Top 10 shortlist for

Innovation

Discover the schools named in the Top 10 shortlist for the World’s Best School Prize for Innovation

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About the World's Best School Prize for Innovation

From latest tech-in-ed to mental health. From hard science to visual arts. From entrepreneurship to favourable environments. Recognising the schools which are breaking from tradition in their schools with these and other practices to beat challenges and accelerate progress to improve education, through ‘leapfrogging’ innovative approaches.

Meet the Top 10 shortlisted schools

Escola Técnica Estadual Professor Agamenon Magalhães

📍 Recife, Brazil

Escuela Emilia Lascar

📍 Peñaflor, Chile

Eveline High School

📍 Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

‘I love dyslexia’ EFL School

📍 Athens, Greece

MCD Co-ed Primary School Lajpat Nagar III

📍 New Delhi, India

N-High School

📍 Okinawa, Japan

Sekolah Kebangsaan Kempandang

📍 Kuantan, Malaysia

Shining Star International School

📍 Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

SVKM’s CNM School

📍 Mumbai, India

St Helen’s School

📍 London, England, United Kingdom

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Escola Técnica Estadual Professor Agamenon Magalhães

📍 Recife, Brazil

🏫 Government school

👥 1501 to 2000 secondary students

Turning students into social entrepreneurs

Escola Técnica Estadual Professor Agamenon Magalhães (ETEPAM), a secondary school in Recife, Brazil, builds creative gadgets and computer software that address some of the biggest social and environmental issues facing the local community today. 

Established in 1928, Escola Técnica Estadual Professor Agamenon Magalhães is considered the country’s first state school. Pursuing a focus in tech, it is an institution that seeks to prepare young students for the future. In order to reduce the rate of dropouts, the school involves itself in developing programmes that encourage entrepreneurialism and the value of social responsibility. 

The crowning achievement of this ambition is Life Up, a social entrepreneurship workshop that has given birth to numerous projects that address the community’s most pressing issues. In addition to addressing community problems through the SDG Goals, Life Up aims to develop new skills such as empathy, communication, research, technology in students that make them more prepared for society, reduce dropouts, and propose an interactive and incremental educational setting where students collaboratively build their academic knowledge with a social purpose.

The first project of Life Up sought to tackle waste and prevent scorpions, cockroaches, rats and mosquitos from being attracted to discarded coconut remains by reusing coconut fibres to make ecological bricks. When the community faced landslides during the rainy season, Life Up launched the “Carpet of Life”, a bio blanket that helps reduce water pollution in rivers. Another project was called “Cangame,” a software that helps autistic students in their studies. Since its launch, the software has been used in 23 different countries and has aided autistic students who have struggled with their speech and communication. 

Student interest surged in the wake of the Life Up workshop; many who had participated in the project found themselves presenting their work at science fairs and business roundtables. 

If Escola Técnica Estadual Professor Agamenon Magalhães were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Innovation, it would use the funds to expand the Life Up project even further, extending the workshop to indigenous schools in rural areas and education programmes in prisons for teenagers and adults.

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Escuela Emilia Lascar

📍 Peñaflor, Chile

🏫 Government school

👥 1001 to 1500 pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and primary students

How a school TV channel inspired students during the pandemic

Escuela Emilia Lascar, a school in Peñaflor, Chile, realised it could overcome the challenges brought by the pandemic by harnessing the power of TV to entice its students to focus on their studies. 

A large public school that caters to over 1,000 children from Kindergarten to the Primary level, Escuela Emilia Lascar has, in its 80-year history, mostly taught children who come from less privileged backgrounds. Currently 91% of its student population has been categorised as belonging to families that are considered vulnerable. The school had increased its enrollment over the years and the majority of its students go on to graduate from the eighth grade. 

But the disruption caused by the pandemic forced the school to re-evaluate how to maintain the same standard of care and education. Due to the scale and technical issues online learning could create, Escuela Emilia Lasca used the power of the small screen to reach its students by launching “Emilia TV” in April 2020. The programme was broadcast live every week, first through Facebook and then on its own YouTube channel. The topics varied, but Emilia TV sought to educate its students on a number of issues that were at the forefront of everyday life such as gender identity and mental health. The content created and published on Emilia TV was a result of a close collaboration between students, teachers, parents and support teams formed to help with the project. 

The channel helped foster a space for students and utilised the influence and prominence of social media to become a useful learning tool that provided a fun and playful kind of education. Because of its success, Emilia TV is now used by other schools and was recognised with two national awards for its innovation. 

When schools reopened, Escuela Emilia Lascar found the pandemic had stifled the students’ self-esteem. To help re-energise and motivate its students, Escuela Emilia Lascar decided to incorporate Emilia TV in its formal classes, giving students a more invigorating way to engage with their studies. 

If Escuela Emilia Lascar were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Innovation, it would use the money to set up a media studio where students could learn more about media and create their own audio and visual content with the best technology and tools available.

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Eveline High School

📍 Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

🏫 Government school

👥 1001 to 1500 secondary students

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‘I love dyslexia’ EFL School

📍 Athens, Greece

🏫 Private/Independent school

👥 101 to 200 primary and secondary students

Introducing the 3Dlexia paradigm

'I love dyslexia' EFL school, an independent institution in Athens, Greece, is unique as a highly specialised school teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) to dyslexic and SEN students. Seeking to challenge the notion that neurodiversity was a burden, the school went above and beyond to develop specific learning tools and an educational model to empower its students to complete their studies with considerable ease. 

The origins of 'I love dyslexia' EFL school started with Ms. Aggeliki Pappa, a specialist in the field who has been recognised by international institutions such as the United Nations for her work.  Pappa didn’t discover she was dyslexic until much later in her adult life - only after her son was diagnosed did she realise why she had struggled in her studies as a child. That epiphany placed her on the path to challenge preconceived notions that dyslexic children couldn’t thrive in English as a foreign and second language like their peers. 

In Greece, help for dyslexic students in the country was limited and for dyslexic students who wanted to learn English as a foreign language, even more so.

Pappa managed to develop an entire education model that sought to accommodate the needs of neurodiverse studies by creating the 3Dlexia for English Method and 3Dlexia paradigm that utilises graphs, maps, images and transformative holistic activities to help learners understand concepts like grammar, syntax, phonemic awareness  in the English language as well as develop their whole self. And very quickly, the model began to produce results, with students managing in some cases to outperform their non-dyslexic peers in the time it took to gain their qualifications. 

By its 12th year, the school had succeeded in providing thousands of dyslexic students in Greece  and globally the tools needed to learn English despite their neurodiversity.

If 'I love dyslexia' EFL school were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Innovation, it would use the funds to create the very first digital platform for EFL and dyslexia – providing an inclusive teaching model that instructors could use anywhere in the world.

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MCD Co-ed Primary School Lajpat Nagar III

📍 New Delhi, India

🏫 Government school

👥 501 to 1000 kindergarten and primary students

Developing parental engagement in low-income communities

MCD Co-ed Primary School Lajpat Nagar III, a primary government school in New Delhi, serves some of the poorest communities in the city. With monthly incomes of under $80, private education is unaffordable and public schools are the only chance for students to receive a quality education. But financial pressures often meant students had to drop out of school to support their families.  MCD Co-ed Primary School Lajpat Nagar III is turning this around. In a typical government school in India, reports show 50% of students from grade 5 cannot read a simple grade 2 text. However, in MCD Co-ed Primary School Lajpat Nagar III, 85% of the students meet or exceed grade-level expectations. Its interventions have seen school enrolment rocket from just nine in 2015 to over 500 today. 

The school works closely with parents so they can see first-hand the value of quality education and dispel the stereotype that government school education is inadequate. The school also ensures that first-generation school students can succeed.

This was achieved through a package of interventions to boost enrolment and attainment and engage parents. The school gently encourages parents to enrol their children and it holds visit days for parents to see how students learn. The school works closely with parents to arrange a suitable time and date so that they do not lose out on any wage-earning hours. The school allows parents to observe classrooms, orients them on school values, conducts frequent community visits and other community-based workshops.  Interventions like this ensured that parents could see the value in the education their children are receiving and be appropriately engaged with their children’s learning. 

The school has invested in rigorous teacher training, including to support activity-based learning, and has significantly boosted attainment.

MCD Co-ed Primary School Lajpat Nagar III exhibits the values of respect, exploration, achievement, courage and honesty. It promotes inclusivity and equity in learning among a diverse student body. 

If MCD Co-ed Primary School Lajpat Nagar III were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Innovation, it would use the money to support the day-to-day functioning of the school and expand its educational special needs programme.

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N-High School

📍 Okinawa, Japan

🏫 Private/Independent school

👥 2000+ secondary students

Bringing studies to life through virtual reality

N-High School, a correspondence upper secondary school in Okinawa, Japan, immerses students in virtual worlds to bring their studies to life.

Established in 2016, N-High School is the largest private school in Japan, with around 20,000 students and 33 satellite campuses in both urban and rural areas. Classes are taught in person and online and lessons not only focus on traditional subjects such as Mathematics and Literature but on AI and machine learning as well. Its students come from a range of backgrounds, encompassing children from higher income to lower income families. 

N-High School launched its VR programme in 2021 to allow students to enhance their studies from home by using virtual spaces. Students could turn to technology to visit historical sites in distant countries, or take part in otherwise hazardous scientific experiments safely from home.  In their English language studies, Smart Tutor is used to conduct lessons with virtual avatars called “Holosapiens” that converse with pupils and evaluate their performance in fluency, speed and eye contact. Now, about half of the 7,143 classes available in the school are VR-enabled.

In February 2022, the school also launched an interview training programme designed to help students prepare for employment and university entrance exams. The school also partnered with Kinki University, Chuo University and Komazawa University to allow students to experience campus virtually at any time. 

If N-High School were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Innovation, it would consult students on how the money should be spent to improve their education.

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Sekolah Kebangsaan Kempandang

📍 Kuantan, Malaysia

🏫 Government school

👥 1501 to 2000 primary students

Building an automated system to track student progress

Sekolah Kebangsaan Kempadang, a primary school in Kuantan, Malaysia faced twin challenges in 2021. Not only did it have to contend with teaching and tracking student progress in the pandemic, the Ministry of Education’s decision to scrap the end-of-primary test known as UPSR in favour of ongoing, school-based assessment left it unable to access real-time student learning data from which it could inform lesson planning to support all students. Its innovative solution was to create SMARTZOOM, a fully automated tracking system that follows students’ progress in their studies. 

SMARTZOOM uses data input on Google Sheets and Google Chrome as all Malaysian teachers have a designated Google account linked to the Ministry of Education. Using that data, staff were able to devise concrete and detailed lesson plans tailored to their specific class. Supporting teachers as well as Panel Heads were given training material in the form of YouTube videos and workshops that helped them with the transition. 

The majority of the student population of Sekolah Kebangsaan Kempadang come from the bottom 40% of household incomes in Malaysia. Despite the vulnerability of its students, the school has invoked a strong faith in its ability to educate those who walk through its doors. Since it became a Trust School in 2015, its enrolment rate has increased by 6% or 7% every year. 

If Sekolah Kebangsaan Kempadang were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Innovation, it would use the funds to improve and expand the capacity of SMARTZOOM and share it with other schools around the country. The money would also be invested in supporting the co-curriculum activities of the school, for instance helping students to continue participating in the national robotics competition.

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Shining Star International School

📍 Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

🏫 Private/Independent - International school

👥 1001 to 1500 kindergarten, primary and secondary students

Instilling Gratitude, Positivity, Resilience, Grit and Tolerance

Shining Star International School, an independent institution in Abu Dhabi, UAE, has cultivated an environment in which its students are trained to be highly resilient to all forms of mental stress and has been recognised as one of the best schools in Abu Dhabi by Which School Advisor.

Students’ lives are the heart of the school’s work and the school is dedicated to helping them build a future for themselves after they graduate. For this, the school recognises that academic instruction alone is not enough and that outside their work they are likely to face numerous mental and emotional stresses and strains in their lives. 

The school set out to strengthen its students’ resilience through Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), with a mental training programme that sought to instil the values of “Gratitude, Positivity, Resilience, Grit and Tolerance”. Alongside traditional studies, teachers are trained to construct their lessons to create situations where students learn to handle pressure. Teachers were trained on how to create challenging situations to develop emotional control on inner negativity within the students while performing teamwork. Usually, one lesson is entirely focused on the Gratitude concept itself, where students are taught to be grateful for what they have in comparison with those less fortunate, and students take modules in moral science and philosophy.  This is then reinforced with reflection sessions, journal writing and assemblies that celebrate students’ contributions and achievements. 

If Shining Star International School were to win World’s Best School Prize for Innovation, it would use the funds to extend its research in helping children in other countries who have been traumatised by natural disasters and conflicts and help restore the confidence lost through harrowing experiences. It would also use the money to create a programme, free of charge, to train teachers this educational model. 

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SVKM’s CNM School

📍 Mumbai, India

🏫 Private/Independent school

👥 2000+ pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, primary and secondary students

Building STEM skills and growing

SVKM's CNM School in Mumbai, India, took up a challenge in 2018 to radically change its curriculum from a conservative content-based approach to one focussed on competency. The new curriculum is centred on STEM, skills and a drive for students to learn about and work towards global issues. It paid off: two years later, the school had achieved the NABET Accreditation from the Quality Council of India and was awarded the International Dimension in School Certificate from the British Council in January 2021.

Established in 1997 by Shri Vile Parle Kelavani Mandal, a charitable trust in India, SVKM's CNM School began with just 25 students, one teacher and one support staff. By 2005, the school had enrolled over 3,000 students across eight divisions that taught from kindergarten to the secondary level and had a faculty of 175 teaching staff. 

Its new curriculum saw the school launch a ‘Global Outlook’ programme focused on merging STEM skill building and other subjects such as history to help broaden its students' insights on global issues. One event, ‘HI –STEAM’ focused on teaching the history of major discoveries or inventions throughout the ages. SVKM's CNM School also incorporated ‘Laundry Day’, an activity that allowed students to experiment and evaluate how laundry is done across the globe – analysing the different type of stain removers and detergents that could be used, such as Hydrogen Peroxide, ketchup, olive oil or even juice. Another event launched in 2018, called ‘Cutting Edge’, encouraged students to create bags from old dupattas and bedsheets that were eventually sold at a number of events. During COVID the focus shifted towards selling fashion masks on social media platforms. For these efforts, the School Enterprise Challenge awarded them the Gold Level award for Business Plan in March 2022.

If SVKM's CNM School were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Innovation it would use the money to extend the Global Outlook programme and compile the data into a resource database that would use expert videos, lesson plans and provide a certificate at the end of the course. This ideally would be shared with teachers all around the world. 

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St Helen’s School

📍 London, England, United Kingdom

🏫 Private/Independent - International school

👥 1001 to 1500 pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, primary and secondary students

Giving students an Oxbridge learning experience

St Helen’s School, an independent all-girls school in London, United Kingdom has pioneered the use of Nudge theory in education that can be replicated anywhere in the world, at very little cost. 

Located in the heart of Northwood in North West London, St Helen’s School prides itself on providing a specialist education that caters to the development of young women. The school encourages its students to take risks and celebrates the virtues of critical thinking and curiosity - best reflected in its ‘Nudge for Learning’ programme. 

The school took inspiration from the works of behavioural economists such as Richard Thaler’s ‘Nudge Theory’ - a concept that links positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions to influence the decision making of individuals or groups. Through that framework, an educational model based on tutorial learning was created. Every week, a small group of girls come together in a session that is primarily driven by the ideas and independent research of the students themselves. 

They are set an academic paper to read where they are required to present their thoughts on the topic to their assigned supervisors. This education ‘nudge’ fosters close bonds between the mentees and mentor that helps provide more of a focus on the needs of each student and tailors to them personally. The school also provides attractive termly academic challenges for all students - from musical composition competitions to philosophy essays, there is something for everyone. Complementary pastoral care through coaching also acts to boost the confidence of its female students, nurturing their talent and helping them to become reflective and deep thinkers. Crucial to such success is working with parents to bring them on board with timely and easy access webinars so that they are part of the learning process.

Bolstered by the success of the model and taking note of the disruption caused by COVID, St Helen’s School has grown its outreach programme that sought to help marginalised students with their learning by launching STEM and Arts workshops. As St Helen’s girls have benefitted from mentoring and coaching, they are now passing on those learned skills to their peers in other schools. 

If St Helen’s School were to win the World’s Best School Prize for Innovation, it would use the prize money to expand its outreach programme to local partner schools and institutions across the world.

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