I went to a school with one football team, one basketball team and one rugby team for around 800 students. I was never involved in drama or music and the art teaching I received gave me the clear message that I was no good and should not be allowed within ten metres of a paintbrush. I had some excellent teachers who inspired me to academic excellence, but I had to find other opportunities to develop myself away from school. This made me feel that my education was about exam results and nothing else. For me, school was simply a means to get to university, something we all had to do whether we liked it or not. I loved school, but if it wasn’t for the support of my family who drove me around to endless clubs and matches, I would have been a very bored and unhappy young person.
It was only once I started working in some of the UK’s best private schools that I realised what a true education involved. Having world-class facilities and outstanding teachers who taught both inside and outside their classrooms meant that so much more was possible. School musicals and plays, house events, choir practices, art and sport that focussed on participation and not just the elite sportspeople. My eyes were opened to the fact that everyone could enjoy school whether they were academic or not. A large part of this is a commitment to a co-curricular programme which works alongside the academic curriculum to help the students enjoy their time at school.
There are two reasons why the co-curricular programme is so important: it gives every student a large number of opportunities to achieve success and it gives them a variety of experiences that open their eyes and engage them in new interests.
We want students to leave school with a long list of things that they have achieved. We want students to feel that they have been successful, that they have learnt new skills and developed in many different areas. Without the co-curricular programme, the main way for students to achieve success is through tests and exam results. With a school full of ambitious and motivated students, there has to be a top and bottom half of the class and students often find it hard to see themselves as successful if they are not near the top of their peer group. However, because co-curricular activities can be about skills such as teamwork, collaboration and leadership, there needn’t be a ‘best’ or ‘worst’ student. Suddenly, it becomes much easier for students to see themselves as successful. With success comes pride, with pride, wellbeing and with wellbeing, we have achieved success for our students.
Top schools are about much more than exam results. At King’s Bangkok, we have a huge amount of support from King’s College School, Wimbledon to set up our co-curricular programme in order to mirror their successes. Our students will be given wonderful experiences which will allow them to leave us with interests outside of their passion for academic work. However, more important for us is that they will leave us happy and confident. This will give them the platform to make meaningful differences to the communities which they find themselves in. For us, the co-curricular programme is the springboard that propels our students to be leaders and is one of the reasons why parents will choose our school for their children.
For us, the co-curricular programme is the key to everything we do. It is the journey of a school from being just ‘a means to getting to university’ to becoming a happy learning community fit for the best students in Bangkok.