English as an Additional Language (EAL)
VIS provides support to students who are in the process of acquiring English through the English as an Additional Language (EAL) Program. The program is based on a "Sheltered Immersion" model, which research has shown to be most effective in language development. The Sheltered Immersion model means that students with limited English attend classes with their English speaking peers so that they can be immersed in the English Language. Shelter is provided through withdrawal classes and in-class support given by specialist teachers. While the schedule of support looks different in Primary and Secondary, the model is the same, with the EAL specialist teachers assisting the student to be successful in the mainstream classes.
The principal goal of the EAL program at VIS is for students to acquire sufficient competence in English to succeed in their studies at levels comparable to those of their non-EAL peers. The program provides essential support to students from non-English-speaking backgrounds.
High Level/Low Level Support
Students will typically receive high level specialist support for several years while acquiring English. High level support attracts an additional fee. After students demonstrate a level of proficiency they will receive low level support for a continuing period. Low level support does not attract additional fees. A typical student will take 5-7 years to acquire full fluency in another language.
EAL in the Primary Years Program
For primary students there is no minimum English language requirement for enrollment. There are limitations placed on the number of students within the EAL program in each grade level to ensure that appropriate support can be provided. Potential EAL students are assessed before their enrollment in school, after which the EAL teacher in conjunction with the homeroom teacher, schedules language support that will best benefit the student. EAL support may be conducted individually or in small groups in the classrooms and in the EAL room. This support is given at different levels and also during foreign language lessons.
EAL in the Middle Years Program
For Secondary students there are increasing requirements for English proficiency through the grade levels. Students must have sufficient English proficiency to be successful within the level of EAL support provided. Limitations are placed on the number of students in the EAL program in each grade.
EAL in the Diploma Program
Students in the Diploma program require English proficiency. The EAL specialist are available to assist students, however the level of EAL support in the final two years of school is very limited.
Learning Support for Students with Special Education Needs (SEN)
As an International Baccalaureate World School VIS affirms ‘that all students should be allowed to learn and to demonstrate their ability under conditions that are as fair as possible. Some students will require different teaching and assessment arrangements due to special needs.’
The Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma programmes aim to be as flexible as possible in providing appropriate curriculum, teaching methods and resources for the wide range of capabilities, prior learning and different learning styles of our students within mainstream classes. Additionally, VIS offers some limited support for students with special education needs.
Continuous communication, collaboration and commitment are central to learning support at VIS. A Student Support Team at VIS may include:
- SEN/Learning Support Coordinator
- Primary and Secondary Principal
- PYP, MYP or DP Coordinators
- School counselor
- External experts
- Teachers and teaching assistants
The SEN Coordinator works to develop and implement specific teaching and learning strategies to accommodate individual student’s needs. The level of support provided by the SEN Coordinator (e.g. consultation, in-class support and/or withdrawal) is in the best interest of the student and within limitations of the programme and resources. Support programmes are documented in Individual or Classroom Plans. A student’s progress is monitored and their programme is reviewed regularly.
MYP and DP special provisions for students with special learning needs
VIS is guided by the International Baccalaureate's belief that all students be allowed to demonstrate their ability under assessment conditions that are as fair as possible. Generally, students with special educational needs must complete all course requirements to receive an MYP or DP record of achievement, certificate or diploma. Some students may choose to take courses for VIS credit only while others may complete some IB courses according to their ability.
Social and Emotional Counseling
Counseling at VIS takes a three-pronged approach in that not only is emotional support available to students but also to the care takers of children, the parents and the teachers. The philosophy behind the counseling of students at VIS is that the emotional needs of children go hand in hand with the academic needs. In other words, if students are distracted by an emotional concern it will be difficult to focus their energy and attention on the academic task at hand in the classroom.
The role of the VIS Counselors is to provide social and emotional counseling to both Primary and Secondary students. This can be initiated through student request, teacher request, and parental request or via the counselors’ observations. Clear procedures are implemented to ensure that the communication occurs between appropriate parties.
VIS feels that it is important to have available an adult who is viewed as safe and trustworthy by students so that they can talk through troubling issues of concern. Being able to express their worries often allows them to return to the classroom with a greater degree of emotional balance which enables them to work more enthusiastically in the academic realm. It is important to be aware that young people from the ages of 11 to 18 are experiencing profound physical and psychological changes as they move through puberty and into early adulthood. Because of these changes, issues that may seem trivial to an adult take on huge proportions in the mind of an adolescent.
Primary care is provided by teachers and the counselors support the teachers by meeting with the student at any time via teacher, student or parent request.
Support is provided not only to students but also to parents. Parents of Primary and Secondary students are invited to attend various parenting courses facilitated by the counselors throughout the school year. The content of these courses vary and aim to help parents to learn methods of respectful discipline, skills for clear, honest communication, concrete strategies to prevent risky behavior and how to be an encouraging presence in the life of their child.