Agora Portals begins a new school year, working hard to maintain its educational excellence

After the summer holidays, Agora Portals is enthusiastically beginning the 2017/2018 academic year! This year, the focus will be on educational innovation, and improving the pupils’ abilities on a practical level, for example, by introducing robotics and mindfulness in the classroom.

Another objective for this year is to boost the activities of debate and public speaking in Secondary Education, to improve the pupils’ practical and communication skills. After the success achieved last year in the tests the school participated in, we will also continue to place emphasis on participation in academic competitions, leagues, and Olympiads, which all contribute to improving the pupils’ abilities.

It will also be important to work to maintain, as a minimum, the same academic results as last year. Of these, Agora Portals headmaster Rafael Barea highlights the excellent academic results achieved in the International Baccalaureate: “the year in which most pupils followed this branch of studies, and in which the best marks were achieved”. He also highlights the results in external language tests, such as Trinity and the First Certificate for English, and the YCT for Chinese as well as, once again, the “extraordinary results in the PISA tests, in which we far surpassed the average in Spain”.

Similarly, the headmaster is satisfied with the consolidation of the sports project, “with a new and successful edition of the Agora Portals Fun Run, and especially, the great results achieved by our pupils in their respective sports, from sailing to football.”

The success of the 5th Agora Portals Fun Run, which each year attracts over a thousand participants, was rewarded a few months ago in the NACE Awards, in which the team of organisers achieved a prize for their work on this event. The race, which takes place each May, promotes and encourages sport and healthy living, and brings the school, sport, and Mallorcan society together.

The last academic year also saw the 1st Education and Business Forum take place, an event in which the school and renowned business people shared experience and knowledge about the world of work which pupils will be facing, in order to understand the needs of companies and what they expect from the pupils, and to prepare the students. It was “an enriching and innovative experience which normally takes place in university environments, while Agora Portals brought it in at Baccalaureate level”.

Without doubt, “one of the best parts of the entire academic year was the 5th NACE International Music Festival, which was a wonderful experience for the children. The school showed its hospitality, and all the staff came together to ensure that the event could go ahead”. For Rafael Barea, this was “the best event organised at the school since we began 9 years ago”, and as a headmaster, “it represents a before and an after in teamwork. It was an event of such significance that it required the help of all the school’s professionals and services, from teachers to kitchen staff. Every person gave the best of themselves, not as a group of individuals, but working as a team”.

Areteia continues to grow, with new projects for this academic year

The 2017/2018 academic year has just begun at Areteia, with a clear priority: make Areteia more Areteia. In pursuit of this core idea, we have been working over the summer on specific training for the teaching staff about the personalisation of education, inclusive schools, and the most frequent educational needs of pupils at the school.

Among the changes taking place this year, we would highlight the smaller group sizes in the final years of Primary Education and in the 2nd and 4th years of Secondary Education, with the aim of advancing personalisation in our classrooms. We have also boosted Areteia’s Vocational Training educational project, with steps towards Advanced Vocational Training. This responds to the requests of families at the school, who ask for continuity in a personalised educational environment which looks out for the pupils, as Areteia’s does.

After evaluating the last academic year, Luis Garcia believes that it was “a very beneficial year”. In keeping with the school’s ideology, “our pupils achieved very good results, helping them to grow academically and personally”, and the use of new technologies was consolidated “in a coherent, reasoned way and at a suitable rate”. For example, through the new model Bring your own Device in 1st ESO, which incentivised the introduction of this model in other year groups.

Last year, there were “three wonderful and emotional moments”. These were the second edition of the former pupils’ meetup, which brought together more than 200 ex-pupils; the 5th Educational Innovation Day – School Co-existence: mediation and compromise, key against bullying, in which highlights were the quality of the presentations and the contribution to our teachers’ training; and the second Annual Parents’ Meeting, which proved that this is becoming an established event in the school calendar.

The headmaster also highlights the successful Excellent Workshops, which will be further developed this year. These workshops are “unique to Areteia’s model of education”, and are hugely popular with the pupils, especially those workshops in the fields of sports, photography, video, and radio. Like the rest of the schools in the NACE Schools group, Areteia has actively and successfully participated in events organised by the group, and as Luis Garcia says “these are experienced had by just a few, though the rest of us feel it too”.

Without doubt, the most important of the school’s experiences during the last academic year was the Peru Stop Bullying C95 Adventure, in which eight pupils were chosen for their positive contribution to the dynamics of daily co-existence to participate in an expedition to Peru. The headmaster highlights the brave step taken by the educational community to put a human face on the problem and bring it to light, as well as the firm commitment of all to encourage coexistence and become “a school of respect”.

Agora International School Barcelona begins the academic year with a powerful, established educational project

Agora International School Barcelona is beginning the new academic year by putting two great educational projects into motion: the International Baccalaureate and Vocational Training in Sports. These are two ambitious projects which will reinforce the educational programme which defines AIS Barcelona, and lay the foundations for consolidating the school’s position.

Both projects have been well received, both by families and by the external pupils who are enrolled in them. They have become one of the main objectives for this school year, along with improving and perfecting the other excellence and academic programmes which began last year, such as the international programme, the increase in the range of extracurricular activities available, and the pupils’ participation in external competitions.

For school headmaster Andrés Rosás, another of the great challenges for this year is to “increase language immersion for our Secondary Education pupils”. As we are a relatively young school, “past generations have not benefited as much as the youngest pupils from the progressive increases made to the level of language immersion”, though the school is taking steps to counter this through increasing the number of subjects taught in English, as well the number of hours with conversation assistants.

Throughout the last few academic years, the school has worked tirelessly to achieve a solid and durable NACE educational project, which has been planned and reinforced, and “has enabled us to grow both in new excellence programmes, and in pupil numbers”. We also have an established teaching team, with minimal staff turnover, to guarantee stability, which is essential in any project.

From among the successes of last year, the headmaster highlights the start of the Parents’ School, an initiative which has “been welcomed by families, and has enabled us to talk about the very latest topics in the world of education, such as the use of new technologies, as well as more traditional topics such as discipline for teenagers”. He also highlights the successful introduction of the GAVEA project, the use of tablets in the classroom, as an educational tool in Primary Education, which will also be implemented in Secondary Education.

Similarly, the school achieved very good results through an academic improvement programme based on study techniques and reading comprehension, as well as through the multiple intelligences programme, which identifies the individual potential and needs of each pupil so that we can further personalise our work. We also continued to advance in terms of the internationality of the school, with exchanges with Stonar School, end-of-year trips abroad, and the “Connecting Cultures” project, which received an award in the NACE Awards. Finally, we boosted social participation, to encourage social awareness in pupils.

Without doubt, the most noteworthy event at school last year was the NACE Olympic Games. These games paid tribute to Barcelona’s 1992 Olympic Games, which were 25 years ago this summer, and were a huge success. Andrés Rosás was happy with the commitment and team work shown by all the members of AIS Barcelona, as well as the vital collaboration of our families, which created a link between us all. All the children had “an unforgettable experience and met pupils from the other schools, and we encouraged a sense of pride to belong to a group like NACE Schools”.

Agora International School starts the 2017/2018 academic year with a new headteacher and a very motivated team

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.

Agora Lledó begins the school year early, with lots of changes

Agora Lledó International School has already begun the 2017/2018 academic year, ahead of other schools, with the more than 500 pupils in Infant and Primary Education starting last week. The aim is to help them adjust to the school environment after the summer holidays, make school start dates compatible with professional life for parents, and adapt our class times to international calendars, which have more school days than the Spanish calendar.

For school headmaster, Luis Madrid, the most notable change made this coming year is the implementation of the International Baccalaureate separate from the national Baccalaureate. This is motivated by the results obtained in the last academic year: a 100% pass rate and an average score 6 points above the world average. For this reason, the decision has been made to focus on this academic qualification, and ensure that Agora Lledó remains a leading school in these studies. Also in the field of internationalisation, this year the school will also be implementing the IEYC (International Early Years Curriculum) in 5th Infant Education, and the IPC programme (International Primary Curriculum) in 1st and 2nd Primary, which will mean offering international studies throughout this entire academic stage, and will allow us to prepare pupils to face the challenges of their further studies from a young age.

This year, robotics will continue to be an important pillar, as we open up new ways of working with technology, and there will be more optional subjects available in Secondary Education and Baccalaureate, many of which will focus on new technologies. To encourage healthy habits, a break-time area has been added to the dining room, where the pupils will be able to take part in fun and recreational supervised activities, or rest in a comfortable space after they’ve eaten. In addition, we will consolidate the format of project work in Primary Education, and carry on offering continuous training for teachers so that they are able to increase their knowledge, working with new educational techniques and methods. The GAVEA project, the use of tablets in the classroom, will be expanded to include 3rd ESO.

All the objectives and projects set out for the new academic year have been designed to continue the good work of the last school year, from which Luis Madrid highlights the excellent academic results obtained in the Selectividad exams and the PISA tests, the improvements to the academic support programme for Secondary Education pupils with difficulties, and the pupils’ sporting and musical achievements, “which have set the bar high for this coming year”, and which will be emphasised this year by adding an hour in the afternoon for the students to have time to train or rehearse.

The headmaster is also satisfied with the good results from the foreign exchange programmes, which were both expanded and enhanced. This academic year “our intention is to continue expanding them, with the objective that by the time the pupils reach Baccalaureate they have all had an international experience, in line with the school’s educational project, and to serve as prior experience for those who decide to study abroad.”

Finally, Luis Madrid addresses all pupils and members of the school to “wish them a good year, in which our targets are high but we’re going to work together to improve and excel once again”.