X Share

Steering the way: How a small international school in southern Sri Lanka helped one of its neighbours navigate Cambridge Primary

Cambridge Learners  Curriculum  

Last October, Galle International College (GIC) in south Sri Lanka hosted 20 teachers from Zahira College Colombo in Western Province for a day’s training on Cambridge Primary, delivered by GIC’s Deputy Principal Curtis Jobe.

Zahira College Colombo is a trilingual national curriculum school with students from primary to 18 years. The school’s management recognised a need for a good international programme that would enhance the level of English for its students, and so decided to adopt the Cambridge Primary programme. However, teaching an international curriculum was new to the school and they needed direction and guidance.

As a result of Covid-19 and travel restrictions, in-person training workshops offered by Cambridge International trainers could not take place. GIC became aware of their fellow school’s situation and offered to help.

The schools’ primary leaders told us how the training day was devised and what the benefits were for both schools.

Curtis Jobe, Deputy Principal, Galle International College (GIC)

“I’ve been at GIC for seven years and in the role of deputy for four years. We have around 90 students in primary. All teaching at the school is in English.

“We introduced Cambridge Primary in 2017. We use the English, Maths and Science curricula. We also dip into Global Perspectives (a cross-curricula subject) when there’s something relevant happening in the world – we love the curriculum and will continue to make this subject a dominant part of the programme. We also base our music programme on Cambridge Primary and use the ICT curriculum.”

Meeting expectations

“Zahira College Colombo had been delivering the Cambridge Primary programme to their Year 3 for a few months alongside the Sri Lankan national curriculum. However, teachers felt they weren’t meeting expectations as teaching a scheme of work had taken them longer than the time recommended by Cambridge.

“The executive team reached out to Cambridge International’s Country Manager, Panchalika Kulatunga, for more support. They had already had some online training, but face-to-face training was on hold due to the pandemic. So Panchalika contacted me.

“As an Australian, I come from an international teaching perspective. I’m also at a point in my professional development where this sort of opportunity is very exciting to me.

“It’s a two-hour drive from Zahira College to our school. It almost made more sense for me to go to them because it would be one person travelling instead of 20. However, Panchalika knew our teaching and classroom environment would help teachers feel engaged with the new programme.”

Step-by-step support

“A lot of what we looked at were classroom strategies. I based my presentation on the Cambridge Primary support site because that’s got a wealth of information – it has everything you need step by step including the schemes of work, so it gives you a guarantee that you’re covering the content in sequence.

“I divided the day into planning for learning (making long-term plans), the schemes of work and how you plan for each lesson and embed the learning objectives.

“We looked at delivering a lesson and the teachers did some roleplay in their key stage groups. They planned a starter – a 10-minute introduction to the lesson – so I could see what objectives they would target and how they would engage the students and activate prior knowledge.

“We finished the day talking about next steps and returned to the issue of planning – how do you get time within your teaching teams to plan, how much in advance do you plan and what resources are available for you?

“The fact that learners develop and grow at their own pace was a real take-home message. I was able to explain the beauty of the Cambridge spiral – there is a lot of time for consolidation and revision in teaching Cambridge Primary. There are some things in some years that you might almost skip, knowing that you’ll do a heavy focus on it in the second part of the key stage.”

Overcoming obstacles

“The teachers also expressed what they saw as obstacles so I talked about how we face obstacles at GIC in terms of technology, resources and the ability and pace of our learners – I gave them some insight into how we manage that. 

“The training helped me understand the needs of our teachers when teaching Cambridge. I really enjoyed the experience and I think the training ran well for them and for me.”

Mohamed Shazuli, Head of Primary, Zahira College Colombo

“I’ve worked at Zahira College Colombo for 23 years and I have been the Head of Primary for two years. We have 2072 students in primary. All of our students are Sri Lankans who have English as a Second Language.

“We introduced the Cambridge Primary English curriculum in 2021 as we wanted to improve the standards of English and provide more exposure to international English Literature.

“We were highly impressed with the holistic approach of how it is taught with skills-based activities, catering to all types of learners. We were also attracted by the fact that the learning and teaching materials are available for teachers on the Cambridge Primary support site.”

A thirst for face-to-face training

“Cambridge International’s regional team helped us to conduct introductory sessions and introduced us to a trainer from the Cambridge University Press team in India who conducted a one-day online training course focusing on the Cambridge Primary textbook Global English.

“Our teachers were also helped by the Cambridge Primary support site, but they required a lot of support in delivering the programme in the classroom, so they also needed face-to-face training.

“Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Cambridge International wasn’t running face-to-face training. So, Country Manager, Panchalika Kulatunga, organised a training session with Galle International College (GIC). We are very grateful to her.

“The one-day workshop included a lot of interactive practical activities and as a result, our staff developed a positive mindset to taking forward the Cambridge Primary English curriculum and a confidence in achieving higher grades in examinations.”

Looking ahead

“In the future, we plan to do some online training offered by Cambridge International and we hope to add other Cambridge Primary subjects and other parts of the Cambridge Pathway.

“We consider it a golden opportunity to be preparing our students with Cambridge International as our college celebrates its 130th anniversary. We are confident our students will shine in their academic excellence.”

More information

We have recently revised the Cambridge Primary and Lower Secondary curricula for Maths, Science, English and English as a Second Language, and improved the assessments. Find out more here.

Go back
X Share

Stay up to date

Subscribe to our blogs to recieve latest insights straight to your inbox