During the months of lockdown, in which we have put into practice a distance educational model, we have been able to learn from new methodological formats, from using new tools and new ways of learning and interaction between the different members of our Community.

It has become evident that we need to create learning flows that use face-to-face or digital formats depending on the pedagogical purpose that they pursue, that take place in enriching and motivating physical or virtual spaces that allow us to create personal development experiences for each student.

Ultimately, it is necessary to redefine the purpose of the school as a “place”, to broaden and expand the concept of learning so that it serves the needs of our students today, and in the future.

In order to deepen our understanding of these and other dimensions of our educational action, we have set up a Think-Action Tank research group to lay the groundwork and foundations of the future SEK Educational System. Our aim is to devise a model of learning that builds on our successful values, principles and practices, and make it fit for purpose, not just in response to COVID-19, but for an uncertain future of exponential change.

The Think-Action Tank started working on 30 May and will conclude their work on 30 June, with an initial learning model. Groups of teachers from across all the SEK schools will then further develop the model ready for implementation in September.

Our starting point is based on the Intelligent Classroom (IC) education system, within the framework of the International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes, and the innovative ACE Learning (NEASC) protocol which SEK Schools are currently in the process of obtaining accreditation for.

The Intelligent Classroom is based on nine dimensions of learning; the ACE Protocol focuses on ten learning principles; the IB has recently summarised its new Standards & Practices into four key areas1.

DIMENSIONS OF THE INTELLIGENT CLASSROOMACE LEARNING PRINCIPLESKEY IB AREAS
1. Goals1. Learning Goals1. Purpose
2. Tasks2. Dimensions of Learning2. Environment
3. Methods3. Assessment for, of and as Learning3. Culture
4. Sequence4. Learning Perspectives4. Learning
5. Role of the teacher5. Learner Engagement and Autonomy
6. Role of the student6. Research and Reflection on Learning
7. Evaluation7. Inclusiveness of Learning
8. Context8. Governance and Leadership for Learning
9. Culture and values9. Learning Space and Time
10.Learning Community

1 AI – Segovia Olmo, F., & Beltrán Llera, J. (1994). The Intelligent Classroom. Madrid: SEK Institution

ACEhttps://cie.neasc.org/ace/learning-principles

IBhttps://ibo.org/contentassets/1cdf850e366447e99b5a862aab622883/assessment-principles-and-practices-2018-en.pdf

 

 

The links between the IC (in white), ACE (in black) and IB are shown in the structural diagram below:

 

The SEK education system also recognises some key transversal aspects of learning:

  • A focus on student learning, and on the individualisation and impact of the process
  • Inquiry-based, project-based, play-based and experiential learning in real-life contexts
  • Nurturing students’ motivation and agency in their own self-directed, independent learning process
  • Assessment as an ongoing element of learning that focuses on the impacts that our actions have on student learning
  • Valuing diversity, and nurturing global citizenship and social innovation
  • Leveraging technology as a tool to enrich learning, collaboration and communication
  • Importance of diversity in learning environments and spaces

 

The Think-Action Tank and the groups of teachers from each school will structure our unique and creative learning model to take account of these synergistic learning interactions from AI, ACE and IB, our long-standing tradition of education innovation and our experience of distance education of recent months.

We are confident that the improvement of our Educational System will provide our students with an outstanding education for the third millennium.

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Reopening of Schools

Management team’s announcement

A message from the General Director of Schools and his team

We hope you and your families are healthy and well at this difficult time.

We understand this is a time of uncertainty for all of our families and that adapting to our model of online learning has required flexibility from families, students and teachers. Below you can find information that explains the online learning model that we are implementing in order to maintain a high-quality education for your children. We hope this helps to make our approach to online learning more understandable.

Teachers have been trained in advanced skills in using online learning platforms such as Microsoft Teams, ManageBac, Blink Learning, and have also learned how to use many other digital platforms and apps. These platforms have enabled us to provide a rich and diverse learning experience for your children, with different approaches being applied to different ages and online different learning styles, as outlined below. Across the SEK community, and indeed from schools across the world, we have been sharing resources and best practices to improve our online lessons. SEK teachers have devoted much time and expertise in adapting to the new learning environment, and indeed staff are spending significant amounts of time in gathering digital resources, preparing online lessons, conducting lessons on the digital platforms, giving group and individual feedback to your children, and communicating regularly with students and families.

We are very aware that the new learning environment, alongside the confinement in our homes, has resulted in feelings of concern among our students and families. We know that your children need help in understanding how to adapt to this new reality, manage their feelings, and somehow continue with their learning. Therefore, and in parallel with teachers, our school Guidance Department staff is continually offering support to our Learning Community: they have joined online classes, have held individual sessions with students and their families and developed a range of resources to help children meet their social and emotional needs over this difficult time.

To support our wider community, in combination with University Camilo José Cela, we have also created within this website, a section called Wellness Classroom, with webinars that students and families can access easily. We hope this will help you to address many of the concerns you and your children may have.

We look forward to the time when we can return to more normal school routines, having learned much from this experience. In the meantime, our staff will continue to work tirelessly to ensure your children receive the best possible education.

We remain at your disposal if you need further information.

DG@sek.es

Our online learning model

Our main objective is to ensure the continuity of each student’s learning process, as well as their balanced social and emotional development.

The current situation is also an opportunity to continue developing the principles that characterise our educational model:

  • Promoting self-directed learning and student agency, for example, motivating students to take the initiative in their learning and developing it at their own pace.
  • Offering an even more personalised learning experience
  • Cultivating peer learning
  • Fostering the development of self-control skills in students
  • Strengthening learning by competencies
  • Nurturing a healthy balance between screen time (synchronous learning) and independent activities (asynchronous learning).

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Early Childhood

Our goal at this stage is to maintain and strengthen the bond between teachers and children, with relationships being an essential component of learning at these ages. In addition, we seek to help families as they tackle these difficult times by suggesting meaningful activities and emotional support.

The tutors and stage coordinators are in constant communication with families. Every day they post on the SEK Blogosphere and on the MySEK Infants Digital Agenda, different videos made especially for children and suggestions for activities that families can do using materials and resources that they have at home.

Children 3 to 6 years old continue their learning within the IB Primary Years Programme. In addition, groups also have daily assemblies, where teachers and children meet to talk, explore learning content, and stay in touch, thus strengthening the close bond that is so essential for these ages.

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Primary school

The objective over this stage to continue learning based on inquiry and the IB Primary Years Programme.

Students explore the central ideas of their units of inquiry through different learning experiences. Teachers share resources, content and instructions through the SEK Blogosphere and Microsoft Teams, where they post videos, activity instructions and web resources.

Learning happens with the support of the MySEK platform that features the following applications for the management of distance learning: 

  • Microsoft Teams to facilitate discussion and dialogue, lead meetings with their group and share online resources. Learning happens synchronously (online classes with teachers and the class group) and asynchronously (with teachers assigning tasks for student to do at their own pace within the deadlines set).
  • SEK blogosphere for posting videos, suggestions for learning activities and other information using flipped learning. With this teaching method, teachers share with their students:
    • Video messages to outline the learning objectives for sessions.
    • Other content or videos that explain tasks, present content or invite a question.
    • Additional suggested activity lists, expanding or backing up content, for students to follow at their own pace.
  • A series of learning support platforms continue to be used, such as Leobien, Didakids, RazKids, Reading A to Z, among many others.

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Secondary school

Over this stage we seek to give continuity to the IB Middle Years Programme, which is made up of eight groups of subjects that provide students with a varied and balanced learning experience.

Learning continues for each subject on the MySEK platform, featuring the following applications for managing distance learning: 

  • Microsoft Teams: Live streamed classes with teachers and whole class group participation through chat and forum features; assignment of tasks or activities; uploading of files and evidence of learning.
  • ManageBac: Assigning tasks, sharing resources.
  • OneNote: learning notebook.
  • BlinkLearning: Access to digital textbooks and other resources.
  • Stream: Access to the video library of shared resources and video tutorials that teachers have recorded. 
  • Each teacher adds the use of other resources and platforms to create motivating and diverse learning environments as they see fit. 

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Baccalaureate

Our main objective over this stage is to continue with students’ teaching and learning process, offering them a first-class preparation for admission to the best universities in the world, both in Spain and abroad.

Although the final decision from the different authorities in relation to whether the Selectividad university entrance exams (EVAU / EBAU) will be held or not this year is still pending, our teachers continue to work with students to provide them with the essential knowledge, skills and attitudes to successfully tackle this challenge.

In terms of online learning methods, over the Baccalaureate stage, a synchronous and asynchronous model for learning continues to offered, through the tools and applications available on MySEK:

  • Microsoft Teams: Live streamed classes with teachers and whole class group participation through chat and forum features; assignment of tasks or activities; uploading of files and evidence of learning.
  • ManageBac: Assigning tasks, sharing resources.
  • OneNote: learning notebook.
  • BlinkLearning: Access to digital textbooks and other resources.
  • Stream: Access to the video library of shared resources and video tutorials that teachers have recorded.
  • Each teacher adds the use of other resources and platforms to create motivating and diverse learning environments as they see fit. 

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Diploma Programme

We are very much aware of the concerns of our students and families since the IB announced the cancellation of the Diploma Programme exams.

The IB has said that it will be using a vast amount of data from previous assessments to ensure that a rigorous process is followed, adapted to the situation in which we find ourselves.

Instead of sending samples for external marking by the IB, schools have been asked to send the coursework of all the students enrolled in the exams to the IB. The coursework, which is usually marked by teachers, will be assessed externally.

Therefore, in this situation we are actively supporting our students so that they hand in the best possible work by the deadlines set by the IB.

The IB plans to communicate the results to schools, institutions and universities on 5 July 2020.

Assessment of Learning

Assessment throughout the different stages is a continuous and holistic process and it takes into account the student’s learning progress in all academic areas.

At SEK schools we implement an evidence for learning approach, with an emphasis on learning and skill development rather than just focusing on grades. We are bolstering the feedback given to students and offer specific information on their next steps for learning.

The protocols and systems have been put in place for all the coordinators, tutors and teachers responsible for the different academic areas to be able to collect the evidence of learning necessary to assess the attainment of the stage objectives and set a final assessment. This assessment is made by both teachers and students themselves, in addition to incorporating elements for peer reflection.

In the context of online learning feedback becomes essential. We are taking advantage of technological resources to facilitate constant communication between teachers and students. Teachers use a range of strategies, such as recording video messages to give general feedback to students, or voice messages for commenting on students’ coursework. Students also help in identifying the work and tasks that best evidence their learning. In this way, there is ample evidence to establish conclusions regarding each students’ learning process.

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Online learning experience

Many families have asked us why we manage the online learning experience in a certain way and, also, about online behaviour of students.

Allow us to share with you some online teaching and behavioural principles:

  • For us it is important that online lessons are not a simple transfer from face-to-face to the virtual teaching. Which is why, we try to compensate the synchronous connection times with asynchronous personal work time, and we try to liven up our online interventions by making them more enjoyable and motivating.
  • We invite all students to take part in the synchronous lessons to foster a sense of belonging and community. Students often drop out of online learning because of a feeling of loneliness and lack of support. We do not want that to happen, which is why we emphasise participation in online working groups.
  • Furthermore, learning is not only an individual exercise but a social practice. If our children already work with other classmates in face-to-face lessons, in the digital field they should continue to do so, making use of the tools we have made available to them. In the same way, we assign periods of study, reflection, and individual creation, to develop the personal talent of each of our students, also in the digital field.
  • We ensure the data, content and communication exchanges of your children is kept absolutely private because the environment in which they work is restricted. No one from outside the SEK Community, or who has not been explicitly invited to participate, can take part in lessons, streaming sessions or video conferences.
  • The SEK Group expects its entire community to adhere to a code of conduct. The online school space, just as the physical one, has a code of conduct.
  • The physical and emotional health of your children is very important in the online environment. For this reason, SEK, through its Counselling Departments, strives to provide personalised pastoral care and attention.

Innovation and Educational Technology

Teacher training

The ongoing and continuous training of our teachers is one of the keys to the success of the SEK Educational System.

The use of technology, for the personalisation and enrichment of our educational model, is also one of its pillars. Therefore, our teachers are perfectly prepared to work with platforms and applications such as Microsoft Office 365, MySEK, our blogosphere, ManageBac, BlinkLearning, Symbaloo or Smart Learning Suite, among many others. This was a decisive factor in adapting 100% of the face-to-face lessons to online distance learning in an agile and efficient way last year.

Our teachers receive continuous training. Through the Teams platform, teachers can access daily webinars and tutorials to continue perfecting their use of technology applications, and develop new strategies and methodologies adapted to online teaching. In addition, these environments promote collaborative learning among professionals, since they have the opportunity to share resources and content.

The past 19-20 school year, over 120 video tutorials were offered on the use of tools, teaching and digital skills (MySEK, Office365, PLE training, PMB, SMART, Symbaloo, BlinkLearning, CloudLabs); 30 webinars taught by specialised internal and external professionals. In total, more than 1,600 teachers from our staff took part.

EVIDENCES

Through MySEK, teachers and students are accessing the tools they need for distance learning and teaching. SEK International Schools are currently offering asynchronous and synchronous distance learning. Asynchronous learning allows teachers to upload and provide resources for students to explore and learn, create discussion forums, assign individual tasks through ManageBac or record meetings for future reference to review learning in Microsoft Teams. On the other hand, real-time or synchronous learning experiences take place live, with teacher-led consultations and discussions. Teachers or students can schedule meetings to carry out collaborative work or support meetings.

 

We assure you that the resources, infrastructure and technology that we are using ensure the quality of our students’ educational process. This section contains a small sample of the academic activity that is taking place over these days:

 

Technical drawing in Baccalaureate. SEK-Catalunya

 

Virtual Debate Class

 

Virtual Mathematics Class

Virtual Piano Class

 

Virtual Chemistry Class

 

Virtual Muscle Stretching Musculares

ONLINE LEARNING EXPERIENCE

In this document you will find the results of some workshops and focus groups that we carried out with students, families and teachers with the aim of evaluating and continuing to perfect our learning model.

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Testimonials from families and teachers