This is going to be a very special year at Agora International School Madrid. Eva Ponte takes charge of the school, after having held various leadership roles here. She leads a fantastic and very motivated teaching and staff team.
The new headteacher is very excited about this challenge and notes, “My experience in educational change, working closely with teachers in terms of professional development and school improvement, as well as the unconditional support I have received from the staff at the school, give me complete confidence in launching this project. We’ve been working for weeks on this academic year which is about to begin, consolidating the proposals which work well, and defining areas to improve and strengthen.”
This academic year, the school will put in place new family-school partnership projects, such as the creation of the Family & Friends of AIS Madrid Association which aims to enhance the existing collaboration between school, family, and community. Our first meeting will be in October, to gather families’ input, analyse and prioritise the proposals presented to us, and define an implementation plan for the chosen proposals.
We also continue strengthening our bilingual programme with several new faculty members this year, all of whom have international experience and very strong professional backgrounds in Infant, Primary, and Secondary Education. This academic year, we will continue to expand the use of English in all school areas to create an even stronger sense of language immersion.
We will also work on an enhanced literacy program that will make further use of learning centres in both Pre-K and Primary Education; this is an innovative methodology in which pupils work independently to reach pre-defined learning objectives, which allows for a differentiated and focused instructional approach.
We will continue to expand two of the initiatives launched in previous years which have provided us with positive results: project-based education and the use of new technologies in the classroom. We have also changed the curricular framework, textbooks, and materials for “Technology and Robotics”, making use of a recognised and consolidated program which motivates students and has been found to lead them to a deep and long-lasting learning.
The new headteacher says that it is very important to “continue to work using the school’s same pedagogical trajectory in order to maintain and improve the outstanding academic results obtained by our students last year”, with a special mention made of the results in the University Entrance Examination, the PISA test, and the Cambridge and Trinity Exams. The school will also continue with improvements introduced last year, such as the incorporation of swimming into the pre-K curriculum and having a play & engagement playground monitor. The school has also introduced academic support for all Primary year groups and for several of the subjects for the upper year groups.
This year the school has a new hire in charge of the school infirmary: Nieves Muñoz. She is highly qualified and has a wonderful ability to communicate with and relate to both children and adults. She is in charge of revamping this area of school life, to make sure our information is current, closely monitor students who need it, and help the entire student body as needs arise.
The school has also hired Virginia Danahe Sánchez Reza, a true professional with a very strong educational background and extensive experience in the field who, together with Sandra Millán, who started at the school last year, is reorganising our school counselling department. This will include introducing better strategies to document pupils’ needs and progress, monitor procedures, and better communicate with families.
With the recent debut of this academic year, the headteacher, the leadership team, and the staff are optimistic and eager to launch the new initiatives, continue to work on those which were started last year, and strengthen the family-school relationship, so that we can continue to improve educational opportunities for our students, and the well-being of the school community as a whole.
At Agora Portals International School, music is part of our pupils’ comprehensive education. Through music education, the students can more easily develop valuable abilities such as effort, self-improvement, sensitivity, organisation, teamwork, etc. Given its importance, the school is also a conservatoire, an Integrated Music Centre, authorised to teach the Elementary and Professional Diplomas in Music. The Agora Portals choir is part of the school’s educational project in that it provides pupils with an extracurricular activity which enables them to continue with and advance in their music education.
Throughout the last eight years, the choir has given numerous high-level performances both within and outside school, and its participation at well-known places such as the most important auditorium in Mallorca, as well as its collaboration with other choirs and groups, such as the Palma Municipal Band, or the Balearic Symphony Orchestra, stand out. This project goes beyond the pupils’ music education and helps them to develop other skills and areas of knowledge.
In charge of the Agora Portals Choir is Frederique Sizaret, a teacher at the school, who we have had the opportunity to interview.
Frederique Sizaret, French Mezzo-Soprano, finished her studies at the Conservatoire de Tours by coming top of her class in violin, chamber music, and singing. In 1996, she did a Master’s in musicology, and that same year, became part of the “Centre de Formation Lyrique” of the Paris Opera. Federique’s career as an opera singer took place in Germany, in the Wupretal, Essen, Gelsenkirchen, Saarbrucjen, and Stuttgart theatres. When she moved to Mallorca she continued with her musical career, but also got involved in the world of education. Over the last three years, she has worked in teaching, both in individual and group vocal technique, running choir classes, such as the Agora Portals International School Children’s Choir.
Q: How did the idea of creating the Agora Portals Choir come about?
A: All the children at school have one choir session per week. But, very quickly, we realised that some of them wanted more, both on a vocal level and in terms of theatrical expression. Some had the desire to learn to control their voice just like any other instrument, and to develop choreography based on the pieces learnt. So for this reason, we decided to create the Agora Portals Choir.
Q: In what ways does being part of the choir benefit the development of the pupils’ music education?
A: First of all, they develop their voice. Just like any other instrument, the voice requires its own technique, and although it is the human being’s most natural instrument, its technique is closely related to physical and psychological development. A 6-or-7-year-old child sings in a very natural way, and finds within their body the technical resources necessary to a healthy voice. In adolescence, the natural “embarrassment” which appears in many of them causes the voice to close, like the body. Working on the voice regularly enables better control of this “problem”.
Secondly, they develop their ear. Many of the instruments that the pupils play are individual ones. Singing in a choir forces the pupils to be with other voices, and requires vertical listening. In fact, this practice brings out a great deal of happiness in the children, when they realise that they can sing with two, three, or four voices, and control of their tone very clearly improves.
Thirdly, they develop “sight reading”. Often, we work from memory, but as an exercise, I also make the children sharpen their skills using sheet music. It’s something very new for them: choir sheet music contains various voices, an accompaniment, sometimes made up of various instruments, and doing this requires a very specific concentration, both at a purely reading level and at an auditory level.
Q: What other areas of knowledge are developed from the music education project?
A: We have rehearsals in groups of three or four pupils to complement the weekly group rehearsals. These sessions enable me to get to know each child’s voice and their possibilities, and monitor their development. The class with smaller groups allows me to teach them bodily and theatrical techniques to help them know how to act in a stage environment. Furthermore, they learn biology: I explain the anatomy of the voice, what happens when we produce sound, what they can do when it doesn’t work, so that they learn to control their voice mechanically and acquire a more intense awareness of their bodies, with which they avoid problems with aphonia or dysphonia in the future.
Q: What do the pupils enjoy most?
A: The theatrical aspect is probably what the children enjoy the most! Because they dance, they speak in public, they learn to forget their natural embarrassment, and they sing in front of their classmates. In this sense, it’s difficult to maintain the balance between a classic repertoire (with many benefits for the development of the voice), and more popular songs which allow them to express themselves on a more theatrical level, but which do not produce the same results on a musical and vocal level.
For example, we did a project on a wonderful piece by John Rutter, “Mass of the children”, with the participation of another children’s choir in Mallorca, an adult choir, and an orchestra made up of school teachers. The music was religious, and magnificent, but, although the children did very well, they didn’t enjoy it as much as they do the modern songs. It’s difficult to ensure that they develop their sensitivity in this field!
Agora Portals Choir performing “Missa of the Children”
Q: Could you tell us about the musical projects you have done, and what you’d highlight from each of them?
A: I set three big projects a year: the Christmas Concert, with classic and modern songs; the end-of-year project; and one that’s different each year. We mustn’t forget that the children sing everything from memory, and that each programme is an average of twelve songs, with several voices.
Firstly, I’d like to highlight the project that we did alongside the Blavets de Lluc and the University Choir, which enabled the children in the Agora Choir to meet other children from Mallorca, the Blavets, a professional choir of children who also have music integrated into their curriculum. Similarly, the children had the opportunity to work with an orchestra of professionals, conducted by Joan Company, director of the University of the Balearic Islands Choir. The work was very positive for the children. We joined together all these groups in the Church of Palma, and the concert was a success. We brought together more than 300 people!
Lastly, I’d like to point out that this project would have been impossible without the help of the school, in all aspects.
Last year’s project was, most probably, the most ambitious that we’ve done up until now! All this began with the desire to create a programme of songs from Musicals (Matilda, Les Misérables, Singing in the rain, Grease, Sister Act, Lion King…). But singing without moving was impossible. So, we asked a choreographer for help to adjust the movements for each of the songs. The same thing happened with the instruments, the piano wasn’t enough. David León (the school’s music director) helped us by writing a musical arrangement for an ensemble made up of teachers from the school, with violin, viola, flute, oboe, clarinet, and trumpet. We also needed to decorate the stage, which the art teacher, Juta Fita, took care of, creating of two decorated screens with the Primary pupils. In addition, we made use of the technical resources offered in the school’s auditorium. We even had a rain machine! Truly, for me, and for the pupils, this project was a high point in the work of the choir, and it was possible thanks to the help of the entire school.
Q: What is this year’s project? When will it take place?
A: Although the idea is still up in the air, this year I’d like to do a project which brings together several choirs of children from around the world, with videos. Thanks to one of my previous jobs, I have contacts who are singers from different countries, and many of them now work with children. The idea would be to choose various songs in the original language, have the children from other countries record them, and on the day of the concert, our choir would sing the same song. As well as including, of course, choreographed dance!
Q: What has developing the Portals Choir offered you on a personal and professional level?
A: This work has provided me with a completely different perspective on the voice. I had always worked with adults, and although children have a much more natural voice than adults, every day I have to find different resources to work with them on a technical level: games, images, working on bodily expression, etc. It’s a constant search, but it’s also exciting! On the other hand, developing this project in the school environment has made my work and that of the children much easier: from the start the director and the pedagogy team understood that the music could provide children with a dimension beyond the “classic” education. Considering music as another curricular subject is the best gift we could give the pupils both for their music education and their education as people.
At NACE Schools, we meet the needs of 21st-century pupils so that they grow up happy and are prepared to live successfully in a globalised world. The involvement of our entire educational community and the constant improvement made to our procedures and methodologies enables us to achieve the maximum quality of education, which we refer to as Platinum Standard.
Platinum Standard is a tool which evaluates the level and the quality of education of each school in the NACE group, and helps them to improve. Daniel Jones, Chief Education Officer at NACE Schools, created this system with the aim of helping the schools to evaluate the quality of the teaching they offer, and to find the right strategies to improve in all areas of the educational project.
Daniel Jones holds a degree in Spanish and French Philology from the University of Nottingham, and a Master’s in Education from Manchester Metropolitan University. He has worked in the world of education since 1992, in a number of different roles: teacher, head of department, and head of studies, among others. From among his roles, his work as headmaster of a British school which in 2014 was named best British international school of the year worldwide, and as chief inspector of British schools in Spain, stand out. He is currently the Chief Education Officer at NACE Schools.
In order to determine this quality of education, the Platinum Standard is based on five key areas: the capacity for leadership and management; the quality of teaching, learning, and evaluation; the progress of pupils; the development of the values, attitudes, and wellbeing of the pupils, which are fundamental at NACE Schools; and the implementation of our value proposition.
According to Daniel Jones, “a key factor in improving teaching quality is the training of teachers to support them in becoming more effective. To achieve this, this year we have focused on the following strategies”:
That every teacher has high expectations of all their pupils, whatever their abilities.
Applying question techniques which encourage reflection and more profound thinking, ensuring the greater involvement and participation of pupils in the classroom, and encouraging debate in pairs and in groups.
Creating motivating classroom projects with ambitious levels of challenge for different pupils, depending on their ability. A good example is the “EcoHomes” project carried out at Agora Portals International School, in which groups of pupils work collaboratively to design and build their own ecological house, and then give a presentation in English about their project. “The objective is to motivate and challenge”, says Daniel.
Carrying out tasks which measure the individual progress of the pupils in every session, to evaluate what they have learnt and see which aspects they should improve each day.
Creating “360 Feedback” methods between pupils and teachers so that communication flows both ways, and also among the pupils.
According to a number of studies, these strategies have a great impact on pupils’ learning in the classroom. That’s why they are being applied to increase and improve the quality of the education of each NACE school. Daniel Jones states that “the quality of the teacher is what has the greatest impact on the children’s learning”.
Similarly, Daniel points out that “every school should know which educational level it is at in order to know how to improve and what to work towards”. He explains that “NACE Schools is distinguished from other schools in its method of evaluation and support, to respond to the needs of both the pupil and the school. Key evidence of the Platinum Standard process is found in listening to the opinions of the pupils, parents, teachers, and management teams through interviews, surveys, and discussions. The aim is to create a 360º opinion system in which the entire school community participates”.
Finally, the four pillars of the NACE Schools value proposition define how we can achieve excellence in our educational project by building on what happens each day in the classroom”, Daniel adds.
Fig.1: The NACE Schools Educational Project Value Proposition
Just like other schools in the NACE Schools group, Agora International School Madrid offers its pupils an education which goes beyond traditional teaching, with innovative activities and experiences which help them to achieve their dreams. One great example of this is the Agora International Víctor Ullate Roche Villaviciosa de Odón Performing Arts School, a theatre and dance school in Madrid which promotes teaching of the arts, combining this with the pupils’ usual school day. In this way, the students improve and enjoy all the long-term benefits of activities related to art.
The Madrid School enjoys an exclusive link with the Víctor Ullate Roche dance school. The artist Víctor Ullate Roche, headmaster of the only professional, private Conservatoire of Dance and Advanced School of Dramatic Arts, stands out for his broad academic background which includes dance, acting and singing. Ullate Roche trained at great international schools and with great professionals in the world of performing arts. He also plays a leading role in Autour de Faust and Concerto en Re, by Béjart; performed in the Lindsay Kemp Company production of Cinderella and in other musicals such as West Side Story, Grease, Singing in the Rain, Cats and Beauty and the Beast; and took part in the successful programme: Fama ¡A bailar!, among many other high calibre projects.
At the Agora International Víctor Ullate Roche Villaviciosa de Odón Performing Arts School, we ensure that pupils learn while they have fun and develop through activities which are useful in their daily life and which will provide them with many long-term benefits.
At our dance and theatre school, we encourage participation in both theatre groups and in dance, with lessons in Funky, Hip Hop and Ballet as well as acting and singing. These activities have an influence on pupils’ learning in the rest of their subjects and contribute favourably to many personal skills, by, for example:
Improving teamwork skills through performances with classmates.
Increasing concentration, which is beneficial for individual study and for improving attention in the classroom.
Transmitting and instilling values which make pupils into citizens of the world.
Increasing pupils’ self-confidence.
Developing and stimulating creativity.
Promoting an open mentality.
Supporting reading and literature tasks.
Keeping the pupils up to date in topics such as art, language and history.
Therefore, the Agora International Victor Ullate Roche Performing Arts School is a model dance and theatre school in Madrid, where pupils develop their oral and physical expression while acquiring discipline and commitment.
We’d like to welcome the 2016/2017 academic year! Agora Portals International School opens its doors to the new school year with objectives and challenges, lots of motivation and a desire to continue growing together with all of you. The headmaster, Rafael Barea, tells us about what’s new this year and the targets set in order to continue advancing along the path of educational excellence.
Rafael Barea takes stock of the 2015/2016 academic year, remembering the most important milestones and the objectives which were overcome and which contributed great experiences not only for the pupils but for the entire school community.
“Noteworthy events include the 4th edition of the Fun Run between the track in Magaluf and the school (7km), in which this year there were 1,200 participants, a real milestone in terms of participation in fun runs in the Balearic Islands. Equally noteworthy was the gala for the 5th Rafael Nada Music Competition, which was attended by practically the entire Nadal family. On a school level, I want to highlight the incredibly high level of all the music concerts performed by the pupils, the excellent performances of the Agora choir, and the plays in English performed by pupils from different year groups. In terms of sport, this was the year in which most successes were achieved in varied disciplines, from among which the two that stand out especially are the football league and the team championship titles in both the Balearic Islands and Mallorca achieved by the chess club. Equally, from the last academic year I would like to highlight all of the events which took place among the different schools in the NACE Group: International Music Week, the Olympic Games, NACEMUN, the Arts Competition, and the Academic Olympics. In terms of pupil celebrations, I would highlight Sports Day, the Carnival parade, the Halloween celebrations, the decoration of our classrooms for Christmas, the Easter egg decorating and the Easter Afternoon Tea Party, the ceremony to announce the winning House, the end-of-year Summer Ball, and many other events in which our pupils were the true protagonists and enjoyed belonging to Agora Portals International School.”
“From this past year, the extraordinary academic results achieved in the different external tests taken by our pupils are worth mentioning in particular: the PISA tests for 4th ESO pupils (results which were higher even than the average achieved by schools in Finland, and much higher than the average for Spain and the European Community); extraordinary results in the Selectividad university entrance exams, with a 100% pass rate and the 5th best average score of all the colleges and schools in the Balearic Islands; and a 100% pass rate in all the external language tests that our pupils took (First Certificate, Trinity College – no more and no less than 111 pupils – and the Youth Chinese Test). All these academic results confirm that the work being done by the school is yielding results, so our pupils leave our school prepared to be happy in a globalised world.
To continue advancing along the path of educational excellence, and to overcome more challenges in the 2016/2017 academic year, Agora Portals International School has set some objectives which headmaster Rafael Barea explains to us in detail:
“We want the pupils to be at the centre of their learning, so we will encourage their active participation in all classes, focusing more and more on co-operative learning in which the pupils work as a team and all participate, contributing their skills. We want each and every one of the pupils to achieve their maximum potential while they develop their social skills. The school develops and implements a plan for continuous improvement in order to continue advancing in educational excellence, which is much more than just obtaining good academic results, so activities such as theatre performances and school debates (participation in NACEMUN, in the European Youth Parliament, in The Country of Students, in the BBVA Debate League, etc.) are possibilities we offer our pupils in order for them to develop a whole set of skills which are fundamental in our current society. In addition, the cultural exchanges with different countries and the possibility to spend a term or half a term abroad not only enable improved fluency in the English language, they also contribute, in an important way, to educational excellence.”
For this new academic year, we’ll also find many new changes which the headmaster of Agora Portals highlights below.
“The inclusion of Tablets to improve learning for our 5-year-old Infant Education pupils, with the platform Infantium, which enables pupils to develop diverse multiple intelligences, as well as extending the individual use of Tablets to 1st and 2nd ESO, and extending the innovative learning methodologies based on projects and problem solving to all years of Primary and Secondary Education. It is also worth highlighting the amplification and development of the subject of Computer Science in all years of Primary Education and the first years of Secondary Education. Equally, as a new feature, it is worth highlighting the possibility to continue studying German or French in 4th ESO, as well as the total incorporation of German as a language offered in the International Baccalaureate.”
Finally, Rafeal Barea welcomes pupils who are beginning the 2016-2017 academic year with a motivational message so that they take advantage of all the opportunities offered in this new school year.
“All the staff at the school will give the best of themselves so that our pupils are well, and happy at Agora Portals International School while they grow and develop. From here on I ask that they are aware of the magnificent opportunity they have in coming to this school, and that they therefore make the most of the time to educate themselves as people and to discover and develop, to the highest degree, their talents. We will be by their side to help them to achieve it.”
September has arrived, and with it, the return to school! Another year on, Agora International School Madrid opens its doors to welcome the whole educational community. The 2016/2017 academic year is a stage of many changes and challenges which headmistress Isabel Palacios will reveal below.
Taking stock of the 2015/2016 academic year, Isabel Palacios confirms that it was a year marked by success, in which the planned objectives were met:
“Managing to fulfil all the pupils’ needs through different strategies with the Guidance Department both enriching the curriculum and adapting it; 100% pass rate in external English exams (Trinity and Cambridge) and 100% pass rate in the Selectividad university entrance exams; excellent results in the PISA Tests in 4th ESO and in the Autonomous Community of Madrid Tests for 3rd and 6th Primary; this was the first academic year during which we worked with the Gavea project (the use of tablets in the classroom), with some very positive results both in pupils’ learning and in their motivation.”
Furthermore, among the most important events and milestones of the last academic year the headmistress of Agora International School Madrid, Isabel Palacios, highlights:
“We hosted the first Science and Mathematics Olympiads, for three days we welcomed more than 80 2nd and 3rd ESO pupils from all the NACE Schools, creating an atmosphere of collaboration, motivation and self-improvement.”
We had a very successful year, that’s why the standard for the 2016/2017 academic year is to go above and beyond this again. The school headmistress reveals the objectives to be followed in this new school year:
“The first, is the pupils’ progress. Each and every one of them. We will carry out a strict evaluation process in order to act appropriately in each individual case. The second is the quality of teaching, for this we are providing continuous training and support for teachers in order to reach the standards we have set ourselves.”
Furthermore, the new academic year is full of changes which will enable further progress along the path of educational excellence, among which Isabel Palacios highlights:
“We continue advancing in the Gavea Project, so we will work in 5th and 6th Primary and 1st ESO with the use of tablets in the classroom.
We are reinforcing the Computer Science Project, which goes from 1st Primary to 4th
We have exchanges and experiences abroad for all our pupils from 5th Primary to 4th ESO: 5th and 6th Primary and 1st ESO have a cultural trip to Wales, 2nd and 3rd ESO will have an exchange with the school in England (Stonar), and 4th ESO will have an exchange with Paris and Frankfurt, depending on the option chosen as a second language (French or German).
Work from a young age focused on the arts and the development of multiple intelligences.
Improvement of facilities, from among which we highlight a special common room for the older pupils (from 3rd ESO onwards) where they will be able to study in an environment which is pleasant, caring and controlled but also independent and comfortable for them.”
Finally, after assessing the challenges overcome in the last academic year, as well as the changes and goals for the new school year, Isabel Palacios, headmistress of Agora International School Madrid, personally welcomes the entire educational community with the following words:
“I hope that you have had chance to rest in order to begin refreshed and with energy. It’s going to be an intense year, full of emotions and things to learn. We have set ourselves a wealth of challenges, impossible to complete without the help and commitment of our families. I welcome you, teachers and pupils and parents, to the new academic year, and I thank you, again, for the confidence you place in us in leaving your children in our hands.”
We want to welcome the 2016/2017 academic year! Agora Sant International School opens this school year with lots of energy and our batteries fully charged. The headmaster of the school, Vicenç Gandol, tells us about what’s new for this new phase which will enable both the school and all of you to achieve objectives while we grow and advance together.
The headmaster offers a very positive assessment of the 2015/2016 school year. During the last school year all targets were met, providing value to the pupils and to the school community:
“In the last school year our 71 Baccalaureate pupils obtained excellent results in the Selectividad university entrance exams and in the International Baccalaureate, with a 100% pass rate. In addition, it was the first year in which the 4th ESO pupils sat the PISA tests in the areas of Spanish Language, Maths, and Science. The results were brilliant, with average scores in all areas which were higher than those of countries such as Finland, Japan, England or the United States.”
The headmaster also speaks of the pupils being students who are linguistically skilled, and great people: “On a linguistic level, over 405 pupils satisfactorily overcame the external tests in the different languages taught at the school: English (TRINITY and CAMBRIDGE), French (DELF), German (GOETHE INST.), and Chinese (CONFUCIO). But as well as the good academic results achieved by our pupils, the students participated in different local, national and international charity events which strengthen our spirit of charity, empathy and collaboration, values which are undoubtedly part of the human training which the teaching and non-teaching staff at the school work on every day.”
It is also interesting to summarise some of the most important moments from the last school year:
“Though we take part in many events, if I had to highlight one it would be the organisation of the 4th edition of International Music Festival, in which more than 150 pupils and teachers from the different NACE Schools in Spain, France and England participated. These were enriching days of co-existence for all our students, when music joined everyone together. The collaboration of our host families ensured that the experience was a complete success.”
“What’s certain is that all the NACE events which are held each year in each of the schools (Visual Arts Competition, NACEMUN, Academic Olympics, Sports Olympics and the International Music Festival) offer our pupils a unique opportunity to build relationships and work co-operatively with students of their age from other places. During the 2016/2017 academic year we face the challenge of organising the II Academic Olympics in February.”
The objective of the 2016/2017 school year which we are just beginning is to offer all our pupils all the tools and resources necessary to guarantee their progression in their education as people and as students. That’s why the school invests each year in improving not only the facilities, but above all, those resources which can guarantee excellent pedagogical innovation which offers effective methodologies adapted to the pupils of today.
Of all the most interesting new features for this school year, we highlight the extension of the educational stages, starting with VOCATIONAL TRAINING in the fields of Image and Sound. The school has now finished the work in adapting the necessary spaces, and has the official authorisation needed to teach the qualifications, both at middle and higher level, for Sound Technician, Director, Producer and 3D Animator.
“We begin this new journey with great enthusiasm, aware of the responsibility in higher level studies and the connection with the working world.”
In addition, the school has worked intensively in preparing teachers to provide them with the training necessary for the inclusion of new technologies as a fundamental resource in the new educational methodologies, encouraging greater participation from pupils, co-operative work, and personalisation of learning.
Vicenç Gandol addresses the pupils of Agora Sant Cugat International School with a final message: “To the pupils I just want to say on behalf of all the teaching and non-teaching staff at the school that we await them with enthusiasm to begin a new school year after a long break, and that they should fill up their rucksacks with enthusiasm, effort, perseverance and curiosity for learning, because with all this they will surely achieve great results at the end of the school year. WELCOME BACK TO YOUR SCHOOL!”
After the summer holidays, Agora International School Barcelona welcomes the 2016/2017 academic year with great enthusiasm. The school opens its doors, full of energy, and with changes and new challenges which will make this new school year a great one.
Andrés Rosas, headmaster of the school, welcomes our entire educational community and reveals the targets set for this new academic year and the changes which will be implemented. This approach comes from the successful academic year which has just been completed, from which Andrés Rosas highlights the most important milestones.
“There were certainly a great deal of important moments in the 2015/2016 academic year, especially from the perspective of someone who experiences it for the first time at the school but, without doubt, I would highlight the end-of-year festival and the music concert due to the atmosphere and the sense of belonging to the school that was felt among pupils, families and teaching and non-teaching staff. Other very gratifying events were the Baccalaureate pupils’ graduation, for the importance of this moment for them and the emotion with which we all experienced it, and the participation in Work Experience explained from the point of view of the 2nd Baccalaureate pupils”.
“We have planned and consolidated the school’s educational project as a NACE School, we have created a good atmosphere of work and coexistence among the entire educational community, and we have improved school-family communication. The consolidation of the project will be a decisive step in the education and development of our students and the future professionals they will become. This will have a positive impact on the people they already are, and on the well-rounded and happy adults they will become. The good working atmosphere has made us take a step forward in the loyalty and consolidation of the teaching team, and consequently, in the quality of the monitoring and personalised attention offered to each of our students. The improvement in the communication with families (year group delegates, weekly circulars, personal family-headmaster meetings, etc.) was important, especially in this year of changes, in order to strengthen the confidence and collaboration of our families.”
In order to continue to advance along the path of educational excellence during the 2016/2017 academic year, Agora International School Barcelona has set some objectives and implemented some changes that headmaster Andrés Rosas details below:
“Our primary objective for this coming academic year is to implement and consolidate the diverse programmes and methods which make up our educational project (emotional intelligence, encouragement of reading, study techniques, critical thinking, debate, public speaking…), as well as to continue with the training and monitoring of our teaching team.”
“For this coming school year, and within the line of work which makes up our project and which I mentioned previously, we intend to implement the traditional British “houses” system at school, thanks to which we will be able to channel many of the school activities and initiatives while creating a system of belonging to the school. We will also set up the Agora International School Barcelona parents’ school, a tool which is at the service of our families so that we can grow together as a community and which will deal with a wide variety of topics of interest in the field of education.”
Finally, the headmaster welcomes the pupils who are beginning the new academic year with a motivating, personal message.
“It is a pleasure to welcome you all to our school for the 2016/2017 academic year. Our objective will be to, together, educate your children to make them citizens of their time, trained and competent professionals and, above all, complete and happy people. And I would like to thank you for your confidence in Agora International School Barcelona and ask you that, together, we achieve a quality, comprehensive education which encompasses all dimensions of human, personal, social and family development”.
Headmaster of Agora International School Barcelona
September has arrived, and with it, the return to school! Agora Lledó International School opens its doors to the 2016/2017 school year, starting classes up again with enthusiasm and the desire to continue growing together with the entire educational community. Luis Madrid, headmaster of the school, welcomes the new school year with some inspirational words and reveals the changes and challenges for this academic year which is about to begin.
Looking back at the most notable milestones and the objectives achieved during the 2015/2016 academic year, which have shown the success of the Agora Lledó International School educational project, Luis Madrid highlights:
“I believe, without doubt, that the organisation of NACEMUN, with the participation of over 120 pupils from our NACE Schools, was a milestone which surprised families and teachers, which confirmed the maturity, the organisation, the autonomy and the English level of our pupils. We could also speak of the many and varied prizes we have achieved this year, from the Biology or Chemistry Olympiads to the Mathematics Olympiads, the story, art, and language competitions and above all, our rhythmic gymnastics champions’ magnificent results in different championships and categories. It has, without doubt, been a year filled with success and with work, lots of work by the teachers, which has been rewarded.”
“This year in particular we are very happy because we reached practically all the objectives that we set ourselves, especially in terms of academics. We obtained very good results in the PISA tests which the 4th ESO pupils took, the Selectividad university entrance exam results were better than in any other year, we increased our average in the International Baccalaureate results by more than a point, a huge number of pupils sat different language exams with practically a 100% pass rate at the different levels, and finally, the school has received authorisation to open and operate as an accredited centre of elementary and professional artistic teaching in music, which will make our music educational project even more relevant. Without doubt, achieving their objectives has been a great source of happiness for the pupils and satisfaction for the community in general, and above all, it has generated confidence in the school because year after year we overcome limits and improve results.”
The headmaster of Agora Lledó International School reveals the targets set for the 2016/2017 academic year and all the new features to enable further progress along the path of educational excellence.
“Firstly, we are in the middle of a curriculum review of various educational items, which makes us place them on a scale and see where we are. With this analysis, the objective is to improve all of them in order to reach the category of excellent in all of them, or at least in the maximum number of items that we can (diversified attention, methodology, school environment, etc.). In this sense, we have a clear target set so that the heads of the academic departments are actively involved in the supervision and improvement of classes, in department meetings, and in short, in transmitting from “inside” the maximum information about the subject or area of knowledge in order to implement improvements. The different supervisions of classes, as well as the planning of department activities and areas, will set out the path to follow throughout the academic year and will mean that for both pupils and families the objectives that each pupil has or can achieve will be much clearer and more defined.”
“Without doubt, the authorisation to open and operate as an accredited centre of elementary and professional artistic teaching in music will allow us to now begin preparing pupils, from September, to achieve (firstly) the Elementary Grade in Music, with no need to go somewhere else to do so, simply with the Agora Lledó International School curriculum and the complementary classes. We know that music as part of our project is a very important pillar.”
“In addition, we have the inclusion of technology in an important way: on the one hand, both 5th Primary pupils and those in 6th Primary and 1st ESO will work with tablets as an additional pedagogical tool in their learning. This is not about substituting books, but incorporating technology into all subjects in a natural way. Similarly, the 4-and-5-year-old pupils will work with tablets in groups on the Infantium platform, which will enable the youngest ones to actively get closer to technology.”
“Finally, in Secondary Education and Baccalaureate we offer the option of an intensive school day so that the older pupils can take part in other activities in or outside school (from obtaining their driving licence to developing study techniques which improve their habits, or dedicating time to their ADE (Business Administration and Management), sporting, musical or artistic specialisations, depending on the level they are at.) We believe that we have organised the school and timetables in such a way that all our pupils who have many interests can take part in them at the same time as their academic obligations.”
After an assessment of the challenges overcome in the last academic year, as well as the new features and goals for the new school year, Luis Madrid, headmaster of Agora Lledó International School, would like to personally welcome the pupils who will be starting their classes with the following words:
“I would like to transmit a message of hope and of effort to all the pupils, since we have seen, particularly in the last academic year, that with effort and hope all goals and objectives can be achieved. The pupils need to be happy at the school, with the confidence to say things, and to try to improve them, but in turn they must demonstrate not only effort, but responsibility. Each year we participate more in different international and national exchanges; I encourage them to not miss out on the opportunity to participate in some of them. They are unique and unforgettable experiences. Have a happy school year!”
Headmaster of Agora Lledó International School
The summer arrives, schedules change and as a result, studying during the holidays can be difficult. Experts estimate that our mathematics level decreases by an average of 2.6 months and our reading ability by 2 months. To avoid this, it is important that children rest and disconnect but at the same time, remain mentally active. Studying during the holidays is complicated, so the best thing is for children to have a couple of weeks completely free at the start of the holidays to have fun, then gradually increase the intensity of their studies through fun and educational activities as the new school year gets closer.
To make studying during the holidays a bit easier, we have collected some tips which could be useful this summer:
Establish a specific place for work and a realistic study timetable. The child should be able to fulfil the programme for studying during the holidays without excessive effort, and without having to give up their favourite activities. Depending on the child’s needs, one to two hours a day, four or five days per week, would be best. As for the place, this should be a tranquil space, as far away as possible from stimuli which may be distracting. Good lighting and ventilation are also important to create a suitable study environment. The activities should not be too difficult. They need to be made into fun tasks, such as watching documentaries which interest them, visiting museums, talking about books, etc.
Learn a new set of topics. It is not enough to dedicate all the time spent studying during the holidays to reviewing what was studied in the previous academic year. It’s important to do a brief review, but also to focus on learning new things which may be useful for the academic year to come. This way children won’t get bored with the subjects and it will help them to make the most of lessons when classes start again in September.
Use study techniques. These are essential for high performance and to take advantage of the time spent studying during the holidays. In addition, keep in mind that every method of learning, such as reading comprehension or memorising information, has different purposes and benefits.
Motivate Them. It is essential to encourage children so that achieving results motivates them. You can do this by rewarding them with positive messages and, above all, avoiding tangible rewards. Parents’ interest in learning is a key factor to transmit motivation and achieve real progress.
Take full advantage of the summer with the Summer Camps offered at the different NACE Schools. Summer camps are one of the little ones’ favourite choices. They have the opportunity to have fun and meet new friends while they learn in a fun and practical way. At the Summer Camp there are great activities planned, and time is devoted to leisure, sports, music, languages and study. It is definitely one of the most efficient options to continue studying during the holidays in a diverse and stimulating way.
All NACE schools offer support and activities during the summer months so that pupils do not lose their good study habits. They enjoy one of the best summers with their friends and classmates in an educational environment which stimulates them and takes advantage of all the possibilities offered by the good weather.