For more than a decade, EuroSchool has been committed towards ‘Rejuvenating Education’. India’s leading network of K12 schools with presence across six cities in India, EuroSchool unveiled its fifth school in Bengaluru – EuroSchool Bannerghatta – by welcoming its first batch of students for the current academic year.
Based on the concept of nature-inspired learning, EuroSchool Bannerghatta is leading the next revolution in schooling. We got Seethalakshmi Kartha, Principal, EuroSchool, Bannerghatta, to talk about the first-of-its-kind EuroSchool campus in South Bengaluru and how the school is blending the best of both worlds: Nature-inspired learning with modern infrastructural amenities.
- How are you helping the students in acclimatising to the sudden start of offline classes after a gap of two years?
A. At EuroSchool, our focus has always been to equip our children with the right tools and resources to be future-ready to face any situation. Last two years have been quite challenging for our children: Emotionally as well as physically. The learnings have been purely indoors with limited access to peers. With restrictions around pandemic narrowing down, it is an apt time for the children to come out in the outdoors, amid the natural surroundings.
Under the school resumption process at EuroSchool, special care has gone into dedicated training to address the physical and emotional needs of the students as they have resumed school after a long period of time. We have charted our academic delivery to be a combination and balance of indoor and outdoor activities for children. We are dedicating enough time in the early days of physical schooling to acclimatise the students to full time schooling experiences and academic delivery.
In addition, we have specially trained the teachers under our Centre of Wellbeing, an initiative designed to create safe spaces with a focus on building mindfulness and strengthening the overall wellbeing of our staff and students. Through the initiative, the students and teachers are receiving assistance in the form of webinars and expert opinions. Through the Centre of Wellbeing, we are counselling EuroSchoolers towards settling down in school, managing anxiety from sudden over-exposure to peers and teachers and also sensitizing children on the sudden invasion of personal space.
- Did you organise any counselling sessions for the students and the parents before the resumption?
A. As part of the Centre of Wellbeing initiative, one-on-one counselling, group counselling, staff/teacher/parent training and regular workshops and webinars by mental health experts, PhDs and doctors have been conducted throughout the year. These initiatives will continue post-resumption and are even currently live as we speak.
- What changes do you expect to see in the learning pattern of the students’ post-resumption?
A. While the pandemic led to a shift towards online learning, the future will clearly be a Blended Learning Model– a mix of online and offline learning. At EuroSchool, we are constantly upgrading our Digital Learning Ecosystem – ARGUS to facilitate blended learning.
ARGUS allows every child to learn at his/her own pace in his/her own learning style. The state-of-the-art platform is designed by expert educators, academicians, and researchers from the school’s Cerebrum Team which aims to bring together its three important stakeholders – the students, parents, and teachers to a single platform.
ARGUS was seamlessly created and implemented to the curriculum during the pandemic days and it facilitated the students, teachers, and parents to collaborate on a single platform and allowed online learning, assessment, and learning analysis. This has been appreciated by parents in the virtual learning scenario. EuroSchool is also among the few schools that has already integrated the salient features of National Education Policy 2020 to its curriculum.
- Any initiatives that EuroSchool has undertaken in upskilling the students during online classes in the last two years?
A. Euroschool’s latest initiative Aspire aims to catalyze learning and skill enhancement among its students by offering best-in-class professional programs and learning that provides the students a competitive edge. EuroSchool is bringing global excellence to its students by partnering with renowned institutions to provide professional extracurricular courses to the students.
The objective comprises grooming young entrepreneurs, building 21st century skills and developing independent-minded students that are ready for the world. Over the last few years, the students at EuroSchool have not only proved their mettle at the academic fronts but also brought in laurels by winning awards in various areas and won accolades in events such as Maths Olympiad, Science Olympiads, Google Coding Contest, Toycathon, various sports championships like Martial Art, Cycling, Skating, Football, etc.
- Could you please share some highlights of your ‘Nature-Inspired’ campus?
A. Inspired by the world’s best teacher, Mother Nature, the campus reflects a shift from traditional schooling to nature-inspired, enriched schooling. Our campus at Bannerghatta is spread across five acres and comprises a state-of-the-art green building, outdoor learning spaces and world class sports facilities. Considering the immense benefits of spending time in the outdoors, the classes will no longer be limited to the four walls of a classroom, which will enhance not just the students’ academic performance (by boosting cognitive abilities) but also significantly improve their creativity, critical thinking and imagination. Studies show that outdoor learning not just reduces stress but enhances the academic performance and fuels the adventurous spirit of the children.
The school is built around fruit orchards and 90% of the trees have been retained during construction of the school.The school’s building too has been eco-consciously designed: It has been ensured that there is maximum use of natural light while teaching students during school hours. There will be a sewage treatment plant and the by-products like water and manure will be used for irrigation and maintenance of the beautiful fruit orchards in the school campus. The unique space like open amphitheatres for music and dance, outdoor studio and learning spaces under the trees are part of the design, to ensure children learn in a natural atmosphere. We believe that this shift from traditional learning to nature-inspired learning will immensely benefit our EuroSchoolers.
- There is a day-boarding facility here. Tell us more about the other highlights of the school?
A. We areamong the few schools in Bengaluru to have a day-boarding facility. The objective is to provide children with a safe haven with a dedicated after-school activity plan that will encourage ‘play and revision’ after school hours. The timings are upto 4:30pm where the concepts learned during the school-hours can be revised and the homework will be completed under the supervision of the teacher at school itself.
The school also features Artificial Intelligence (AI) Labs, spacious cafeteria cum dining hall with a capacity of 1,000 persons, a sprawling 3,500 sqft library that can accommodate over 10,000 books from across the world, a 600-seater auditorium and several outdoor nature-inspired learning spaces. We have technology-enabled classrooms, fully equipped child-friendly play areas, an infirmary, music room and art studio. The management has ensured that the campus provides world-class sports facilities to the students who are sports enthusiasts with a half-sized Olympic swimming pool, full-sized football ground, skating rink and a tennis court.
- Do you believe this school may usher in a mindset-shift in the way we see the role that schools can play in all-round development of children?
A. We believe that a school that encourages children to spend time with nature will definitely have an impact on the overall learning outcomes, both academically, physically as well as emotionally. Studies show that the schools which have used outdoor classrooms and other forms of nature-based experiential education have led to significant gains in social studies, science, language arts, and math among the students. The students in the outdoor science programs improved their science testing scores by 27% as per the American Institutes for Research, 2005.
Research tells us that children will be smarter, better able to get along with others, healthier and happier when they have regular opportunities for free and unstructured play in the outdoors (Burdette and Whitaker, 2005).
I am sure when we consider the numerous benefits of nature-inspired learning, it will bring about a change in the way we see ‘how learning should take place’ vis-a-vis how the teaching-learning process has traditionally been conducted.