The British Early Years Centre (BEYC) is an International Preschool and Nursery located in Phayathai, Bangkok. What makes this little school special is that they are making a huge effort to go green.
Bangkok Greenie interviewed Mr. Nick Thorne, who co-founded the school with fellow teacher Mr. David Walters in 2011 and is currently Head Teacher and one of the school’s Business Directors too. Find out more about why Nick and his team started BEYC and how their school is going green!
Interview with Nick
1. Tell us a little about BEYC.
BEYC accepts children from 12 months – 6 Years. Whilst we generally follow the British Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS) we are continually ‘tweaking’ our curriculum to not only suit young learners growing up in Thailand, but also to prepare these children for tomorrow’s ever changing world. We have a very effective play-based learning environment that is constantly evolving. The style of teaching, the individual learning styles of the children, the activities used to engage those children, the ultimate effectiveness and value of everything we do is under constant scrutiny.
As well as choosing topics that the children love we also have some important topics that we believe the children should learn about. Health, nutrition, renewable energy sources and looking after the environment are all topic areas that the children will learn about at some point. In this way we can feel happy knowing that we have done an important part in best preparing the children for their lives ahead.
We were two British teachers that wanted to start a school that really broke away from the norms of educational institutions that we had both become bored of and unfulfilled in. We wanted to create a learning environment where all children really do achieve what they should, where no single child would slip through the net and every child would reach their academic and creative potential.
3. There are many international schools in Bangkok, what do you think sets you apart from them?
Well, to my knowledge, we are the only 100% organic school in Bangkok. We cater organic meals to our students, and all soaps, cleaning agents, sanitisers and shampoos that we use are also naturally made from organic fruit enzymes. We get some of these from a local organic brand called Lamoon. We really wanted to go all the way in minimising toxins. The swimming pool is also salt-water.
Whilst there may be many International Schools in the city there really aren’t many like us. We are quite rebellious when it comes to following curriculums and methods that are outdated and hold no value. We both like to always find the most efficient means by which to do anything. Whether that is helping the children learn and develop or cutting teacher workloads wherever and whenever we can.
We currently work with organic retailers including Dairy Home, Radiance Wholefoods, Lemon Farm & Betagro, but this coming year should see a shift toward more direct links with small farms. We prefer giving the children super-foods like spinach and kale but it obviously depends on the availability. For this reason our menu has to be flexible. As long as there are lots of vegetables and colour involved in a meal, we are happy.
5. Do you have a recycling program in school?
We just started. Its been planned for a long time and it just seemed to make sense to us that the children are an integral part of it. We recycle plastic, paper and organic waste. The plastic and paper is collected and the organic waste is composted and used in our garden. The children are very much involved in the process of separating the three main waste items.
Our Kindergarten 3 (Year 1) children just started a topic about the Environment. We had a recycling company visit the school to talk to the children and we ordered some recycling bins. The plan is now for these children to educate the younger children. We are pretty excited about the project really.
6. Do you have any water saving programs?
We have a water trough to collect water for the plants. We also have an Aquaponics system that saves water. The water from the fish tank feeds the plants and the nutrients from the plants feed the fish. We teach the children to turn off the taps while they are brushing their teeth. They are pretty good at this now.
When KG3 do their renewable energy sources topic, we plan to make a small scale solar panel, as well as a windmill. Possibly a water mill for the aquaponics system. Lots of exciting projects in the pipeline.
We are developing an App. for parents to track their child’s progress. This will have lots of really nice features. It is pretty complex but ultimately the perfect way to communicate the individual learning needs of a child with the parent.
7. If you had to rate your business on a scale of 1-5 where 1 is the least Eco-friendly, and 5 is the most Eco-friendly, how would you rate yourselves and why?
As much as I’d love to say 4, with all honesty its probably 2-3. We use a lot of electricity; running air-cons and electronic resources. I’d rather be honest and be always changing and improving than to lie to myself and not reach our potential. We are now recycling and composting our waste and who knows maybe there is a solar energy project in the near-distant future.
Green Rating: 3/5 on the green-o-meter. Its refreshing to see a blossoming school take a different angle on education and place importance on being organic, recycling and taking care of the environment. They have future plans to keep going greener. I look forward to seeing where they are in 3 years time.
** Opinions are Bangkok Greenie’s own. Note this rating does not rate their juice, nor their service, it is purely a rating of how eco-friendly, organic the business is. Rating given in November 2014.
For more information on BEYC visit their website or contact them directly.