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Almost 150 years, and counting

Cathedral & John Connon aims to combine the best of the old and new

india Updated: Nov 18, 2009 17:12 IST
HT Correspondent

Mumbai: Tucked away in a tree-lined avenue at Fort stands a heritage building that has been home to one of the most sought-after schools among south Mumbai’s elite for the past 149 years.

At Cathedral and John Connon School, the imposing grey stone facade bears an old-world charm belying its constant evolutionas an educational institution.

“We try to do something new each year,” said Meera Isaacs, the school’s principal, who took charge in 1996.

The latest innovations include the setting up of a resources centre for learningdisabled children and giving ISC students the option of choosing subjects across streams rather than maintaining the Arts, Science, Commerce straitjackets.

Cathedral is known for its emphasis on academics.

“But that’s not all that is important,” said Isaacs. The school offers a host of extracurricular activities (see box).

The school’s alumni list is a veritable gallery of contemporary achievers, including Salman Rushdie, Ratan Tata and Fareed Zakaria.

The Anglo-Scottish Education Society founded the school in 1860. In its early years, the school was closely associated with St Thomas’ Cathedral, from which it takes its name.

Cathedral became co-educational in 1965, when the boys’ and girls’ schools merged.

The Infant School at Malabar Hill was established at that time.

Best Practices

Cathedral was among the first schools in the country to hold a Model United Nations. In its 13th year and going strong, it is run entirely by students and hosts schools from all over the country.

The 80-member school choir is one of the city’s oldest school choirs. It originally provided choristers to St. Thomas’ Cathedral,with which the school is closely associated. The school’s choir performs every Christmas and Founder’s Day.

Basic Statistics
Rs 5,000 per month
Student-teacher ratio: 30:1
Classes: pre-primary to Class 12
Board: ICSE for Class 10, ISC for Class 12
Admissions procedure: From nursery to lower KG, admissions are on the basis of a written application. From upper KG, which goes by the name “infant school”, an “interaction with the child” is also part of the procedure.
Facilities and extra-curricular activities: The school has a music room, an art room, an audiovisual room and laboratories for physics, chemistry, computer science and biology. It has a learning resources centre for differently-abled students; playgrounds in the senior, junior and middle school buildings, plus a gym in the senior school.

Campion School, Cooperage Road
Fees: Rs 3,000 per month
Student-teacher ratio: 35:1
Classes: senior KG to Class 10
Board: ICSE
Admissions procedure: Informal interaction with parents and children Founded in 1943 by Rev. Joseph Savall and the Jesuit community, Campion School is an all-boys’ institution named after the Jesuit saint Edmund Campion.

“Campion teaches student to think and not to learn by rote,” said principal Paul Machado, attributing the continuing high standards of the school to the “commitment of the staff, the support of the management committee and the involvement of parents.”

Outside the curriculum, Campion offers yoga, quizzing, elocution and a host of sports. The school has its own basketball court and uses the adjacent BMC-owned grounds for football and the Oval Maidan for cricket.

Last year, Campion introduced computer-aided education for classes five to 10 and from next year it will start a system of graded report cards for all classes up to class eight.

“We are continuously trying to decrease the stress of exams,” said Machado.

St Xavier’s Boys’ Academy, Marine Lines
Rs 1,450 per month
Student-teacher ratio: 25:1
Classes: Prep 1 (upper KG) to Class 10
Board: SSC
Admissions procedure: Through applications In the mid-1950s, Father Sologran, a Jesuit priest, convinced local police authorities to move their proposed police station at Marine Lines elsewhere. He wanted to build a school instead on the land, and in 1957, he established the all-boys’ St. Xavier’s Boys’ Academy.

Education at the school is modelled on the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm, a paradigm rooted in self-reflection as the basis of schooling. “We constantly encourage our students to think about what they have learnt. Our teachers plan all their lessons around this philosophy,” said Vice-Principal Savio D’Mello.

Inter-house dramatics, elocution, sports, quizzes and an annual science exhibition are the mainstay of the school’s extra-curricular calendar. For students of class nine, the schoolevery year runs a unique four-day exchange programme with a tribal school in Nasik district

“The rural experience gives children from Mumbai a whole new perspective,” said
D’Mello. Apart from a small playground in the school, the students also use the adjacentKarnataka Sports Ground for all sporting activities.