By Kim Bo-eun
A parent-proposed “innovation school” has opened in Sangdo-dong, southwestern Seoul, as part of efforts to do away with formalities and promote better communication among teachers, students and their parents.
Sanghyun Elementary School is the first “innovation school” to be established following a petition by parents.
These schools focus on innovation in six aspects — management, curriculum, classes, student evaluation methods, counseling and education welfare.
They receive autonomy in running the curriculum and can select the principal through a public recruiting process, while receiving 100 to 200 million won in state funding.
A group of parents from two housing cooperatives in Sangdo-dong submitted an official request to the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education in May.
It was accepted in June and teachers began preparing for the schools 16 classes on Saturday. Twenty-six teachers including the principal are at the school. However, classes will begin on Sep. 17, as residents of a nearby newly-constructed apartment building have yet to move in.
There are some 60 innovation schools in Seoul but they were designated by the superintendant of the city’s education office or through teachers voting to change to the new model.
The growing number of students at these schools and complaints filed by parents who are unable to send their children to them reflect an increasing demand.
Parents of children in other apartment complexes in Sangdo-dong have filed complaints as they want to send their children to the innovation school but were excluded from the school district, according to Oh Sung-hwan, supervisor of the innovation school department at the Seoul education office.
“We believe that the increasing demand from parents show that they are now recognizing that the teachers at these schools are truly dedicated to education and the care of their pupils,” he said.