Graduation of first cohort of students from AZBUKA Anglo-Russian international School in London
Friday 24 June 2022 was no ordinary day for the Azbuka community. The
school hall in a beautiful Victorian building in West London was packed with
children, teachers, parents and friends, and with emotions: happiness and
achievement, pride and humility, smiles and tears, sadness and reflection as
they moved on.
cohort of students was graduating from Azbuka Primary
School, signalling an important milestone in the success of the Anglo-Russian
international primary school in London, and for bilingual education in general.
A small group
completed Year 6, bringing to an end their studies using a pioneering 2-way
immersion bilingual and multicultural education curriculum. They were all well
prepared to move on to a range of highly regarded state and independent
secondary schools around London.
School, the UK’s only independent Anglo-Russian primary school, built on
the Azbuka Foundation’s oversubscribed Nursery
school (est. in 2002), complementary Saturday school and education centre created
two decades ago. The Primary school opened in 2016 and now offers full-time
bilingual curriculum from nursery/reception through to Year 6.
towards a full-time bilingual school has been long, exciting and challenging. Inspired
by the vision of the founding members, it was formed as charitable foundation,
independent from either Russian or British government funding and focussed, to
serve the linguistic, cultural, social and academic needs of its own multicultural
community. Over the years, Azbuka has attracted families, trustees
and supporters from many different backgrounds, nationalities and cultures.
All of its
students benefit from a fully immersive curriculum and rich extra-curricular
activities taught in both Russian and English, drawing on the best traditions
of both cultures. They speak 15 languages and comprise a thriving multilingual
community with many mixed families and teachers with origins in the cultures of
Russia, England, Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, USA, France, Spain, Estonia, Italy,
Sweden, Latvia and China among others.
has recently also offered a number of places to children arriving from Ukraine,
with extra curriculum support for English, Ukrainian and Russian languages.
Gavrilova, founder and headteacher, said: “I’m thrilled to see our
first students graduate. On the 24th June my dream came true. 2022 marks a
really exciting milestone for Azbuka school, which our dedicated
staff have been building with innovative approaches to bilingual pedagogy to
prepare our children for the future in the best possible way, building on
tolerance and understanding.
The gift of
another language and culture is truly unique: from the early childhood it opens
the doors to another way of comprehending the world, granting a gift of true
understanding, love and compassion as well as wider academic, cognitive and
economic benefits. In our world torn by division and confrontation, the very
idea of a bilingual educational space – where children and teachers of very
different cultures learn, play, make friends and work together – is becoming
more important than ever. Every day at Azbuka brings more convincing
proof of the humanitarian and unifying value of bilingual education.
The birth, survival
and growth of bilingual education demonstrates a profound truth: humanity
transcends conventional political, cultural or linguistic border. Connection
and understanding are at the very depth of the human heart.”
parent of one of the graduates, said: “We were lucky with the timing: our
son was in the first year the school started and is one of the first graduates.
The incredible journey over the past 7 years was as exciting and fruitful as it
gets in a caring and engaging educational environment.
Azbuka is more than a school, it
is an extended family to us and I am sure to all the children that attend the
school. On behalf of myself and other parents I would like to express
our heartfelt gratitude to the head teacher and all teachers and staff for
their professionalism, dedication and care, which made an extremely important
difference to the lives of our children. May the School continue its success
over the years to come.”
head of English department and deputy head, said: “I am so proud to have had
the privilege of teaching this cohort from Year 4 to 6. The journey they have
made, their progress both socially and academically, is testament to the
quality of the school’s bilingual curriculum. It gives me great pleasure to see
them graduate with fantastic results and I wish them every success for the
Lytra, an Azbuka governor and academic, said: “Warmest
congratulations to the class of 2022! As a new school governor, I had the
opportunity and privilege to recently witness the Year 6 cohort in action. I
was impressed by their confidence and their openness and curiosity about making
connections across languages and cultures.
I was equally impressed by the children’s welcoming attitude towards a
new refugee classmate from Ukraine, who have joined the school. Its inclusive
pedagogical approach and rigorous curriculum alongside an ethos of care and
respect creates a nurturing environment for all children to grow academically,
socially and emotionally and equips them with the knowledge and skills to
succeed and make a positive contribution in a multilingual and multicultural
Jelena Rosenberg, said: “As a class teacher and Head of the Russian
curriculum at Azbuka school I have witnessed and played my part in
our school’s development and growth, from a single class intake of just three
student to the full primary school setting of today. Azbuka has grown
as have its students, who together with their teachers and parents began an
exciting journey into the world of bilingualism all those years ago. I am very
proud of our Year 6 students’ achievements and results.
Opening Azbuka school was a daring though well researched idea,
the realisation of a dream for our founding members, who have managed to build
a strong and enthusiastic team of teachers around them, who have poured all
their knowledge, skills and creativity into the project.
It was a leap
into uncharted waters for many of us. The big idea, whilst founded on strong
theoretical principles, needed to be brought to life – a bilingual curriculum.
This was a challenging task for both English and Russian
teachers. With our students’
interests and developmental needs uppermost in our minds, once the year one
topics were carefully chosen; English and Russian linguistic objectives set;
Peterson’s Maths programme launched; and supportive literature in both
languages ordered – the learning began.
Six years on,
Azbuka school has developed a broad, culture rich, comprehensive
and unique curriculum for all classes. Along with English, Russian and Maths we
teach History, Geography and Science in both languages, covering a wide range
of interesting topics.
All Azbuka school children have opportunities to apply
themselves in art, dance and song, and to develop drama and circus skills. Our
KS2 children participate in Spanish, practical Science and IT lessons provided
by specialist teachers. In Azbuka we strongly
believe and actively promote cultural interaction with the wider world beyond
the school premises. Educational visits to museums, galleries, theatres and
other cultural venues are supplemented with talks by invited speakers are all considered
very important and therefore a compulsory and hugely enjoyable part of our
staff work together in the education and development of our students to help
them to become not only confident users of language and maths but also
beautiful, kind and openminded individuals.”
school is an integral part of the bilingual education movement in
England, as a member of the Independent Schools Association (ISA) and a
founding member of the Bilingual Education Alliance (BEA), a network and
association of bilingual and international schools within the UK.