Currently, three BASIS International Schools offer weekday boarding programs: BASIS International School Guangzhou, BASIS International School Nanjing, and BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour. The boarding school environment offers many benefits for students, including increased focus on their academic studies, as well as additional opportunities for social-emotional development and connection. Teachers who choose to participate in the boarding community also find a positive experience through increased connection with their students, and the ability to ensure their students understand the content and are successful in their class.
At BASIS International School Guangzhou, the boarding department has utilized an enrichment initiative called Evening Study Session (ESS), to help facilitate both academic excellence and personal growth. Read more from school leaders, teachers, and staff involved with this program.
From Director of Boarding, Mr. Timothy Glare
When one discusses any good quality boarding program at any school, activities for students in the spare time are, rightly, always mentioned as something that is very important for boarding students. Secondly, a period of time set aside in the evening for them to do their homework is also something that is found in schools where students reside all over the world. However, at BASIS International School Guangzhou, we believe that what we call Evening Study Session (ESS) must be something special. We’ve taken homework time to the next level. It is where learning actually continues in the evening, with a highly standardized structure and clear lines of cooperation between our House Parents and teaching staff in which both the boarding and academics collaborate to focus on which student need what help.
We have a secret–some of our best teachers are the ones who always volunteer to stay for ESS. Because they recognize that this extra time spent with the students in the evening can mean the difference, for some students, between fulfilling their potential and not. One thing is clear in any case, we will never stop our mission to refine our boarding study program!
A total of eight specialized subject teachers sign up for ESS each evening covering Math, English, Physics, Biology, and Chinese on a daily basis. Other subjects have representation one to two times per week. During this time, subject teachers run support classes and provide individual one-on-one academic support for students.
ESS provides boarders with the opportunity to seek academic support from subject teachers every night, from 6:45 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. by attending compulsory Evening Study Session. During this time, House Parents also supervise classes, provide socioemotional and academic support, and thereby broaden their boundaries of pastoral care. The Dean and Director of Boarding also use this time to have one-on-one talks with students to help them cope with the challenges of daily life.
The School Prefects add a new dimension of student support and student-centered learning through the mentor program, whereby they help students twice a week. Prefects select certain subjects where they excel, and mentor their designated buddy. We are firm believers in student led initiatives and the Prefects have embraced these opportunities. They have taken huge steps in spreading school spirit through a friendly manner, which has helped enhance aspects of brotherhood and sisterhood among the boarding students.
Insights from Evening Study Session Leaders and Teachers
From Dean of Boarding, Mr. Gyendra Sooriah
As the Dean of Boarding, I feel like ESS is the most important part of a boarder’s day. It’s in this time that I get to meet and interact with students. It provides the perfect pastoral platform to understand the social, emotional, and academic needs of each and every single boarder. It’s in this time I am able to evaluate student stress levels and academic needs.
Over the past two years, I have developed the ESS programme with Boarding Director Mr. Timothy Glare, adding more and more layers in order to benefit our students. As it stands, we have created a solid foundation with House Parents to care for the pastoral needs of our students, we have specialized academic support for almost every subject on a daily basis, Prefect peer tutoring support along with specialized activities such as soccer, badminton, basketball, as well as art, cooking, baking, and tennis clubs for boarders to join.
We firmly believe that we have created a system of holistic education and we are moving from strength to strength.
From Ms. Charlene Schalkwyk, Director of ELL
The partnership between English Language Learning (ELL) and the dormitory staff is a long and close one characterized by continuous collaboration. In line with our school’s equity position, we are working hard to provide our dormitory students the same ELL support as non-boarders may receive at home. Apart from a 20-minute mandatory reading in LightSail, the school’s online reading program, we have ensured that our students have access to two teachers with expertise and experience in providing language support. We are awaiting the reading results and overall impact of the daily reading activities with high expectations, since research has unequivocally proven the benefits of this practice. We are constantly encouraging them to seek out the assistance of ELL teachers every evening.
From Mr. Dilon Robben, Upper-School Biology Teacher
What does ESS mean to me? I am a very social being at heart, and thus I love to communicate with others. ESS has been an opportunity for me to do exactly this both on a professional and a personal level.
When I first heard about ESS, I thought it was another place to babysit students after hours, but after a year and a half of it, I have come to see it as so much more, and even reject my initial thoughts about it now. ESS is a time I get to help my students on an individual level, or in small group scenarios. It’s the time I can spend with learners that I am not always able to afford them in a normal, busy classroom environment. It allows me to help them at their own pace and without the looming pressures of their next class hastily approaching.
It is also my time to connect with my students outside of the curriculum too. At many schools I have previously taught at, it is difficult to see students being themselves, away from your subject curriculum. I believe that ESS has allowed me to get to know my students on a more personal level and this has allowed me to be a better teacher to them and to empathize more with them. We get to tell jokes and just have a good time while learning and doing homework.
My students and I always laugh when I tell them: “I care about you, even though the surveys are done!”
I believe ESS is doing more than just giving boarders a chance to do homework with expert eyes there to assist them when they need it. It is also important as it helps the students to grow stronger interpersonal skills without being told to practice their interpersonal skills, which would probably just make them more awkward by default. I thoroughly enjoy my ESS time with my students and I feel I get a lot out of it as well. I even manage to pick up some Chinese phrases for when I go to the grocery store, haha!
From Ms. Vicky Kuang, Middle and Upper-School Mathematics Expert
I have been helping our students from different grade levels with their Math questions at ESS since last September. I was still getting to know the school and my students at that time. I find that some of our boarders need extra support in terms of their academic study. I always make myself available every Wednesday night to go through and revise some key concepts from our classwork as well as answer our students’ questions. I also helped our Pre-Comp students with preparing and clarifying queries for their Math exams. I truly believe our students will achieve a high level of outcomes with their subject teachers’ help and support. I am glad to see most of my students have improved a lot from ESS.
From Mr. Simon Cai, Senior House Parent
As a House Parent in a Grade 9 class during ESS, it’s imperative to provide support and help for them when they have such a demanding curriculum. From time to time, I am able to help them in Algebra and Chemistry. Instead of providing the answers, I ask them how they understand the question and then guide them to solve the question step by step. Moreover, I also encoruage them to think beyond the boundaries of subjects and see how they relate to each other in a real-world problem-solving context. It also gives me the opportunity to find out more about their lives and interactions within boarding.
Due to the comprehensive pastoral and academic support we provide in our boarding program, students have the opportunity to work with teachers who already know their strengths and weaknesses, offering a more targeted approach to home and project work. We believe that this embodies the ethos and culture of the BASIS International School Guangzhou pastoral and academic experience.
Continued Boarding Program Development
As boarding programs at all of our schools continue to develop, so do opportunities for teachers and school leaders to be a part of shaping this unique aspect of our students’ school experience. Boarding provides opportunities to deepen connections within the school community, and at our schools which offer weekday boarding, we definitely find this to be true!
BASIS International School Nanjing is currently seeking a Boarding Director to begin with the 2021-22 school year. Visit our careers website for more information and to apply online.
Learn more about career opportunities with BASIS International Schools on our careers website.