Senior School News

Service Learning as Part of the Curriculum

Service Learning is a core part of the curriculum at BSM, which is why we dedicate specific time for this during the academic year. We believe that service work provides important learning experiences for your children, as well as helping to benefit the communities they serve.

Following feedback from the communities we work with and from BSM students, we have moved our service learning days to January this year. The timing is better for the projects we work with and the weather is more conducive for work that is often either based outside or in buildings that don’t have any air-conditioning. Students in Years 7-10 and Year 12 have all been involved in Service Learning activities this week, while Years 11 and 13 have been completing Mock Examinations. Service learning work for some students has involved a residential component, with day visits for others, with time allocated for reflection. Students in Years 7-10 having been working on projects selected for them, ensuring continuity of support for communities we have been working with over a number of years. Year 12 have been much more independent with their work, connecting and collaborating in small groups with different communities and projects.

Service Learning is an important part of our curriculum at BSM for a range of reasons. Firstly, it takes students out of their familiar environment within Manila. Students attending BSM have socio-economic advantages that people in other areas of Manila and the wider world do not have. By engaging with projects in the wider community students are confronted with these disparities and forced to consider why these may occur. Many of our students will go on to be extremely influential and successful in the various careers they intend to pursue and will have the opportunity to influence the shape of politics and policies within the future. This knowledge of disparity issues on a local scale can help them understand the complex issues contributing to the wider community and help them become a positive force for change within the Philippines or in other countries they may eventually be located in.

All year groups at BSM are paired with Service Learning projects. This has given students the opportunity to develop stronger links with the projects they have been partnered with; helping them to consider long-term impacts of their actions and the variety of ways they can be a positive force for change. We hope that as they move through BSM this will become a strong passion for them and will lay the foundations for the way they consider philanthropic activities throughout adulthood. We hope that these experiences will shape our students into people who will contribute back to those less fortunate than them in later life and will consider the impact that their actions have on the wider world around them.

Furthermore, Service Learning provides students with the opportunity to develop a wide range of different skills. Students have been running activities with / for their service partners throughout the first term and the projects they have worked on this week of term will enable them to complete work over a short period of time that we hope will have a lasting impact. We will be looking at ways to ensure that students maintain the connection with and support for the communities they have been working with throughout the remainder of the academic year. The process of planning an event from start to finish helps them develop different Learning Power skills. Working collaboratively with others, demonstrating leadership, communicating effectively with others, questioning the value and purpose of the activities they are running and reflecting on the impact of their work, are all important life skills. Research shows that students are much more engaged in their learning when learning is linked to real life issues and authentic problems.

Finally, Service Learning forces students out of their comfort zone. They have to consider uncomfortable issues and through the various activities may be challenged physically and emotionally. Some activities may involve building projects, which can be slow and frustrating work, especially when all elements are being completed manually. Other activities involve working within communities where they may be confronted with extreme poverty and / or severe special needs. Learning to emotionally engage and manage this can be a challenge for our students, again pushing many of them outside the confines of their normal world.

Our Service Learning programme runs from Nursery through to IB. Over the course of their time at BSM, students have the opportunity to engage with a range of different Service Learning opportunities, giving them the chance to work with different parts of the wider community in Manila. The Service Learning programme is scaffolded to facilitate greater levels of independence as students move through the school, with IB students identifying, developing and leading their own service learning projects.

As we consider Service Learning at BSM, it is important that we recognise the fantastic work that Emma Denton has done to support our work in this area throughout the year. She has mobilised a team of teachers, support staff, parents and students to help organise a range of fundraising activities, connected with service learning partners and set up projects for our Service Learning Week. Thanks, must also go to the teachers who are leading the service learning projects, for the additional time they have put into completing risk assessments, planning activities and ensuring that these will be meaningful experiences for our students, whilst making a positive contribution to the communities they will be working with. In addition to this, thanks must go to Mathilde Mouquet who, along with the IB team, have provided a clear vision for the development of service learning through Bayanihan projects with Year 12 students; the quality of work and levels of independence shown by our Year 12 students with this work has been extremely impressive. Finally, huge thanks must go to our support staff who prepare key materials needed for the week, carry out key preliminary work, work alongside students during the week and complete elements that require technical expertise. We look forward to building on this work throughout the remaining part of this academic year.

We believe that Service Learning is a key component of our curriculum at BSM and ask you to support your child with this element of their learning. Please talk to them about the projects they have been engaged with, the challenges they faced during their service learning work this week and the lessons they have learnt from these experiences.

Next week is Week B.

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