The House System at OWIS

Michelle Dickinson
Updated on
September 22, 2020

In the long-standing tradition of the world's best schools, we recently restructured our houses at One World International School (OWIS).  Created to support our kindness initiative and emphasising oneness with the world, our four houses represent the diversity that OWIS offers.   

What Is the House System at OWIS?

The House System strengthens the sense of community at our school, promoting teamwork among smaller groups of students. While students do not actually live in the houses, they have plenty of opportunities to collaborate and connect with each other on a deeper level beyond just attending classes and completing group projects together. This grants them the opportunity to integrate with children of different ages, and the older students can act as role models to the younger ones, offering support and insight.

Houses are a long-standing tradition in schools throughout the world. Traditionally, houses functioned as small communities within the larger life of the school. There is often a friendly competitive aspect to the house system, with various games and events throughout the year. Today, the house system in schools helps develop teamwork, trust and leadership skills, building a community within a community, and teaching students about diversity, empathy and collaboration.  

Why Do We Have a House System at OWIS?

At OWIS, we've created the house system to foster healthy competition among our students. Earning points for their respective houses teaches children to respect themselves and each other as they work diligently on behalf of the group, rather than doing so just for themselves. They see first hand how important it is to work as part of a team and how tasks can be completed much more efficiently when everyone works together. 

The house system also provides opportunities for students to develop their leadership skills by taking on leadership roles within their houses. This system further solidifies the importance of cultural awareness and respecting others’ traditions. Each house will have students from a diverse range of backgrounds which allows students to understand how everyone comes from different walks of life, but that we can all collaborate harmoniously.

The four-house system at OWIS.

Our school is one community, but sometimes, it splits into four parts.  Our four houses include the Willow Tree, the Acacia Tree, the Wisteria Tree and the Flame Tree.

Willow | Balanced, Open-Minded and Reflective

Our Willow Tree house draws its name from a deciduous, green tree popular in Europe and North America. Willows symbolise nature and life along with balance, learning, growth and harmony.

Acacia | Principled, Tolerance and Commitment

The yellow Acacia Tree house bears the name of graceful trees native to tropical and subtropical regions of the world, particularly Australia where they are called wattles.  Acacias are used to make incense and may have been the “burning bush” of the bible.

Wisteria | Caring, Curiosity and Creativity

The purple Wisteria tree lends its name to our third house.  Wisteria has flourished in China, Korea and Japan for over 2,000 years where art, history, feng shui and Buddhism have awarded it deep symbolism for good luck, especially for the start of new ventures.

Flame | Knowledgeable, Risk Taker and Confidence

Our fourth house takes the name of the African Flame Tree, famous for its abundance of red tulip-like flowers and medicinal properties.  The Flame Tree is also known as the fountain tree because of the water sealed in the flower buds that squirt out like a fountain when burst.

How do our houses work?

These four houses compete against each other to become the year's grand champion.  Students amass house points through hard work, excellent behaviour and extra effort.  Individuals do not amass house points for themselves; instead, these points go to the student’s house, creating a bond of respect among the students in each house. This also gives students something to aim for as they know they are working for the greater good when they accrue points during the year. It teaches them that it is essential to be a team player and that often it may be small, positive steps that lead to the biggest rewards. 

At key moments during the academic year, we announce the total points in assemblies to great applause from our students. This further encourages teamwork as houses that are not in the lead will be invigorated with a renewed energy to strive to become the top house by the end of the year.

Our secondary school students can apply to be House Captains, an honoured leadership position. This is a competitive process and teaches students how to put together strong applications, something that will help them throughout their lives. Successful candidates plan and run the house competitions. 

The House Captain's role also encompasses organising house meetings, motivating members of the house and leading by example. They become role models to other students and act as a voice for the students while promoting the goals of OWIS. Students who serve as House Captains at OWIS accrue leadership skills that last them a lifetime. This is highly regarded in their CV and their applications for places at universities. It demonstrates that they are high achievers and are quality, supportive leaders.

At OWIS, the core of our values is to be kind and considerate to others, to understand different cultures and traditions and to strive to be the best that we can in whatever we undertake. The house system further supports these values and teaches the importance of teamwork and supporting one another. Students learn that throughout life, they will have to be adaptable and innovative and that they play a part in the bigger picture. 

To find out more about our house system, please do not hesitate to contact us.

About Author

Michelle Dickinson

Head of School

Michelle has a BA (Hons) in History and South Asian Studies from North London University and PGCE from Middlesex University. She began teaching across all three primary key stages. Michelle began her school leadership career in 2002, when she became the Deputy Head Teacher of a large primary school in North London and spent four wonderful years there before relocating to India in 2005.

Her first international position was the Head of Primary of a local/international school in Bangalore in Southern India, where she introduced the Cambridge International Primary Programme and Checkpoint. Michelle then spent 6 years in China and 3 years in Ethiopia developing curriculum and assessment practices.

Michelle believes that children learn best when they are having fun and are engaged in practical, real life activities. While she recognises that outstanding academic achievement is the ultimate goal, she feels it is just as important to build self-esteem, instill character and encourage a global outlook in every child. Michelle believes that learning transcends the classroom environment and is passionate about educational visits and extra-curricular experiences.

Michelle is married with four children - Ana, Hindya, Bille and Markos. The Dickinson family have a sense of adventure and love of life. They particularly enjoy the outdoors, family holidays, making friends, good weather, camping and exploring and are delighted to be at OWIS.

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