The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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School to bridge the Cambridge gap

Global education options in Calcutta are opening up. Bridge International School (BIS) — which opened on Monday — is a “child-centric” alternative for children in pre and middle school.

While Calcutta International School (CIS) offers the ‘O’ and ‘A’ Levels conducted by the University of London, The Cambridge School, which is to open this month, offers the Cambridge University syllabus. But The Cambridge School starts from Class VIII.

To step in to ‘bridge’ the gap, BIS follows the same board, from kindergarten to Class VII. The sunny, colourful school on Hazra Road will cater to just 15 students per batch. Those passing the exams successfully will gain automatic admission to The Cambridge School close by.

“The whole academic system in the UK has been unified under the National Curriculum. So all the boards follow the same system,” explained Nonda Chatterjee, principal of The Cambridge School and adviser to BIS. Admissions start at age four, when kids join the two-year Reception, which is roughly the same as kindergarten, before moving through to Key Stage One, Two and Three (divisions in the learning stages).

The class divisions at a primary level are kept fluid to ensure children do not feel pressured or left out if they need a few more months to complete the syllabus designated for each class. Exams start in Class VI.

The advantages of the international connection, stressed Chatterjee and BIS principal Ranoo Khanna, is that the syllabus nurtures “intelligent thought”, not just by-rote knowledge. “The biggest problem is that we want our children to conform. This is a system that allows some thinking instead of learning by heart. Are you prepared for a thinking child'” asked educationist Ayesha Das, who attended a presentation for parents of enrolled children on Saturday. Indian languages will be taught from Class II, and the exams, assure authorities, are accepted both internationally and nationally.

The school with a cheerful look and feel would be any child’s delight, though a major drawback is the lack of a schoolyard. The administration is trying to work out a deal for a section of a vacant plot adjacent to the building, but that has not yet been finalised. The school will have no uniform, though there are rules for neat, clean and “suitable” attire.

Admissions are on till Class VI, with a Class VII batch scheduled to start from next year. “We wanted to give the child at least two years to get used to the system before moving to The Cambridge School,” said Khanna.

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