Brookes School Officially Opens

Simon Green

Anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Charley King, the founding Headmaster of Brookes School, Moscow, can be left in no doubt that he, together with his formidable team, has the ability to make the near impossible happen. He said in his welcome speech that the Brookes project had had its share of vicissitudes, but somehow in his 384 days at the helm, he has overseen an effective start-up project from inception to completion against all the odds, culminating in the Grand Opening on September 19th, 2018 in the presence of His Royal Highness, Prince Michael of Kent. The Gods seemed to be in agreement as they relented and allowed the sun to shine in a clear blue sky as if to emphasize the bright future ahead for everyone connected with the school, especially the pupils.

We were afforded a warm welcome by staff at the entrance to the school and were duly ushered into the dining area where tea and coffee were on offer together with an array of sandwiches and fresh fruit. The atmosphere exuded happiness and optimism as we waited for the signal to go upstairs to the auditorium and wait for the big moment. Mark Broom was the Master of Ceremonies for this esteemed occasion, and following Charley King’s welcome speech, two girls kicked off proceedings with a contemporary dance that was both original, agile and slightly balletic in style. They departed to generous applause and then came the moment everyone was waiting for: HRH Prince Michael of Kent took to the stage while we all stood in acknowledgement of his presence there. HRH is related to Tsar Nicholas II and he proceeded to explain that he had been coming to Russia regularly for the last 25 years, so had a close affinity with its people and rich culture.

His Royal Highness cast some wonderful pearls of wisdom during his speech, which started in Russian then switched to English, in his highly polished tones and deep, resonating voice that captured everyone’s attention from the very start. He firstly advised the children present: “you’re benefitting from the very best,” and he followed this up with: “collaboration is the best way to learn about other cultures and beliefs.” By now he had his audience spellbound and eager to hear his next offerings which just got better and better. “Brookes must recognise talent in whatever shape that comes,” he suggested, then came up with an immortal line: “This is the next generation school,” he enthused, “that dares to be different, and sets a blueprint for others to follow.” After several more platitudes, congratulating the Brookes team on their extraordinary achievement in bringing this whole project to completion, he wrapped up his speech with the words we had all come to hear: “It’s now my great pleasure to declare Brookes Moscow officially open!” HRH Prince Michael of Kent retired to his seat amidst a thoroughly deserved standing ovation.

Brooks-87s
Brooks-94s
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Brooks-129s

We were then treated to a gifted singer and ballerina performing together ‘A Million Dreams.’ The former had had just one week to learn her song and was from year 8 and yet already possessed an adult voice with depth and power. She was ably supported by the latter, who was a ballerina whose display amply demonstrated a combination of poise, balance and elegance as she proceeded to own the stage. Apparently, she’s to join Brookes next year and will clearly be an artistic asset with a promising future should she decide to take that route in her adult life. Following that act, we then met Master Isaac Brown, a senior student from Brookes Canada who told us he was bored and uninspired in his previous school until Brookes got hold of him, and presented him with some teachers who could motivate him away from mediocrity towards the upper echelons of educational life. This mention of teachers who could inspire, found me recalling a quote from one famous person about another. As Alexander the Great said about his teacher, no less a mortal than the legendary philosopher, Aristotle, “I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well”- and so say all of us!

Next up to the stage were two people from the Pioneer Group who made a massive contribution to the practical and educational side of the project. Olga said what a fantastic team they had in place at Brookes and that everyone worked collectively to ensure the project came to fruition. David Rose told us that the school was set in 18,000 square meters in 2.5 acres of land, then told us about the IB programme and how the students are expected to unlock their potential through the constant development of their three pillars- namely: Character, Connection and Creativity. These foundations, if utilized to their maximum will enable students to leave Brookes, ready to set the world on fire with their ideas. This was followed by a group of boys and girls of all ages singing a wonderful rendition with expressiveness, happiness and impeccable unison to boot; they also left the stage to generous applause.

Not only has Charley King been handling all things internal at Brookes school, but he’s also been visiting a number of establishments to test the water with his ideas. He told me enthusiastically that he had been well received at competitor, Anglo American school who, due to their lengthy waiting list, would be pleased to send to Brookes any students who they felt would fit into the Brookes family. As if that wasn’t enough, Charley has also convinced Moscow State University to automatically accept students who have passed the IB exams which is a wonderful incentive to be successful. In synopsis, Charley wrapped up his welcome speech encouraging students to take advantage of the most exciting opportunity of their lives and have pride while at Brookes school, but above all, abide by the school maxim- “Be Brookes!”

For a prospectus for students and parents please write to:

Racing, alone, on the frozen Baikal…

Thomas Witten (Brookes Moscow)

The morning after the midnight thunderstorm we had a few nights ago a friend who recently moved to Moscow asked with sincere panic-stricken eyes: “Is this it!? Is winter starting? Shall I go out to buy a thick winter coat?” I responded with a restrained giggle and somehow managed to suppress an urge to burst out laughing. I went on to explain that we’ve got a while to go still but recommended to soak up as much of the outside terrace atmosphere as possible before the sun goes into hibernation. “There’s still the mythical Indian Summer to look forward to after a bout of cold weather before winter really starts in November” I added (I still don’t know what ‘Indian Summer’ is all about).

This conversation got me thinking though. The intrigue with Russia’s long cold dark winters is usually on the top of the list when someone finds out I live in Russia – especially people from my neck of the woods where it very rarely snows. We South Africans regard single digit temperatures with absolute dread. The notion of a hyphen before the digit lies far outside our frame of reference. But long and grey and bitingly cold as Russian winters may be, I am always amazed at how people from this part of the world embrace the winter. What I find intriguing though is the contradiction with a nation which simultaneously seems to both fear and love the cold. Young children can’t drink cold water, but ice-cream stands pop up in every park in the white winter months; opening windows and catching a draft means you’ll die and yet hundreds are out in pushchairs while pulling gleeful children behind on doughnut sleds. Shortly after the first snow has settled skiing enthusiasts don slick and shiny ski suits and take to the forest.

Me – I’m a runner, and I like ‘Ultras’. I find running in the snow exhilarating and come winter I’m out in Moscow’s forests enjoying the thrill of light snowflakes half suspended in the air or running into an icy blizzard. I had the privilege of participating in one of Russia’s toughest, if not craziest, events, running ‘on the world’s only marathon ice course laid between two opposite shores of the planet’s deepest lake!’: The Baikal Ice Marathon. Exactly as it says on the box: We started on the shore of one end of Lake Baikal and ran 42.2km in -25 degrees Celsius into icy winds on the frozen lake and ended on the opposite bank several hours later. It was tough. Unpleasant. I’d rather run a 100km ‘Ultra’ in warm weather every other day than run Baikal again. But what an amazing experience! Unless you’re an elite athlete firing on all fours at the front with the lead pack marathons are actually wonderful social events with people chatting all around you on the run and spectators cheering you on your way. Baikal was very different. I didn’t anticipate that running it would be so isolating. The 160 odd runners were spread out over many kilometres and did not have any contact with each other. I was completely wrapped up, buffered from the outside world, while constantly trying to manage my body heat. The overwhelming feeling, though, was that I was running alone. A man on snowmobile or a hovercraft passing by checking up to see if everyone was OK, my only source of company. The occasional soviet tank passing by was surprisingly reassuring. “If that heavy thing can drive on the ice then I’m probably not in any danger of slipping under the ice!” I thought.The hardest part, however, was the lack of perception of distance. Not long into the race everything around you as far as the eye could see was white with no way of telling how near or far anything was, with small red flags guiding your path dotted out every few hundred metres. I remember thinking at the time that this must be what it would feel like if the white after-death experience realm could be believed. Hopefully warmer. 25km in, something finally revealed itself in the distance – a few mountain tops which just wouldn’t get closer – lack of depth perception yet again. And then with 7 or so K’s to go the other side of the bank started becoming visible. Again, so close and yet so very far; it stood there taunting. And then it was over. A shot of vodka has never tasted so good.

I wouldn’t recommend Baikal to the faint of heart but thought I should perhaps suggest that my friend start shopping for a fancy ski kit instead and while the weather is good, build up a level of fitness to enjoy what Moscow has to offer in the winter. But then again you only live once.

Fellow ‘Ultra’ runners.

Thomas Witten is a reception teacher (early years – ages 4 – 5) at Brookes School, Moscow

Indonesian Turtle Conservation

Text and photos by Camille Le Prou

As an educator living and working in Moscow, summer is often a time to relax and unwind, step back and reflect on another busy year or perhaps even pour energy into other projects. With help from Mahi-Mahi Surf Resort on Simeulue (an island off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia) this summer, I was fortunate enough to combine all facets of the aforementioned and dedicate some time to the conservation of the endangered green sea turtle.

Mahi-Mahi is a friendly, New Zealand run surf resort focussed on giving back to the people of Simeulue and broadly speaking, Indonesia. In conjunction with the sustainable raw coconut oil company, Aluan, Mahi-Mahi combines surf charters with a volunteering program aimed at supporting local turtle rangers on the uninhabited Benkaru Island, one of many that make up the famous Banyak Islands.

The importance of Benkaru is that it is where many green sea turtles return to lay their eggs, however the turtle faces many challenges to fight its way into life, and if female, eventually returning to its birth beach to lay eggs of her own. Many predators line the beach at night eagerly awaiting their turn to feast on the freshly laid eggs including shifty shore birds, slick monitor lizards, and suspicious saltwater crocodiles. But, sadly, the biggest threat of all is humans. Although illegal, humans still hunt the island for turtle eggs to sell and eat, or even the turtles themselves, so much so it is threatening the future existence of the aquatic amniote.

                        Beach Clean Up

The importance of volunteers’ time on the island is to support the turtle rangers in their quest to ward off potential poachers, and what a place to be. We stayed on the island for four days, a world away from electronics and life, and visited the beach several times of the night and day to either see turtles laying their eggs, or in the early morning to watch babies fight up through the sand and take their first breathe of air before descending to the beach alone. During the day we cleaned the beaches, removing as much plastic, fishing equipment and foil as we could find (the biggest culprits being plastic lighters, straws and netting); shocking to put into perspective that this island produces almost no rubbish and that it is still being polluted from the mainland and surrounding islands. Word is slowly spreading that the international community is watching and supporting the island, as the future wellbeing of the turtle depends on it.

When our surf boat returned to the golden shores to collect us, and we had to leave our paradise, it was difficult, but we found solace in the fact that the turtle rangers do an amazing job with the support of incredibly sustainable and green minded companies like Mahi-Mahi Surf Resort and Aluan. Upon returning to Simeulue, after 7 hours on the Indian Ocean, we held a class with local school children running activities with a focus on the green sea turtle and their predators. The role of education now becomes imperative because in the teaching and learning as to the severity of the endangered situation the turtle faces, humans can understand that repopulating the creature is not impossible, but will take a change in mind set and ultimately respect for our planet and all of its inhabitants.

https://mahimahisurfresort.com/community-environment

https://www.aluan.co/

Camille Le Prou is Head of Visual Arts, Brookes Moscow.

Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

This is, without doubt, one of the oldest jokes in 19thCentury American History, and originated from the picket lines, during labour strikes. It is incredible to think, that such a simple concept should provide such humour for over 150 years. The endless variations to the answer have kept stand-up comedy on the stage and children bewildered, across the globe as to its purpose. So, what is the answer, why on earth write about it and where does it fit into our pacey, futuristic world?

Read on for the rest of this article, written by Charley King, at: www.russiaknowledge.com

Taking the Inside, Outside….

As a passionate advocate of outdoor play l decided to take the plunge out of my comfort zone and I enrolled on a Forest School Teaching Course. This is a great way to get children active and learning outside. Developing self-esteem, working together and learning together on different projects. So, in August I flew to Ashby de la Zouch in Leicestershire (home of Adrian Mole for those of you who have read the Sue Townsend books) to start my 5 days of learning in the forest. And what a challenge! Building fires without matches, using tools, working on projects independently and at other times working in teams.

This was followed by 2 full days of first aid. An intensive course, as in the forest we work with fire and tools. As well as this there is a fairly demanding Forest School Portfolio to complete on line. This includes some serious academic work plus the practical task of teaching six classes of children in the forest.

Finally, a four-day assessment in the forest from which I have just returned. What great relationships I have forged; working and learning together.

So many of my friends and family have asked me ‘what is forest schooling’? Generally, people think it is going into the forest to learn the shapes and names of the leaves and trees, but it is so much more.

‘Forest School is an inspirational process, that offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees. It offers risk taking opportunities under supervision and allows children to grow their resilience.’

I am very much looking forward to arriving in Moscow soon and putting all this outdoor learning into practice.

Be Outside; Be Brookes

Catriona Lowder

Nursery Teacher; Brookes Moscow

OPEN DAY @ BROOKES MOSCOW

Our last Open Day before the Summer Vacation

https://moscow.brookes.org/book-a-school-tour-on-june-23/

We’re delighted to invite families to visit our school one more time before summer vacations. We will have further opportunities and big surprises organized for the middle of August. However, for now, take the opportunity to compare your children’s current school to Brookes Moscow and discover what it means to be a part of a truly innovative, international school!
Individual applications from families at existing International Schools can be considered during Open Day.

To register please complete our brief registration form available through https://moscow.brookes.org/book-a-school-tour-on-june-23/

Books, Brookes and the British Embassy

Igor Nikonenko, who has been serving Moscow schools with thousands of books for the last 4 years, entertained over 100 educationalists with a private presentation of his services, local made cheeses, holiday course opportunities and a short presentation from our very own David Rose, Director of Brookes Education Group.

David Rose – BEG 2018 at the British Embassy

All enjoyed a most enjoyable evening at the British Embassy; including our talented and dedicated team!

Brookes were thrilled to support and sponsor Igor with his endeavours, and we look forward to filling our library with his far reaching catalogue of educational literature.

Be Books; Be Brookes

Brookes Moscow Open Day – Part I

We were delighted to host so many current and prospective parents, as well as honoured guests from different parts of Moscow on Tuesday 22nd May, at our 1st of two Open Days this week.

Major constructions works have been finalised, and we are now in the process of decor, trims and classroom units.

It was great to have the board with us on this journey, David Rose, Graham Brown and Jerry Salvador; as well as our two guest from Oman, where we are developing further Brookes Schools.

We look forward to our 2nd open day, on Saturday 26th May between 11am and 4pm. If you would still like to come, please register with Anna Smirnova on: info@moscow.brookes.org or call +7 915 392 7001

Stretching children beyond the constraints of the curriculum…

It is without question, that one of the most asked questions I receive from all prospective parents, is with respect to the IB (International Baccalaureate) Moreover, since we will not be offering the Diploma Programme until 2020, it is on all parents minds as to how our IB MYP steps up, against the more traditional British State or Moscow International School GCSE’s/iGCSE’s.

It is a difficult question to answer, and one which will split educationalists for decades to come; however, having worked and inspected within so many systems of education, I firmly believe that children’s futures will be better placed having gone through an IB curriculum; one that gives them so much more diversity and opportunity in today’s ever changing world.

This seems to be a viewpoint that many do share, though many who yet compare. I stumbled, however, upon the following article, which offers parents more insight into a direct comparison of the two systems that dominate the International educational market in Moscow; entitled – MYP vs GCSEs: The real story.

(The link may be restricted to some IP addresses; therefore, I have included this as text below) https://m.khaleejtimes.com/news/education/myp-vs-gcses-the-real-story

My sincere thanks to the author of this well balanced article – Daniel Lewis, Principal; NLCS Dubai

 

Continue reading “Stretching children beyond the constraints of the curriculum…”

‘PEOPLE WITH THEIR DIFFERENCES CAN ALSO BE RIGHT’ (International Baccalaureate)

Central to the philosophy of the International Baccalaureate is the quest for intercultural and international understanding and for young people to be open-minded and able to view issues from many different perspectives. It is about accepting that the way we live and think, and the ideologies that we hold dear to should not always be fixed in stone. Instead there should be a recognition that ideas for innovation, progress and advancement can come from so many different sources and that we should always look for and assess new ways of dealing with challenges.

Without that acceptance and recognition, we might still believe that the world is flat; or that Gallileo was wrong in his assertion that the planets in the solar system revolved around the sun; or that slavery is acceptable; or that the motor vehicle would never catch on and so on.

The International Baccalaureate has just celebrated its 50th Anniversary having been created in 1968 primarily to serve transient diplomatic community whose children would jump from school to school and from one educational system to another as diplomatic assignments were made. The intention was:

  • to develop a curriculum that could provide continuity;
  • to recognize the local context of the school – the language, culture and traditions of the host country as well as the national composition of the school body;

and…

  • to rethink what is important in education – a broad and balanced, lifelong, holistic and personalised journey through school, into further education and then into the world of work;
  • to rethink the responsibilities of lifelong learners and global citizens.

In February 2018, there were 6,311 programmes being offered worldwide, across 4,786 schools. Across the globe there are hundreds of thousands of IB alumni in business, education, government, the arts and sciences, NGOs, charities etc. who should be the strongest advocates for international cooperation, peace, equality, rights and opportunities and there are many more in IB schools who I hope will become the positive disruptors of ‘the way we always do things round here’.

As a very ordinary person and as a former Headteacher of an IB school, it pains me greatly to see so much conflict, so many examples of extreme national chauvinism and such an unwillingness to compromise and to search for really meaningful solutions.

Too quickly we criticize, judge, penalize and then punish those whose views don’t concur with ours. Too often we blindly accept media propaganda and out of context reports and headlines.

It seems so wrong that even with the combined global knowledge and wealth that we have there is still some kind of feudal battle going on for national supremacy.  Coupled with that there is such a huge fascination for the acquisition of material things and that creates corruption, jealousy and inequality. Why is it that that so many people are still deprived of freedom of speech, justice, healthcare, housing and education? Why are so many denied their rights that are based on values like dignity, fairness, equality, respect and independence?

I would like to believe that if the IB was used more widely as the curriculum of choice then there would be a much greater understanding of the critical need for change, collaboration and reflection. IB students do not just accept things as they are – they look for improvement, they ask the right questions and they can work together globally to find answers.

They can put themselves in other people’s shoes.

David Rose

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