of education’.

I was recently in a Year 2 classroom talking to the children about the developments over the summer that we were working on (they would like a ‘party room’ to be added to the plans once our new Sports Arena is finished) and as part of the presentation I showed some pictures of the student artwork around the school. This piece of art, made with coffee cartridges, is on a wall they walk past maybe once a week but it was instantly recognisable to the children. It sparked some excited discussion and, whilst their speed surprised me,the learning and dialogue around what is an inspiring piece of art did not.Amongst our top priorities is making sure our school spaces engage students, help them learn about how we have agency to make our world a more beautiful,sustainable and inspirational place.

St. Andrews S107
Begins

In terms of its profile in Bangkok, St Andrews Sukhumvit 107 may well be Bangkok’s best kept secret in terms of international education. Our location perhaps contributes to this, being just outside the busiest section of town yet on lovely peaceful site (about 20 metres walk from BTS Bearing), with a friendly, community feel. Our boutique size, 460 children aged 2-18, does mean we can offer a personalised and supportive experience, but may also make us a quiet presence. When I first visited S107 (as St Andrews International School Sukhumvit 107 is more succinctly called by most of our community) it felt a little too much like a school. It is a wonderful learning environment in many ways and we are privileged to have great buildings and spaces. Just being able to house all our children on one site is fantastic. But were there outward signs that S107 offered ‘an inspiring world of education’? 

Art

So we decided to take some risks. The Head of Primary started an after-school club to work on the white walls around the school – the White Wall Project – which quickly became our most popular extra-curricular activity. This is an example of what a small group of Year 7 students produced. We also stoked this enthusiasm during the visit of the Illustrator, Karin Littlewood, who also worked with our primary children on a mural of Eskimo Immi. For secondary, students were asked to select their 3 favourite musical icons for murals along the Creative Arts corridor near their practice rooms (they went for Louis Armstrong, Freddie Mercury and Frank Sinatra!). The general spirit of creativity has been felt everywhere and extended to our Head of Facilities who came up with this ceiling in the primary ICT room. Our House Art competition to beautify a temporary wall in front of the new Sports Arena construction site (see below) also resulted in fantastic banners which are also on sale in the school shop as greeting cards and which allowed us another opportunity to celebrate creativity in the school.

At the start of the year all primary classes set up their own classrooms to support the notion of student agency and the idea we can change our environments to support our learning. At S107 our goal is ‘to ensure every child succeeds in a community of care’. Ensuring the learning environment is inspiring, unique, and showcases creativity is so important. It is a highly visible demonstration that we care for all our people – we want them to learn and develop in beautiful spaces.

All our projects have involved student voices so that we allow them to own their own projects and, in a small way, to be the change they want to see in the world. It also promotes risk-taking and self-confidence (painting a mural is not really something you can hide from sight if it goes wrong) and helps develop social and personal development skills through getting our young people working in teams. However, most of all it is just great fun – having a laugh with your friends, enjoying being outside, and just having gone! If something isn’t any good we don’t worry, we paint over it and start again until we are happy with it – a good metaphor for life!

Dr John Moore, Head of School

outdoor classroom decoration

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