OUR EDUCATIONAL MODEL
Our educational model is based on the growing body of educational research that reveals that if teachers start by focusing on who they are teaching and trying to understand their needs, then those students will develop the necessary skills and motivation to reach deeper levels of learning both in their academic studies and their preparation for 21st century life.
We try to ensure that the curriculum we offer prepares our students for their future lives, we use new pedagogies such as project based learning and personalised learning, and we aim to develop autonomous and curious learners by explicitly developing student competencies at every level of the school. We believe that if we do this well our students will become amazing learners enabling them to not only excel in their academic pursuits, but to also graduate from school with an even greater sense of purpose in their lives.
Our hope is that St Andrew´s graduates are passionate and motivated young adults who understand and espouse our core values of respect, responsibility, and integrity. That they are responsible citizens who are committed to a better Argentina and world, and have the qualifications, self-awareness, skills and abilities required to live purposeful and fulfilling lives.
Below are brief descriptions highlighting how we bring our education model to life through building community, developing the curriculum, and new models of teaching and learning.
We build a tolerant learning community, where the school and families work together in partnership to help learners thrive at school. It is essential that our families and students understand that we are a school committed to purposeful and personalised learning for all of our students, and are aware of the implications of this commitment. For example, we do not accept that assessment in schools should excessively focus on grades and summative assessments in the form of written and timed tests. Instead we focus on generating rigorous assessment models that allow the development of the learning potential in every student and also contemplate the 21st century skills and contents highlighted in our competency framework. There is also an active element of this commitment for families. Children and adolescents look up to the adults in their lives, and by recognising this simple fact we expect all of the adults in our community to raise the bar for our students by modelling tolerance, life-long learning, and behaving according to our core values.
The foundation of a curriculum designed to prepare students for modern life is centred on the possibility to develop the skills necessary for each student to be able to continue life-long learning. Accordingly our curriculum is based on five main principles; i) offering high international academic standards, ii) striking the right balance between the intellectual, physical, artistic, and spiritual aspects of learning and development, iii) enabling authentic learning experiences connected to the real world, iv) providing choice and flexibility, and v) using a competency framework to describe student growth and development coherently.
HIGH INTERNATIONAL ACADEMIC STANDARDS
At Y10, students take the Cambridge IGCSE (International General Certificate) in English and the UDESA Diploma in Mathematics and Spanish. In Y12, all students apply for the IB diploma.
We offer a wide variety of IB subjects where students can apply for several combinations (but please be aware that not all combinations are available due to timetable constrictions).
INTELLECTUAL, ARTISTIC, PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT
Education has traditionally focused too heavily on the intellectual dimension of human development. We work to ensure that students focus not only on the academic element of their education by placing a healthy emphasis on the arts, sports, outdoor education, leadership, and spiritual development.
Spiritual, Emotional Intelligence, and Leadership (SEIL) is a program that was founded at St Andrew´s and emphasises helping young people to connect their heads with their hearts and bodies whilst they are at school. Students share many meaningful experiences together and have the time and space to reflect on these.
Our Arts curriculum offers a huge variety, from Scottish music to Film, and we have invested in great facilities to ensure that students build confidence and skills through the arts whilst at school. Similarly our students enjoy opportunities to develop physically through expeditions and trips that help them connect with the natural world, as well as taking part in more traditional sports activities such as Rugby and Hockey, which have always proven to be a great driver of developing values and competence in young people.
AUTHENITIC LEARNING EXPERIENCES
We seek to offer as many authentic learning experiences as possible because we know that students will benefit more from working on real world problems which develop multiple dimensions simultaneously, whilst also promoting the mastery of various areas of knowledge. Our service learning program and the Sea of Learning are two great examples of educational innovations that we use to meet this challenge.
Through service learning our students develop an incredible amount of skills and knowledge by connecting with people in local communities, gaining empathy for the problems that they face, and working with them together on meaningful projects. The Sea of Learning in our intermediate school is an incubator for project based learning experiences that are connected to, and designed to have an impact in the real-world. Our teachers work in interdisciplinary teams to design experiences (which we call DIVE´s) for their students that lead to the mastery of new areas of knowledge, provide them with opportunities to bring their ideas to life, enable them to put our core value into action in diverse contexts, and challenge them to try new things.
CHOICE AND FLEXIBILITY
In all sections of the school we offer flexible time where students have more freedom regarding the content and skills they learn. These moments are less structured than “normal” classes and enable students to take more ownership for their learning whilst also creating the possibility of incorporating some extracurricular activities into the school's regular timetable.
Our competency framework is the glue that binds our diverse curriculum, and teaching and learning models together. In order to ensure that our students understand how they grow and improve holistically, we use a shared framework across all areas of the school.
We use Micahel Fullan´s 6 C´s as our competency framework because many other schools in multiple countries from Uruguay to Finland have successfully seen their students reach even deeper levels of learning by; (i) creating systems and structures that enable teachers to identify and nurture each students skills and abilities for learning, and being a successful adult, and (ii) using the competency framework as a common language so that everyone understands that these skills and abilities are transversal and can be applied in a multitude of contexts.
For example, they will develop their communication skills in literally every part of their school life, and by all of our teachers using a common framework to describe how communication skills are developed, our teachers can help their students to understand that they can develop the same skill in multiple contexts. This challenges the usual student mindset in education where they tend to consider knowledge and skills in silos that relate to academic subjects.
The 6C´s describe six competencies (skills and abilities) that can be used to describe student growth and development. They are:
Critical thinking concerns the quality of our thought, and the quality of our thought has a direct influence on the quality of our life. Our students learn to raise vital questions and problems, gather and assess relevant information and reach well-reasoned conclusions, test ideas and solutions, and think critically whilst maintaining an open-mind.
Character refers to the qualities and actions that our students can develop which are known to have a positive impact on their ability to learn. These include characteristics such as tenacity, perseverance, resilience, autonomy, self-control, respect, responsibility, and integrity.
Collaboration, in nature we see that collaboration is the basis of life, and it is widely accepted that it is impossible to solve worthy challenges and problems without collaborating. We expect our students to excel at collaboration through; working together with each other and the wider community in order to create or achieve something important, listening and sharing effectively, and learning from the contribution of others.
Citizenship is about every student believing that they can make a positive difference, and the realisation that each of their voices count. The world may be changing fast, but we believe that they have the power to act and influence the world around them. The skills we focus on include helping them to build their own understanding of world events, to transfer their learning into the real world, and challenge ignorance and intolerance.
Communication refers to the ability of our students to send and receive information and messages. We focus on developing effective communicators who are good listeners, and comfortable using a variety of styles; written, verbal, and visual. Furthermore advanced communicators are able to adapt their message appropriately in order to reach different audiences.
Creativity refers to the use of imagination or original ideas in order to create something new. Students who demonstrate creativity know that there are many ways to solve a problem, are able to make connections between seemingly unrelated areas, and ask the right inquiry questions. They are able to bring their ideas to life in the real world.
TEACHING AND LEARNING
Our educational model focuses on great learning and building great learners. This focus necessarily requires that we accept changes in the role of the teacher. From having a fundamental role in transmitting knowledge and basing their pedagogy mainly in delivering lectures to students, we are moving towards a model in which the teacher and students learn together and the teacher acquires a role more of a mentor or facilitator helping the students to apprehend and generate knowledge.
In order to achieve this teachers must understand the importance of engaging their students as authors of their own education, connecting with their students in on a human level, inspiring students to seek personal growth and new knowledge, setting realistic yet ambitious expectations for each student and monitoring their progress, and differentiating teaching to meet the needs of individual learners.
These pedagogies are made possible thanks to the ubiquitous presence of technology in the school, which realistically enables teachers to personalise and manage the learning of each student. We encourage our teachers to carefully consider how they will organise the physical environment for optimum learning to take place. As we gradually consolidate all of our school activities on the campus we have less classrooms where desks are arranged towards the front where the teacher stands, and have developed new spaces for learning which offer a more stimulating environment and are flexible in order to foster different learning styles and modalities that will adapt to the diverse attitudes and learning styles of each student.
Our goal is that students follow personalised learning pathways that meet each student's needs. Personalised learning pathways are most powerful when the student is empowered to make decisions and become the author of their own education. With this in mind we help our students to become autonomous learners, to take ownership of their learning, to be independent enquirers, and to value the importance of learning collaboratively with peers. We aim to develop independent learning habits that are not limited only to formal schooling but by the fact that learning continues to take place outside school.
We have dedicated spaces that foster common activities and collaboration between students, and as we consolidate our educational model on the campus more learners will be able to benefit from the design of these spaces in the heart of the school buildings. We also provide areas in which students can study on their own so that they can practice independent learning for example during a flexible period.