22 Apr St George British School in Madrid
St George’s School is a British international private school, approved by regional authorities and certified by the British Council. It is a member of the National Association of British Schools in Spain, founded in 1978 to promote, maintain and defend British education in Spain. St George British School in Madrid is located in the Sanchinarro area, with excellent access to the centre of Madrid. Headteacher Mr Giles Montier talked to MumAbroad Life about the school.
What is the philosophy of the school?
Our philosophy is based on the belief that when children feel happy and secure then they are able to reach their fullest potential. Children need to feel valued and to know that they all have a place within the school community. This is achieved by always celebrating the individual strengths of each and every child and to encourage and support them with the things that they find difficult. We instill into our children and staff a growth mindset, where they have an attitude of “I can do it” and “I can keep on changing”. We also have a foundation of very strong values in the school, where children are rewarded not just for academic achievements but also for the attitudes they show to those around them.
What sets St. George Madrid apart from other international schools?
We pride ourselves on being an inclusive, friendly school where children love coming to classes every day. The most important thing for us is that our students leave us as excited, articulate learners who want to go on and learn more. Our school values of responsibility, respect, fairness, kindness and personal best form a strong part of our school ethos and student’s are rewarded for their efforts through this values system. Allied to all of this is a strong academic programme which sees students making excellent progress as they move through our school. Having all of our students mixing on a single site allows interactions between the youngest and oldest in our school and really helps to nurture and foster relationships.
The main language of tuition is English – what other languages are taught at the school?
All students learn Spanish from Reception onwards. This is offered as a first and foreign language. We also offer a choice of French or German in our secondary school and this continues up to IB Diploma where students can choose English or Spanish as their A language (studies in language and literature) or B language (language acquisition). We also offer B language French and German and beginner’s (ab initio) Spanish within the IB Diploma as well as a variety of self study language options.
You offer the IB Diploma Programme. Do all students follow this programme?
Yes all of our students enter the programme at the start of grade 11 (year 12).
What do you think is key to the IB programme?
It very much follows the philosophy we have in place right across school – putting the child at the centre of the learning process. It is a great preparation for university as it fosters independence and requires students to always ask why, exploring ideas from a range of different perspectives. It is a challenging course, but one that is accessible to all if you are prepared to work hard at it. The core elements of CAS (Creativity, Activity & Service), Theory of Knowledge and the Extended Essay ensure a breadth beyond their academic subjects and the IB subject choices require students to maintain a commitment to a range of subjects up to the end of the programme, while allowing them to specialise in their preferred higher level subjects.
What proportion of students go to university following the IB programme and where do they tend to go?
We are quite a young school and out of our three cohorts who have graduated from our school so far, all have been accepted into university, with around half going to British universities, while the others have been split between Spanish universities and other European universities as well as American universities.
How can parents gauge the academic success of the school?
Each year we publish our academic results showing our headline and subject by subject pass rates at IGCSE and A-Level. In our most recent cohort 81% of all grades at IGCSE were in the A*- C (or 9-4) range and 91% of A-Level grades were in the A*- E range. Our first IB Diploma cohort will graduate in 2021.
What percentage of students come from the international community and what percentage are Spanish?
Approximately 65% of our students are Spanish with the other 35% originating from more than 40 different countries.
What level of English do students need to apply to the school?
Students are assessed on entry to the school and if we feel they are able to access the mainstream curriculum they start with our full academic programme. For students who are not able to access the curriculum adequately, we run intensive EAL (English as an Additional Language) lessons where students are withdrawn from their mainstream classes for between one and four hours per day until they can access our curriculum. This means that we can accept students with a wide range of English language proficiency.
Can you talk us through the application process?
Parents contact our admissions officer who arranges a meeting with the parents to show them around the school and to explain our system and philosophy. In our Early Years there is no testing or trial day programme. For students entering the primary school, we like them to come in and take part in a trial day so that they get to see what our school is like. While with us for the day, they sit English proficiency and Cognitive Ability tests so we can gauge the levels they are currently working at. Students entering the secondary school sit the same tests and can opt to come in for a trial day as part of this process. All students also have a short interview with one of our senior leaders wherever possible.
How do you make new students and their families feel part of the school community?
Our admissions team work hard to ensure that families receive all of the information they need in preparation for starting school with us. We understand that often families are not just starting a new school, they are also starting a new way of life, and are being faced with extraordinary stresses often linked with a new country, job, language and home all at the same time. We are there to support you through this process and once in school, children are given a buddy to help support them find their way around. Our parent group in school has a team specially focussed on helping new parents settle in and there are events every term where you can get to meet new and existing school families. If you want to get involved in the life of the school we very much encourage that as we know that this can often help smooth the way if one of you as a parent is left at home while your partner goes off to their new job.
How integrated would you say students are in the local community?
We have lots of links with our local community and foster these actively. Each term we work with a local and a global charity to give students an awareness of both and actively participate in local community events, whether that is carol singing at our neighbouring residential care home, senior students providing marketing support for a local homeless charity, or students acting as ambassadors for a Madrid-based children’s cancer trust to give but a few examples. We also encourage parents to get involved with their children in these projects if and when they want to.