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 CLASSROOM ACE LEARNING PRINCIPLES KEY IB AREAS
1. Goals 1. Learning Goals 1. Purpose
2. Tasks 2. Dimensions of Learning 2. Environment
3. Methods 3. Assessment for, of and as Learning 3. Culture
4. Sequence 4. Learning Perspectives 4. Learning
5. Role of the teacher 5. Learner Engagement and Autonomy
6. Role of the student 6. Research and Reflection on Learning
7. Evaluation 7. Inclusiveness of Learning
8. Context 8. Governance and Leadership for Learning
9. Culture and values 9. 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

Our contingency model for online learning

Our primary goal is to ensure a seamless and quality learning process during this new school year, offering a teaching and learning model according to the academic, social and emotional needs of each student.

Our priority will be to seek to offer the maximum possible in-person learning for all our students, putting in place our health and safety protocols, which you can consult here.

At SEK Education Group, we are constantly up to date with the official guidelines and instructions from the public authorities on which our schools depend. Therefore, we follow the most beneficial guidelines for our students’ learning.

If there is a case of COVID-19 at one of our schools, the health and educational authorities will be informed to determine the best way to proceed and the measures to be taken in order to protect the safety of our entire community. However, in whatever circumstances the school is prepared to ensure, immediately, the seamless continuity of the academic process remotely.

The SEK educational model is based on the following principles:

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-led learning and students taking responsibility for their own learning process, encouraging students to take initiative and develop at their own pace.
  • Offering an increasingly personalised learning experience.
  • Cultivating peer learning.
  • Supporting the development of students’ self-control skills.
  • Strengthening competency learning.
  • Establishing a healthy balance between screen time (synchronous learning) and independent activities (asynchronous learning).

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Nursery and Preschool

In the event that a transition has to be made to an online learning for these stages, the bond between teachers and children will be forged, maintained and strengthened, since relationships are an essential component of learning at these ages. In addition, we will seek to help families deal with this difficult moment through proposed meaningful activities, providing materials and resources and ensuring constant emotional support.

The stage tutors and coordinators will be in permanent communication with families. If it is necessary to shift to online learning, teachers will upload onto the SEK Blogsphere and the MySEK Digital Diary videos made especially for children and suggestions for activities that families can carry out in a simple way, using both materials and resources they have at home, such as a series of resources that the school will provide and send to each student, through a SEK home-learning box.

Students from ages 3 to 6 will continue their learning process within the framework of the IB Primary Years Programme, through video lessons recorded by teachers, following the flipped learning method, as well as a series of suggestions for activities and learning experiences that children can do asynchronously. In addition, each group will also have daily assemblies, where teachers and children will meet to talk, explore learning content and keep in touch, thus strengthening close bonds that are so necessary at these ages.

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Primary School

The objective for this stage in the event we need to shift to online learning will be to continue with inquiry-based learning, within the framework of the IB Primary Years Programme. In order to do this, students will take part in synchronous online learning experiences, connecting with their classmates and teachers. They will also be provided with asynchronous experiences, following the instructions from their teachers, and using different resources developed specifically for this purpose.

In addition, they will use of a series of resources that the school will provide them through a SEK home-learning box. These materials will help them take part in the learning experiences led by teachers in the online lessons and they will have the opportunity to apply their learning in a specific way, thus reinforcing meaningful learning.

Students will be able to continue exploring the ideas and units of inquiry through very diverse learning experiences, just as they do in their face-to-face lessons. Teachers will share resources, content, and instructions through the SEK Blogosphere and Microsoft Teams, where they will post videos, activities, and web resources.

Learning will take place with the support of the MySEK platform, which contains the following applications for managing distance learning:

  • Microsoft Teams to facilitate discussion and dialogue, lead group meetings, and share resources online. Learning will be carried out synchronously (through online classes, with teachers and the entire class group) and asynchronously (tasks assigned by teachers, which students do at their own pace, while respecting the deadlines set by teachers).
  • SEK Blogosphere for posting videos, suggestions for learning activities and other information, using the flipped learning method. With this method, teachers will share video messages with their students presenting the session’s learning objectives every day:
    • Video messages to outline learning objectives of the day’s session.
    • Other content or videos that explain a task, present content or invite questions.
    • Lists of suggested extension or reinforcement activities, so that students advance at their own pace.
  • A series of learning support resources will also be used, such as Leobien, Didakids, RazKids or Reading A to Z, among many others.

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Secondary school

If years 1 to 4 of Secondary School have to shift to online or blended learning students will continue with their IB Middle Years Programme, made up of eight subject groups that foster a varied and balanced learning experience.

If it is necessary to offer a blended or fully online model, we will implement the online learning protocols put into practice last year, now improved thanks to the feedback given by our entire community through surveys and focus groups. We will continue to use our MySEK platform, featuring the following applications for distance learning management:

  • Microsoft Teams: synchronous classes with teachers that seek the participation of students in lessons, chats and notice boards, assigning tasks or activities, uploading files and evidence of learning.
  • ManageBac: for assigning tasks and 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 will be able to determine the use of other resources and platforms to create motivating and diverse learning environments.

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Baccalaureate

Our prime objective at this stage is to maintain continuity in students’ teaching and learning process and give them a first-class preparation for them to be admitted to the best universities in the world.

If it is necessary to offer a blended or fully online model, we will implement the online learning protocols put into practice last year, now improved thanks to the feedback given by our entire community through surveys and focus groups. We will continue to use our MySEK platform, featuring the following applications for distance learning management:

  • Microsoft Teams: synchronous classes with teachers that seek the participation of students in lessons, chats and notice boards, assigning tasks or activities, uploading files and evidence of learning.
  • ManageBac: for assigning tasks and 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 will be able to determine the use of other resources and platforms to create motivating and diverse learning environments.

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Diploma Programme

The experience of last year’s Diploma Programme exams caused concern for our students and their families. Despite having been an experience with many uncertainties, SEK Schools are extremely happy with the outstanding results that our students finally obtained, which are the best in the history of our schools. We are confident that, in this new school year, we can continue to offer a quality learning experience that will best prepare each of our students to meet the demands of the 2021 IB exams. Currently, the IB has not released any statements regarding plans for the forthcoming exams, but we hope that they can go ahead normally in May 2021. We are keeping up to date with any communications and news from the IB.

With the aim of continuing to offer a quality educational experience to our Diploma Programme students while safeguarding their health and safety, we are in contact with the authorities to establish and respect the official guidelines for teaching and learning that best meet the needs of our students.

If it is necessary to offer a blended or fully online model, we will implement the online learning protocols put into practice last year, now improved thanks to the feedback given by our entire community through surveys and focus groups. We will continue to use our MySEK platform, featuring the following applications for distance learning management:

  • Microsoft Teams: synchronous classes with teachers that seek the participation of students in lessons, chats and notice boards, assigning tasks or activities, uploading files and evidence of learning.
  • ManageBac: for assigning tasks and 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 will be able to determine the use of other resources and platforms to create motivating and diverse learning environments.

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Learning Assessment

Assessment throughout the different stages is a continuous and holistic process and 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 the acquisition and development of skills, not just marks. We strengthen the feedback that is given to students and we offer specific information on what the next steps are in their learning process.

The protocols and systems have been implemented so that all the coordinators, tutors and teachers responsible for the different academic areas collect the necessary evidence for learning to assess the attainment of the stage objectives and conclude with a final assessment. This assessment is done both by teachers and students themselves, in addition to incorporating elements of reflection among peers.

Feedback plays a crucial role in the context of online learning. We leverage technological resources to facilitate constant communication between teachers and students. Teachers use a variety of strategies, such as recording videos to deliver general responses to students or recording voice notes to comment on individual assignments. Students also collaborate to identify work and tasks that best demonstrate their learning. In this way, there is ample evidence to be able to draw conclusions regarding each student’s learning process.

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Pedagogical principles of the 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.

MySEK Virtual Learning Ecosystem

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.

Some evidence from the 19-20 school year

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

Assessment workshops for the 19-20 school year

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