Scindia School principal: Boarding schools help develop students’ social skills and intelligence

The Scindia School principal shares his insights about the advantages of boarding school, child academic progress and many more.

Ajay Singh, Principal, The Scindia School, GwaliorAjay Singh, Principal, The Scindia School, Gwalior

Aeshwarya Tiwari | February 25, 2024 | 02:02 PM IST

NEW DELHI: The Scindia School is a boys’ school in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, and was founded as The Sardar School in 1897 by Madhavrao Scindia I, said Ajay Singh, its principal during an interaction with Careers360. Edited excerpts from the conversation below.


Q. What does a boarding school offer, in terms of education, that a day-school doesn’t?

A. In my view, the overall development of a child in a boarding school is distinct and holistic. Boarding schools offer unique exposure that contributes to a child’s independence. I envision my child growing from dependence to independence, minimising reliance on gadgets and engaging in physical activities on the expansive fields available in boarding schools. In this environment, my child can learn to make decisions independently, starting with simple tasks, eventually preparing for more significant life choices.

The boarding school experience includes taking responsibility for personal tasks such as making one’s bed, self-care, and building strong bonds with batchmates, seniors, and juniors. Boarding schools, in my opinion, provide a clear advantage in developing social skills and social intelligence. While day schools are also beneficial, they cater to different needs.

I believe opting for a boarding school adds layers of dimensions to a child’s development, offering a unique and comprehensive educational experience.


Q. What aspects of schooling and curriculum should the reform agenda address most urgently?

A. The reform agenda for schools should prioritise a holistic approach to education, emphasising innovation, entrepreneurship, and public service. It is crucial to embrace technology and foster global citizenship while promoting essential soft skills, such as communication and adaptability. Inclusivity and sustainability education must be central, accompanied by continuous professional development for educators. A balanced and flexible assessment system is necessary for a comprehensive educational approach.

This entails prioritising a well-rounded education that encompasses academic excellence, creativity, critical thinking, and character building. These elements must be integrated into the curriculum through project-based learning, startup initiatives, and real-world problem-solving to prepare students for a dynamic future. Embracing technology as a learning tool and ensuring classrooms are equipped for modern education, including digital literacy and coding, is essential.

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Additionally, recognising the importance of communication, collaboration, adaptability, and emotional intelligence, and incorporating these soft skills into the education framework is crucial. Infusing the curriculum with environmental education and global citizenship principles will raise awareness about sustainability and instil a sense of responsibility towards the community and the world.

When considering educational reforms, it becomes apparent that the alignment of three crucial elements shapes the educational experience – curriculum, transaction of the curriculum, and assessment. The curriculum sets the foundation, the transaction occurs within the classroom, and assessment serves as the driving force governing both.

To foster a more effective learning environment, it is imperative to re-evaluate our approach to assessments. The current emphasis should shift towards assessments that encourage critical thinking, innovative responses, and the ability to draw conclusions. Rather than a mere regurgitation of information, the assessment process should prompt students to engage deeply with the content.


Q. What factors within the school environment do you believe have a significant impact on a child’s academic progress?

A. I believe that the curriculum extends beyond the traditional academic setting. It encompasses not only what a child learns within the classroom but also the invaluable experiences gained outside it. Exposure beyond the classroom significantly contributes to a student’s academic advancement, fostering essential skills such as analysis, critical thinking, effective communication — both verbal and written.

Activities like debates, Model United Nations (MUN), and elocution play a crucial role in this combined evolution. They enhance a student’s ability to articulate thoughts and express ideas coherently, complementing academic growth. Similarly, sports – an integral part of the curriculum – imparts lessons that extend beyond the classroom. On the field, students acquire qualities like camaraderie, team spirit, and collaboration, and crucially, learn to cope with victories and defeats. Handling defeats, in particular, is a lesson that cannot be explicitly taught but is experienced through the dynamics of winning and losing.

The school environment plays a pivotal role. I draw a connection here to boarding schools, as they provide an encompassing atmosphere that nurtures not only academic growth but also the overall development of a child. This environment instils resilience, a forward-looking mindset, and the ability to bounce back after setbacks, ensuring continual progress and personal growth.


Q. How significantly is technology influencing teaching and learning in your school?

A. At our school, we leverage technology to enrich teaching and learning. We utilise online resources, educational apps, and multimedia presentations to engage students. Our blended learning approach combines traditional instruction with digital tools, fostering flexibility and personalised learning.

With advanced technology infrastructure, including digital classrooms and interactive whiteboards, we’ve observed increased student engagement and digital literacy. While technology enhances learning, we maintain a balance with traditional methods to provide a holistic educational experience.

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Q. What distinctive academic practices set your school apart?

A. Real-life teaching is a cornerstone of our methodology, utilising campus resources such as meadows, waterbodies, and various thematic areas to integrate subjects like biology, chemistry, mathematics, art, literature, and poetry writing. We actively involve junior students in mini-research projects, cultivating their understanding of the research process and encouraging them to tackle problems independently. This approach instils a sense of inquiry and problem-solving.

We also host the SOBA Old Boys in Residence Program, inviting alumni from diverse fields for master classes. Additionally, we have initiated multidisciplinary teaching, particularly in classes seventh, eighth, and ninth. Two teachers from different subjects collaborate to demonstrate the interconnectedness of subjects.

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Specifically for science education, we are implementing creative approaches by utilising common household items such as dough or finding ways to generate electricity using everyday materials. The objective is to debunk the conception that science is confined to laboratories or specific settings.

Teachers employ innovative approaches within the academic framework, making history lessons dynamic by using the campus itself as a historical artefact. This allows students to grasp concepts such as architectural materials and the endurance of structures over centuries. Overall, these creative strategies contribute to a more engaging and effective learning experience.

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