Calcutta international school: Pioneers of Contemporary Education in India
Calcutta international school
Calcutta International School

Calcutta international school in the eastern region of India, came into existence as the King’s House School when a British family started home-schooling their two sons at their bungalow in Lee Road and hired teachers to help them with their work.

Slowly word began to spread, encouraging other British families to send their children there, and soon a British teacher, Miss Mai Barth, was appointed as the principal.

When the King family returned to the UK, they left the bungalow and the school to Ms Barth and the school was officially registered in 1953. Under the leadership of Ms Barth, it became a full-fledged school called Miss Barth’s School. The school soon evolved to become a reputed institution providing academic and extramural education. Miss Barth is believed to have been awarded an OBE for her relentless dedication to education.

When Miss Barth retired and returned to England, the parents of the students decided to form a Society to govern the school, which received its final name – Calcutta International School (CIS) Society, in 1970. It was registered under the West Bengal Societies Regulation Act.

Thriving Learning Hub

CIS shifted from the Lee Road premises to its present sprawling campus at Anandapur, Eastern Metropolitan Bypass, Kolkata, in 2006. Today, CIS is a thriving learning hub, with pupils from as many as 17 nationalities from local and expatriate communities. The school continues to grow in size and stature, adapting to the evolving needs of future students.

Setting Benchmarks with Learner-centric Approach

The 2025 vision of CIS entails the accomplishment of its mission to be the hallmark of learner-centric, individualized, and holistic education. The school will continue to nurture students to be lifelong learners with an inclusive and socially responsible worldview, leading themselves and others in a fast-changing world.

The mission of CIS is to impart comprehensive, student-centred education compatible with international standards. The school provides a welcoming, respectful, and multicultural environment, enabling superior academic accomplishment.

The school prides itself in its role as a learning hub, with a strong cosmopolitan culture, safe and secure environment, well-trained teachers, enviable student-teacher ratio, and modern infrastructure, all geared to deliver two kinds of international curricula, adhering to the best international standards.

Facilitating Self-actualization

The pedagogy of the school is geared towards facilitating the self-actualization of the students. Its core values rest on the curriculum framework incorporating the six principles of collaboration, critical thinking, learner agency, research skill development, and effective communication.

Pupils of CIS are provided with ample opportunities to grow and evolve to the best of their potential, with academics and co-curricular activities given equal weightage at every level.

The core values of CIS are empathy, responsibility and a high happiness quotient where every member of the community is accepted, respected and valued.

The Challenge of Growth

Over the years, the school has faced challenges but has taken the right measures to overcome them. Some of them are-

  • Increasing demand for seats- The school has grown in popularity over the years due to its constant striving to evolve with the times and the changing needs of students. The school policy of the student-teacher ratio, which remains at 24:1, has not been allowed to be compromised because effective teaching and learning can only happen when teachers and students are in close communion with each other.
  • Limited infrastructure – The school morphed from an informal setting into a full-fledged school over the years. Despite moving to a modern campus in 2006, there is a growing demand for more space to accommodate more students and subject options. The management has boldly decided to refurbish the entire facility with a new building that will accommodate all the infrastructural requirements of the school.
  • Pressures from a conventional mindset regarding education – The school has faced challenges in the form of doubts regarding its child-centric education, which offers learners greater agency in their learning.

Sometimes parents from conventional schooling systems insist on the advantages of sticking to the syllabus. But this challenge has been mitigated over the years as they have come to realise the merits of a schooling system that helps create learners and not mould clones.

Wide Range of Extracurricular Activities

The school offers a definitive programme ECA which is compulsory from grades 3 to 8. These activities include Robotics, Western Dance, Photography, Taekwondo, Chess, Football, Basketball, Table Tennis and Cricket. Students are invited to take up one ECA of their choice and pursue its development over the course of the years.

The school is proud that many of its students are nationally ranked in various sports.

Prioritising Learning Styles and Approaches

At CIS, STEM-based learning represents a unique approach to teaching and learning that centres around individual students’ learning styles and interests.

STEM moves beyond simple test performance and focuses on developing higher-level thinking skills by connecting classroom learning to the real world. STEM emphasises collaboration, communication, research, problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity, skills that students need to be successful in today’s world regardless of specific interests or career goals.

These skills are developed through Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, and Computer Science and Information Technology at CIS. The STEM Curriculum is designed to encompass all the skills and attributes above, highlighting critical thinking skills through interdisciplinary collaboration on real-world solutions to real-world problems.

In keeping with the latest advancement in pedagogy, the school also encourages STEAM based activities which incorporates Art with the conventional Science Maths and ICT streams.

Forming Connections across the Borders

International mindedness is an integral part of the school’s approach. It has students from 17 different nationalities and is a very diverse community.

It celebrates various international festivals and occasions such as the 4 of July, Bastille Day, Korean Independence Day, Dia de las Muertos etc. Parents are invited into classes to talk about the countries they come from and their cultures. Apart from that, the school also offers several unique programmes to allow for global exposure to its students.

  • The school has a student exchange programme with Alfrink College, Netherlands. There is a yearly immersion programme for students who come from Alfrink College and interact with CIS students for over a week. This interaction continues in the online space as well. This programme gives CIS students an opportunity to engage with peers from other cultures and continents.
  • Volunteers from Ireland working with the Hope Foundation also visit the school and spend time interacting with students.
  • CAS trips- The IB requirement for meaningful service-related activities has led to many interesting projects in countries like Vietnam, Netherlands, Germany, etc.
  • Summer school programme initiatives – which encourage its learners to experience the pedagogy of some of the best universities in the world.

Looking Beyond the Grades

To every student in India, CIS has an important message “Dear Students, you are the biggest strength of this nation. Utilise every opportunity to learn and grow. Your growth and development are not just marked by your grades but by your ability to adapt and evolve yourself with the changing times-and while you go from strength to strength, remember to be compassionate and empathetic towards those who do not enjoy the privileges and advantages you do. When the time comes, do make it your goal to contribute to society and make this world better than you found it to be.”

CIS has a dream it is currently fulfilling, that is, of new upgraded school premises, which will meet the challenges of the growing school in the near future.

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