Hearing Them Out

Responsible for the pastoral care of children in the primary school unit of The British International School of Kuala Lumpur, Deputy Head of Primary Alison Mackey gives us some insight into her job and her hopes for it.

The Position

My role as Deputy Head of Primary involves every aspect of life in a vibrant and thriving primary school. This ranges from looking after the welfare of pupils, developing the teaching expertise of staff and ensuring the smooth day-to-day running of the school. Throughout the day I will spend time talking to pupils, parents and teachers, listening to their feedback and working with them to make the school an exciting community of learners.

Pastoral Care at BSKL

All pupils need to feel safe, cared for and listened to. These are the principles I have always held throughout my career of over 20 years in the teaching profession. By supporting pupils emotionally, they become more effective learners and also become more resilient and able to cope when things are not going so well. At BSKL, we encourage a ‘growth mindset’ amongst staff and pupils. Mistakes are seen as an opportunity to develop learning, and everyone is encouraged to challenge him or herself in every area of the curriculum.

Learning Through Music

BSKL is a truly international community where staff and students are fortunate to have excellent relationships. All pupils are valued for their individual strengths and talents. We are fortunate to have outstanding provisions for music, languages and sports. All our children learn a musical instrument from Year 2 and are able to perform regularly at the magnificent theatre in musical and drama performances.

Recently, we hosted the Primary FOBISIA Games, where schools from across the region joined to compete in a very competitive swimming, athletics and games competition. It was a proud moment to witness our pupils uphold the values of fair play and sportsmanship whilst competing to a high standard in these ‘friendly games’.

Care for Special Learning Needs

I am always overwhelmed by the absolute care and dedication shown by our teachers when supporting all pupils in their care. Pupils with specific learning needs are quickly identified and support is put into place, which can take many forms. We are fortunate that every class in the primary school has a full-time UK graduate teaching assistant. Much of their time is spent in supporting pupils with their work, using resources or activities adapted by the classroom teacher.

Small group, paired or individual programmes are devised for pupils, utilising the experience of our learning support department when needed. Alongside this is the emotional and pastoral care put in place to encourage and nurture these pupils to enable them to feel secure in their learning environment.

Most Cherished Memory

There have been so many wonderful memories working with the pupils here; they are such a fantastically enthusiastic group of young people. My abiding memory is accompanying Year 6 pupils on a trip to Bali and climbing Mount Batur with them. The sense of achievement we all felt when we finally reached the summit on a very hot day was unforgettable. Such a sense of team spirit and support prevailed, with everybody taking care of and encouraging each other.

Aspirations for the Future

My aims for the coming year are numerous and ambitious. Developing the role of the highly successful student council continues to be a priority for me as a new council is elected in the new school year. Student leadership at all stages and ages is another area that I am developing. Currently many pupils embrace a leadership role, but a key feature of our School Charter is teamwork and leadership, so there is always more that can be done.

As new staff join us, I will be ensuring a smooth transition for them. Many join us from the UK in their first overseas teaching role and bring a wealth of new teaching ideas. Staff development at BSKL is extensive and by providing training in new educational initiatives, we are able to develop a creative and challenging curriculum. I am certain that BSKL will continue to provide an excellent education for the pupils it serves, along with a sense of warmth, care and fun, which are essential for the growth and development of all children.

As the school expands into a new secondary school campus, I am positive that the high expectations and standards we have set ourselves will continue to permeate throughout every part of the school – whether it is a nursery pupil taking their first tentative steps in writing or an A-level pupil questioning and challenging theories in science, BSKL offers a truly world-class educational experience which I am very proud to be a part of.

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