Laude Newton College in Alicante was established in 1991 and has grown to a capacity of 1,300 mainly local students from early years to secondary. The British curriculum is taught at the school while also incorporating the International Early Years Curriculum (IEYC) in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) in primary, as well as the International Baccalaureate (IB) and Middle Years Programme (MYP); the school is also part of the International Schools Partnership (ISP) group.
The school regularly receives recognition for their prestige and innovation while always being featured in the top 100 private schools in Spain. The Key Stage 2 Leader and year 6 teacher, Victoria Esler, says:
“Some of the decisions we have made over the years have really helped us build the reputation that we have, especially with technology.”
Victoria has been working at Laude Newton College for 12 years and since 2015, has been a leader of an innovations project which has now become completely embedded into their methodology.
“It began with an interest in technology,” explains Victoria, “we introduced tablets to our year 4 students and went about training our staff in how to use these tablets to improve the learning of the children.
“Each year we have enhanced this; we now have one-to-one tablets from year 4 upwards, and we are looking to extend that to meet the needs of our EYFS and early Key Stage 2 students.
“That gave us a lot to think about; how are we going to approach teaching in this way? How are we going to integrate tablets into our lessons?”
Their blended learning initiative did not stop at the tools the students had; the school began a cycle of looking at new methodologies and collaborating with each other to find best practices.
This innovations project meant a team of innovations leaders came to fruition, as Victoria comments on, “our role is to look closely at pedagogy and methodology in the school. We have created specific spaces dedicated to innovation that really inspire thinking outside of the box, creativity, and design thinking. We want our learners to be independent, to be able to manage and investigate real life situations. We want our students to explore their own thoughts about problems.”
The blended learning scheme the school has put in place has been a huge success, with students and teachers using technology seamlessly with traditional teaching methods, as Victoria comments:
“It’s common to see a child taking notes in their notebook while they have their tablet in front of them for research and investigation. It helps us to guide them in collaborative learning and also helps with teaching the IPC in the primary department. However, we still rely on traditional writing in notebooks and books which I think is really important.”
Laude Newton College subscribed to EducationCity in 2017. Having previously used other resources successfully, they were looking for something that provided them with more flexibility to tailor the content to their specific needs. Just like their approach to technology, they have been constantly exploring ways to integrate the resource into their learning.
“In my lesson plan,” Victoria says, “first I see what I want the children to learn and my next step is to go in to EducationCity and use the search tool to see what kinds of resources I can use in my lesson.”
One of the features that Victoria and the team have been embedding recently are Learn Screens which are animation-based slideshow videos which introduce topics, “out of five maths lessons we would probably use three or four Learn Screens. The children absolutely love them because they have that animation style. You can also have the text on, so with our Spanish children, sometimes I’ll pause it and we will read what the text is telling us. But by far, one of my favourite features of this is that the children can go home and watch the Learn Screen as many times as they need to. It means they have a connection with what they’re learning in school to what they’re learning at home with their families.”
Using EducationCity Alongside White Rose Maths
This year the school have started following the White Rose Maths scheme.
What is White Rose Maths?
“White Rose is based on Singapore methods of maths. It teaches problem-solving skills at its core through the use of bar modelling. It encourages students to talk about maths, to discuss it, argue about strategies and find conclusions. It takes students through three phases of maths – concrete, pictorial and abstract. This means that the school begin their maths education with solid materials and resources, moving on to pictorial representations, until finally they get their students onto a stage where they can do calculations using just digits.”
As with any change like this, there is a need to review any existing programmes to ensure they are still fit for purpose, as Victoria says, “I was a bit concerned at the start of the year if I could continue to use EducationCity with White Rose Maths.” Victoria and the Innovations Team looked into the correlations to see whether they could still use EducationCity. Through using tools like the Learn Screens, digital animated activities and other tools, Victoria found that “EducationCity fits really nicely with the scheme.”
Using EducationCity’s Assessments to Support Learning
Since being a member of ISP, the school have taken part in the group’s annual standardised assessments for years 4 and 6. This digital assessment is to evaluate student progress throughout the group to see if any schools need further support.
When the students started taking these assessments, Victoria and the team noticed that some of them struggled with the digital format, “we had children who weren’t sure what button to press, how to use the mouse in the right way, and even typing their answers. I had no idea that our children would find that as challenging as they did.”
To remedy this, the school are now turning to programs like EducationCity to normalize digital assessments in the classroom by introducing more digital summative and formative assessments.
They are currently trialling EducationCity assessments in Key Stage 2 and have started to find success in this new scheme, “as we are using the White Rose Scheme, we had to look carefully at the content of the formative assessments before we let our children take those; in the end, we managed to make it work.”
From there, Victoria and the team are using the revision pathways, which are generated from the EducationCity assessments, to allow their students to work on the gaps in their learning:
“We are currently looking at how we can then use these revision pathways to help and target those children who need extra support. What we’re also doing is using those revision pathways and encouraging the families to use these as part of their children’s summer work.”
Victoria is also planning to look at providing activities and assessments from the grade below on EducationCity to find the right learning level for their SEND students.
Distance Learning – Adapting to the COVID-19 Pandemic
As with all schools around the world, 2020 has changed how they teach, and the pandemic brought with it a host of challenges for staff. Victoria explains, “we were all experiencing the most difficult time when it comes to teaching and learning, trying to engage our learners at a distance.”
At the beginning, the teachers had to find new, virtual ways to explain concepts that the students had never come across before, “a lot of teachers spent hours and hours creating their own videos, explanatory information booklets, you name it, they were superstars,“ explains Victoria, “one thing that I used and my colleagues ended up using were the EducationCity Learn Screens. This is because these clearly explain what the outline is and it’s an animated video, and as soon as you show a student something with animation, they’re instantly engaged.”
A common issue in the past has been getting all teachers engaged with online learning and seeing it as a tool to use on a day-to-day basis alongside traditional methods. The lockdown in Spain has enabled schools like Laude Newton College to look at what they have and utilize it in ways they never have before. Victoria says, “I have been fighting for years to get the staff as passionate as I am with the platform. This distance learning period has opened everyone’s eyes; we got a lot of staff who now thought that this was an amazing tool that we can use for distance learning, but also for when we return to the classroom.
“This was also the perfect time to give the digital assessments a real go, not only to try them out but to generate the revision pathways for summer learning.”
The school have rolled out summative and formative assessments for all of Key Stage 2 and are currently using EducationCity’s automatic reports to see results and support students further.
Victoria also shared her school’s additional future plans with EducationCity with us.
- Using EducationCity for intervention
- Parent workshop to get them on board with EducationCity
- Using the assessments to prepare for the digital annual assessments
We look forward to supporting Laude Newton College in the future with their teaching and learning and using EducationCity, and will also be particularly supporting them in the use of our assessments for their students’ attainment. This is the ideal time to use these as the school look to return to the ‘new normal’.