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02 August 2018

The importance of art as a lifelong skill

Published by Darrell Long
Renovation-and-refit-projects

Pablo Picasso once famously said: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” In fact, many famous artists began demonstrating their talent at an early age. Salvador Dalí completed what is thought to be one of his first paintings, Landscape Near Figueras, between the ages of 6 and 10. And Michelangelo painted the impressive The Torment of Saint Anthony at the age of 12 or 13.

Clearly, when it comes to art, age is just a number. Encouraging young children to explore their artistic creativity can be incredibly beneficial, giving them a sense of accomplishment and helping them develop lifelong skills that will be useful regardless of what path they choose in life.

Exercise their creative muscles

When children are given paint and paper, it isn’t just a means of keeping them occupied for a while. Throughout the school day they are required to work on subjects that are mostly clear and exact in nature. Mathematical problems always have a singular answer and a correct way to arrive at it. Spelling is either correct or it isn’t. The plot of a story they’re assigned to read is set in stone. But art has no limitations and allows children to truly express themselves and – quite literally – draw outside of the lines. They can be as creative as their imagination drives them to be, and it’s important to encourage that. So much of education is black and white – art allows children to explore a full and vibrant palate through painting and drawing, and they can do what they please.

Insights into how they see the world

Giving children the freedom to freely create art as ideas flow from their mind through their fingers and onto paper is an excellent way to get a glimpse of how they see the world and what is going on in their lives. Do you notice any recurring themes among their drawings? Do their paintings make heavy use of certain colors over others? Paying attention to the subjects of their art will reveal what is important to them, what fears they might have, what makes them happy and even how they feel about life at school and at home. You can then take that and have a discussion with them. Their world is much bigger to them than you might imagine, and their art can help you see what that looks like.

Art can affect a child’s overall academic performance

A study conducted by Americans for the Arts found that children who participate in the arts on a regular basis are more likely to excel in academic achievement – in all areas of their education. This is because art aids in language development (through discussing their “works” and also taking the words they know and transforming them into images) as well as inventiveness and visual learning. What may look like scribbles or a messy finger painting disaster can actually help guide your children toward academic success, both now and in the future. And at the Australian International School in Singapore, we encourage students to be as creative as possible.

Learning skills that will last a lifetime

The skills a child learns through art can last a lifetime and guide them toward academic achievement, personal growth and improved communication skills. Art can foster their creativity and help them discover and refine talents they didn’t know they had. They can take pride in the work that they produce – what child doesn’t immediately smile when a parent hangs his or her drawing on the refrigerator? Art can also teach children the importance of perseverance. If they aren’t happy with what they are painting or drawing, they can learn to keep trying to make it just the way they want it or start from scratch to get it “just right”, similar to how everyone must learn to adapt to various situations throughout life.

With the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects becoming increasingly important – and with good cause – it's important to also understand the role of creative art in a child’s education. After all, what would an architect or engineer be without an eye for design?

And of course, don’t forget to save their little “masterpieces” – they’re certain to be some of your most valuable and nostalgic possessions one day.

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25 July 2018

Why Playing Sports is So Important For Your Children

Published by Darrell Long
Renovation-and-refit-projects

Sport is a powerful tool for children in a multitude of different ways. It has a positive impact on their physical and mental wellbeing, breaks down barriers in schools, brings people together, and allows them to express themselves, have fun and achieve great things. Sport is an invaluable platform that can complement their traditional education and empower them to learn, develop and grow in the right way. There are so many different sports to pursue too. There truly is something for everyone!

How Does AIS Approach Sports in School?

The Australian International School in Singapore provides children with the opportunity to play for 100 competitive teams in a range of sports. Children can learn to swim from just two years of age with our Austswim certified instructors and as they progress through Elementary and Secondary school they will have the opportunity to take part in a variety of different sports, at recreational or competitive level. Children who show a particular aptitude and passion for competitive sport are able to take part in the school's elite Athlete Development Program, where they will have access to expert coaches, training facilities and nutritional advice. At AIS, sport is a force for good at all levels, for both girls and boys, and everyone has the capacity to be successful.

What are the major benefits?

Fair play

Sports will help your child to develop positive character traits from a very early age. Whether your child is playing cricket, soccer or rugby, they will learn the rules of fair play and working together as a team, which will shape their moral principles. Children who actively engage in sports can also inspire friends and other people to take up different games.

Friendships

Sport is particularly useful at integrating a child into school life and making them feel a part of something bigger. This is because sport allows them to create lasting friendships that may otherwise not have been possible. A school environment centered around positive, healthy student participation in sport can also reduce instances of bullying.

Growth

Sport can help a child grow in a number of ways, not only physically but as a person. They will have to talk and engage with a range of different people, from teachers and coaches to teammates and opposing players. There will be times when they have to deal with more difficult situations, such as losing a vital match, and these experiences will give them a new perspective on things and a deeper understanding of their own and other people’s emotions. Learning from success and failure will also give them motivation to improve.

Learning environment

Active kids do better in school. Various studies suggest there is a positive correlation between a child who plays sport and their academic performance. While it is no guarantee, sport generally serves as an excellent learning environment for children.

“Children learn by participating in sports, learning rules, and learning to act appropriately in a social environment,” VU University senior researcher, Amika Singh says.

She adds: “And that translates into the classroom, where children who are physically active may adhere better to classroom rules and get along better with teachers and classmates. So academic performance may just be the short term benefit of exercise; there are a whole range of social and behavioral benefits that go beyond grades as well.”

Reduce stress

There has been a spike in anxiety and stress among adolescents in recent years and sport is a great reliever of these issues. Sports experiences not only build a child's self-esteem but can help them to channel their emotions and energies in an effective way. This is very important for children of all ages and can be a key combatant against aggressive outbursts, conflict and juvenile delinquency. Sport keeps the body healthy and the mind strong and clear.

What can I do as a parent?

Parents can aid the development of their children through sport by encouraging them to participate and being positive about their performance. It is important not to set out unrealistic expectations or to push them hard to achieve certain goals from an early age as this can work against the many benefits sports provides. During preschool, focus your efforts on introducing them to sport so they can get used to it and start enjoying it as a part of their everyday lives.

International schools in Singapore will give your child the opportunity to experience a variety of outdoor pursuits. Australia has a rich tradition in sport and your child will have the opportunity to become the very best they can be.

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18 July 2018

Great ideas to fit family time into your busy schedule!

Published by Darrell Long
Renovation-and-refit-projects

Modern life can make it inherently difficult for your family to find time to spend together. Juggling jobs, school, extracurricular activities and various social obligations can take a toll on your relationship with your children. However, with a bit of ingenuity and dedication to making it work, there are plenty of ways in which you can fit family time – quality family time – into your hectic schedule.

Maximise the time you do have

Regardless of how busy your children’s and your lives may be, everyone has a few minutes or perhaps even an hour of downtime here and there throughout the day. Consider paying closer attention to how you use that downtime and you might discover that you can turn it into quality family time.

Take a look at your family’s weekly schedule and pinpoint where your moments of downtime overlap. Using a few minutes to check in with one another and have genuine conversations will help you maintain your bond as a family – and it’s a much better use of your downtime than flicking through TV channels or thumbing through an entertainment magazine.

Enjoy the little moments

There might be times when your family is together but you aren’t truly engaging with one another. For example, if you drive your child to and from school or their extracurricular activities, you might be spending that time listening to the news on the radio while he or she sits in the backseat with a set of headphones blasting at full volume. Instead of tuning out, turn down the noise and use the time to connect with one another. Ask a few questions about what’s going on in their lives, talk about any family holidays you have coming up, and enjoy a few laughs together. Using those brief and seemingly insignificant moments to the fullest will help you stay connected despite frenzied schedules.

Minimize screen time

While computers, tablets and smartphones have brought ease into our lives and put a world of information at our fingertips, they have also become a burdensome distraction. How many times have you been at a restaurant and seen an entire family disengaged from one another because their eyes are all attached to their phones? It is a saddening reality, but it’s one which you need not fall prey.

Your children in particular may balk at the idea – and indeed, it might even be difficult for you as a parent – but setting limits on screen time can help increase the amount of family time you’re able to spend together. If your schedules allow you to eat dinner together, even if it’s just a few times a week, consider making the dinner table a “no screen zone”. You might also consider instituting a rule setting parameters for the times of day when screens are and are not allowed.

Obviously, being online is often necessary for both work and school, including at the Australian International School. And social media has become an indelible part of life. But putting limits on screen time might be one of the best ways to ensure that when you’re together as a family you’re making the most of that time.

Make time even when it seems there isn’t any

If your family’s schedules have left you feeling overwhelmed and you can’t seem to find a single moment to spend together, it might be time to prioritize. In an effort to help you stay close as a family, you could consider making a few sacrifices. This could mean working from home in the evening instead of staying late at the office so you can at least squeeze in dinner with your children. If your child has a busy social life, you might ask him or her to skip an outing or two so you can reconnect. And the simple act of making an effort to be there for things like your children’s sporting activities and performances will show them that you care and want to be involved in their lives. Making time when it’s a precious commodity can be a challenge but the payoff is more than worth the sacrifice.

Quality over quantity

All things considered, it’s important to remember that the quality of the time you spend together is more important than the amount of time you have together. We at the Australian International School believe that family time is priceless. Simply do your best to make the most of it when and where you can.

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10 July 2018

The forgotten art of pen pals! Why they are important

Published by Darrell Long
Renovation-and-refit-projects

Living far apart from your friends and family can be an exciting adventure, but it can also leave you feeling a bit homesick and missing your loved ones. If you’re a parent with a child who is living and studying abroad, you’ll experience similar feelings. In an age when communication has increasingly taken the form of “likes” or the briefest of comments on social media, the forgotten art of pen pals is a fun and meaningful way to stay connected across the miles, as well as to meet new friends.

What is a pen pal?

A pen pal is someone to whom you regularly write, traditionally by postal mail, though emails are also an option. Writing thoughtful letters or emails to your friends and family lets them know that you care and are thinking about them. And when they reply, their words can help lessen any feelings of homesickness that you might have.

Becoming pen pals is also a fun way to meet and stay in touch with new friends and even practice your skills in a foreign language. Making friends with those from different cultures to your own will expand your worldview, and communicating in writing will help you learn more about each other’s way of life.

Handwritten letters

Computers, smartphones, tablets and other devices have taken a toll on the art of handwritten letters. There’s something to be said for receiving a letter in the mail and knowing that someone cared enough to sit down and write to you by hand.

If you’re studying at the Australian International School and your friends and family are far away, they will certainly appreciate opening their mailbox and finding a handwritten letter from you. Seeing your writing can help them feel like there aren’t so many miles between you, and a letter is something tangible that they can keep and read again whenever they are missing you. Handwritten letters also often become cherished items that your friends and family will look at years from now to see how much you’ve grown and achieved.

Emails

While less personal than handwritten letters, emails are also an excellent way to stay in contact with your pen pals, particularly those who live in far-flung corners of the world. There are also websites that can connect you with new pen pals in any number of countries, which can be a great way to explore and learn about new cultures and share your own.

The key to writing a thoughtful email to a pen pal – whether it’s a friend, family member or newfound acquaintance – is to strike a balance between talking about yourself and asking questions of the other person. Ask them what’s going on in their life and in their part of the world and avoid “yes” or “no” questions. Let them know that you’re interested in what’s going on with them and that you’re looking forward to their reply.

Parents: Think of your children as pen pals

If your child is living or studying abroad, you might not be able to speak with them on the phone every day. While hearing their voice is perhaps the next best thing to seeing them in person, staying in contact through handwritten letters can give you a sense of closeness. Sending them handwritten letters in the mail will let you know that they’ll be holding a small piece of you in their hands. And a letter is something that they can hold onto and revisit when they’re feeling lonely or missing you.

For children studying at international schools in Singapore, sometimes communicating via email might be easier than sending letters back and forth. Seeing your name pop up in their inbox can be just as comforting as receiving a letter.

Consider thinking of your child as a pen pal and write to them about what’s going on at home. Let them know who has been asking about them, what events and holidays they have to look forward to once they’re back, and that you miss them but hope they’re enjoying their time abroad. Ask them how their classes are going and how their friends are, and tell them you’re looking forward to their reply.

Staying connected is key

At the Australian International School, we encourage students to foster new friendships, maintain their existing friendships, and remain in close contact with their families. Breathing new life into the forgotten art of pen pals can help them do just that.

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03 July 2018

Why Quiet Time Is So Important

Published by Darrell Long
Renovation-and-refit-projects

In our busy, modern society, we have begun to lose sight of the value of slowing down. Young adults especially seem to have more commitments now than ever before, including schoolwork and extra-curricular activities, sports, clubs, socializing and part-time work. Our children's lives are filled with noise – both literal and figurative – from smartphones, computers, electronic devices, video games, social media and television.

We have forgotten how to be quiet.

Spending some time each day for quiet reflection is so important, not just for our children and young adults, but for all of us.

What is quiet time?

Quite simply, quiet time means spending part of your day engaged in an activity that does not require the presence of another person. The activity should be low-key and should not cause overstimulation to the mind or the senses. That means no smartphones or digital screens, no music, no television, no talking. Building with Legos, developing a craft project, working on a puzzle, reading, meditating or journaling are all wonderful quiet time activities.

Why is it important?

Daily quiet time gives kids a chance to shut out the world for a while. They can allow themselves to relax and engage in simple activities that make them think and develop their sense of self-direction. There is no one telling them what to do or how to do it, no background noise from an electronic device or television and no need to share or compromise (or argue) with a sibling or friend.

This kind of creative independence is essential to development ­– children who don't have regular opportunities to engage in quiet, independent play are often easily bored and become demanding or attention-seeking when they aren't being actively stimulated.

Benefits of quiet time

For children, the benefits of regular self-directed quiet time are numerous and well-documented.

Daily quiet time helps to:

1. Boost confidence and independence.Quiet time gives children a chance to explore a variety of activities that help develop their self-reliance; this is also why quiet time should be 'alone time'. Children need the opportunity to work on creative problem solving on their own, which is crucial in building self-confidence.

2. Encourage gratitude.When children are constantly distracted by noise and outside stimulation, there isn't much time or space for self-reflection. Quiet time gives them necessary distance from these distractions, often leading them to think about all they have and developing deeper feelings of gratitude for what they've been given.

3. Facilitate creativity and inventiveness. Even children who aren't particularly creative can tap into their imagination and out-of-the-box thinking when given quiet time in which to do so. They can more easily disconnect from the influence of group thinking and begin to rediscover their unique creativity.

4. Promote relaxation. Today's children experience more stress and higher levels of anxiety than previous generations. Many experts believe these feelings are caused in part by the overstimulation that is now so common in children's lives. While adults who struggle with these issues are usually able to identify and avoid their triggers, young people have a much harder time making those connections. Unless they are allowed to spend some time alone, many of these children will have a hard time alleviating stress.

5. Improve attentiveness and focus.Focus and concentration are like muscles that must be used in order to build strength. This strength is best built up when we give all of our attention to one activity at a time, rather than trying to multi-task our way through the day. Quiet time gives kids the opportunity to maintain a sustained focus on one activity or task for a period of time, helping to develop concentration and improve attentiveness.

6. Recharge the body.Spending time engaged in quiet, solitary activities gives kids a chance to rest their minds, improving their emotional, spiritual and physical health by removing the need to constantly react to outside stimuli.

7. Stimulate brain development and improved memory. According to recent studies, even just 40 minutes of quiet time could help the adult brain grow new cells in the hippocampus region, an area of the brain associated with memory, learning and regulating emotion. The potential for brain cell growth in children could be even more significant.

8. Combat insomnia.While childhood bedtime drama is certainly not a new phenomenon, most experts agree that modern technology isn't helping our kids get to sleep. Allocated quiet time each day can help promote better sleep – kids fall asleep faster, sleep more soundly and wake refreshed and well-rested – which has a host of health benefits.

Now you can see the positive outcomes that regular periods of quiet time can realize. The Australian International School in Singapore is an institution that recognizes the benefits of quiet time and incorporates these practices into our tuition in order to maintain a lucrative environment in which our students can understand and express themselves.

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25 June 2018

IB Defined: What is International Baccalaureate Educational Programme

Published by Darrell Long
Renovation-and-refit-projects

The Australian International School (AIS) in Singapore provides students aged 18 months and upwards with a range of choices that offer the best of Australian and international curriculums.

One of the school's major offerings is the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme for Years 11 and 12, an opportunity that offers a diverse and inclusive range of teaching aimed at educating students with an interdisciplinary approach.

If you're thinking about the best way to educate your children in Singapore, then it's worth considering the IBDP as an option.

The IBDP is challenging and rewarding

As a programme that leading universities from all over the world recognize, the IBDP challenges students to study a wide range of subjects chosen from six curriculum groups, and to maintain those studies throughout the course of the program.

As a parent, you will be involved in discussing the best alternatives with your child and their teachers in the first year. Six subjects from the six curriculum groupings are chosen. Pupils must complete the study of these initial programs before moving on to the second year. There are three subjects at Standard Level (SL) with a further three at Higher Level (HL).

Towards the end of Year 11, students select three of the subjects they have been studying to take through into their second year for higher-level study, provided they have successfully completed their first year work. Your input will be valuable for your child when considering these choices, and you will all work in consultation with the school to make the most informed decision.

Core components

The IBDP also requires students to complete three core components that add significantly to their academic studies in terms of developing their personality as a whole.

These are built around Creativity, Action, and Service (CAS), together with Theory of Knowledge (TOK) and the Extended Essay (EE).

CAS has three strands to it. Students are encouraged to keep physically active due to the many health benefits this presents, including building stronger muscles and bones, increasing energy levels, and contributing to good mental health. They are also tasked with following a creative interest, including art, music, drama, creative writing or craftwork. This can depend on what is most interesting to your child or can focus on cultivating skills they may have already acquired. The service element encourages them to take part in activities both in the school and outside, working with people for charitable causes and community support projects.

It is important that students are encouraged to develop their capacity for independent thought, something you will likely have been supporting since they were young. TOK is a course aimed at inspiring inquiry and intellectual thinking. It's an interdisciplinary course and covers all subject areas to give deeper understanding of connections between subjects and how to develop new synergies in children’s reasoning. 

The thought of essay composition may fill many students with dread, but the EE is different. The EE involves strong supervisor support to enable students to embark on an in-depth investigation of a topic that really interests them. Students are required to write a research paper of around 4,000 words, delving deep into a subject they have chosen and developing lines of investigation to put forward in a final paper. It is a discipline that is essential if students from AIS plan to go onto higher education, as it teaches the value of research and how to transform ideas into a compelling and meaningful piece of work.

All core components must be completed successfully before a student is able to receive their International Baccalaureate Diploma.

Subjects for study

There are six groups of subjects available to students. It is necessary to choose one topic from each.

There is a range of options that offer a solid grounding in key subject areas, though several are only available at Standard Level. These include Environmental Systems and Societies under the Interdisciplinary group heading, and Mathematics and Mathematical Sciences under Mathematics.

There are plenty of options for language and literature development, with opportunities to acquire or improve languages that include English, Mandarin Chinese, Indonesian, French, and Spanish. In a globalized world, the acquisition of foreign languages is an essential tool for students to be confident exploring different countries and being able to communicate effectively.

Whatever you and your child decide, there are excellent educational opportunities offered by the Australian International School to equip them with the skills they need for moving towards university, a career and a prosperous future.

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21 June 2018

10 Ways to Ask Your Child How Was School Today

Published by Darrell Long
Renovation-and-refit-projects

Any parent of a young child is likely familiar with the monosyllabic grunt in response to the daily question: "How was school today?" You might get an "OK" or even a "Fine", but these replies often leave you none the wiser.

Younger children may be more forthcoming to start with, but as the novelty of being at school wears off, there's a good chance that they too will clam up. When it comes to teenagers, you could compare the attempt to prise information from them as like squeezing blood from a stone.

That's not to suggest they don't want to talk to you, but there are various ways to ask your child "how was school today?" that might provoke a more satisfactory response — and perhaps even open up a line of stimulating conversation.

Here are 10 ideas for you to try out.

1. If you were a teacher, what would you like to teach best?

This question has the potential to start a discussion where children can say what their favorite subject is and you can explore why. This will encourage them to think a little more deeply and actively about their education. You could also ask what their least favorite subject is and explore the reasons why. This gives you the opportunity to be encouraging and supportive, perhaps even helping them to think more positively about it.

2. What was the best thing that happened at school today?

The answer to this might surprise you, especially if you're told that the best thing was playing in a band during the lunch break when you didn't even know your child was in a band! There could be any number of interesting responses, but the main point is that it will help you discover what your child enjoys or is motivated by when at school.

3. Did you help somebody today — and if so, how?

It's always good to encourage children to think of others and not just themselves. Some children at school may need a little extra help or kindness when teachers are busy. This type of question could gently teach your child to want to be helpful as a natural character trait. You could also ask if somebody helped them in any way. This could help you pick up on something that means they could do with some extra support at school in a particular area.

4. If you had the choice, who would you prefer to sit next to in class?

This could start a discussion about best friends and why a particular person is your child's favorite. Equally, you could ask who they wouldn't want to sit next to and explore the reasons why.

5. If aliens appeared in your classroom and said they were going to beam somebody up to their spaceship, who would you want them to take?

Here the answer might be "Me!" as there's nothing a child likes more than the opportunity to have a thrilling adventure (especially if it means missing school). Again, you can talk about the reasons, especially if it's the class teacher being beamed up to space.

6. What would your teacher tell me about you if I called her this evening?

You might get a puzzled look and a question as to why you would want to call the teacher, but you can explain the question is hypothetical and try to draw out an interesting reply from your child.

7. Did anything make you laugh today? What was it?

Children have a good sense of humor and the littlest of things can set them off. You probably know what amuses your child and it's fun to be reminded that a child also has their own space at school for laughing and enjoyment. Providing they're not laughing at someone else's misfortune — and you can deal with that sensitively — children get a feeling of wellbeing when they're having a good time.

8. What was the best or worst part of lunch today?

You'll know what your child does and doesn't like to eat, so it's good to find out more about food preferences at school. You could find a child likes something you've never had at home and then try introducing it during the next family meal.

9. What would you do if you were the teacher tomorrow?

You could have a lot of fun with this one, as it opens up all sorts of imaginative possibilities for your child to explore.

10. Is there something you think you should learn less of at school?

Expect the standard answer to be their least favorite subject, but don't be surprised if your child comes up with something you didn't anticipate.

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Join Us 2019

Cognita Schools are committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expects all staff, volunteers and other third parties to share this commitment. Safe recruitment practice and pre-employment background checks will be undertaken before any appointment is confirmed. Appointment is subject to an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check for regulated activity (if the candidate has lived in the UK) and/or criminal/police or equivalent background checks for all other countries inhabited (irrespective of whether you worked in those countries).

TEACHING POSITIONS - 2019

Applicants are encouraged to read the job description for the role prior to applying and submit a cover letter, curriculum vitae and a duly completed copy of the School's Job Application Form. Kindly ensure that the position title is clearly specified in the job application. 

Application closes on 31st August 2018, 23 59 (UK Time).

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