Recognize began in 2008 with just 3 students. Our founder, Ms Kathryn Rowan had a small classroom in an office block in which she taught children whose specific needs she felt were not being catered for in the traditional school settings. She, the parents and the children quickly noticed great improvements in the students’ academic ability. Importantly, their social confidence and personal self-esteem also grew. The relationships the children forged with each other and with their teacher gave them a new sense of success and belonging. They now enjoyed going to school whereas before, they were often feeling alienated from their peers and were afraid of failure.
Word of Ms Rowan’s services spread and within a few years she had 18 students, some new teachers and a small villa in Shekou as a school house. Despite the growing numbers, she held onto the notion that the close, personalised approach was at the heart of what was important to a child’s well-being and attainment when at school.
Impressed with the school’s dedication to each child and in agreement with the notion that ( in schooling terms) ‘small is beautiful’, Mr Ian Taylor, our Principal and co-Director, joined Recognize in May 2013. Since then, Recognize has continued to grow and improve. New buildings and spaces, some great new teachers, a lot more students, and a growing connection with the local community have all contributed to making Recognize a unique and special school.
Recognize is excited about the future. We feel our small-scale approach – our ‘human-scale’ approach – is something of real value. We are witnessing students making remarkable academic and personal growth and there is a great sense of team spirit amongst all those involved with us. Recognize is very grateful to all the many people who have supported its philosophy and work.
What is different about Recognize?
Being a small school changes many things for students, teachers and parents. It changes the nature of the relationships that are built, the ways in which teachers can work and the ways in which students can learn.
For students, the small class environment leaves them nowhere to hide, so there is no cruising and no getting left behind. Each student will be actively involved with every lesson and will be receiving direct encouragement and instruction from their teachers. Any academic issues and talents are quickly spotted and acted upon. Issues of emotional well-being or attitude can also be tackled as the teacher has the time to talk to the child and parents and to consider the problem ‘in the round’. The teacher knows each child’s academic strengths and weaknesses very well and work will be tailored for them at an appropriate level of challenge. This keeps the child stimulated and excited about lessons and in turn, helps with rate of progress.
In the course of the day, each student is many times receiving immediate feedback about their work and they will have their teacher sitting with them to give guidance. Grades in books – so often demotivating – and pithy teacher comments that are received a week after the work has been completed are not part of our assessment landscape. Instead, teachers at Recognize are able to closely observe each child’s working levels, to pin-point areas for development and to have an on-going dialogue with the child about their progress.
Hands-on activities – a great way to learn – are much more manageable with a small class and so lots more of these can be incorporated into lessons. If a student has a particular learning issue or style, this too will be known to the teacher and accommodations can be made.
At Recognize, our students readily mix with all the others in the school no matter what their age or background. This breeds confidence and maturity as well as a sense of responsibility for others. Students learn to get along with whoever is in their class and they are encouraged to communicate openly with adults and fellow students alike. We think that the opportunity to daily mix with a range of ages, nationalities, view-points and personalities is great training for life.
There is no bullying, no cliques and none of those classroom behaviour or teacher control issues at Recognize. These issues blight so many a classroom, teacher and school. If a student has a problem, then there is the time and opportunity to talk this through and find a solution. The children at Recognize feel valued as individuals and this makes a great difference to their attitude towards study, towards school and towards each other.
For teachers, there are also many benefits of the small-scale approach; which in turn helps the teacher’s ability to help the children.
Teachers are not every night laden with books to mark as they are doing much of their assessment and feedback in the course of the day. They are not exhausted by having to daily deal with challenging behaviours from large groups and they don’t have their focus distracted away from their daily teaching by classroom management issues. Admittedly, they have to work hard to prepare differentiated activities for their students but because of the size of the school, other administration tasks are able to be largely minimised. This allows them the time and energy to do those tasks that are most important for progressing a child’s learning.
Teachers get to know each child extremely well and the reward of seeing the fruits of their labour helps with the sense of job satisfaction and motivation. They keep close communication with parents so that home-life can support what’s going on in school.
At Recognize, teachers are also offered the flexibility to use their professional judgement to decide the best approach for the children in their care. Whilst the structure and content of the curriculum is clearly defined, teachers are encouraged to use their expertise and close knowledge of each child to determine how best to advance each child’s learning. If a teacher wishes to adopt a certain teaching approach for a particular child, or to tackle something pertinent to the day, or to follow a particular line of enquiry, then this is very much encouraged. The teachers are the ones who know their students’ learning needs best and we think that allowing them as much creative freedom as possible is of benefit to all . With 9 children as opposed to 25, it is a whole lot more feasible for that teaching creativity to be unleashed.
The key to all good schools is having good teachers but so often, good teachers can be squashed by the huge demands of large-scale, inflexible institutions. Here at Recognize, we try to do as much as we can to support our staff and to create an environment which will help them do the job they all want to do – teach!
Parents too, get great benefit from our small-scale approach. It is perhaps not in every school that parents are able to have a direct on-going dialogue with class teachers about their child’s work or to be able to pop in at any time to pass on snippets of information. Parents are welcomed at all times into school and we encourage involvement and the sharing of knowledge. At Recognize, we make a point of making sure that all parent concerns are properly listened to, are discussed in detail and then are acted upon in agreement with each other. We consider the education of each child a joint effort and we know that genuine partnerships between school and family can greatly help the learning process.
Most of all, parents wish to see their child happy, doing well with their schoolwork and feeling that their child is known and valued for the special person that they are. At Recognize, we like to think that we do a pretty good job of achieving this. We hope our parents think so too!
If you are a parent of a present or past student at Recognize, we’d love to hear your comments and thoughts about our school. email firstname.lastname@example.org
Key Features of Recognize
- Small class sizes, high academic achievement
- Curriculum grounded in National Curriculum of UK
- Commitment to personalised learning
- Close collaboration with parents
- Flexible curriculum for Upper Secondary students
- Modern, engaging lesson structures
- Academically challenging ethos
- Extended family atmosphere
- Supportive of students of all abilities
- Fees payable in installments
- Integrated use of modern technology
- Adventurous school excursions
- Part-time schooling available