British School of Barcelona: Inculcating Skill-Based Education in Bright and Young Minds
British School of Barcelona
British School of Barcelona

In a world of rapid change, individuals need the right mix of skills to thrive. An emphasis on practical knowledge is increasing and hence memorizing facts is less important today. Though academic knowledge and skills are important, it is not sufficient to foster a thoughtful, productive, creative and engaged citizens. Today, it is mandate to develop a greater breadth of skills to evaluate and apply the gained knowledge in ways that meet the increasing demands of the socio-economic landscape. This is where quality education with a focus on skill development and holistic education makes its presence felt.

We at The Knowledge Review, feel privileged to have come across one such school which offers education that pertains to the current shifts in the world. In our conversation with Jon Locke, the Principal of British School of Barcelona, we could comprehend how the school helped students to  graduate with an intellectual mindset that will help them adapt as the world shifts. The students are prepared to speak up skilfully and help them chart the direction that change takes.

TKR Team: Kindly provide us the detailed information about your school, including its history, the infrastructure, and some of its distinct facilities.

Locke: Founded over 60 years ago, The British School of Barcelona(BSB offers an all-round international approach to children’s learning and development.

BSB provides an educational journey for students from 3 to 18 years that takes place in three different campuses:

  • BSB Sitges: Early Years and Primary education
  • BSB Castelldefels: Early Years, Primary and Secondary education
  • BSB Nexus: Purpose-built Pre-University campus which provides students aged 16 to 18 a distinct educational model that helps them develop 21st century skills, by promoting academic risk taking, creativity, innovation and lifelong learning. The new campus was opened in April 2018.

In September 2019, The British School of Barcelona additionally opened a new state-of-the art 9,000 m2 rugby and football stadium adjacent to the BSB Castelldefels campus, which has been certified by World Rugby and is committed to social environmental responsibility by using sustainable materials and renewable energies in its design and maintenance.

The British School of Barcelona has been part of the international education group Cognita since 2007. Cognita is an extraordinary family of diverse yet connected schools around the world. We share one common purpose: to create an inspiring world of education that builds self-belief and empowers individuals to succeed. With over 70 schools in Europe, Latin America and Asia, Cognita employs 7,500 teaching and support staff in the care and education of more than 45,000 students. Together, Cognita schools provide a uniquely global education that goes beyond grades to develop all-round academic excellence – equipping young people with the confidence and resourcefulness that prepares them to grow, thrive and find their success in a fast-changing world.

TKR Team: Enlighten us on your school’s mission and vision, the accreditations and a few of your learning and development programs.

Locke: The school’s mission:

The British School of Barcelona is a caring, learning community with high expectations.

Our educational aims are focused on three areas:

  • Academic: We inspire all to be creative, curious thinkers within a culture of support and challenge.
  • Character: We provide individual growth through high expectations; demonstrating commitment, resilience and respect for all.
  • Global: We are global citizens, embracing difference, cared for and caring, and principled in our beliefs.

Our educational offer includes two different pathways:

  • A Levels (British Curriculum), and
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP).

The British School of Barcelona is recognised and accredited by the British government for teaching the English National Curriculum, and by the International Baccalaureate Organization to deliver the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP).

We are also authorised to validate the Spanish ESO and Bachillerato (Secondary and Sixth Form) by the Spanish Ministry of Education and the Catalan department of Education.

BSB is fully accredited by the British and Spanish Governments, with our students graduating to some of the best international universities around the world, such as universities from the Russell Group, and other British, Spanish and international universities of their first choice.

We feel that our commitment to a holistic education with a focus on wider skills ensures that our students leave BSB equipped to face the challenges of University, work and life.

TKR Team: According to you, how important is the role of a qualified educator for a quality education? How is this motto served at your school?

Locke: The school’s motto is, ‘The British School of Barcelona is a caring, learning community with high expectations.’

I believe that quick changes are often superficial. This is why I prefer long-term improvement plans, which are more sustainable over time.  All the stakeholders should take part in the design of this improvement plan, and the senior leadership team must be able to share the responsibility of making decisions.  The figure of the headteacher as the unique leader of a school, so prevalent in the 80s, is no longer appropriate in our system today.  We are working to develop independent thinkers, leaders at all levels and a continual process of reflection and improvement.

TKR Team: Please elucidate over some of your school’s accomplishments.

Locke : 2019 A Level Highlights : BSB’s 2019 A level results saw record numbers of students obtaining the highest grades and gaining places at some of the best Universities across the world.  99% of grades at A level were between A* and E, whilst 42% of grades were awarded the highest grades of A*-A, a development on previous years and well beyond UK national averages, which stand at 95% and 27% respectively.

Outstanding Learner Awards: Every year the students of The British School achieve outstanding levels of performance in their external examinations, well above the average found in the United Kingdom. The prestigious Outstanding Learner Awards annually reward our top performing learners at both (I)GCSE and A Level exams, in recognition of the enormous talent and hard work not only amongst learners but also within our teaching staff.

University destinations :Each year, the students of BSB attend a broad range of university destinations with most leavers accepting offers from Russell Group (57% of students that went to the UK are studying in a Russell Group University), and other British, Spanish and international universities.

We work in partnership with Education USA Spain as there is an increasing interest in University destinations in the USA. This year 6 of our students have been accepted by Competitive College Club through EducationUSA Spain.

TKR Team: What are your perceptions over the effects of shifting trends in the education sector with regards to emergence of new teaching methods and use of technology?

Locke : The 21st century sees us facing a fast-changing, challenging environment.  Research indicates that our young people will need to be adaptable, resilient and creative lifelong learners if they are to thrive in the future.  At BSB our aim is to provide our students with the necessary skills, so they can achieve the best academic results, but also to learn how to be independent and innovative.  We want our students to develop critical thinking and lifelong learning habits; something which we consider vital in order to face the future when they leave school.

Clearly, this is a top priority in our curriculum, and we are placing an increased emphasis on developing classroom practice using the framework of learning habits. This is most clearly evident in the new Integrated Learning Projects in some Secondary year groups, which emphasises active learning and the freedom to innovate, particularly in the use of new technologies.  To support this we have introduced our Bring Your Own Learning Device scheme in across the school, this enables students to use their ipads or laptops creatively across the curriculum, stimulating independent research and learning.

TKR Team: What are the future prospects of your school in terms of expansion or upgrading the current syllabi or infrastructure?

Locke: In the short-term, we will continue working to keep the high-quality standards of our education and to ensure our provision is both engaging and challenging for our students. We are also launching a staff leadership programme and a research and development programme to ensure our staff are equipped to deliver the great education our students deserve.  In the long-term, I believe there are ample opportunities for collaboration beyond our school, such as networking with other Cognita schools around the world, as we are currently doing with our sister schools in Spain. This will help us create a global enriching educational offer both for the students and for our staff.

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