Our Secondary school curriculum aims to provide a balanced and complete education to our young people.
Rather than transmitting contents, our greatest objective is to “teach to learn”; we strive to foster our students’ ability to take the initiative and be critical. Our curriculum is based on the respect for the individuality of each student; we encourage them to develop their potential so they can achieve their personal level of excellence (Ad Astra).
By means of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) – fundamental in our present world – we create an innovative environment which generates new knowledge as well as promoting artistic expressions.
Being organised in Departments allows us to share good practice, successful methodologies and Continuous Professional Development (CPD) with a view to improving our students’ learning. We aim to provide personalised attention to each and every one of them while constantly revising our proposal.
In order to prevent negative behaviours and raise awareness, our team of psychologists and coordinators work together with our teaching staff on the promotion of healthy behaviours among our students. We believe risk prevention is an important part of our role as educators. We regularly invite external specialists on a range of areas to take part in different activities to that effect.
Career advice is provided by the psychologists of our Pupil Support Department from Year 10 onwards (4th year of Secondary school). They devise activities, including workshops, talks led by professionals, personal interviews, and they offer information and resources in a range of formats.
Learning Support: each subject provides support in the form of extra lessons as and when needed; also, depending on the results of diagnostic tests sat during the first term of 1st to 3rd year (Years 7 to 9), special support is available in Processing Skills and/or Speech and Language; at the same time, there are specific workshops (Maths, Physics and Chemistry) which the students can attend if they need help in those subjects.
Our curriculum includes Portuguese in the first three years of Secondary education, adding a foreign language which is culturally and regionally relevant to our students.
Afterschool clubs include the MUN Club (Model United Nations) which is open to students in the Baccalaureate (4th, 5th and 6th year – Y10, 11 and 12). At the MUN Club, students will prepare to act as delegates of a country and attend some of the MUN Conferences. These conferences are held in English throughout the year and are simulations of the UN General Assembly (or other UN instances such as the Security Council). Attending delegates must defend the interests of the country that they were chosen to represent in relation to any issue in the current UN agenda. It is a great opportunity for our students to interact with young people from other schools and countries in formal English, to develop speaking and debating skills, and to broaden their knowledge of current affairs.
A further extracurricular option, Makebelieve is a theatre company whose actors are students and members of staff. Since 2005, Makebelieve has been successfully putting on plays by English speaking authors offering students and staff the possibility of performing, both in English and Spanish.
Bearing in mind our idea of a complete curriculum, we also offer inclusive activities aiming to generate a sense of belonging and identification: special days for the students and their families, camps, sports exchanges both at national and international level, participation in Congregation projects. All of these create a diverse and interesting offer which is both demanding and committed to our reality and our world.
The Baccalaureate at our school. After the 4th year (Year 10), students have two options: the National Baccalaureate (NB), which is the official 2006 programme endorsed by the national education authority complemented with the College’s curriculum (Pastoral and RE, and English); or the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB), which combines some of the compulsory subjects from the NB, the College’s curriculum and the IB Diploma programme.
INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE (IB)
The International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) is a non-profit organisation with headquarters in Switzerland which offers education and assessment programmes, teacher development seminars, and other educational services to its 3550 member schools in more than 144 countries. More than thirty years of experience together with its rigorous assessment system have granted the IBO a worldwide reputation which has opened university doors to its graduates in 70 countries, including some of the best in the world such as Yale, Oxford and La Sorbonne. Every year, around 131,000 students sit final exams and about 80% obtain their Diploma.
The IB Philosophy
The IB philosophy underpins the IBO and is expressed in its mission statement of 1996: “By means of a complete and balanced education programme together with adequately challenging exams, the International Baccalaureate aims to help schools’ efforts to develop their students’ individual talents, teaching them to relate the experiences acquired in their lessons to the reality of the outside world. Besides the intellectually rigorous and highly demanding academic level, a huge importance is placed on ideals of citizenship and international understanding with the objective of educating inquiring and caring young people who are thirsty for knowledge, who are attentive participants of local and world affairs, who are aware of a common humanity that brings people together, and who, at the same time, respect cultural diversity that contributes to a richer existence.”
The IB education
“The IB programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.”
The expansion of knowledge and the accelerated pace at which society is changing, have made the traditional notion of a general education a more distant objective that is ever harder to reach. The volume of information which each area of knowledge covers is so vast that such an encyclopaedic approach to education does not meet the new educational demands. To learn to learn and to evaluate information with a critical eye is as important nowadays as the content of these areas of knowledge itself. The IB programmes are the result of the deliberate search for equilibrium between the early specialisation favoured by some national baccalaureates and the broader general education that others endorse. Thus, this programme is broad enough so as to generate global perspectives and appreciate the human condition as a whole, while being sufficiently specific to allow students’ acquisition of skills and aptitudes needed to succeed in higher education and a highly competitive professional life.
The Diploma Programme (DP)
“The IB Diploma Programme (DP) is an academically challenging and balanced programme of education with final examinations that prepares students, aged 16 to 19, for success at university and life beyond.”
Each of the six courses taken can be awarded from 1 (lowest) to 7(highest) points after both internal and external assessments. To obtain the diploma, students must score at least 24 points in total and must have met the three other diploma requirements satisfactorily: Theory Of Knowledge (TOK), Extended Essay (EE) and Creativity, Action and Service (CAS), which add up to 3 points in total.
Even though most universities will accept applications from Diploma graduates, some will have a minimum entry requirement above 24 points.
The Universidad de la República (national university) together with all the private universities in Uruguay require the graduate certificate of secondary education issued by the national secondary education authority (Enseñanza Secundaria). This is obtained through successful completion of the National Baccalaureate. For that reason, the ANEP’s Consejo Directivo Central (the Board of the national education authority) recognises the courses taken in the Diploma as equivalent to comparable courses in the National Baccalaureate.
So as not to have students follow the two baccalaureates simultaneously, it is vital to choose Diploma courses that will allow the prompt recognition of equivalence between subjects. Thus, the IB Diploma Programme at our school – unlike other institutions - restricts the choice of courses to ensure that everyone obtains their graduate certificate of secondary education at the end. Typically, students taking the Diploma will only need to take two or three additional courses in the first year of the programme, and one or two additional courses in the second year to meet the requirements of the national education authority. In any case, their weekly hours will not exceed those of the previous year (4th year or Year 10).
IB Learner Profile
“The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally minded people who, recognising their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet help to create a better and more peaceful world.”
IB learners strive to be: inquirers, knowledgeable and thinkers; good communicators, principled and at the same time open-minded and caring; risk-takers, balanced and reflective.
IB Programme at our College
Composed by six subject groups and the DP Core, composed by three compulsory elements (TOK, EE and CAS):
Group 1: Language A – Studies in Language and Literature: It’s a first language course including world literature. This group includes Spanish and English at our College, as our students have been preparing to take English as a first language at Higher Level.
Group 2: Language B – Language Acquisition: It’s a second language course, in our school, Italian for those reading Law.
Group 3: Individuals and Societies. The social sciences courses. At our school we offer History, Economics and Business Studies.
Group 4: Sciences. The experimental sciences courses: Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
Group 5: Mathematics. Includes a range of Maths courses at different levels.
Group 6: The Arts or electives. Includes Visual Arts, a third Modern Foreign Language or a second subject from groups 3 or 4.
All candidates must take one course from each of the six groups which can be at either Higher Level (240 teaching hours) or Standard Level (150 teaching hours). At least three and no more than four of the subjects chosen should be taken at Higher Level, the rest will be at Standard Level. There are two kinds of assessment: external, through final examinations sat in November of the second year of the Programme; and internal, carried out by the course teacher. The latter contributes 20 to 30% of the final mark for that subject. All internal assessments are externally moderated. In addition to the subjects, all Diploma candidates must comply with the three Core elements requirement: TOK (Theory of Knowledge), EE (Extended Essay) and CAS (Creativity, Action and Service).
Theory of Knowledge:
It’s a 100-hour course which extends throughout the two years of the Diploma ensuring the Programme’s coherence. The backbone of TOK stems from two divergent traditions in education: a practical one, and a philosophical one. This course encourages students to question and reflect upon different aspects pertaining to the rest of their courses. Thus, they can have documented debates on the nature, purposes, advantages and limitations of the different systems of knowledge and paradigms.
For example, students can be asked to reflect on poetic truth, comparing it to other truths accessible through other systems of knowledge such as historical investigation, scientific research, mathematical demonstrations, etc... They can also be asked to analyse the ethical, political and aesthetic foundations that underpin the judgements that individuals must make in their daily lives. Students are guided towards reflecting on how they got to know what they know, and towards developing critical skills applicable to any subject.
Assessment is through two components: a 1000-1500 word essay from a list of suggested topics, and an oral presentation on any of the topics studied during the course. The essay is externally assessed while the oral presentation is assessed by the course teacher.
This element of the Programme offers students the chance of researching a topic of special interest and develop skills which will be useful in the future when they have to write assignments for university. Students are free to choose a topic among the subjects in the IB Programme.
The choice of subject for the EE may allow students to study certain topics more in depth, aiming towards specialisation. Alternatively, students could also pursue a topic or subject with a view to broaden their academic knowledge aiming to attain a more global appreciation of the topic researched.
A supervisor, designated by the school, will provide academic guidance while ensuring the EE is the original work of the student. EE are assessed externally according to general and specific criteria for each subject.
Creativity, Action and Service (CAS):
The activities included in this “requirement” are a fundamental part of the Diploma experience. CAS assigns great importance to life outside the academic context. It is a stimulating counterweight to the demands of academic life. One of the objectives of the IB is to educate individuals holistically and to awaken in them humanitarian feelings and a sense of responsible citizenship. Creativity can be interpreted broadly and it includes a wide range of artistic activities as well as the ability to conceive service projects and put them in place. Action can include not only sports but also taking part in expeditions or any events which include some form of physical exertion with service as its aim. Service can include a big number of social and community activities: voluntary work with SEND children, visiting hospitals, working with refugees or homeless people, etc... Students must slot time weekly for CAS activities throughout the two years of the Diploma. These activities must be carried out regularly and not as sporadic efforts. Self-appraisal in CAS encourages students to reflect on the benefits of their participation in these activities, both on themselves as well as on others.