Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Are you able to accept or issue Student Visa’s?
We are not yet certified under the EduTrust scheme in Singapore and as such we are unable to support students who require a Student Visa in Singapore. All children in Singapore on a Dependants Visa or who are Permamant Residents in Singapore are eiligible to seek admission at OWIS.
When does your academic year start?
Our academic year starts in August and concludes at the end of June. We divide the academic year in to 4 terms of approximately 10 weeks.
We will be relocating to Singapore mid-way through the academic year, is my child still eigible for admission at OWIS?
We accept students throughout the academic year as long as there are places availible in their respective grades and they meet the admissions criteria.
Where are your teachers from?
Our teachers come from many different places, including the UK, Canada, Austrialia, New Zealand, China. Our School Principal is Scottish but has been in Asia for almost 20 years. All our teachers in Primary School are PYP IBO acredited and our Secondary Teachers are authorised to teach CIE IGCSE’s.
What is IBPYP?
IB stands for International Baccalaureate. Baccalaureate is defined as educational requirements set by standards and International means used by people of many nations.
IB consists of three programs:
- The Primary Years Program (PYP) is for children ages 3-12;
- The Middle Years Program (MYP) is for ages 11-16 and
- The Diploma Program (DP) is for students aged 16-19.
The IB mission is to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. Currently at OWIS we implement the PYP, with a view to introducing the IB Diploma from August 2018.
What makes IBPYP unique?
IBPYP offers a continuum of education, consisting of three programs for students aged 3 to 19 and has a reputation for high quality education sustained for over 35 years. These programs encourage international-mindedness and citizenship skills in IB students. To do this, we believe that students must first develop an understanding of their own cultural and national identity. IB encourages a positive attitude to learning by encouraging students to ask challenging questions, critically reflect, develop research skills, learn how to learn and participate in community service.
What is IB authorisation and how does it impact the curriculum?
Authorisation is the process of having IB representatives visit the school for an evaluation. During this time they go through the school’s curriculum, assessment, planning professional development and reporting procedures. They also discuss with administration, teachers, parents and students about what is going on in the school. OWIS is an authorised school and has recently successfully completed an IB evaluation.
What is inquiry?
Inquiry is defined as an investigation to seek for information and knowledge. The inquiry process leads students to develop and construct their own understanding of concepts presented. At OWIS, we want students to understand that learning is about generating one’s own questions related to personal experience and real-life application. Looking for answers, which in turn generate new and more complex questions in need of answers, create students who are life-long learners.
Why does OWIS choose the International Baccalaureate’s Primary Years Program (PYP)?
The PYP is an approach to learning. It makes the school’s core curriculum more meaningful, more useful and more connected to real life issues. Through the PYP students are guided to think more critically, more independently and more creatively. Students are helped to make connections between the different subjects they learn and learn how to apply their skills to solve real world problems. They are taught to care more about the people around them and to see and appreciate their commonalities and differences. The purpose of foreign language study in the PYP is to help students relate to other cultures. An additional benefit is that through PYP practices students are encouraged to become more involved in their immediate community and the wider community. The PYP reflects and strengthens the OWIS values.
Do students have to be tested to enter the OWIS PYP program?
PYP is an inquiry-based program designed for all students regardless of academic ability. Students wishing to attend OWIS need to provide a minimum of previous reports to see the students academic ability and behaviour. An assessment or interview may be required should the reports not provide a clear understanding. There may also be an assessment for students who speak English as an additional language.
How has the IB PYP framework been created at OWIS?
IB provides a framework from which each school incorporates and develops their chosen international curriculum. It provides the school with a set of guidelines to assist in creating meaningful learning opportunities for students. Each grade level has six units that correlate to the PYP transdisciplinary themes. At OWIS we also use national curricula guidance from a variety of international countries, most notably the English National Curriculum and our standards and expectations of learning are in line with this internationally recognised curriculum.
How is English taught at OWIS?
Most of the OWIS English curriculum is integrated into the Units of Inquiry. Our curriculum is in line with the English National Curriculum with emphasis on phonics and reading skills. We use a variety of methods for developing reading including both one-to-one with the teacher and group reading activities. Different text types are linked to the Unit of Inquiry so that in-depth book studies can be meaningful and writing can be purposeful and authentic. Grammar and punctuation are taught through the reading and writing engagements so that appropriate style and rules are modelled and practised.
How is Maths taught at OWIS?
The OWIS maths curriculum is taught as a stand-alone programme with daily lessons. It is in line with the English National Curriculum. Maths is divided into 5 strands: Number, Pattern and Function, Data Handling, Shape and Space, and Measurement. Our maths curriculum (Scope and Sequence) is available on our parent portal clearly outlining the learning outcomes from Early Childhood 1 through to Grade 5. Progression and expectations are clearly defined. There are 3 lessons per week dedicated to Number and 2 lessons covering the other strands. Teachers work to use the inquiry process whenever possible and find ways to introduce Maths units through an inquiry activity.
How is Science taught at OWIS?
All science learning is integrated through the units of inquiry. At OWIS, we focus on the skills and application of scientific investigation. We encourage students to investigate and test hypotheses generated from their own inquiry, thus allowing students to learn how to plan, conduct and draw conclusions from fair tests. The PYP gives clear guidance on scientific learning & teaching divided into Life Science (biology), Materials and Matter (chemistry) and Forces & Energy (physics).
How do our Specialist Teachers work within the PYP framework?
Our Specialist teachers are working to incorporate their curriculum within many of our Units of Inquiry. Each of them has studied the units and made suggestions about how their curriculum might support a particular unit. They are also encouraged to explore the inquiry-based method of instruction and make changes to their programs as they gain new knowledge.
What language programs are offered at OWIS?
English is the language of instruction. For students who do not speak English as a first language, during admissions an on-line test or interview may be required. If accepted, the student will be immersed into an English language environment with support as needed that may include differentiated tasks, individualised lessons or additional teacher support within the classroom. This will continue until the student is able to participate at a level where they can exhibit their true meaning and understanding of subjects. For some students completely new to English, OWIS offers specialised English as an Additional Language (EAL) lessons with a qualified teacher. There are 24 intensive, one-to-one/ small group lessons delievered over an 8 week period. Each student’s progress is closely monitored throughout the 8 weeks together with a pre- and final assessment.
In IBPYP there is a requirement for all school to offer additional language tuition. At OWIS, our chosen language is Mandarin. Students are taught Mandarin each day using the same inquiry-based model and making as many links as possible with the Units of Inquiry.
What is Phase Learning?
We recognise that all students do not learn all items of the curriculum at the same point in time. The PYP encourages personalised learning and at OWIS we believe in differentiating learning to suit every student’s individual needs. Although all students may be age-appropriate for a specific grade, there is still as much as 11 months between the oldest and youngest student. Phase learning acknowledges that at one point of time a specific skill or idea may not be clear during the time of assessment but will become clear with the correct level of teaching and support. Due to previous knowledge, outside study, family life, interest level and a variety of other reasons, students are able to exceed expectations in some areas of the curriculum and work towards them in others.
What is the difference between a POI and a UOI?
The POI is the Programme of Inquiry. It is the Programme for the entire of the Primary School. A UOI is a specific Unit of Inquiry. There are 6 units of inquiry in each grade level, each falling under one of the transdisciplinary themes. Specific information is given to parents at the start of each unit and is available for the entire year from the teacher.
What are Transdisciplinary Themes?
The Program of Inquiry is the overall plan for instruction in our school. The POI is developed under the six transdisciplinary themes listed here:
- Who we are - An inquiry into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities, and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human.
- Where we are in place and time - An inquiry into orientation in place and time; personal histories; homes and journeys; the discoveries; explorations and migrations of humankind; the relationships between and the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations, from local and global perspectives.
- How we express ourselves - An inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.
- How the world works - An inquiry into the natural world and its laws; the interaction between the natural world (physical and biological) and human societies; how humans use their understanding of scientific principles; the impact of scientific and technological advances on society and on the environment.
- How we organise ourselves - An inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment.
- Sharing the planet - An inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things; communities and the relationships within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.
What is the IB Learner Profile?
The Learner Profile supports the IB program’s goal to develop internationally-minded children who, recognising their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world.
IB learners strive to be:
- Inquirers – They develop their natural curiosity and acquire skills to conduct inquiry, research, and show independence in learning. They actively enjoy learning and this love of learning will be sustained throughout their lives.
- Knowledgeable – They explore concepts, ideas and issues that have local and global significance. In so doing, they acquire in-depth knowledge and develop understanding across a broad and balanced range of disciplines.
- Thinkers – They exercise initiative in applying thinking skills critically and creatively to recognise and approach complex problems and to make reasoned and ethical decisions.
- Communicators – They understand and express ideas and information confidently and creatively in more that one language and in a variety of modes of communication. They work effectively and willingly in collaboration with others.
- Principled – They act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness, justice and respect for the dignity of the individual, groups and communities. They take responsibility for their own actions and the consequences that accompany them.
- Open-minded – They understand and appreciate their own cultures and personal histories, and are open to the perspectives, values, and traditions of other individuals and communities. They are accustomed to seeking and evaluating a range of points of view, and are willing to grow from the experience.
- Caring – They show empathy, compassion, and respect towards the needs and feelings of others. They have a personal commitment to service and act to make a positive difference to the lives of others and to the environment.
- Risk-takers – They approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with courage and forethought and have the independence of spirit to explore new roles, ideas and strategies. They are brave and articulate in defending their beliefs.
- Balanced – They understand the importance of intellectual, physical and emotional balance to achieve personal well-being for themselves and others.
- Reflective – They give thoughtful consideration to their own learning and experience. They are able to assess and understand their strengths and limitations in order to support their learning and personal development.
What are the IB attitudes?
While recognising the importance of knowledge, concepts and skills, these alone do not make an internationally-minded person. The development of personal attitudes towards people, the environment and learning as well as attitudes that contribute to the well-being of the individual and of the group are vital.
Students should demonstrate:
- Appreciation – appreciating the wonder and beauty of the world and its people
- Commitment – being committed to their own learning, perservering, showing self-discipline, responsibility and resilience.
- Confidence – feeling confident in their ability as learners, having the courage to take risks, applying what they have learned and making appropriate decisions and choices.
- Co-operation – co-operating, collaborating and leading or following as the situation demands.
- Creativity – being creative and imaginative in their thinking and in their approach to problems and dilemmas.
- Curiosity – begin curious about the nature of learning, about the world, its people and cultures.
- Empathy – imagining themselves in another person’s situation in order to understand his or her reasoning and emotions, thus developing an open-mind and reflection about the perspectives of others.
- Enthusiasm – enjoying learning and willingly putting the effort into the process.
- Independence – thinking and acting independently, making their own judgments based on reasoned argument and being able to defend those decisions.
- Integrity – being honest and demonstrating a considered sense of fairness.
- Respect – respecting themselves, others and the world around them.
- Tolerance – being sensitive about differences and diversity in the world and being responsive to the needs of others.
How are the IB attitudes and learner profile integrated into discipline and citizenship?
At OWIS, both the profile and attitudes are displayed in every classroom with the class teacher modelling the meaning and values behind each one. They are recognised during assemblies and our house point system, built in to unit plans as well as PSPE time.
How does IB positively impact our community/society?
We encourage students to become lifelong learners, citizens of the world and to take action when questions arise. We want to help children become self-directed learners empowered to take responsibility for their work and encouraged to reflect on their learning with peers, teachers and their families. We show them how to give of themselves to improve the community they are in, regardless of where they are in the world.
Our teachers are also a part of a network of IBPYP schools where we share information ideas with each other. We visit other schools and they come to OWIS. In this way, knowledge is shared amongst educators.
What is out of class learning?
True and meaningful learning does not only take place within the structure of a classroom or even a school. Learning is happening all of the time and students need an opportunity to see what they are learning is happening in ‘real’ life. Field trips, guest speakers and community projects are all ways where OWIS students take what they are learning and apply it to their community and have opportunities to take action.
Do teachers receive training for this program?
All teachers have training of various degrees in the components of the IB program and continue to gain knowledge and support as we work within the units of inquiry. We have a co-ordinator who provides on-going internal training and there is an expectation of continuous training within the IB guidelines. The co-ordinator is also responsible to ensure all areas of the curriculum are being taught and standards are met.
How do teachers know they are meeting global standards?
All assessment that is completed internally for reporting purposes has been created in conjunction with the leadership of the school and it is moderated to ensure school continuity and standards. OWIS also completes the ISA (International School Assessment) where tests in English and Maths are given, sent away for marking and then results given back to the school with detailed information. We use this information for tracking purposes internally to ensure we are teaching to a high standard.
How do teachers grade inquiry?
Our formative and summative assessments are graded through teacher or student developed rubrics. Whenever appropriate, the rubrics are known to the children at the beginning of an assessment task. This is done so both the student and the parent know the expectations.
What is the Exhibition?
The Exhibition is the process where our Grade 5 students showcase their learning of various components of the IB program. The students will create a UOI with the guidance of their teacher, the co-ordinator and other members of the community to serve as mentors. The process includes: researching a topic or concern; developing and undertaking a plan of action regarding the topic or area of concern; and presenting the research and action plan to others falling under the umbrella of one of the transdisciplinary themes.
How do I know what my child is learning?
Our Programme of Inquiry is posted online, along with our curriculum documents. We post parent information newsletters at the beginning of each Unit of Inquiry on our website. Our teachers are always available to share information regarding your child’s education and will happily answer any questions you have about current learning. Information regarding each class is also available to all parents on the website.
How can I support my child and his/her education?
- The best way for you to support your child is to make yourself available! Turn phones and other media devices off and devote a minimum of 30 minutes per day to talking with your child. This is one sure way to check for the level of understanding. The objectives are sent home weekly for core subjects. There will be sessions for parents to improve their own understanding of our curriculum.
- Create a quiet place for your child to engage in learning at home (away from TV and younger siblings), offer your assistance as needed and then look over the finished work. Discuss questions you might have about how answers were chosen as you guide your child in learning best how to study.
- It is also important to ask your child specific questions about their day (avoiding “How was your day?” or generalised questions). Know the current unit and ask detailed questions: “How are you doing with learning fractions in Maths?” or “What do you know about the position of the moon?”
- Share both the positive and negative experiences of your own schooling so that your child realises that we all have strengths and weaknesses and occasionally need help in some areas.
- Learn the IB Learner Profile and Attitude vocabulary and include these in your discussions with your child about the kind of person you expect them to become.
- Join the parent group, volunteer in your child’s classroom, offer your services as a speaker for classrooms, attend IB information meetings, ask questions about how you can help.
- Read daily with your child. You are your child’s first example! Show your child the importance of reading by sharing your favourite childhood stories. Develop your child’s enjoyment of a good story by reading picture books or chapter books together
Is there more outside work required at a PYP school? Does my child need to learn at home everyday?
As our Units of Inquiry are inquiry based, most work is completed during the school day. We have noticed that many children will continue to research topics at home and will ask parents questions as they seek to deepen their understanding of material explored during class time. Each class teacher provides learning at home opportunities each week that is available on the parent portal of the website.
What makes OWIS different from other PYP schools in Singapore?
OWIS differs from other primary schools because we have worked to develop our Program of Inquiry on inquiry-based instruction that is best suited to its own environment and community. Due to our size and community atmosphere, stakeholders and members have an opportunity to ask, share and input.
There is a profound dedication by OWIS staff to work together to assist students who will become international thinkers and who understand how to apply problem-solving techniques to local and global issues. Highly qualified educators work with students through the six transdisciplinary themes to help our students to understand what their relationships and responsibilities are toward the new information and knowledge that they are acquiring.