Project based learning and innovative education in a trilingual environment
Hamelin-Laie International School is a private school on the Maresme coast just north of Barcelona. It offers a trilingual education to children from 0-18 years. Carlos Martinez took on the role as Director General in September 2018. Here he talks to MumAbroad Life about his new role, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program and his vision for the future of the school.
What is the philosophy of the school?
The students at Hamelin-Laie International School are defined as creative, well-informed and instructed individuals, critical thinkers, capable of acting to improve the world around them. The secret of Hamelin-Laie International School radiates from the global vision of educating a human being by putting their potential, their natural solidarity, their curiosity and continuous interest in learning at the centre of their education.
What curriculum does the school follow?
We offer a unique curriculum from 0 to 18 years old. Although we follow the national curriculum (with all classical areas of knowledge) as prescribed by the Spanish law, we enrich this curriculum by incorporating classes such as big band, chess, musical theatre and ethical studies, among others.
Our methodology of active learning focuses on maximum stimulation for all learner needs. We introduce tasks such as project work, emotional and physical education alongside every learning opportunity. Learning abilities such as social, self-management, communication, research and analytical skills are embedded in our teaching and learning process so that our students are well prepared for a world full of countless academic and professional possibilities and experiences.
What languages are taught at the school?
The curriculum, from Early Years to the IB Diploma and Bachillerato, is primarily taught in English with certain subjects taught in Spanish and Catalan (Language & Literature, Maths and PE). Our approach to teaching through languages is based on CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning), which is content-based learning through an additional language (foreign or second), thus teaching both the subject and the language.
We also teach Chinese, French and German as an additional language from Primary through Secondary. In an effort to support mother tongues, we offer Chinese and Russian Language and Literature in the IB Diploma.
Are the English teachers native speakers?
English Language & Literature teachers are native speakers. Subjects taught through English (like Sciences) have 75% native speakers.
Can pupils join the school at any stage even if they don’t speak all 3 languages (English, Spanish and Catalan)?
We require students to be at least fluent in one of the three languages. Since the language of instruction in the school is primarily in English, students are required to have a certain fluency contingent on their educational stage.
When was the IB program first introduced to the school and how successful has it been?
The school was authorised by the IB in 2012, taking the first exams in 2014. Since then the number of students has been growing. This year we have 70 students, in both years, enrolled in the IB Diploma program.
The results are quite good (average 33 points), above the Spanish average (30 points). Due to the growth of the program, we have been able to add a great variety of subjects and we are now in a position where student have a great selection and can choose the best fit to achieve their goals.
You have experience working for the IB organisation itself in the UK. What advantages does that give you in your new role at Hamelin-Laie?
I think what I bring to the school from my experience in the UK and the IB is a very progressive and up-to-date pedagogy. The IB programs are the best and most comprehensive education a child can receive in the world: knowledge, learning skills, conceptual understanding, social-emotional and ethical learning, international mindedness, and a global prospective. Having worked with teachers and educational programs from all over the world gives me an international perspective when it comes to identifying and creating new opportunities which will help accomplish Hamelin-Laie’s mission.
What languages is the IB taught in?
The main language of the IB Diploma is English, in fact most of the subjects are taught in English. We offer a couple of subjects in Spanish – Filosofía and Gestión de Empresas. In language acquisition we offer Spanish and English. In Language and Literature, we offer Spanish, English, Chinese and Russian.
What percentage of pupils from the school go on to study at university abroad after completing the IB?
We have noticed an increasing trend, 6% of our graduating class last year went to study overseas, mainly in the UK and Holland. We foresee it growing to 10% this year and 15% next year.
If students do not want to study the IB at Hamelin-Laie, what is the alternative?
At the end of 4th of ESO, our students can choose between the IB Diploma and Bachillerato (the national curriculum). This option fully prepares students to enter local and national universities.
Approximately what is the ratio of local pupils to non-Spanish pupils? How many nationalities do you currently have within the school?
We currently have more than 40 nationalities among our study body. About 75 % of our students are local, while around 25 % are non-Spanish.
How does the school create a sense of community amongst students, teachers and parents?
In school, we have weekly student-led assemblies from primary to secondary education. During this time, students present their work to other classes, they express their views or simply work together on a topic (let’s say, for instance, Human Rights). Our field trips are as well a great opportunity for our students to get to know one another is a context outside school and make friends.
For parents, we start the school year with our intercultural picnic to welcome families to the new school year. This event is very popular. Students and their families bring food from their home countries and share it with the community. Additionally, we have our University for parents in which talks and presentations, aimed at parents, take place in the evenings on different issues related to children education.
We are about to organise our “Open Mind Week”, a week opened to the whole community. We have talks, presentations and conferences run by parents and experts on different topics for the benefit of our students. It’s a fantastic way to gather the expertise of the community and build a sense of belonging.
We frequently have faculty meetings where we share best practices, we discuss pedagogy, we work on students’ progress, etc.
What is your long-term vision for the school?
I’d like to see the school continue in the direction it is going and to grow with the IB programs. I want to carry on building links with the international community while keeping our local roots. That makes Hamelin-Laie very special.
Can you describe the school in 3 words?
As stated on our website: creativity, curiosity and character.
Ronda 8 de Març, 178-180, 08390 Montgat