When it came time to choose a new international school for their three kids, this family knew they wanted a school that went above and beyond academic achievement.
Andrew Henville and Karena McLellan, whose family hails from Australia, share why they’ve made OWIS Nanyang the international school of choice for their three kids – Jackson, age 11, Toby, age 9; and Zara, age 6
How did you first hear about your school?
Through word of mouth; we knew five families at OWIS. We started at a different international school and were happy there for about three years. Unfortunately, we grew disillusioned with the impact the private equity ownership had on the management of that school, so we looked around for a non-profit school.
What factors played into your decision to send your child to this school?
OWIS doesn’t have all the bells and whistles some other international schools have, but the school environment and the teachers are comparable. We were attracted to the school’s emphasis on kindness and the diversity of family nationalities. Our children have exposure to lots of activities and opportunities outside of school, so we were happy with a low-fee school environment.
Did you take a tour of the school before making your decision? What were your first impressions?
We began at OWIS when COVID safe distance measures were in force, so we could only do a virtual tour. We have subsequently visited the campus and are happy with the facilities and the classrooms. I love the art showcased around the school, it adds so much vibrancy and the kids love looking for their artwork.
How did your child adjust to the school? Did the school take any special measures to help with the settling-in process?
We dropped our children off on day one and they didn’t look back. They didn’t have friends in the same class, but they did know other children at the school, so that helped them to settle in. As we couldn’t visit the school in person, class teachers sent videos introducing themselves and the classroom so the children could know what to expect when they first started. We have always done a car drop-off and the staff are on hand to greet the students as they arrive and show them to their classrooms.
What, in your opinion, are the three greatest strengths of the school?
The multiculturalism in students and staff and the focus on inclusivity and diversity. The staff are all approachable and friendly. Our children have had great teachers during their time at OWIS. The OWIS Parent Committee (OPC) is also so welcoming and energetic. If I’m really honest, another great strength is that primary school children don’t have a lot of homework. I love that my children have time to play and be kids, and our family doesn’t need to have this argument on a weekly basis.
How does the school include parents in the community?
The OWIS Parent Committee (OPC) is very friendly and welcoming. There are many events held throughout the year and parents are always welcome to volunteer for these events. The Parent Liaison is a friendly, helpful point of contact for parents. There are also parent class reps and class groups which are used to connect parents and keep parents up to date. Parents are welcome to visit their children’s exhibitions and end-of-year play, but these have only been recent activities, due to the relaxing of COVID safe management measures. We are looking forward to more opportunities to visit the school in the upcoming year.
How does the school keep you informed about your child’s progress?
The class teacher updates the Toddle app with photos and a summary of activities that have occurred during the week and what activities the children can look forward to. Parents are able to email teachers with any questions or concerns during the term and receive formal reports twice per year. The Parent Teacher Conferences are also held twice per year. We have found these quite insightful and are impressed with how well the teachers have grasped the core traits, motivators and struggles of our children.
What is the number one thing you’d miss if you transferred your child to another school?
Definitely the diversity of nationalities amongst my children’s friends. My children have friends from Italy, Poland, Korea, India, Ireland and Australia, to name just a few.
What kind of child (or family) would you say would be the best fit for this school?
I think OWIS is suitable for most children. We have been really happy so far and have just started our third year with OWIS.
What extra-curricular activities or out-of-school programmes does the school offer that you have taken part in?
ECAs have only recently been reintroduced following COVID restrictions. Our kids participate in lots of activities outside of school so currently don’t do anything additional at school. Our youngest may enrol in a musical instrument next term. We did consider enrolling our youngest in the bilingual programme but for now, have decided to keep her in the mainstream programme.
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