How to inspire young minds to be the best. Uche Monu – Silver Crest School
We are looking at the trends in our educational system and the positive activities of the private sector-based businesses in our learning reforms and career building.
In this article, we feature Mrs Uche Monu, The Director of Silver Crest School, Lekki Lagos.
Let’s get to meet you.
My name is Uche Monu. A wife and mother of 4 amazing angels. I am an educator and an entrepreneur. I am from Delta state and I live in the city of Lagos. I am the Director of Silver Crest School in Lekki, Lagos.
What inspired you into getting into the education business?
I would say that my mum unconsciously influenced me into becoming an educator. She was an outstanding educator with a career that spanned over 35 years before she retired. I did not know I was passionate about education until 2010 after I returned from the United Kingdom with my family. I founded and successfully ran Explore Creativity Centre in the city of Asaba, Delta state. It was an after-school centre where skills such as Karate, Music, Dance, Art, Swimming, and many more were harnessed and developed in children. Explore Creativity Centre started with Ballet classes in my living room and with only four (4) children out of which two (2) were mine. From there, we grew so big that we moved to our premises in 2012. Then, I realized that I had a passion for nurturing children, and this propelled me to start a holistic school, Silver Crest School, Lekki.
I decided to hone my skills by training and acquiring more knowledge, thereby making me a professionally trained educationist.
I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in the French Language from Ambrose Alli University and I am an alumnus of the Lagos Business School Senior Management programme (SMP47). I also obtained a Post Graduate Diploma in Education (International) from the University of Nottingham UK, as well as certifications from Meadow Hall Finishing School for Teachers, Continuous Professional Development and Classroom Observation in London, UK.
I hold a Diploma in Special Education Needs from the Martin Foundation Teachers’ Institute. I am an Early Childhood educator as well as a certified Montessori Directress with an International Diploma in Montessori Method of Education from Modern Montessori Institute, London.
I am a life-long learner and passionate about the education of a total child: one that is able to thrive anywhere in the world if given the right opportunities to excel.
How long has your school been operational and what is your philosophy or vision?
Silver Crest School was founded in September 2020. We are guided by the philosophy that children learn in different ways and each child is unique. Thus, emphasis is placed on the development of the total child by identifying and nurturing his or her inborn creativity, strengths, and interests. We support inclusive education and strive to create a conducive learning environment that enables children to explore, discover and engage: an environment that supports the education of the ‘whole’ child.
Our aim is to develop impressive individuals who are confident, independent and ready to flourish.
Our Vision: To inspire young minds to be the best they can, showing care and respect for themselves and for others
Our Mission: We strive to create a holistic learning environment and to raise 21st-century lifelong learners that are adaptable and able to thrive globally.
Our Core Values: Character grounded in the core values of Respect, Excellence, Dedication, Integrity and Trust.
Most schools accept students with many different academic, social, and emotional backgrounds, what’s the profile of the ideal student of your school?
We are an inclusive school which means that we accept children with diverse abilities. We believe that every child matters, hence we accept and understand the needs of our students, and identify the differences, diversity and cultural backgrounds of our students including their physical, cognitive, literary and social abilities.
What curriculum do you use? Is it more student- or teacher-centred?
At Silver Crest School, we strongly believe that education should be holistic and foster both a child’s academic ability as well as their character, and we deliver on this through our robust curriculum that is child-centred, creative, balanced, broad, and relevant to today’s world. In our nursery school, we offer the British Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum while incorporating some of the Montessori principles and resources. For our primary school, we utilize a unique blend of the British and Nigerian Curricula. We also offer skill acquisition and a variety of co-curricular programmes.
What are your class sizes and student-to-teacher ratios?
Our classrooms are small-sized with a maximum capacity of 12 pupils per classroom which is one of our unique selling points. This will ensure that every child is given the necessary attention and carried along. We have 1 teacher per class with assistant teachers and nannies that support the class teachers when necessary.
What extracurricular activities do you offer?
We offer Coding and Robotics, Art and crafts, Music, Football, Brownies, Boy Scout, Baking, Karate, Dance etc.
How do you integrate technology into the classroom and curriculum?
We are a 21st century school and technology is part of our lesson delivery as well as our school operations. Our classrooms have Interactive White Boards, projectors, computers, and CCTV monitoring. Our children can navigate the computer effectively and we have a school portal where the children are able to log in to complete given tasks.
Learning management systems are also used to provide hybrid teaching and learning. Our reports, billing and all of our processes are automated and done on our school portal.
Do you have any systematic approach to measure individual achievement and progress of your pupils and how do you deal with a child who isn’t meeting academic expectations or who has gaps in his or her knowledge?
As the saying goes, “You cannot measure what you do not monitor”. Effective monitoring is essential in measuring the progress and achievement of every child and even our teachers. It starts with the careful planning of our lessons where the different learning styles and individual needs of the pupils are put into consideration. Differentiation is utilized when planning our lessons to ensure that lessons are planned according to the learning abilities of the students. Our lessons encourage critical thinking in our students and are brought to life by relating it to real-life scenarios and working with concrete and hands-on materials because children learn best by doing as well as being involved and taking ownership of their learning.
Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of America said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”.
Our well-trained teachers reflect after every lesson is delivered to ensure the aim of the lesson is achieved and the pupils are able to apply the knowledge gained. If the child is unable able to grasp the concept taught, we organize intervention classes or one-on-one teaching to provide additional support to pupils that need it.
Would you encourage parents to get involved in school life?
Yes. We partner with our parents to raise a total child. We involve them and communicate with them regularly. Parent Seminars, Coffee Morning, Open Days, and other related activities are held every term to ensure our parents are involved in the education of their children.
What policies and regulations do you have in place? Who oversees these?
We believe that policies are important because they create the structure necessary to meet the educational needs of our students.
We have established rules, procedures and standards for quality learning and safety, as well as expectations and accountability. We have about 30 policies that cover all areas such as Safe-Guarding and Child Protection Policy, Curriculum Policy, Admissions Policy, SEND Policy, Recruitment Policy, Behaviour and Discipline Policy, Parent Involvement Policy, Anti-bullying Policy, Attendance Policy, Complaints Policy, Code of Conduct Policy and many more.
Our Head Teacher, Human Resource Manager and Administrative Officer oversee the review of the policies when necessary.
Looking at the educational sector in Nigeria, are there areas you feel the government needs to reform or probably support more?
There are many areas in the educational sector that the Nigerian government needs to intervene in quickly. I will mention three of them which are the curriculum, technology and inclusion. Our curriculum needs to be overhauled to meet the 21st century needs of our new generation of children that are internet savvy.
Our national curriculum needs to reflect 21st Century skills such as creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, reasoning, synthesizing information, research skills, questioning, innovation, personal expression etc. The world has changed, and the COVID-19 pandemic made everyone and even our government realize that our educational system is lagging in terms of technology. The children in public schools suffered major setbacks because their schools were not equipped for virtual learning. Most of them have never even seen or used a computer.
It is quite disheartening, and I think this is a key area that our government needs to address. Finally, inclusive education is something I am passionate about. Inclusion in education refers to a model wherein students with special needs spend most or all of their time with non-special needs students. Special needs are difficulties and disabilities that make it more challenging for a child to do what he or she wants to do. When special needs start to affect learning, they are referred to as special educational needs. They can also be referred to as significant learning difficulties that make it more challenging for a child to learn like other children of the same age.
Our current educational system does not cater for children with these special needs; in terms of curriculum, training, lesson delivery and even in our assessments. Every student is meant to sit the same standardised exam and are graded the same way not putting into consideration the difficulties of a special needs child. Even the teachers are not trained to identify and cater for their peculiar needs. So that child is labelled and made to feel he or she is dull, whereas the child may just have a learning difficulty or is dyslexic or autistic.
I think that Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) is one major area that the government needs to address quickly.
I believe it should start with the review of our education policy by people who are progressive, who value education and who have the interest of children and our nation at heart.