After an atypical Easter Holiday, and with the world still confronting one of the greatest threats of our generation, one that will impact upon our future lives, and surely will impact education too. Throughout our history, St. Peter’s School has been built around the care for families, students and staff, and our actions during this global crisis are essential to keep our ethos and will be remembered for years to come. Two things we know for sure; first, that this situation will pass, let’s hope sooner rather than later. Second, that in the resulting scenery education will be more important than ever, both to ensure that as a group we have learned and improved, and individually to face the forthcoming challenges with the best opportunities. In this unprecedented environment, I want to focus on what we can do to remain strong, resilient and well-positioned to support our students now and in the future.
Luckily, we were able to prepare in advance for this lockdown and started offering homeschooling education for our students from day 1. During these few weeks, we have learned, improved and fine-tuned our online classes, and will continue to do so. There is a debate in the education community as to whether or not education should continue during this period, if children can continue to learn, about how they should be assessed. Our position is clear, and we are completely committed to it: learning cannot be stopped, and we will continue our student’s education while this situation lasts.
We have learned a few things already, and whilst we are all lacking the genuineness of being present at school, many good lessons are flourishing too in this new environment. Students are showing autonomy organizing their tasks, true agency in their own work, and proactivity to keep up with their schooling. Of course, the very youngest ones need their families’ help, and we are very grateful for the effort everyone is making to keep up with the project.
Our position is clear, and we are completely committed to it:
learning cannot be stopped, and we will continue our student’s education
while this situation lasts
Most importantly, we are learning how unimportant grades, exams or qualifications are for students’ motivation. Their commitment to learning is true and unconditioned to the rules we have always imagined were so important. Also, assessment in this scenario is becoming what it always should have been, a tool to help students learn about their performance so they can improve, and not a measure for third parties. All these lessons are in tune with our School Project and will be useful in the future.
We have a well-established strategy for the next years, I invite you to check it out in our School Education Project, our guide to what we are preparing for the next years, in this link: http://www.stpeters.es/img/pdf/school-project.pdf. During this period, we are continuing to work with our staff on this project, ensuring our plans are neither stopped nor delayed. In a normal situation, we would like to meet you all and explain these plans in detail. However, I would like to explain them to you anyway, and you will be regularly informed about the work in progress concerning our students’ future.
Let me explain you the main strands we are working in:
Methodologically we are enhancing the learning experience through inquiry. On the one hand it stimulates curiosity, and on the other it promotes comprehension and critical thinking. For that reason, we have chosen the IB (International Baccalaureate) Programme, that matches our needs in this and other requirements. As you know we are already certified for the Diploma Programme and are planning to certify for the Primary (PYP) and Middle (MYP) year programmes next year. Even under the lockdown we have kept working with the IB Oganisation, to ensure there are no delays in the expected timeline.
Among many others, this involves two fundamental tasks:
- Planning and programing all subjects according to new requirements.
- Defining new assessment strategies. As said earlier, we want to reconsider what assessment is about: helping students learn and giving them a tool to understand their degree of knowledge and comprehension. This will also involve how we present these results to their families; you will be informed soon about details of this and on the new reports you will receive next year.
While on lockdown we are working online
in order to have everything ready for next year.
We have coined and made our own the expression “destroy the degree” as the need to make a disruptive change in education. Talking about content, for us this means to completely change the subject matter that we teach, in favor of the present and future needs of society and its individuals.
On one hand, we are introducing new subjects, to mention a few:
- Global Perspectives: to understand the present world with a “factfulness” and critical approach.
- Exponential Science: AI, Robotics, Genomics, Blockchain, neuroscience, new energy sources, nanotech. These will be everyday concepts for our students. They need to understand them, embrace their potential, and learn to cope with the giant conflicts and dilemmas that they may generate.
- Exonomics: Exponential Economics. Technology has turned traditional economic models upside down, and more than ever before given the chance to connect people and prosperity.
- Environmental Science and Societies. A subject that should need no explanation under the current situation.
In addition, we are working on present subjects to ensure they include the last updates and trends.
I believe this is the main update education needs nowadays. Let me suggest a mental exercise. If you go into a class, is it sensible to hear the same material being taught that when you were at school? Surely our students deserve better; they need to understand what is coming, and they must be able to make the best out of the opportunities that they will have.
Obviously, this is the most important key of a School Project. We work hard to make sure we have the best teachers, which to us means they share three principles: teaching competence, commitment to their students and understanding, sharing and improving our project.
One more thing. I’ve never been keen on talking too much about values, because I believe they should be demonstrated and lived by, not proclaimed. More importantly, the way to introduce them in a school community is ensuring that the staff believes and lives according to them.
Respect. Commitment. Caring. Effort. Empathy. Generosity. Trust. These days I am proud of our school staff, that in the most difficult of situations, without a complaint, are showing their belief and understanding of how a healthy society should act.
Let me share with you my hope and confidence
in a bright future for our community
Once again, “bravo” for our staff.
To end with, let me share with you my hope and confidence in a bright future for our community. Take care.