ENGLISH SCHOOLS

Panama 2017 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | B2B

Education comes in many models, but these outward looking English institutions offer the benefit of a more internationally recognized platform that is attracting students.

Vanessa Whay
VANESSA WHAY
Head Teacher
King’s College, The British School of Panama
Andrew Melnyk
ANDREW MELNYK
Director
Knightsbridge Schools Panama

How do you combine and balance an international curriculum with local traditions and culture?

VANESSA WHAY The British system has a strong curriculum that constantly changes and adapts to the needs of the student population. The British government is ready to adapt the educational system to provide the necessary skill sets for students to flourish. Therefore, the flexibility and dynamism of the British system, around a fundamental core of investigation and the concept of learning to learn, is what makes this system truly stand out from other systems. We believe that learning should be a lifelong skill, not just applicable to the classroom but to life. At the same time, there is a rigorous assessment. Children know where they are and they know how to benchmark against a standard that has got a strong global reputation, and that is important for our international parents. The British curriculum is an exciting curriculum too. In primary school, it is a creative curriculum, as close to real life and the surroundings as possible. We have room to adapt to suit the local culture and environment, as long as we stay true to those certain core values at the heart of the British system. In addition, we are governed by the Ministry of Education and are obliged by law to have Panamanian studies in the curriculum.

ANDREW MELNYK We are an International Baccalaureate (IB) school, part of a worldwide system of schools that has been serving students all over the world for more than 30 years. Our curriculum is prescriptive, rigorous, and prepares the kids to go anywhere in the world. We want to be a part of that group so that students arriving here from anywhere in the world can easily fit in to our school and vice versa. Whether you are coming from Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, Canada or the US you will be welcome. Parents who travel or are diplomats or businesspersons can come in for three years or so and if they must move to another country, they can always find an IB school with no effort. Therefore, we believe in the IB system; it is a solid, well-developed system where kids really learn and are ready to enter universities anywhere in the world. Our approach to learning is modern and progressive and works for the kids. Our graduates are not only global citizens but are comfortable in all situations anywhere. Overall, it is an excellent system.

What are your respective plans for expansion and consolidation projects?

VW We are fully renovated and at full capacity. We will build a purpose-built campus in Clayton in the next three to four years. We are seeking permissions and licenses with the government now, but we do have land in Clayton. We opened in Clayton, we have a reputation in Clayton, and it is the perfect location. It is important to ensure that parents who started with our school there have faith in us there, and with over 350 children a school does not just up and move somewhere else. It is also one of the most beautiful parts of Panama City. The school will embrace the local environment too, and we seek to develop a school without causing too much environmental impact. We will finish our fifth year, which is a big target. We will start our first English secondary education certificate (IGCSE) group for exams. Our debate team represented British education and Panama in the Pan-Am Debate in Argentina too, and those are all big milestones for the school. And then the biggest milestone that we look forward to is our first batch of graduates in 2020.

AM We are looking closely at opportunities in Latin America, In fact, Latin America is our primary focus in terms of our business strategy. Our business development manager is actually located in Colombia because Latin America is a main focus, and we are always busy exploring other opportunities for KSI in the region. Part of it is growth. We have met with the French Lycee to discuss how we can cooperate with them on the new campus by doing things like sharing the football field, tennis courts and swimming pool that would be built on campus. Our short-term plan is to purchase the land in the next year and to get an architect to draw up the initial plans. There are models in other parts of the world where two schools share a large campus, and it works well; both schools benefit significantly and have reduced costs. This is what we hope to achieve.