Providing individual support is the desideratum that is systematically repeated in the formulation of any educational project. But how can intentions be turned into reality? For us, the keys to achieving this are:
Weekly student tracking.-The first key is the organization and operational dynamics of our school, consisting of weekly tutorial and academic meetings in which both group dynamics and individual student development are analysed and the necessary educational measures are taken. Therefore, all teachers and managers also have access, according to their level of responsibility, to relevant statistical data to help them evaluate and improve their teaching.
Student/Teacher ratio.- The keys to individual support are not only limited to quantitative aspects. But quantitative aspects are also important, and in the last ten years the number of employees at our school has increased from 140 to 208, the number of teachers form 80 to 120 and the number of teachers of other nationalities from 16 to 46, with the number of students remaining practically stable. This has dramatically reduced the student/teacher ratio, which has fallen from 16 to 10.
Assistant teachers and splitting of classes.- From Pre-School, in some classes, especially languages, the head Teacher is supported by an assistant teacher who promotes language immersion in the classroom and the development of oral conversation. For many subjects, classes are split to foster practice and experimentation in small groups. For example, Spanish language classes, foreign languages, music, art, technology and science are split. In the latter, laboratory practicals are enhanced as from the third year of Primary education.
Better prepared teachers.- In addition to increasing the number of teachers, in recent years we have invested in preparing teachers for major educational challenges, including individual support to students in an increasingly diverse context. The training is provided to all teachers in response to common challenges, while at the same time accommodating individual requests for teachers who wish to develop certain teaching and methodological aspects in greater depth. It has also encouraged teacher participation in national and international conferences and visits to other schools to learn about and share educational practices.
Support.- Throughout compulsory education and in Baccalaureate , from years One to Twelve, and for students who, using ordinary means, paying proper attention in class and devoted to studying in the indicated way, do not achieve the objectives in one or more subjects, the School arbitrates remedial classes in order to try to help them develop abilities, skills and knowledge they have not been able to acquire at the same time as their classmates. This support system is in fact one of the basic pillars of the educational project of the San Francisco de Paula College, hence it is a service that is offered at no additional cost for families. This service caters for the specific needs and requirements of each student. In the First and Second cycles of Primary Education, support classes last 60 minutes and are taught during the normal school hours of students simultaneously to the teaching of the corresponding subject. Sometimes students leave their regular classroom and go to the support classroom with the support Teacher; other times the support teacher stays in the regular classroom with the main teacher and takes the students from the regular classroom to the support classroom. At other levels, support classes are held between the last morning class and the first afternoon class. Classes are 45 minutes per week in each subject taught. The school offers the following support classes: in Spanish from year 1 to year 10; in Mathematics from year 1 to year 10; in Natural Sciences from year 7 to year 9; in Physics and Chemistry from year 10 to year 12; in English (two types) from year 1 to year 12; in Physical Education from year 1 to year 10; in Natural Sciences in English from year 7 to 10; in French from year 7 to 10; and in German from year 7 to year 10. In Pre-School, support classes are provided in Logic-Mathematics, Communication and Language and in Environmental Studies (in English). A student's need for these support classes is decided by the main teacher of the relevant subject, after notifying the Tutor and family, and their accepting this measure. Depending on a student's performance, a teacher can transfer them to a support class at any time of the year, although they have to take into account the total number of students in the support class in question, as this will be smaller. The main teacher is also the one who makes the decision to transfer a student back from a support class when they have overcome their specific learning difficulties.
Guidance.-The school's Guidance Service plays a crucial role in providing individual support to students, at both tutorial and academic level, focusing particularly on student diversity and career guidance. But above all it plays a key role in accompanying students throughout their entire education, acting as the binding link for individual student monitoring at each level. It also plays a crucial role in providing career guidance to students, organizing and developing numerous support activities in this area, such as Open Days, which are attended by many public and private universities to present their educational programs. These activities are complemented by different group sessions to provide information, guidance and clarification on doubts regarding our school's educational offer at Baccalaureate level, as well as on the functioning of the university entrance exam (PAU) and any new aspects that arise each year. And of course the Service issues a guidance report for each student. In order to provide these guidance services, the school has increased six fold the number of counsellors; as a result, the student/counsellor ratio (217 students per counsellor) is six times higher than the Spanish average and is even higher than the ratio recommended by the UN.
Personal projects and promoting entrepreneurship.- Individual support is strengthened by the academic methodology itself, which prioritizes student inquiry with teacher guidance, rather than solely traditional lectures, thus encouraging creativity and entrepreneurship. Clear examples are the personal projects prepared by students at the end of the Middle Years Program (MYP), in which they receive individual support.
Communication with families.- Family involvement is central to the school's educational project, and particularly to the individual monitoring of students. Through Virtual Campus (also available as an app), parents can obtain daily information on any minor incidents that occur in the classroom and that affect their child, academic grades, notifications of exam dates, project delivery dates and complementary activities. Tutors inform parents of the most important issues at meetings that can be held either at the behest of either the tutor or the families. A parents’ representative is designated for each group-class who is responsible for channelling information on issues of common interest. Of special interest is the Family School, which programs activities often focused on fostering collaboration between parents, teachers and children.