Shekou International School: Inspiring Students to Lead a Holistic Life

Shekou International School
Shekou International School

Shekou translates into ‘Snake’s Mouth’ in Mandarin and is located in the southern suburb of Shenzhen, China, on the Pearl River delta. Shenzhen is a beautiful city that more than 17 million people call home. Over the past twenty years, it has seen tremendous growth in innovative and multinational companies.

Shekou continues to thrive and offers excellent education for expatriate families who value an international education that caters to developing twenty-first-century skills. Over the years, the government of The People’s Republic of China has supported the increase in International Education in Shenzhen.

SIS provides a well-rounded, holistic approach to learning and teaching to facilitate learning within a caring community and inspire students to lead future innovation. Harish Kanabar, Head of School; Matthew Doige, Secondary Principal and Leda Cedo, Primary Principal of Shekou International School, aim to transform students’ lives by instilling a passion for learning and a sense of responsibility to become future change makers.

Below are the highlights of the interview with the Head of School, Harish Kanabar

Kindly tell our readers about your school, its history, infrastructure, and educational facilities.

Shekou International School (SIS) is the first private, co-educational, not-for-profit school established in 1988 and located in Shekou, Nanshan District in Shenzhen. It serves students in Nursery through Grade 12 (ages 2-18) on the Jingshan, the Bay, and the Net Valley campus in Shenzhen.

Shekou International School has comprehensive primary and secondary facilities over three innovative campuses.

SIS at the Jingshan campus is located in the beautiful Jingshan complex with many outdoor spaces for Personal Social and Physical Education, creative play, water fun, connecting with nature, an outdoor kitchen, a swimming pool, and other learning facilities that support young learners. With excellent spaces and an inquiry-based approach, learners make meaning of the world whilst developing their curiosity to acquire new skills and knowledge.

SIS at the Bay Campus for primary (G1-G5) is our new purpose-built facility that features a two-story library, theatre, large gym, climbing wall, and sports fields. The additional space on this campus has allowed for the development of a new Chinese Bilingual Programme that adds to our already successful French International Programme.

SIS at the Net Valley campus is in the centre of Shekou, with a mature learning environment and many innovative and agile learning spaces. The library contains books across multiple genres and categories for students to enjoy; the laboratories are fully equipped for experimentation, and the design spaces encourage students to engage creatively in the design process. Apple technology is utilised in teaching across disciplines, including creating and performing arts and physical education.

Tell us about your esteemed international school’s mission, vision, and core values.

SIS has long been at the forefront of international education for expatriate children in the region. SIS provides a holistic education in a caring community and inspires our students to become principled, innovative contributors in a transforming world. The school currently enrols more than 1100 students representing more than 40 countries.

What are the priorities of your international school in terms of course objectives and learning outcomes?

Shekou International School follows International Baccalaureate (IB) and well-researched standards across the different subjects. At the Primary school, we use the Primary Years Programme (PYP) framework, which puts students at the centre of learning.

At Secondary School, we provide each student with rich and challenging academic programmes in Mathematics, Science & Design, Humanities, Language & Literature, Arts, Physical and Health Education, and World Languages. The Secondary Curriculum for middle school students is based on internationally recognised standards and is relevant and engaging. High school students prepare for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP), which provides rigour and prepares students for entry into some of the top universities around the world.

How do you maintain the global education standard at your international school?

SIS is accredited by WASC and authorised to deliver the International Baccalaureate Primary Years and Diploma Programme. We are also a candidate school for the Middle Years Programme. Both organisations expect a high degree of compliance across their global standards. Additionally, SIS is an Apple Distinguished School, which means SIS is innovative in its use of technology in learning and teaching, SIS is also one of the founding member schools of The Alliance of Sustainable Schools (TASS) that focus on working with other schools globally and presenting new ideas about sustainability that can be implemented at SIS.

Through the regular provision of professional development, SIS ensures that staff provides optimal support to students. As members of EARCOS and ACAMIS, SIS also provides regular professional development for their educators and staff and covers topics that benefit the whole school, including specialist subject positions. Recently, staff has participated in Safeguarding training, DEIJ (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice) Training, conceptual curriculum planning, social-emotional learning, and supporting inquiry, to name but a few.

Please brief us about the personality (Director/Principal/other) behind the school’s success and how they have helped enhance the outreach and development of your reputed school.

The leadership team at SIS believes in community. The school is very community-orientated for students, families, and staff. Being in the heart of Shekou, SIS hosts various events annually that bring people together.

For nearly 35 years, SIS has been at the frontier of a truly international school in Shenzhen, welcoming many expatriate families as they arrive in China. These new families create solid friendships and connections among other members of the school, and this then becomes the foundation of their community.

Over the years, SIS has formed relationships with local organisations, including Yutai schools, the Expatriate centre, Minai Charity, Keruna animal rescue, and many others. Throughout the year, multiple events are organised to help raise funds for organisations in need, and staff is encouraged to offer time and energy in service.

What kind of extra-curricular and co-curricular activities and events do you conduct at your school? How do you ensure maximum student engagement in these events?

The SIS Athletics and Activities Program engages students in opportunities to develop both physical and social skills, experience success, and extend themselves in areas outside of the classroom. Sports and activity exchanges are organised for SIS students from grades 2-12 throughout the school year.

SIS students successfully and safely participated in competitions and events for Model United Nations, World Scholars Cup, Theatrical and Musical performances, Academic Games, Volleyball, Basketball, Soccer, Badminton, Swimming, Cross Country, Touch Rugby, Tennis, Table Tennis, and Golf. Many competitions were held at our Net Valley campus, the 4,500 square metres SIS Gym (Meinanhe), and the 20,000-person capacity Shenzhen Bay Stadium. Due to health and safety protocols, spectators could not attend many of our competitions, but this has changed. Most SIS competitions were live-streamed via our internal SIS Live site.

How do you help your students prepare for their future? What kind of special facilities/arrangements/initiatives have you launched for the same?

SIS provides Middle and High school guidance and counselling services to support students in academic and personal growth. Over the year, SIS has offered many ParentEdUs that equip students and their families to adjust to overseas life. Additional ParentEdU areas of focus include career planning and time management. Over the year, many universities visit the campus to talk to students about what is globally available to SIS applicants.

Here at SIS, we promote and encourage our students to find their passion and interests; whilst we focus on academics, we appreciate the importance of ensuring well-rounded, creative, ethical problem solvers who understand that they play a crucial role in making the world a better place.

How do you envision the future of your illustrious international school going forward?

With close to 35 years of service to the Shenzhen expatriate community, we have established our reputation as the premier international school across various criteria. As Shenzhen expands and additional schooling options are offered within the city, SIS must continue to plan strategically to ensure it remains the first choice for expatriate families seeking a truly international education.

Shenzhen will see continued business and commerce expansion as part of the Greater Bay Area development. This can also be expected to include other schools in the private and international market, irrespective of any further changes in regulations.

SIS remains focused on being the first choice for all expatriate and internationally-minded families. Our range of courses, programmes and qualified and experienced staff must continue to offer these families the best school option for their children.

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