Education is seen as the essential part of an individual, which prepares one for the rest of their life, playing a significant role in formulating one’s opinion, personality, and beliefs. As argued by psychologists, the formulation of personality takes place in early childhood by the age of six. Therefore, it becomes necessary to shape these factors before the said age.
Today, most students are admitted to schools by the age of three, where they spend more than 5 hours a day. This exposure shapes a child as an individual who does not learn only from academic education but also from the institution’s environment, interaction with peers and teachers, and imitation of surrounding people. In such a scenario, the selection of the school or institution is crucial.
Some institutions have excelled at providing their students with the proper guidance and surrounding for growth. One such institution is The Cathedral and John Connon School of Mumbai. Standing since 1860, it continues to excel in its performance under Dr Sonal Parmar, the school’s principal.
Walk Through the Path
The Cathedral and John Connon School, also known as The Cathedral School, was opened within the walls of Bombay in 1860 by Bishop Harding and the Cathedral Chaplain. Over a period, the school underwent many changes as a few smaller institutions and buildings were merged to form The Cathedral and John School that stands today.
It was during 1965 that the school faced financial and organisational issues. Rev. Ridding came up with the idea of co-education to solve these issues. Many opposed it. The ruling was passed by the side of the school leading to the merger of boys’ and girls’ schools.
Today the old boy’s school is the Senior School with Classes 8 to 12 of the National & International Curriculum; the old girl’s school is the Middle School with classes 5 to 7; the John Connon School is now the Junior School with pupils in Classes 2, 3 and 4, and the Malabar Hill School has Lower 1, and Upper 1.
Values: Leading the Journey
The school aims to provide an education to young minds allowing them to gain knowledge about how to learn, understand adaptability to the ever-changing world, become global citizens with local vision, develop a sense of international mindedness and cherish the individuality of man and the commonality of humanity.
The Cathedral and John Connon School believe in monitoring every aspect keeping the long glory of Cathedral School’s character and tradition intact. It believes in acceptance and secularism and makes special efforts for its students, as it says, “We are an Indian school where foreigners are at home, a Christian school which children of any faith can call their own.”
Talking about the school’s objectives, the former principal (1953-65) Bernard Gunnery says, “Indeed the School’s objective is all round character formation and the development of proper attitudes. Consciously and unconsciously, pupils absorb a great deal apart from subjects they study, and in the great examinations of life, these extra assimilations speak a school’s worth.”
The institution believes education serves to bridge gaps in a shrinking world while taking pride in making its students able to differentiate between right and wrong and personal beliefs. It endeavours as individuals and a community, with everyone caring for people and the physical environment. As a school, it strives to temper its daily thoughts and actions with core values of honesty, compassion, inclusion, tolerance, altruism, and service.
Dr Sonal Parmar assumed the institution’s principal position in March 2022. As an English Literature teacher, she has taught in schools and colleges and has been an independent consultant in translation, editing, and writing with a special focus on culture.
Dr Parmar brings a unique perspective to the field of school education with her holistic approach that integrates individual enhancement of every child, balanced with character-building and a collaborative spirit.
Educational Futuristic Approach
The school has been in alignment with the key aims of the NEP, and most of the learning outcomes are application based, with particular emphasis on critical thinking and creativity. The school also follows the guidelines for its international programs, updating its policies from time to time to keep up with the needs and requirements of students and institutions.
Carving the Sculptor
The school focuses on practical knowledge, thus involving the interactive process. Making the most of project-based learning, flipped classrooms, Socratic seminars, peer reviews, regular feedback, and reflection are some of the methods and strategies employed for students to direct their learning. Along with this, assessment is done to recognize individual strengths and weaknesses.
Apart from academic guidance, the school also pays attention to the holistic development of its students by involving them in service activities. The children engage in service projects from food drives to fundraising, conducting seminars on various issues, hosting international Model United Nations, and engaging critically in contemporary and pressing global issues.
The school clubs promote theatre, dance, robotics, photography, and other areas of interest that students might need to hone their skills. This is in addition to a vibrant house system with its wide range of cultural and sports activities, primarily led by the seniors of the school, which inculcate a sense of responsibility, leadership, and team building.
Apart from this, special attention is paid to students and relationship development between teachers and students through LRC allowing students to perform to their optimum in every field.
In Addition to Fun
As the school believes in students’ skill development, it provides them with all the necessities required. It provides classes for music, drama, dance, yoga, pottery, cooking, planting and gardening, art and craft, and much more. Students are engaged in various indoor and outdoor sports and martial arts along with additional classes for languages if interested.
In addition, the school holds FitKid classes for children to enhance their fine motor skills, sandpit and waterplay areas for fun and simple lessons, and interesting teaching through puppet shows. Various competitions and quizzes are organized to develop students’ competitive spirit.
Setting Up for Future
The Cathedral and John Connon School look forward to developing life skills in its students right from the primary section. Through various activities, students are encouraged to enhance their social, self-help, organizational, and sense of responsibility.
Students have a circle time session for an hour every week where they are encouraged to share their experiences, thoughts, and problems and find solutions as a group. This enables them to learn and appreciate each other, along with being aware of the various comforts they are blessed with.
The children are oriented to behaviour expectations and a list of rules elicited from them at the beginning of the year. Playdates with NGOs, preparing skits, and arranging talks on necessary topics are held by the school, creating a sense of awareness among children.
The counsellor meets each class weekly, where students are introduced to topics related to communication skills, stress management, decision-making, responsible use of social media, and much more.
Personalisation in Organization
The school is amongst the very first schools to incorporate Gsuite. With every student having their school e-mail id, Google Classroom is used to share resources, collaborate, and enhance the communication between students and teachers.
The classrooms are equipped with a smartboard, computer, and projector with a backed network by a server that hosts all the rich content repositories built by the in-house teachers. The school’s current association with an NGO, Desh Apnayen, has bought civics lessons alive for students, and the children are made aware of their rights and duties as citizens of India.
Mindspark (by Education Initiatives) is used for Junior School, allowing students to move at their own pace in their math learning. The children also learn to play the piano using software that will enable them to progress at their own pace.
The students learn IoT at the Innovation Hub and are taught the basics of electronics, science, design, technology, and much more through practical activities. The school has collaborated with the Clap Talk organisation that facilitates global travellers passing through Mumbai to come to school and talk to them about their country of origin, the social and political situation of the country, and any other detail that the children wish to know about.
School learning platforms like Managebac and Entab are used for efficient curriculum planning, assessment, reporting, and communication with parents and students.
Winning the World
As one of the most prestigious and remarkable institutions, The Cathedral and John Connon School have bagged many awards. The long list of these awards includes:
- Top Prestigious School Jury Awards 2021 (Jury`s Choice Award) by Education Today
- Top Prestigious School Jury Awards 2021 (Jury`s Choice Award) by Education Today
- Education World 2021-22 India School Rankings
- EducationWorld School of Eminence 2021-22
These and many other awards the school has received over the years prove it has kept its 162 years legacy.
Envisioning the Future
The Cathedral and John Connon School look forward to exploring new ways to co-opt technology into its process. Along with this, it majorly desires to focus on mental health as a post-pandemic effect on students concerns the institution.
The school recognises and encourages an active engagement in sports, music, dramatics, and art, wanting to strike a sustainable balance between pedagogical robustness and creative excellence.
Their overarching vision for the future is to maintain the Cathedral School’s reputation as an institution that sets the standards of excellence both in and out of the classroom and to create spaces where creativity, bonding, independence of thought, intellectual curiosity, and academic rigour are fostered and encouraged.
The school sees itself as a 162-year legacy that coheres seamlessly with the innovations of the 21st century and where tradition meets modernity without disruption or fracture.