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John Milliss: Head of Campus for Australian Independent School in Bali

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

I was born in Sydney Australia and I graduated from the University of Sydney. I completed a Master of Education in Special Educational Needs and I have worked in the field of Education for 27 years. Before Bali I worked in schools in the Lower North Shore and Eastern Suburbs of Sydney.

Can you tell us about the new campus?

Our new campus has been many years in the making and we are very excited that this year we will be opening our doors to the Bali community. The new campus is centrally located on Jalan Imam Bonjol. Our eco-friendly buildings have been designed for optimal air flow and natural daylight. Facilities are quite comprehensive. There is a spacious 850 sqm multi-purpose court, a pro-surface outdoor tennis court, a soccer field, a 25m swimming pool, in addition to an impressive amphitheatre. The state-of-the-art science lab complements the specialist spaces available for music, art and drama. Children have a great playground, while parents will be pleased to know they can drop by and have a relaxing chat with other parents at our rooftop café.

What would you say would be some of the challenges in switching your curriculum in the Senior School to the IB system?

The Authorisation phase for the IB Diploma Programme was completed over a two-and-a-half-year period. During this time, we addressed many challenges and trained all our teachers working in the Senior School on the IB philosophy, curriculum and core components. The curriculum is not that dissimilar to other curriculums. It is the “CORE” (Extended Essay, Creativity – Activity – Service, Theory of Knowledge) that makes it different and this is why universities are very interested in recruiting IB DP students.

Enrolments are always a major source of anxiety for school administrators and boards. What is the environment in Bali like?

Mount Agung put a few people off moving to Bali this year and enrolling their children. Over the years we have seen enrolments go up and down but we are anticipating that our enrolments will increase once the new campus opens. Bali is still an attractive place for expats to come and experience the culture and enjoy an amazing sea change away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

How does AIS in Bali differ from other educational organisations in Bali? What can families expect from an education at AIS in Bali?

Our main difference would be the curriculum we offer. We follow the Early Years National Framework for pre-school, the Australian curriculum from foundation to year 10 and the IB Diploma Programme for Years 11 and 12. Our school year starts in January and finishes in December so it is an easy fit for those looking to continue education in Australia. Families that enrol their child at AIS can expect a very warm welcome to our school community. We are student-focused, our teachers are very caring professionals and have a child-centred approach to learning. We understand that not all students learn at the same pace and in the same way. The purpose-built new campus is on land that we own which also is a big difference from other educational organisations here on the island.

For potential students and parents, what advice can you give them regarding their choices between the schools in Bali?

Every school is different and you need to look at all schools to see which one the right fit for your child is. Ask questions, speak to families who are enrolled in the school. At AIS we encourage prospective parents to talk to parents in our school community to help answer any questions or concerns they may have.

How do students participate in community giving? Are there other programs to note from the school?

Service is embedded in all areas of the curriculum and our students are encouraged to “give back” to the wider community in which they live. What this looks like to a five-year-old is very different to a 17-year-old, but all students participate in the various programs set up by the school or by individual students. AIS supports the Bali Children Foundation and each class sponsors a child through the foundation. We are very lucky to have the opportunity to live in Indonesia and especially in Bali. Therefore, as visitors, we encourage our students to help others in a sustainable manner that benefits the entire community.


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