As Shrewsbury International School Bangkok, Riverside enters a new era at the start of the 2021-22 academic year, Science will take centre stage within its brand new seven-story, 17,000 square meter innovation building; part of a 1.1 billion-baht facilities investment programme underwritten by school owner, Khun Chali Sophonpanich.
With 18 new laboratories earmarked for Chemistry, Biology and Physics and other areas dedicated to Mathematics, Robotics, Innovation, Sixth Form and Higher Education counseling, the investment underlines Shrewsbury’s commitment to delivering a World-Class education for its students. These are the foundations on which Shrewsbury will continue to build on an unparalleled track record of examination success and placements at world-leading universities.
The spacious new science labs – each 120 square meters – will be fitted with top-of-the-line educational furniture and equipment from S+B labs; a leading UK-based company that supplies some of the finest schools and universities around the world. Each lab will also be fully tech-enabled, allowing each student to have ready access to a vast array of web-based resources and instruction throughout each stage of an experiment. In combination, this will help students carry-out a wide range of practical work that lead to a rich understanding of the syllabus, and to explore even more complex subject matter beyond with some facilities that are specifically geared towards university level laboratory work.
With 17 years teaching experience, and a key science consultancy role in the Government-funded Building Schools for the Future programme, Shrewsbury’s Director of Science, Laura Garcia, knows the positive impact that great design can have on educational outcomes and is excited to see how each class will make use of the new facilities.
“Science learning spaces should be able to motivate and inspire future scientists by supporting collaborative practice and practical work. As a department, we aim to provide a personalised, inclusive and flexible learning environment which can be adapted for different teaching approaches. Above all, the safety and comfort of our students was paramount when planning each element of the design. This could only be achieved by commissioning fully bespoke high quality furniture that cannot be found in any other school. With a successful track of over four decades designing lab furniture for schools, S+B have proven to be the perfect partner for this”.
Shrewsbury’s Scientific Strengths
Science is already one of many strength areas at Shrewsbury, with a significant proportion of graduates electing to embark university degrees in both scientific and applied fields such as medicine and engineering. Indeed, nearly 1 in 7 graduating students have successfully applied to medical degree programmes in 2021. However, the analytical and investigatory skills that are honed through scientific study throughout their time at Shrewsbury is a major benefit to all students, irrespective of their chosen pathway beyond.
All Shrewsbury students study Separate or Coordinated sciences at GCSE level, with over two thirds choosing to embark on at least one science subject at A Level; popularity that is reflected in the examination results attained. In the last academic year, 97% Chemistry, 98% Biology and 100% Physics examinations taken at GCSE level received an A or an A*grade, whilst at A level – the international ‘gold standard’ qualification – the percentage of examinations scoring A*/A ranged from 75-80% for the three science subjects (compared to a UK average of 38-44%).
A Spirit of Enquiry
This success is underpinned by the Science Department’s vision to foster a spirit of enquiry amongst the students. Ultimately they aim to support each student’s journey to becoming confident, independent learners, who are also reflective and effective collaborators, and whose curiosity in the subjects leads them to learning that extends far beyond the syllabus.
Outside their timetabled lessons, students have access to a range of opportunities to help them on this journey. Each department runs clinics for those needing further explanation and support with their curriculum material, but in addition to this, Shrewsbury offers an impressive array of co-curricular science clubs and challenges throughout the school, ranging from the hugely popular Junior Science Fair, to participation (and repeated success) in the international Physics Olympiad and other global competitions.
By moving into brand new, top-specification facilities, Shrewsbury aims to continue achieving the highest-possible grades while giving teachers the ability to encourage yet more creativity and ingenuity in every class. According to Ms Garcia, this is where investing in excellence will pay dividends.
“With clear benefits such as a smooth transition into their university studies, practical work in science lessons is pivotal to the learning process. ‘Doing’ science leads to a much deeper understanding of abstract concepts. Students are also much more engaged through practical learning. It allows them to develop important thinking and problem solving skills, to understand the process of scientific investigation, and develop a broad understanding of abstract scientific concepts”
The increased capacity to accommodate the growing popularity across the STEM subjects within the new building also means increased staffing and ability to attract the highest calibre teachers from around the world. Set to join Shrewsbury’s elite teaching body over the next 5 years are 5 new science teachers, bringing the full science faculty complement to over 20; one of the largest and most highly qualified departments in the region.
Their experience and expertise will further boost the capabilities of what is already an outstanding team of carefully selected educators whose mantra is to nurture a life-long academic fascination in their respective fields. The new facilities will equip them with even more tools to explore the subjects – both through the curriculum and variety of co-curricular and enrichment programmes – in even more innovative ways, and drive further examination success and continued access to the world’s most selective university programmes.
“Practical work is at the heart of our Science teaching and we have always prided ourselves on being a very well resourced department. Shrewsbury scientists stand out not just for their command of scientific concepts, but also for their confidence and dexterity in their laboratory investigations. With the addition of the new modern laboratories, we can continue to do what we do best: to provide our students with an unparalleled science education which culminates in exceptional exam results and university destinations. But above all, we strive to develop a love for Science with students that are curious about the world around them.”
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