Georgina Benison –
Muscat English Speaking School, as the British School was first known, opened in 1971 in the house of the BP Manager in Riyam, Muttrah with one qualified teacher and three children. Shortly after, it moved to the renovated old Consulate Club belonging to the British Embassy with five pupils. In 1972 the school moved again to a new site in Darsait with three classrooms and thirty three children on the roll.
Later that year the school received its first visit from Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Schools to ensure it was developing in line with best British practice. His Majesty Sultan Qaboos graciously granted the school a Royal Charter on May 3rd 1973, and since then the school has been able to welcome students from many different countries.
In 1974 the Muscat English Speaking School had an enrolment of 60 children, increasingly rapidly to 190 pupils in 1975. That year a decision was made to build a school on the current site in Madinat Sultan Qaboos on land generously made available by the Government of Oman. In 1978 the numbers grew to 257 children in fourteen classes, achieving 591 students in twenty-one classrooms by 1984.
Fast forward to 2018 when pupils of primary and secondary schools on one campus has reached an enrolment number of 1165. The British School Muscat is the only not-for-profit British school in Muscat, which provides a comprehensive education to English-speaking expatriate students aged three to eighteen years old. The school follows an enhanced version of the English National curriculum (including IGCSE) with the motto, “British Education, International Future”.
Walking onto the newly renovated and expanded site in 2019 it is hard not to be impressed by the facilities provided for the young millennials. The current Principal, Kai Vacher, was proud to announce, “The British School Muscat (BSM) is delighted to have been recognised by winning the award for British International School of the Year”.
The award is part of the Independent Schools of the Year awards run by the ‘Independent School Parent’; a top UK magazine for parents. ‘Independent Schools of the Year 2018’ is an awards scheme designed to give schools the chance to tell their stories and celebrate their strengths. It is a platform to showcase their success stories, celebrate the student experiences they provide and acknowledge their contribution to wider society.
The award was won for British School Muscat (BSM)’s ‘Learning Ethos’. In 2014 BSM’s then new Principal asked the following questions: “How do we develop and nurture students who are best for this rapidly changing world, to help them develop the skills and attitudes they need to steer our world to a brighter future?” and “How do we prepare students for jobs that don’t yet exist?”. “Should schools rely on inspection frameworks, examination criteria, government directives, education gurus or business leaders to provide the answers? Or could schools, given the right support and inspiration, find a way to future-proof our students, so that they are the “best for the world” ahead of them?”
Vacher firmly believes that schools should provide the educational vision for learners who can be “best for the world” and BSM has developed its ‘Learning Ethos’ to support this.
The ‘Learning Ethos’ underpins everything within the school. It encourages students to be ‘Secure Individuals’ (Confident, Risk takers and Responsible), ‘Resourceful Learners’ (Motivated, Curious, Creative, Resilient and Reflective) and ‘Respectful Contributors’ (Open minded, Collaborative, Community minded).
The BSM ‘Learning Ethos’ is now the foundation for all the work throughout the school — on teaching, learning, curriculum and assessment. BSM’s Learning Ethos’ displays are all over the school, it became the rationale for their outdoor education programme and now it is driving the redesign of the curriculum and learning; students are exposed to the ethos as part of daily life.
Given BSM’s track record over the past forty-eight years, there can be little doubt that the school will go on developing its strengths, and building on the recognition afforded by this prestigious award for years to come.