A stage with good influences
At our school, ESO has been strongly influenced by the recognised Finnish educational system as well as the latest studies on neuroscience in the education field and, yet more specifically, the Harvard’s Project Zero. These two leaders in their field have been the subject of study for the last few years and we have even visited Finland, the United States and also Chile to learn about which proposals and methodologies were the most appropriate for students first-hand.
The Culture of Thought is the most recent development of them all, which represents a quantum leap to our educational project and is one that has been most enthusiastically received by the students. However, we have also imported other improvements such as extending sessions, with breaks to make better use of time.
We have our own assessment system which includes between six and ten exam periods, which provides more opportunities thanks to the different exam sessions and encourages continual improvement.
ESO classes are planned so that the student works in the classroom, with the support of the teachers. These are divided into half an hour dedicated to explanation and the rest of the time to ensure that the students have assimilated the day’s learning objective, through specific tasks, exercises and resolving doubts. We have verified that this new formula is the most efficient, as the whole group advances at the same pace.
Collaborative and cooperative tasks among students is also equally influential, as they help each other in the learning process. We are subsequently applying cognitive mechanisms that are highly regarded by neuroscience and which underline the benefits of peer learning, companionship and mirror neurons. Furthermore, working in a group helps them to develop strategies to resolve problems or unforeseen situations, it makes them more tolerant and flexible, and prepares them to manage any group work in an effective manner. This together with the regular brain breaks that we encourage and the dynamic distribution of the classroom has generated satisfactory results, especially during this age of adolescence.
Student connection and commitment
Each year group has its own allocated tutor, with whom families can have meetings when considered necessary. We also offer the possibility of shared tutoring with any of the teachers, which also involves the presence of the student. Experience shows that shared tutoring has a very good positive return, given that the three parties involved form a team and this creates complicity at three levels, of which the student is the main beneficiary.
In addition, in order to provide a response to the anxieties that students of this age can sometimes have, our Psychopedagogical Counselling Department is a good resource to help them channel these worries and become more self-confident. Overall this is a good stage where we can encourage the student to become fully involved in the school project and acquire a positive and committed attitude.
We give a great deal of importance to learning through art and for the students to be able to channel their and artistic creativity and expression, thus strengthening what is known as the “forgotten hemisphere”.
During ESO, students make significant use of the chemistry, physics, biology and technology laboratories at the school. And not only during these subjects, but also during a subject we have created called scientific method, where they learn how to investigate, make hypotheses, perform experiments, analyse results, obtain data, extract conclusions and make oral presentations.
Public speaking is another of the skills that we work on and hone, together with writing, so they developed the habit, presence and confidence to speak in public with certainty, with a coherent and fluid discourse, with a good posture on stage and correctly projecting their voice.
Subjects in English and the official Cambridge exams
In ESO, the English classes are distributed between two levels, standard, which is corresponds to the year as established in the curriculum, and another more advanced level, for those that require a more intense rhythm. Furthermore, all the ESO year groups have subjects taught completely in English, such as history or robotics and programming. From ESO Year 3 onwards, we offer them the opportunity to begin studying, both in parallel and gradually, the American High School Diploma. We also give them the possibility to sit the official exams of the First Certificate in English (FCE) and Advanced (CAE) at the school, as we are also a Cambridge exam centre.
With the Education Innovation Plan (EIP) that we have developed based on our experience of schools and institutes in Finland, we have included specific programmes and methods for students with special needs (SEN) both for gifted children and for those with concentration difficulties, such as ADD, ADHD or dyslexia.