Brook Hill International School provides a cohesive education for children aged from 3 to 18. All within the same area, its Early Years building caters for 3-5-year olds, the Primary building teaches children aged 5-11, and the Secondary building is for children aged between 11 and 18.
Our interlocutors are Ms Sarah Aitken, Head of Early Years and Primary Department, and Mr Nebojša Mladenović, Head of Secondary Department, Cambridge Officer and Examiner.
Which programmes do you offer your pupils?
From the outset, we follow the National Curriculum for England and Wales and from Primary Year One we begin following the Cambridge International Programme for English, Maths and Science, whilst continuing to follow the National Curriculum for England and Wales for all other social and expressive arts subjects. Pupils complete standardised tests from the UK and from Cambridge (Progress and Checkpoint Tests) each year. Secondary school pupils follow Cambridge Programmes for their chosen subjects and go on to complete IGSCE, AS and A levels.
How can children whose native language is not English, join the classes?
Throughout the school, children are completely immersed in the English language. Teachers use a variety of visual resources and practical activities to help children with lower levels of English participate fully in lessons. Moreover, we have a teacher of English as an Additional Language, who works very closely with children, class teachers and parents in order to support the development of children’s English language skills. Through games, songs, lots of visual stimulus and practical activities, children begin to pick up the language very quickly.
What are the major values and strategies that set Brook Hill International School apart compared to other international schools in Belgrade?
Choosing the right school and education system for a child can be a very daunting prospect for parents. Knowing that their child is happy in a welcoming, safe, secure and stimulating environment is of utmost importance. That is why we have created such an environment where the programmes offered can be tailored to suit individual needs, ensuring an inclusive environment. We believe that the combination of old and new pedagogical approaches, support in school and from home, leads to children growing into confident and successful individuals.
‘The moment we opened the gate of Brook Hill School we instinctively felt that this was the right place for our daughter. Despite having absolutely no English when starting at Brook Hill, we have seen tremendous progress in our child’s overall development: academically, physically, socially and emotionally. She feels that her abilities and interests are appreciated at school.’ – Mirjana Arsenović Dačić, current Year-Four parent.
All of our teachers have experience working at schools internationally or in the UK. In Early Years and Primary, we strive to provide young children with native English teachers or those who have lived in the UK for many, many years.
‘I was born, raised and qualified as a teacher in the UK. I have experience working with children and adults from various cultures, successfully teaching and preparing them for Cambridge tests and exams. Here at Brook Hill, we are able to build on and deliver a curriculum that is inclusive and flexible.’ – Ms Jovana Markos, Primary Teacher.
Our Secondary children are provided with regular personalised support, both from their tutor and our school counsellor, in applying for universities to continue their studies, whether that be here in Serbia or abroad.
What extra-curricular activities do you offer your pupils?
We promote a close, friendly and family-like atmosphere. With small class sizes and a flexible approach to both curricular and extra-curricular timetables, children have many opportunities to explore their interests, talents and curiosities in a safe and secure learning environment.
Our After School Clubs change on a termly basis and reflect children’s interests. We have swimming in our own indoor pool, with Active Oxygen instead of chlorine, volleyball, basketball, Scottish dancing, yoga, aikido – all in our own sports gym, arts and crafts, homework, a choir, cookery, chess, debating and computer clubs, and many different languages.
‘Many of our children have expressed interests in learning another foreign language. This term has seen the beginning of the Italian Club. We use games, songs and a variety of materials to learn Italian. Learning another language is an exciting way to explore new culture and history.’ says Mr Shaun Small, Primary Teacher.
After school clubs are led by our own teachers or by professionals in that particular field. We also encourage those secondary children who wish to lead a club for younger students to do so, and we provide them with as much help as they require.
We also have our own gardening space, where children can plant and nurture their own organic vegetables and herbs.
As well as multiple excursions relating to the topics children are learning about throughout the academic year, we also use our outdoor space to its full potential.
‘In Early Years we use outdoor learning as an integral part of everyday activities. It is a vital aspect of a child’s education and we make use of this powerful resource to give them valuable opportunities to connect their classroom education to the wider world. Reception children enjoy Forest School and, along with others in the school, gardening, which helps them learn about the natural environment, solve problems, increase their confidence and cooperate with others.’ – Ms Erica Wilkinson, Early Years Foundation Stage Teacher.