• Convenient location with local amenities
• A strongly branded Nord Anglia school
• Modern, well-maintained vertical campus
Appearances can be deceptive, and what looks like a smaller and older school from the outside will surprise you with its modern, large interior.
The school has one multi-storey building, with the top two floors dedicated to secondary and specialist classrooms. It is built around a ground-floor central play area – known affectionately as the Panda playground – for the younger students, complete with climbing equipment and activity stations. The older students can use the two sports courts that are located just a five-minute walk from the school.
NAIS says: “I think it’s like a tardis here. When you walk in, you see how vibrant it is, you see the children, and you see that there’s so much going on.”
Walk into the reception of NAIS, and you instantly know you’re in a Nord Anglia school. There’s the signature turquoise and black branding; dynamic messages about “creating intellectually confident learners”, “developing socially confident global citizens” and “treating each child as an individual”; and children wearing the standard international uniform.
Read our review of NAIS here.
Located in Kowloon, NAIS is surrounded by residential towers and is next to Tak Tin shopping plaza and Lam Tin country park shopping centre. The Lam Tin MTR station is just across the road. As we arrived at the school at the end of the lunch break, we passed senior students walking back to campus with takeaway food from the nearby cafes, and a group of children being escorted by teachers across the road after playing at the nearby sports courts. NAIS may have only been open for four years, but it certainly feels like a part of the local community.
• New makerspace for STEAM and MIT projects
• Colourful displays of student work and school-wide projects
• Plenty of engaging learning environments with plenty of positive messages
From top to bottom, NAIS has made use of every inch in this fully-renovated 80,000 sq ft vertical campus. It is a cheerful, well-lit school where the children we saw were happy, learning and fully-engaged. The classrooms feature a variety of age-appropriate learning walls, themed displays and high frequency words, which all makes for a very stimulating learning environment. The rooms are well-equipped with learning resources and technology including interactive smartboards and iPads. Children work in small groups around square and round tables, and although the rooms are not massive, they feel spacious enough for the classes of up 24 students.
We saw a wide variety of lessons in progress across all year groups. As we walked along the school corridors, we saw students working on iPads, writing in traditional textbooks, seated around desks, gathered in groups on the floor, plenty of raised hands to answer questions, and lots of student interaction. It was interesting to see how students are often given the choice to work on tasks that are divided into hard, harder and hardest here, which fits in with the school’s decision not to group students by ability for subjects such as English and maths.
NAIS says: “We don’t have easy, medium and hard. Most students will always want to go for the hardest!”
During our visit, we watched Year 5 students perform Charge of the Light Brigade by Tennyson. What stood out here was the confidence of the students, who were left to perform a well-planned and rehearsed performance unaided by the teacher. As one of the teachers said at the event, “the children are our biggest advocates”.
NAIS says: “We work so hard to develop their confidence. They’re risk-takers, and that’s the teachers as much as the students. The students were out there and the teachers held back.”
There are specialist rooms for music, art, drama, ICT and science, which are all spacious and well-equipped for each subject; these rooms have also been updated to meet the needs of the recently introduced IGCSE programme and they may need to be enhanced further once Years 12-13 open and the IBDP is launched. We were particularly impressed by the Juilliard keyboard lab, which supports NAIS strong music programme, and a new makerspace, which is a very interactive, creative and fun area within the school.
The specialist teachers work at all three campuses in the NAIS group – including the pre-schools in Tai Tam and Sai Kung – so students in all year groups are familiar with them as they move up the school from nursery onwards.
NAIS says: “We are one school with three campuses, not three different schools. There’s a close connection between the three sites.”
Other specialist areas include a large library; a rooftop play area with an artificial grass area, climbing wall, and sports court; a swimming pool; and a large multipurpose hall.
NAIS says: “There’s an equal emphasis on the arts, sport and sciences here. We don’t focus more heavily on one more than the other.”
NAIS offers the Juilliard music programme, which gives all students the opportunity to learn the keyboard, ukulele, trombone and violin. During our tour, we saw Year 3 students learning the ukulele and Year 7 students working with keyboards and Macs to compose a piece of music. Next door to the music classrooms, there are individual practice rooms where students can have 1:1 lessons both during and after school. As part of the Julliard collaboration, the school has had musicians including the flutist Jasmine Choi visit the school to host workshops and performances.
NAIS says: “During a performance by Jasmine Choi, two of our students were mesmerised by her playing. They then took up playing an instrument and continue to play to this day. That’s the kind of difference this collaboration with Julliard can make.”
To support the school’s collaboration with MIT, the campus has a new makerspace equipped with various technology ranging from Bee-Bots and a green screen to VR headsets and 3D printers. It really feels like a hub for problem solving, creativity and collaboration, with everything from a Lego wall to workbenches and peg boards filled with tools.
NAIS says: “The teacher will come in here and say this is the outcome we want – go make it happen!”
The makerspace is used by all year groups for a wide variety of lessons, and to support MIT projects that are shared across the Nord Anglia group. Every year, the school runs a competition for three students to win the opportunity to visit the Nord Anglia STEAM Fair at MIT in the US, and has seen winners from Years 7, 8 and 9 come up with ideas as varied and ambitious as creating a water filtration system and a mug that changes colour with humidity. We were lucky enough to meet one of the winners during our walk through the school, who described her time in the US as "an incredible experience".
The school focuses on many ways to bring its large community of students together. For example, during our visit, all year groups were working on superhero-themed projects. This ranged from painting their own superhero in Year 1 through to inventing a costume or gadget for a superhero as part of a STEAM project. Another example of school-wide learning here is the recent flight project.
NAIS says: “How do you make the future of flight interesting to three, four and five-year-olds? Well, the principal Brian Cooklin dressed up as a pilot, parents who are pilots came into the school, and the children built planes out of recycled trash. Year 5 learnt about velocity and how planes take off, and Year 9 were designing the airline uniforms.”
While NAIS has more than 800 students at its Lam Tin campus, you can feel that there is a close-knit community building here. Part of this can be attributed to the school’s vertical house system with mixed tutor groups from all year groups; these houses are named after British castles which is a touching nod to the Britishness of this school.
NAIS says: “It’s not just about sport and coming first. We can give out house points to a student who is being kind or has made really good progress in a subject, for example.”
There are displays of student work on every wall, in every corridor, and NAIS really celebrates the children’s achievements and learning. There are also some serious messages displayed across the campus, from vision statements through to the promotion of internet safety. And, at the heart of the school, is the Wall of All, which is a display of hand-painted tiles by every student.
NAIS says: “Every single child created a tile of their own choice to create this Wall of All, which captures the ethos of the school perfectly. We’ve promised to treat each child as an individual, and to teach them in a safe, caring and happy environment – and we are delivering on this promise.”
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