At Colegio de San Francisco de Paula we don’t just think of the Baccalaureate as preparation for University –a level of education to which practically all of our students aspire– but also as preparation for the world of work that students will find themselves in after they finish their university studies.
Teaching at these levels continues to take its inspiration from the principles and criteria of the International Baccalaureate Organisation, criteria that link up with the Bologna Principles and are oriented towards university education. Above all, they coincide with the skills and competences required in the labour market, which include research abilities, the practical application of knowledge, leadership and emotional awareness and the global interpretation of facts and entrepreneurship, among others.
At present in Colegio de San Francisco de Paula, when students get to year Eleven they can opt to take either the Traditional Baccalaureate (which still follows the general principles and humanist vision of the International Baccalaureate Organisation) or the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. The latter provides students with a certificate, issued by the IBO, which gives them direct access to university, without having to sit University Entrance Examinations. The participating institutions include all Spanish universities and universities from 65 countries, among them some of the most prestigious in the world. They can also opt to combine the Traditional Baccalaureate with the Diploma Program.
The Traditional Baccalaureate is taught via modules in Science, Technology, Humanities and Social Science. The academic load is 11% higher than in other schools and is complemented by a variety of activities that take place both inside and outside of school. It also boasts an innovative curriculum, offering subjects like Computer-Aided Design (AutoCAD), which is primarily aimed at those students looking to study, and later work in, the field of architecture, engineering and other disciplines that rely on computer-aided design as a professional tool. The subject enables students to produce two-dimensional and three-dimensional designs, to create perspectives in all representation systems or create realistic photographic images. One of the School’s recent outstanding achievements was Itálica Virtual, a complete reconstruction of the Roman city using computer-aided design and virtual reality-aided design. Seventy students over six years worked on the project and it was exhibited at the National Archaeological Museum of Seville. The Traditional Baccalaureate continues the School’s bilingual program, teaching the following through English: Religion or its Alternative Study program; Science for the Contemporary World and, of course, English itself. In addition, students study French or German. In any case, in 2013 the School decided to extend the IB standards for the English subject to all Baccalaureate students, including the Spanish Bachillerato, as well as the activities related to Creativity, Action and Service (CAS), basic pillar for the IB, oriented to encourage creativity, social responsibility and civic and democratic understanding of students.
Meanwhile, the International Baccalaureate is taught in the following branches: Technology-Engineering, Biology-Medicine, Chemistry Physics and Social Sciences, and differs from the traditional Baccalaureate, not only in terms of its content, but in the teaching methods used. These methods focus on developing the specific skills associated with the student’s future professions, such as the use of new technologies, research, critical analysis of literature, styles and authors, field work, working with historical sources, the analysis and processing of information, commitment to community, self-sufficiency and leadership, entrepreneurship, etc. To this aim, the Diploma Program establishes three lines of study which are crucial for the education and assessment of students. Thus, through CAS (Creativity, Action and Service), students are assessed according to their self-sufficiency and ability to perform in the real world, through their involvement in creative and physical activities and local community service. In addition, in order to pass the program, students have to complete a research paper (Extended Essay) to demonstrate their capacity for in-depth research of sources, their ability to select information, extract conclusions and present them in structured manner. Finally, with the Theory of Knowledge, students acquire a global view of the subjects, learning, for example, to compare how professionals from different disciplines approach the same issue. Another standout aspect of the International Baccalaureate is that its assessment –which differs from the assessment of the traditional Baccalaureate in ways other than the assessment of these abilities– is, for the most part, external. Students from Colegio de San Francisco de Paula sit communal exams with students from the other schools that teach the Diploma and these exams are marked by the International Baccalaureate Organisation. In this way, our students are “ratified” as having the same level of knowledge and ability as those attending the select group of schools that are members of the International Baccalaureate Organisation.