• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site
ФКН

English International School's teacher and pupils talking about ICEF

ICEF’s double-diploma degree programme draws on Russian and British educational philosophies, aiming to offer their students the best aspects of each university system. For Moscovites that want to experience British education from an even earlier age, though, the English International School in the eastern suburb of Novogireyevo offers a UK-style schooling for pupils aged five to eighteen. Now in its tenth year, EIS has built up an outstanding reputation for providing a high-calibre education based on the UK’s system.

Stewart MacPherson, one of EIS’s long-standing teachers, is ideally placed to compare and contrast the educational mentalities of Russia and the UK. Hailing from Scotland, he came to Moscow on something of a whim, but quickly grew to love the city. One key difference, he notes, is that ‘in maths and sciences, Russians are at a very high level’, an emphasis that probably dates back to the old Soviet system of education. Russian education, according to MacPherson, also tends to place huge importance on pure knowledge – facts, figures and dates.

However, this can be a disadvantage as well as a strength. ‘One criticism’, he says, ‘is that when it comes to history, in the Russian system you learn the facts and the dates - and in literature you learn the texts and the poems – but in the British system, we study pieces of literature in depth: the background, the plot. In Russia, with literature and humanities they just learn the facts, whereas with us we learn about the debates.

‘At times,’ he explains, ‘you have to discuss, and the Russian system can lack the depth and balance to discuss things from all angles.’

It sounds as though both systems have unique advantages and attributes – so what does MacPherson think of ICEF, where the two educational philosophies are synthesised?

‘I was very impressed with the faculty – it’s a fantastic course, a fantastic opportunity. I do think that the partnership with LSE gives extra prestige to the course – I think that the vast majority of pupils here would choose LSE not HSE. In a way it’s a shame – too many Russians can be negative about Russia. If something comes from the West, it’s automatically fantastic, and if it’s Russian, people assume it’s rubbish. Russians can be too down on themselves sometimes.’

This point is particularly salient for EIS and its students. Although not all EIS students take A-Levels – the British end-of-school exams that would open the way to study outside of Russia – the vast majority have their hearts set on studying abroad.

‘British education is very attractive to Russians – but the negative side is that they are leaving Russia. If I start saying to Russian pupils “HSE”, they’ll say “nah – UK or America!” But ICEF being linked to LSE, that’s much more attractive.’

ICEF recently invited a group of EIS pupils and staff to take a tour of the faculty and sit in on some lectures. So what were their impressions of ICEF’s Anglo-Russian set-up?

‘We were very impressed because all the courses were in English,’ said one final-year pupil. ‘All the lecturers were very fluent. The course being in partnership with the University of London and the LSE, which is a very strong university, is definitely a pull factor that would make us consider going there.’

He was also very impressed with the range of specialisations available, including his own particular interest: Business Economics. ‘There’s a lot of programme options, and you can specialise in basically anything you want to specialise in – that allows you to go into what you’re interested in.’

‘The faculty was very good’, said another pupil. ‘I was surprised by the high level of English. We talked to the Director as well, and he was very welcoming.’

Given that these pupils are already experiencing British education, did they feel the style of teaching was particularly different?

‘Our teachers are preparing us for university, and we’re expected to do a lot of independent study – but in university, it’s even more independent than now. Here at school, we get a lot of focus from the teachers, whereas at university the lecturers don’t really do that.’

MacPherson, meanwhile, thought that the style of teaching was ‘very similar, if not the same’ – but he did pick up on one crucial difference between lessons at EIS and lectures at ICEF.

‘It amazed me the number of students in lectures that were just on their phones. I know it’s university, and lots of the material is online – but if that were my classroom, I’d just look at him and say “mate, please. Put it away.” 

Interviews by Alina Myalo

Article by Joseph Gamse, exclusively for ICEF HSE