Amparo Gil: "We have to learn to rate the skills and competences of the student in the same way that we evaluate their knowledge"

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With a history of 32 years, this British school of Puçol, Valencia, develops an educational model that has allowed it to be one of the few schools in Spain that holds the British School Overseas certificate awarded by the British inspection with the best possible grade: outstanding (exceptional).

A few weeks after receiving the Valencia Rotary Award for their "Service to Society", we spoke with their director, Amparo Gil, to shed light on the new educational reality and, in turn, explain the keys that lead to their students (around one hundred each year), to reach an average of eight points out of ten in their university entrance exams (A-Levels).

Education is experiencing a revolution in recent years that has only just begun. How are you experiencing this transformation for the immediate future?

More than a decade ago we were aware that the new digital tools were going to transform society, and therefore, the educational model. At that time we introduced methodological changes and new technologies in our system to adapt to the new social and professional reality. But beyond associating with new technologies we focused on identifying the new skills and competences that students would need in 2050. From that moment, theoretical learning in the classroom is very balanced with emotional learning. At this moment Artificial Intelligence is knocking on our doors and we must think about how it can help our students acquire an increasingly personalized learning in which the humanities are applied rigorously so that classical thinking helps them to better understand all the technological innovations that lie ahead.

Artificial Intelligence is knocking on our doors and we must think about how it can help our students acquire more and more personalized learningAmparo Gil, Director Caxton College

And what are those new skills that the student must acquire to develop in the immediate future?

I think it is important that schools focus on enhancing what experts call the four "ces" in recent years. That is, encourage creativity, cooperation, communication and critical thinking. In our case we put it into practice for a long time and the results are being optimal. In addition, each academic cycle is reinforced by a system of values ​​that are permanently applied so that students grow from goodness and ethics. The evaluation of these values ​​has to be as important as the evaluation of the academic contents. If respect, responsibility, commitment and resilience work, and if the knowledge we offer to our students is adequate, we will be training young people well prepared to face the challenges of the future.

One of the difficulties faced by students is the lack of university and professional guidance. Is it a pending issue that schools have?

It is essential that students, from an early age, have a training in this field. A student must have the maximum information about the career he wants to study years before making the decision. You must know, for example, if your qualities are the most appropriate, if you like professional practice, among many other details that will help you make an informed decision. In our case we have a program that we developed from the first year of ESO to promote the approach towards the university reality. We do this by organizing information fairs with universities, going to the faculties, giving a subject on the skills they must acquire to build a good academic future, offering work experiences in companies to learn firsthand the work reality of what they want to study or inviting professionals to the school so they can explain in detail what day-to-day their profession is like.

What contributes a British curriculum unlike other educational systems?

The differences can be important. I think that, among other things, the fundamental thing is that we must understand that students do not need classes where they are given information to memorize. Precisely at this time students have an infinite access to information through the network. Therefore, teachers must have the ability to know how to make sense of this information. In this aspect, educational systems have to be very flexible and adapt to the new needs demanded by the labor market. The British curriculum has the peculiarity of promoting a very pragmatic learning that pushes its students to investigate, to acquire study habits and, most importantly, to have autonomy and to practice critical thinking. He also develops a creative method that is very sensitive to artistic culture. In my opinion, no education system should obviate the learning of philosophy, the arts or a second language.

The British curriculum has the peculiarity of promoting a very pragmatic learning that pushes its students to investigate, to acquire study habits and, most importantly, to have autonomy and to practice critical thinking. Gil Ambassador, Director Caxton College

How do they channel the talent of young people?

In my opinion all the students have an innate talent. The difficulty lies in knowing how to discover and enhance it. That is why it is important that from the classrooms we offer a wide variety of educational resources that help us to detect where they have greater academic competences. But we must not forget that talent is not only intellectual. There are emotional talents linked to certain skills such as perseverance, effort, responsibility, creativity … that help the student to overcome and achieve great goals. Therefore, I think that if we direct them well from school, and we motivate them in a personalized way, we can see how they grow at all levels. Particularly I think that it is as important to take a child up to the honor plate as to rescue another from the suspense zone and incorporate it into the academic waterline so that little by little it grows in attitude and results.

What role do teachers play in this new digital age?

The best educational tool for this 21st century is, undoubtedly, a teacher adapted to the new reality, close to parents and students, which bases its know-how on excellence, which promotes perseverance and which, as Socrates said, " try to make people think. " Among other attributes, they must have exemplary behaviors that serve as a model for students and be able to design their own teaching resources by organizing bidirectional classes where students, in a collaborative way, interact and be part of the training process.

If education fails, does the system fail?

Undoubtedly, education is one of the basic pillars that sustain a society. For that reason, it is very important that we take it very seriously and together we work to homogenize a teaching that is of equal benefit to all. The decisions we make now will shape the life of the next generations and we can not leave it to chance. It is important that educational leaders focus criteria around educational systems that have been demonstrating their validity for decades. And among them is the British system, always at the head of the world educational rankings.

Qualities of teachers for the 21st century according to Caxton College
Ability to foster critical and divergent thinking in the student.

Master's degree to provide the student with an investigative and reflective character.

Skills to apply gamification in the classroom.

Active and effective knowledge of new information technologies for their subjects.

Creative and innovative qualities that bring their subjects closer to everyday reality.

Experience to design their own didactic resources by organizing bi-directional classes where the students, in a collaborative way, interact and are part of the training process.

Techniques for students to be content producers and work for interdisciplinary educational projects.

Competence to use error as a source of learning.

Qualities to boost the autonomy and independence of the student.

Affective aptitudes to promote empathetic relationships with the student.

Solvency to combine emotional and cognitive education.

Show an ethical commitment and an exemplary model of behavior. (tagsToTranslate) caxton (t) college

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