Contingency plan of the Pérez Iborra School

The School has designed and tested its own Contingency Plan for the academic year 2020–2021, which we have prepared to respond to the situation of educational exceptionalism caused by COVID-19 pandemic, and to ensure the continuity of the school activity throughout the course with our characteristic quality of teaching and with our habitual teaching staff. Its main objective is to offer in-person lessons every day for Kindergarten and Primary students, in accordance with their schedules and sanitary conditions. To make this possible, we have rethought the total surface of the school in order to enable common spaces to be converted temporarily into classrooms. For ESO and Baccalaureate students –and in the event that there are capacity restrictions–, we also consider the possibility of combining in-person education with a blended format. As a complement, we have tested technological innovations such as the use of electronic devices, which would undoubtedly improve the student’s experience in online lessons.

The Plan is a living, reviewable and changing document, following the guidelines and regulations issued by the Department of Education, in which the entire school team has been thoroughly involved. To respond to the set of situations that may occur during the next academic year, the plan defines four possible scenarios: confinement, in-person part-time education, in-person full-time education and the new normal. Therefore, it foresees in-person and online education, offline and online education, synchronous and asynchronous lessons, the emotional management of the students and the continuous reinforcement of their digital skills. All this involves the promotion of learning, autonomy, confidence and well-being of our students … our reason for being.

The Pérez Iborra School Contingency Plan contemplates different scenarios, hypotheses and the specificity of each educational stage. It has been drawn up in full coordination with the school’s Psycho-Pedagogical Department, which at the same time also rethinks its dynamics to continue guaranteeing re-education, support for students and families, speech therapy and high capacity students in any of the planned scenarios. All this will also be in accordance with the guidelines issued by official organisms, as the School will adapt to the norms and protocols of the reopening of the centres. We are committed to offering all sanitary guarantees and complying with the indicated regulations regarding safety, hygiene, disinfection and waste management. The plan also details a communication and action protocol in case of suspicion of a case of COVID-19 in the centre as well as to identify its traceability from the pre-established groups. That is why the individual and collective responsibility of all of us is appealed to.

It also specifies issues such as the distribution of the classroom, entrances and exits, material and uniforms, schedules, breakfasts, recesses, evaluations, educative tools and the different areas of the school. Its entire surface has been considered as able of being restructured. Therefore, if necessary, some common areas or classrooms with specific uses are likely to be converted, such as the library, our laboratories and the music and chess rooms, inter alia. In this way, the school “gains” much space for students, complying with the required capacity and safety distances.

This plan also takes into account proper attention to families, including newcomers and those interested in our educational project, as well as after-school activities, reception, sports, academic activities, music school and reinforcement lessons.

You can check the whole contingency plan of the Pérez Iborra School for the academic year 2020-2021 at: https://pereziborra.com/2019-20/contingency_PLAN_CURS_2020-2021-EN.pdf

Drawing on the lessons of the online school period

The activity of the school has not stopped at any time, not even throughout the period of maximum confusion and health emergency due to the state of alarm decreed by COVID-19. During the period of forced confinement, the school has offered students a synchronous teaching proposal, via a teleconference platform. Online lessons have been offered regarding all curricular subjects: part-time service for Kindergarten and Primary School, and full-time for ESO and Baccalaureate. Thanks to the option of Breakout rooms offered by this platform, individual spaces for tutoring have been carried out, also guided work by teachers and team projects.

This has given us great consistency and self-confidence, both as a school and concerning the response of the students. This hard and undesirable situation has shown us that in an extreme situation our academic preparation is optimal. This is an obvious fact, now more than ever, since our students have spent years learning about functional tools and developing digital skills, which have now been essential. These skills are acquired from kindergarten thanks to the use of digital whiteboards that they have in their classrooms. Then, the digital experience follows a logical and coherent progression including, among other examples, the block-based visual programming language Scratch with which the Primary and Secondary students program. Apart from this: we promote virtual subjects such as ONMAT and, partly, EMAT, and online education, e.g. our Dual American Baccalaureate.

For some time now, starting at early ages, students use Google Apps for Education daily at school and home: Calendar, Drive and Classroom. Thanks to these educational tools they learn how to share and manage tasks and schedules, and to submit tasks, documents, videos, pictures, etc.

As our students are used –and committed as never before– to competency-based learning, in which they are the protagonists of their own learning, the current academic year has continued online with fluidity. They have acquired a more active and intuitive role, both in terms of proactivity and responsibility, autonomy and digital skills, the ability to learn, flexibility and a sense of belonging and contribution to the group.

This new context has further enhanced another specific dynamic very present in our school: the teacher as a guide. Their role is to propose and model learning, focused on eight Cultural Forces (that is: opportunities, expectations, time, routines, interactions, language, environment and modeling), always by giving prominence to the students and their centres of interest. This also allows our teachers to be more attentive to the specific interests and needs of each student, especially at a time that can be confusing because it is different. In this sense, we have placed more value on a good management of emotions in order to learn to recognize and express them with the aim of channelling in a proper way.

The work, commitment and engagement of the teachers has been exemplary and a very good reference for the students. They have been very adept at identifying new stories of learning associated with this situation and posing them with a digital look. All those contents and curricular objectives, which used to be focused on the offline format, have quickly been adapted to the online format. They have also had to rethink their expectations and schedules and streamline the tasks to avoid overloading students with too much work, as well as to favour family-friendly policies, as far as possible. For this reason, they have prioritized the most significant learning: deep, experiential and creative.

In sum, we have gone on with our educational project, which is the frame of reference that students understand as a group and which provides them with a climate of trust. A deep-rooted methodology easily transferable to the online format, including mind maps and thinking maps, habits of mind, keys and thinking routines. We have also been able, thanks to the different videoconferencing platforms, to maintain the cooperative and collaborative strategy that students are used to as group dynamics, thus promoting peer learning, gamification and the necessary social interaction.

Experience and Confidence to face the new academic year 2020-2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought us face to face with a reality that we at Pérez Iborra School had long anticipated and, consequently, prepared our students for. It’s about educating them in uncertainty of the changing and “liquid” world in which we have to live as a society. It is true that the health emergency –which has forced the lockdown of the school for the first time in its more than 80 years of history– has accelerated the process and has brought us closer to this horizon.

As a school we are used to framing everything within learning and to identifying evolutionary opportunities. Consequently we have learnt a valuable lesson. Actually, many lessons. But the most important issue is that our students are already experiencing, in a very significant and experiential way, the reality in which they will develop, as students, workers and, especially, as people. And, after that, this new frame of reference gives us, as educators, the possibility of preparing students from a more concrete scenario than could not be imagined so far.

Regarding this perspective we introduced the Cultures of Thinking in our school. “A new school culture, which prepares students to develop the competencies that the world is requiring: emotional, communicative, adaptive… and that will make them intelligent thinkers, with the resources and strategies to overcome any issue that present it to them”. We said it at the end of our own report through which we presented the Cultures of Thinking and now this action makes even more sense.

The Cultures of Thinking and the Green Cover are the most recent projects that we have implemented and that explain well the desire we have, as a school, to move forward and be prepared for the moment when the best response must be given. For this reason, weeks before Royal Decree 132/2010, of February 12, which forced schools to be totally closed as a containment measure and to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, we had already become familiar with the Zoom platform. We tested it first with the teachers and then with the elder students of the school. In this way, from the first day of online school (or “telecole”, as it has become sympathetically popular among students), we have already started to teach online with video communication platforms.

Despite forecasts, the magnitude of the global health emergency has shaken us like everyone else. That is why, once the first stage was consolidated, in which all efforts were focused on logistics so that our students could continue learning and contact with their groups, we began adjusting and adapting the online teaching. We have been very attentive to the evolution of the dynamics, to the emotional management of the students in an unprecedented framework of confinement and physical distance, and to adapt the contents to a digital format and attractive to students.

In addition, we have practiced active listening that we promote at school and we have been in permanent communication with families to identify opportunities for improvement together. Again via videoconference or telephone, in those cases they have requested it. All this has given us agility and reaction capacity and the course ends online, with fluency, confidence and fully aware for the academic year 2020-2021.