With places at international schools in short supply in Amsterdam, Florencius International School is a welcome newcomer. Marta Parlatore finds out more.
Florencius International Schol: Innovative Elementary Education for Global Citizens
A unique school is about to open in Amstelveen: the Florencius International School. Based on a ground-breaking concept, which has already been successfully applied for the past decade to the Dutch Florencius schools in Laren and Amstelveen, the new school opens its doors in September 2017. Florencius International School is specially designed with international and expat families in mind, but also Dutch families who believe that an educational system focused on supporting global citizens could add a precious set of skills to their children’s development.
The internationality of the school, which works exclusively with native-speaking English teachers and follows the International Primary Curriculum (IPC), is not the only interesting aspect of their educational concept. Florencius School’s mission is to provide its pupils with a holistic education, and is founded on the firm belief that only in small-scale classes - with a maximum of eight children per teacher - can students receive the attention necessary to thrive.
Question and Answer
Amsterdam Mamas spoke with Gerwin Kets, Deputy Director of Florencius School, to find out more about the school's unique educational perspective.
Could you tell us about your personal background? How and when did you get involved with Florencius school?
I’ve been an educator for more than 20 years; I started as a teacher and gradually grew into covering management positions. In 2007, I was the director of a very large school in Almere. The school had grown from 750 children up to almost 1100 children during my time there - huge for a primary school - which was something that made me uncomfortable. The classes were too big - 30-plus children in one class - which made it almost impossible for the teachers to dedicate to each child the attention they deserved.
In 2007, my multi-school director at that moment, Peter van Kranenburg, decided to start a private school and invited me to join him in this adventure. Together we travelled across Holland, but we also went to Scotland, the United States, Scandinavia, to learn about new approaches to elementary schooling. You can say we were on a quest for the perfect educational concept, and that’s exactly what our goal was - to create the best school there could possibly be, a school we would want to send our own children to. It took us about a year to fine-tune the details of our concept, and in August 2008 we started our first school in Laren.
Your concept is based on a holistic approach to learning and the philosophy of 'the 4Qs'. Can you explain this a bit more?
Our holistic approach is based on Stephen Covey’s theory of the 4Qs. We all know the importance of the development of a child’s mental intelligence, or IQ, and in the past decade we began to appreciate also the role of the Emotional Intelligence, the EQ. But Covey’s work expands our understanding of personal development by highlighting the importance of Spiritual Intelligence, SQ - where our self-confidence has its roots, and of Physical Intelligence, the source of our energy. At Florencius, we don’t look at the child on an IQ and EQ basis alone, we pay equal attention to the other two intelligences. I believe the SQ is probably the most important for us, because Spiritual Intelligence concerns a child’s self-image, confidence, identity, which are all fundamental aspects if we want our children to develop into healthy, successful people.
Another crucial point in our educational approach is that we first of all look at what a child can do instead of what she or he can’t do. When a child comes to our school, we always start with assessing what are their talents. Then of course we also look at the challenges, but we believe that when you approach the child as a person, when you make sure they feel comfortable, safe, understood, only then you can start introducing them to learning. Every year, we begin with a development plan tailored especially for the talents and the challenges of every child, and that’s our lead through the year.
One of Florencius International School’s goals is to teach children to respond to the changing world that they live in. How does your method achieve that?
Our society changes very fast, much faster than we can imagine. We designed our curriculum specifically to help our children be ready for changes. We emphasize the importance of being open for new things and able to respectfully communicate with people coming from different cultures. Our philosophy is all about embracing the differences between each one of us to the advantage of everybody. We believe elementary education plays a key role in helping create a much more inclusive, tolerant society where there is understanding, respect and appreciation for people of every country.
Disclaimer: Florencius International School has paid to be featured on Amsterdam Mamas because they believe that their services would be of interest and benefit to our readers, and we think so too. For more information on sponsored posts and advertising on Amsterdam Mamas, please see our Advertising and Disclosure policy.
Marta is a filmmaker, freelance writer, and aspiring novelist who spends most of her days hustling time to write between the challenges of being a Toddler Mama and Household CEO. She's the founder of The Story Desk, a very independent screenwriting collective, and she loves to tell embarrassing stories about motherhood on her personal blog Baby Blues & Rock'N'Roll. Find her also on Facebook and Instagram.
photo credits: Florencius International School