In a series of experiments, researchers from the likes of Columbia and MIT grouped participants in a classroom-like situation. Each received information and a task to calculate accurate prices for simulated stocks. They also got to use real money to buy and sell those stocks with each other, keeping any profit. Each group was either homogeneous or included at least one participant of another ethnicity or race.
What they found was compelling. The diverse group’s answers were 58 percent more accurate. When participants interacted in diverse groups, their performance improved. The opposite happened in homogeneous groups. “When surrounded by others of the same ethnicity or race, participants were more likely to copy others, in the wrong direction. Mistakes spread as participants seemingly put undue trust in others’ answers, mindlessly imitating them,” the researchers explained. When placed among people of different ethnicities and locales, participants were more mindful of wrong and right answers. “Diversity brought cognitive friction that enhanced deliberation,” researchers wrote.
The above is not the sole perk of diversity. By providing a variety of skills and a wider talent pool — in stable social environments — it leads to a “productivity dividend,” higher wages, product and process innovation, as well as creativity and problem solving.
British international schools in Asia are beacons in this aspect. Walk through their campuses and it’s not uncommon to see over 50 nationalities represented, with the majority of faculty often recruited from the UK and beyond. They form more than just a multicultural community on campus — with better performance, in and beyond the classroom, graduates gain the hard and soft skills so requisite in today’s hyper-competitive world. Many progress to some of the most illustrious universities in the world.
Coupled with a comprehensive British education, these schools provide a potent combination to success. Often characterised as “broad and balanced,” the English National Curriculum provides the full breadth of subjects that are needed to help them develop into well-rounded citizens of the future. Universities and recruiters hold it in high regard as it encompasses skills that employers are seeking, such as leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, global awareness, digital literacy, breadth of thinking and creativity. Here are four British international schools in Asia merging this pedagogy and diversity to successful ends:
Tanglin Trust School
British-based curriculum tailored to Singapore, multiple pathways to university, over 95 years experience, a campus with 50 nationalities represented, not-for-profit, outstanding exam and placement results — these are the features that set Tanglin Trust School students for success in school, university and beyond.
Established in 1925, it is the oldest British international school in South East Asia, providing the English National Curriculum with an international perspective to children from three to 18 years old in Singapore. Its location amidst a tech hub, and the heritage and nature areas of Rochester Park and Wessex Estate, reflects the kind of education that takes place within campus: established, holistic and future-forward.
Here, sixth form pupils can choose the best pathway for them — Tanglin is the only international school in Singapore to offer both A Levels and the IB. Beyond the classroom, they make lasting friendships that cut across cultures, enhance physical prowess and harness lifelong skills through the many arts, sports, outdoor education and co-curricular activities offered here. There are over 140 teams competing in 17 different sports each year at home and abroad. Nearly one in four pupils participate in a music co-curricular activity, with high-quality ensembles, recitals, performances and exhibitions taking place throughout the year. Outdoor education trips — there are 80, including the International Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Award, and the Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) programme — further develop the initiative, adaptability, and leadership skills of students here.
The results of all these? Excellence. Tanglin students consistently outperform Singapore and global averages in exams. Around 95% of graduates are accepted to their first or second choice university, which are among the best in the world. As a not-for-profit school, tuition fees are dedicated to continuing this tradition of excellence. To learn more about this Top 20 IB School globally, judged to be “outstanding” by the British Schools Overseas (BSO) framework, click here.
Nord Anglia International School Hong Kong (NAIS HK)
NAIS HK boasts an outstanding Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (EYFS) curriculum, tailored to meet the needs of an international environment. This premier private school has two beautiful early year campuses in Tai Tam and Sai Kung, with a third campus for children from Year 2 through to Year 13 in Lam Tin.
Once enrolled in NAIS HK’s preschool, students can progress through to the Primary School Curriculum, the Secondary School Curriculum/IGCSE and on to the IB Diploma Programme. The Lam Tin campus caters to the school’s primary and secondary students. Both educational levels are based on the English National Curriculum, which is used by over 30,000 international schools in the UK and abroad. “Our pupils will benefit from the academic excellence and rigour of the English National Curriculum, which we adapt to the needs of our international student body. Our teaching philosophy inspires academic success and develops socially and intellectually confident children,” said Principal Brian Cooklin.
The best aspects of this rigorous framework is adapted to local demands. This makes it relevant for children growing up in Hong Kong and contributes towards developing them into global citizens. As students progress and take on subjects that increase in difficulty, Year 7 to 11 students in NAIS HK’s secondary school benefit from having specialist teachers who tailor their subjects to take into account the student population and the local environment, in addition to cultivating students with the skills needed to thrive in the globalised economy.
At NAIS HK, a wide breadth of subjects is offered, including Art & Design, Computing, Drama, English, English as an Additional Language (EAL), Geography, History, Mandarin, Mathematics, Music, PE, Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHEE), Science and Spanish. Various extra-curricular activities are available, as are day and residential trips to enhance their learning.
Jerudong International School, Brunei (JIS)
When JIS welcomes new students, educators take the extra step to know their backgrounds well. Whether they are Bruneians from local schools who are not used to the expectations and norms of an international school, or students for whom English is not their first language, all are supported to make it as seamless a transition as possible.
Located in the idyllic and peaceful Bandar Seri Begawan, JIS is bolstered by more than just its enviable location. It’s a British international school that sets the foundation for success early. At this co-educational boarding and day school in Brunei, pupils from ages two to 18 are taught by qualified teachers recruited primarily from the UK. Curriculum is challenging, so as to ensure that students who will continue to progress to world-leading universities.
Founded in 1997, the JIS student profile lists six key aims: Engagement, Leadership, Communication, Thinking, Resilience and Integration. When a student accomplishes something in alignment with one of these aims, they are awarded with a Polio Point. Each earned point donates US$1 to UNICEF’s fight against Polio.
At JIS, student development starts early and the end goal is to raise 21st century leaders with heart in a vibrant environment that nurtures independent, confident learners. With numerous opportunities from Junior School up to Senior School, JIS students can have the space and support to grow, setting the pathway for them to become leaders of tomorrow.
Bangkok Patana School
Bangkok Patana School is the oldest British international school in Thailand. It is established and experienced, offering teaching, support and opportunities that are innovative and modern.
Its faculty comprises talent recruited from the UK or other British international schools. These qualified and experienced teachers provide students with the best intellectual, physical and social preparation they need in order to take on future challenges. Just under one third of them have completed their master’s degrees, and a few others hold doctorate degrees.
The school’s “Flipped Learning” approach puts students in the driver seat. Instead of the one-way approach of teachers telling students what they need to know, it gets students to be more active in their learning. Students are provided with tasks and materials and they then proceed to independently plan and deliver accordingly. This approach allows students to develop their critical thinking skills, find out which methods suit them best, and improve how they digest information.
They can access video content and other materials at their own pace: pausing to reflect, rewinding to reinforce. “Flipped Learning provides students with predictable, manageable, achievable and valuable Home Learning, leading to lessons which are immediately engaging and challenging,” says John Burrell, Secondary School Biology teacher. This method has led to more insightful discussions, sparked inquisitive questions, and essentially accelerated student progress in an overall supportive and innovative environment — all the makings of a school firmly focused on the future.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International