SPM has got right mix of academics,sports

Quest interview with Medha Pandit ,Principal of SPM English School,Pune.

Written by Express News Service | Published: September 18, 2012 4:06 am

Principal of the Secondary section of the SPM English School,Medha Pandit,talks about the inception of the school,its founding values and morals and why the place continues to enjoy a very good academic run along with a parallel section of achievements in sports and extracurricular activities.

Tell us about the inception of the school

The school was founded in 1986 when our parent body the Shikshan Prasarak Mandali,which runs 41 educational centres (as of 2012) felt the need to start an English medium school in the vicinity of educational institutes like SP College,and NMV Marathi School. These institutes are also run by them so the idea was to create an educational centre to cater to all kinds of students. Keeping that in mind,our first principal Madhavi Kapoor took up the task of running the SPM English Medium school. We started with the junior and the senior kindergarten levels in 1986 with a total strength of only 40 students. However,the idea was always to ensure that all the students received individual attention. The policy continues even now. We have 612 students now in the secondary section from classes five to 10,with the same policy being followed throughout all the divisions from nursery to class 10. Another thing that we had always been clear about when we began the school was to ensure a campus where children could be children. They could laugh,shout,play,study and develop themselves,all on the same campus. For a school to be located in the old city where there is a huge paucity of space owing to the expansion and the narrow roads,and for us to have a campus as big as this along with a huge playground where children can play undisturbed from the noise outside,are something we have credited the school management with.

The school has seen a lot of changes since its inception in 1986. Can you elaborate on them?

As mentioned,we began with just the kindergarten section and gradually took to adding a new classroom to the campus every year. Our first batch of class 10 students passed in 1995. Over the years,we have ensured that along with academics and sports,the school has well-run and well-equipped laboratories and libraries,an important aspect of the changing times. Hence we have a separate library for the senior and primary sections that allow them to not just read books during the dedicated library period but also get books issued for more dedicated reading. In fact,another thing that we have done is,we ask the students to come to the school library that is open throughout summer and winter vacations. They can come,read and also get books issued during vacations. This helps them to be well informed. We have also made general knowledge a mandatory subject in the curriculum and we keep encouraging the students to take part in quizzes,intra- and inter-school. These are some of the many changes that have happened here. Also,sport being an essential component of the overall development of the child,once a week the classteacher of every class takes the children to the ground to let them play. It not only helps them observe the behaviour of students on the field but also gives them a fair insight into the mental progress of every child.

Working hours of the school are an interesting point for not just children but also parents. Why have you chosen these timings for them?

Our school working hours are from 10.20 to 4 pm. We chose this timing because we didn’t want to run the school in two shifts and to ensure that both the children and their parents had adequate time to prepare for classes. However,a lot of students are usually in school by 9am. The reason being,we encourage them to take part in the mathematics scholarships and various other competitive exams. The extra classes for them begin at 9am. Also,post school,the students play various games on the main school ground until 5pm. This makes it a convenient time for working parents to drop and collect students daily. What it also does is,it gives the children the much needed playtime and exercise in the evenings,something that most of them do not get owing to the excessive coaching and tuition classes they attend. It helps them improve their physical abilities and stamina too. Evening time is also reserved for serious sports coaching for various inter-school games we participate in. We work six days a week,and Saturday is half-day for the students.

The school also has a compulsory time reserved for extracurricular activities. What kind of activities does the school indulge in?

For starters,we have a dedicated fine arts department where it is compulsory for a student to take up dramatics,dance,tabla and other music lessons. Up to class 4,they have the option of shifting their choice but after the secondary level it becomes compulsory to stick to the branch they wish to pursue. By the time they graduate from school they have a fair amount of knowledge in that particular field which helps them if they wish to pursue a career in the same. In fact,they are given professional training as far as the courses are concerned. So,for a student studying dramatics,he or she learns about the stage lighting,props,style of acting,dialogue delivery and so on. A lot of our students,in fact,have worked on television serials and even Marathi reality shows even as they are studying now. This is all due to the training that they receive here. Others also join the debating club,or elocution and general knowledge clubs. These things,we have always felt,have been important to ensure that the children have an all-round development .

How does the school fare in academics?

Thanks to the well-trained teachers and their in-depth knowledge in their fields,we have seen a 100 per cent pass rate for our Class 10 students since the first batch passed in 1995. This year,we had 28 students secure over 90 per cent in the SSC exams. Even at the scholarship exams,out of the 45 who took the exam,19 got scholarships. It just goes on to show that we are not just growing well but also showing a very healthy progress rate. The school also received the ISO 9001:2001 certification in 2001. We are currently certified as an ISO 9001:2008 school. These are the many things that are a sureshot representation of the standard of academic excellence here. Besides,we also have a list of events that the students and teachers are involved in during the entire academic year. It is given in the school calendar with month-wise break-up for every class. It helps us to organise and plan events like class competitions intra-division competitions well in advance.

Finally,could you tell us about the events that the school undertakes outside regular activities of the day-to-day working of classes?

We organise street walks for the children where they display placards and banners regarding issues like traffic safety,pollution and world peace. Recently,on World Hiroshima Day,they even took out a procession through the old city to talk about world peace. The children also clean the premises of the school themselves on a regular basis. All the cultural activities of the school are conducted by the students themselves including the compering so that they can rid themselves of their stage fright.

A field trip and a pleasure trip are organised every year for the students of all the classes where they go to places of national or historic importance. Also,a good deal of our students have made their way to the NDA after having learnt about the institute on a regular basis through these field trips. On the whole these things help to promote their overall development and make them balanced and well-developed individuals.

—As told to Rohan Swamy

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