Nonpareil Cambridge Academy
The best opportunities that come along sometimes are magically timed just for you. This has been true for myself, and for a number of the boys who have spent this inaugural year in the Nonpareil Cambridge Academy. The brainchild of our Head Master, Mr A D Pinheiro, has become an exciting reality.
The goals for the academy are twofold. We gained recognition from the Cambridge International Assessment Education and began this year with our first candidates. The staff involved were positive in their approach to taking on an international syllabus and examining structure. Their efforts to master a different syllabus, assessment style and marking expectations is commended. For many of us it was a refreshing and stimulating change from the state syllabus. Commendation must also go to the eight young men who together adapted and mastered this totally new system and approach. They have been extended in such a positive way where their critical thinking and evaluation skills have been tested and developed further.
The second part of the Nonpareil Academy has been an extension programme for those with higher order thinking skills still doing the state syllabus. The selection process for this programme began in the second half of 2017 for grade 8 and 9 boys who showed potential in extending their learning approach and style, and who also were achieving academically already. The boys and the teachers went through an extended training course to change the mindset of traditional teaching to a more self-directed, facilitator approach. In this style of learning the facilitator guides and extends the learning outside of the set curriculum using a more autonomous, self-discovery approach. This means that the boys are taught the basic concepts and are then guided into delving deeper into the content and applying it to real life situations eg: more case studies both local and international. The boys are taught to look further than the basic concepts and this allows for a lot of peer and facilitator collaboration as opposed to the group learning between the boys.
It has been an exhilarating year with many of the boys achieving greater success in their respective subjects. There have also been many individual success stories of boys who were unhappy in school but bright and deflated. Their personalities have been ignited and their interest and commitment to their work has multiplied. They have all shown a growth in maturity and have accepted greater responsibility for their personal character growth and their work. We know boys work differently in classrooms and the academy seems to provide the right environment that is more dynamic and more suitable to boys’ education.
Extensions and renovations are underway to welcome a new group of boys both for the extension and for the Cambridge programmes. More timetables and teachers have been brought in to manage the increased size, grade groups not exceeding 15 boys. The interest and growth has been staggering and a big thank you must go out to Mr Pinheiro for his vision, support and drive in this area, as well as to the Foundation who have shown such wonderful support in terms of the alterations.
Head of Nonpareil Cambridge Academy