The Grange Institution: Meet The Head

Principal Jennifer Worthington reveals how and why one of Singapore’s most affordable primary schools is taking a very creative approach to education.
The Grange Institution: Meet The Head
By Carli Allan
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Describing itself as a small school with big aspirations, The Grange Institution opened its doors to students in August. This standalone primary school in the north east region has become a talking point for several reasons, including its focus on creativity and outdoor learning, being one of the few schools in Singapore to offer the Cambridge primary curriculum, and its fees of less than $16,000 per year.

Offering parents an alternative to the many large, state-of-the-art campuses in Singapore, The Grange is proud of its village-like atmosphere and creative curriculum. And with  annual, all-inclusive fees of $15,840 – which is also most half of most international school fees – this newcomer is certainly delivering a more affordable education.

Steering the school into its first year is director of schools Ronald Stones OBE, who previously led three international schools in South East Asia, including Tanglin Trust School. And at the helm is principal Jennifer Worthington, who brings her experience working in Australia and Switzerland to the role.

Just a few weeks into the first term, spoke to Worthington about what children can expect in the classroom at The Grange.

The Grange has opened with the promise of offering a ‘small is big’ approach to primary education. How does your curriculum deliver this?

We are a small community of learners, which provides the unique opportunity for all students to know all staff and all staff to know all students. Building on the belief that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, each staff member in our school community plays a vital role in the social/emotional and academic development of our students.

As part of our focus on developing international-minded students, we have embedded the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals across our curriculum. Also, our approach to the delivery of the curriculum – and our special projects known as Student Transdisciplinary Experiential Projects (STEP) – all ensure that The Grange is an amazing place to learn and a place where creativity flourishes.

Read our review of The Grange here.

The STEP Project is unique to The Grange. How does it enhance the learning offered by the Cambridge primary curriculum?

STEP currently encompasses three projects; Garden to Table, Creators in Residence and Creative Expressions. Each is designed to inspire our young learners, nurture their creativity and take their learning beyond the traditional context of classroom learning. Through these projects the students are provided with opportunities to interact with creators and professionals who help inspire them to solve problems, make connections and express their ideas and feeling though original works and projects. Our UNICEF modelled Garden-to-Table project also ‘switches on’ students’ appreciation of the natural world and the relationship and interconnectedness between humans and nature.

Why is creativity so important to a child’s education?

The importance of creativity in a child’s education cannot be under estimated. In an ever-changing world our students need a new set of key skills to be successful and these include creativity, flexibility emotional intelligence, team work and collaboration. These skills need to be cultivated and nurtured in a child’s education.

How is outdoor learning integrated into your curriculum?

The Grange offers a very hands-on approach where students are afforded the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills in a practical manner. This is evident in the Garden to Table project where students need to utilise and draw on their maths, science, visual art and literacy skills to design and develop their community garden. Students are also involved in outdoor games and physical education activities along with experiential play. The Grange promotes ‘free play’ where students design their own games and relevant rules through a process of collaboration with others.

How can you offer an affordable international education without compromising on the quality of teaching and learning?

We are a boutique school with adequate resources which our experienced teachers are able to fully utilise for the benefit of our students. A family-like environment is very important to the children in their growing years. We trust parents are aware that it’s more important how the facilities are utilised and what are the ongoing benefits for their children in their learning journey.

What do you bring to the school as the principal?

I bring a focus on the individual and collective development of each and every student, which I think should be the primary task of every school principal. I have an extensive background in teaching and educational leadership experience in both Australian and international schools in both South East Asia and Europe. This has equipped me with a global appreciation and perspective of education.

Along with my passion for learning and international background in education, I am hopeful that members of our Grange community will become international minded citizens with a love for lifelong learning and be able to take responsibility for shaping a better world.

And finally! What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

When setting up a new school, ‘spare time’ is a rare commodity. In the time that I do have, along with my husband, I enjoy travelling and learning about other cultures and also exploring the treasures that Singapore offers. The blend of cultures, abundant choices of cuisines from around the world and the beautiful parks and gardens offers an endless supply of choice for spending one’s spare time. We love Singapore.

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