Nicki Coombs Executive Principal of Beaconhouse Sri Inai International School

Nicki Coombs Executive Principal of Beaconhouse Sri Inai International School Schools faced unique challenges this year due to the effects of the global pandemic. We asked the highly experienced Nicki Coombs to share her thoughts on education and what the future of learning looks like.

Photo: Beaconhouse

With the major changes to teaching methodologies this year, how do you see 2021 going in general for education? 
Although academic success is important to achieve a level of knowledge and skill, we need to rethink the approach. This year has taught us to be resilient, resourceful and adaptable. Our inner strength has been tested to greater limits as we completely changed the way we facilitated learning.

Most of us had very little experience of online learning and this presented challenges for school leaders, teachers, students and parents. Much of our focus was on adapting the learning platform for our students to make it accessible when many had limited resources. The importance of well-being was a key factor. How students reacted to their sudden restricted movement, seeing their friends and teacher remotely somewhat impersonalised the contact they had. Generating the same learning environment and atmosphere for students that they have enjoyed in the classroom was challenging. 

2021 will see a shift in how we deliver lessons - seamless integration of new skills with a balance of academic and holistic education will be important. Students will adapt to blended learning as this will probably be the new normal a while longer; and teachers will need to be empathetic and focused on the wellbeing of students. 

Independent learning has been a key factor, and I would like to see us promote independence and the ability to research and review knowledge. Students will need to remain confident in their collaborations and use their critical thinking skills to turn any challenge into an opportunity. 

What advantages can an international school offer during unprecedented times like these?
International schools have always promoted the education of the child both in and outside the classroom. Emphasis on pastoral care and developing soft skills needed in today’s world has never been more important. Young adults need to be empathetic, critical thinkers, resilient and resourceful with a desire for lifelong learning. 

Beaconhouse is a global network of schools and brings students from across the world together. The Beaconhouse International Student Convention sees students experiencing sport and STEAM activities with peers from six other countries. Undeterred by the MCO and the closure of schools, our students were able to work with others from Pakistan, Oman, UAE and Thailand on different Global Projects. International schools adapt well to change and continue to provide a holistic education at any stage of a child’s educational journey. 

What educational trends do you foresee being put in place in the near future? 
The current situation has shown us the benefits of online learning, but this must be balanced with classroom learning. Nothing will replace the energy and excitement of students being in the classroom with their teacher and the social skills they acquire. The current availability of new as well as tried and trusted learning platforms has created a new dimension within learning. Incorporating these something our teachers are keen to do. 

The cancellation of exams this year has given us the opportunity to look at how we review our students other than traditional assessments. Assessment and review opportunities included presentations, coursework, public speaking and creating posters. We see now that exams are not everything; and I see a greater emphasis on the presentation of diverse skills rather than just grades. The Duke of Edinburgh Award, associations like Interact, charity organisations, leadership, entrepreneurship, public speaking, art and drama will remain as important, if not more so in the future. 

What are your plans for your school for the upcoming academic year?
We will be developing our online provision to support and enhance the learning experience This will involve the further development of Google classroom and our educational websites which we have built over this year. 

We are working on extending our Cambridge programme and will be offering Advanced level subjects in January 2022 to students who have completed the IGCSE programme or equivalent. The Advanced level programme will include the Cambridge International Project Qualification and students will be involved in the Duke of Edinburgh International Award. Students will participate in sports, performing arts, debating and public speaking, MUN and charity work through Interact.

With such a wide choice of international and private schools available now, how would you convince potential parents that your school is the right one for their child?
Beaconhouse Sri Inai recognises that every child is unique. We focus on the academic and pastoral welfare of each child and work to ensure everyone develops a passion for learning. Students learn to be independent as well as collaborative and to take responsibility for their learning. Teachers will facilitate the acquisition and application of knowledge through different teaching pedagogies. We provide many opportunities for students to experience new things, develop a growth mindset, become confident risk takers and future leaders in a controlled and safe environment. 

Admissions Open for January 2021, please contact us 03 - 7804 6025 or email us at

Tags: News & Features, Feature, Beaconhouse Malaysia, Sri Inai, Primary, Secondary, IGCSE
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