PIONEERING Beacon Private School (BPS) in Al Hidd believes its innovative approach towards education helps children grow into confident, well-rounded individuals with the ability to one day lead a positive difference in their workplace and the community.
Drawing on inspiration from leading learning ecosystems in Europe and the States, it’s a unique approach that makes its ‘learners’ - as they are called – to be the agents of learning.
“When we started the concept of the school, we wanted a school that was truly unique, we wanted it to be inquiry-based and the child to be at the centre of learning,” BPS founding director Ghada Bouzeineddine said.
This led to its affiliation with the Common Ground Collaborative (CGC) philosophy which is focused on the future of learning, based on inquiry, critical-thinking, authentic engagements, global mindset and a learning culture which prepares learners for life beyond the school.
Modules are formulated around the three Cs of the CGC – Concept, Competence and Character – which are conducive to learners’ character building. Building the character of the learner led the school to embrace non-academic initiatives such as yoga sessions and a unique mindfulness programme.
“In these sessions, we teach our learners to navigate their emotions to reduce stress, pay attention, be aware of their mind, body and soul and it teaches them conflict resolution too,” training and curriculum coordinator Amira Hachem said.
Assessment is meant to inform the learning process hence is formative, discarding the traditional model of insistent examinations.
And forget having to pack a spine-damaging heavy school bag of books … homework is off the agenda too for studied and research based reasons; hence, the school encourages and promotes after school extra curricular activities instead.
BPS offers its non-Arab-speakers a chance to choose between either French or Spanish starting from KG2 onwards, early childhood coordinator Sala AlKhalifa revealed.
The design of the school reflects its philosophy. Classrooms are flexible, and children enjoy an abundance of sunlight. Elementary school Coordinator Renaud Milhoux stated that learners are given a voice and a choice to decide where they would like to be seated, whether that is on the various sofas in the classrooms, chairs or bean bags.
Secondary School Principal Mazen Sheikh recalls a time when the school had a large terrace on the first floor that had not been used yet.
“We asked our learner council at the school to provide ideas on what they wanted to do with the space and they had their input on the design, furniture and the colours. They also chose for the walls to have plants,” he said, adding that “they are responsible for watering and maintaining them.”
The school will soon have two new buildings on its campus. The first building is a classroom building for learners of grades (six to 12) that is equipped with 11 science labs for chemistry, biology, physics and IT.
The second building is a recreational building that will have a big cafeteria, two swimming pools, volleyball and basketball courts and a theatre.
The school has a special emphasis on digital citizenship, where it focuses on ‘the ethics, the responsibilities, the dangers and what it means to be a digital citizen in a changing society’, learning media centre coordinator Will Ireland said.
Additionally, learners practice digital netiquette, Ms Hachem said, where they are taught ‘the values and ethics’ of how to use the instructional tool safely.
When it comes to admissions, the school follows a ‘running admissions’ system - which runs all year long. Currently, the roll call consists of an even split between Bahraini and expatriate learners.
In November of 2020, BPS hosted the accreditation team from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC/ACE) to verify its Learning Principles.
As a result, BPS has been successfully accepted and is now moving on towards finalising its internal reflection report for the last phase that will take place in autumn 2021.
According to the association’s report: “The visitors found Beacon Private School to have a true sense of community around well-established core values, which is remarkable given that the school is but two years old.
“The learning environment which the visitors characterised as reflective and student-centred, clearly promotes passion for learning and the development of life-long learners,” it said.
“For a young school to be established in this way is ‘truly remarkable’ as we were told,” Ms BouZeineddine revealed.
The school has decided to implement the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma programme in grades 11 and 12.
“We are currently going through the authorisation process and we have been working on recruiting experienced IB teachers: in addition, our BPS teachers have gone through the training on the IB curriculum,” Mr Sheikh said.
“Moreover, the school will be offering AP courses and the BPS High School Diploma,” Mr Sheikh added.
Even discipline has a forward-thinking twist. “We do not have behaviour rules,” Renaud added. “We have behaviour expectations! Because the learners create these expectations, they have ownership of them and hence, they tend to be extremely well-behaved.”
BPS takes nutrition seriously ensuring that all cafeteria snacks are ‘healthy and organic’, a true manifestation of healthy body healthy mind.
Under the guidance of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, the school has put in place all the necessary safety protocols and procedures to protect the health and well-being of its learners and community members during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
For more information about the school and for admissions, visit beacon.edu.bh, follow Beacon Private School on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, email [email protected]
or call +973 66 00 00 88.