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St. Paul’s pupils achieve top results in Outstanding Cambridge Learner Awards

Two of our pupils have received prestigious awards from Cambridge Assessment International Education to acknowledge their outstanding performance in the June 2018 Cambridge examination series. Guillermo and Santiago, two of our Senior School pupils, received Top in the World for Cambridge IGCSE Foreign Language Portuguese. Cambridge Top in the World awards are given to learners worldwide who achieved the highest standard mark in the world for a single subject.

The Outstanding Cambridge Learner Awards programme celebrates the success of learners taking Cambridge examinations in over 40 countries around the world. Cambridge places learners at the centre of their international education programmes and qualifications which are inspired by the best in educational thinking.

“We are delighted that our pupils have received these awards, which recognise the talent, dedication and commitment of both our learners and our staff. The results are a reflection of the enormous talent not only amongst pupils but also within the teaching profession”, states our Head, Ms Louise Simpson.

“Arabian Nights”, St. Paul’s Senior School Play

This year’s St. Paul’s school play is an adaptation of the book of the “One Thousand and One Nights”. It tells the story of a Persian king who, after being betrayed by his queen, develops a deep hatred and distrust of women. Because of this, each day he takes a new wife only to have her executed the following morning before she has a chance to betray him.

A brave young woman, Shahrazad, the daughter of the prime minister, then takes it upon herself to do something to stop the violence. She asks to be married to the king and plans to tell him a story every night, yet never finishing it. By doing this, Shahrazad hopes to survive each night and save as many women as she can from the headman’s axe.

Arabian Nights” is not only a journey into the beautiful culture of the Middle East, but it is also an important reflection on the power of storytelling as a force for good and an alternative path towards a culture of peace.

Come along and join us in this adventure!

Thursday 29th November, 7.30pm*

Friday 30th November, 7.30pm*

Saturday 1st December, 5pm*

*Arrive 30 minutes before the performance to visit our “Persian Market” where there will be food and drink from Almanara, and items from the Katmandu store on sale

Tickets cost R$ 20 and can be purchased from the Production team at school or on the Sympla website (below). You can also contact tickets@stpauls.br for more information.

Thursday 29 November

Friday 30 November

Saturday 1 December

Developing staff to develop the pupils

Of course the pupils in a school are the most important members of the school community -there is no doubt about this; don’t let anyone tell me otherwise! But when we think about the pupils’ learning, the progress that they make and the benefits that they get from school, we have to think about another key resources – and one into which we have to invest just as much educational resource: their teachers.

Coming to this school I found one of the most generous and well managed continuous professional learning (CPL) budgets that I had ever seen – with every member of staff involved in all kinds of professional development on an ongoing basis. The CPL opportunities that they have range from small scale, skills sharing sessions run by the teachers for their colleagues after school on a Thursday evening, to complex, international conferences – with complex, international budgets to match! 

Every single one of our teaching and class assistant teams attends our international education conference every two years – in the last few years they have enjoyed hearing Sir John Johns talking about magic weavers and Claire Harvey talking about tackling equality and diversity issues in school. Both Sir John and Claire had us in tears for different reasons and both were inspiring. We have enjoyed learning about happiness in school from Sir Anthony Seldon and positive psychology from Dr Christian van Nieuwerburgh. This is just a flavour of the internationally recognised speakers who are keen to be involved in our conferences and who encourage our staff team to reflect on the big issues in education, and consider the practicalities of implementing these big issues in their practice in school.  With some fabulous results! 

With the new technology that we all have access to, we can now connect with leading organisations in education and research via webinars and online training courses. For those of us who teach the IB diploma this is a regular aspect of being up to speed with the curriculum and being able to teach the pupils confidently in class, but we also have a large number of Prep and Pre-Prep teachers who have completed Project Zero classroom courses at Harvard Graduate School of Education – a phenomenal resource for learning visible thinking and the project based approach. 

Of course, nothing beats face to face training and bringing trainers to the school from overseas (whether in a conference situation or not) is a great way to ensure that we share our resources as widely as possible.  Recent topics have included bilingualism, differentiation in the classroom, maths for primary teachers (and their children!), quality circle time, literacy, personal social and health education….. the list is endless! 

We believe that the best teachers are continuous learners – this means that they need to be given many opportunities to carry out their own research, reflect and collaborate at conferences and in training events and share their skills with their colleagues. Keeping our own minds active means that we can appreciate the best ways in which to develop the learning skills of our pupils – and also understand their frustrations and challenges when that learning is difficult…. Incredibly important for us to be effective teachers.

So, what is next on the list of staff development opportunities?  Well, I would like to help the team to learn more about how to learn…. And I have my eye on a brilliant speaker, who I reckon can help us to do just that! 

Some takeaways from HMC Conference – keeping St. Paul’s close to home

Conferences overseas might seem like a very positive perk of my job, and in many ways they are, but when so much time (and energy) is spent travelling to far flung conference venues, we have to feel that the investment has been worth it – both in time and financial terms.  My most recent conference, in Manchester, allowed me to connect with friends and former colleagues in the HMC, the Head Masters and Head Mistresses Conference, which represents some 280 or so high quality international schools both in the UK and overseas.

The HMC is traditionally seen as the voice of the independent sector in the UK, representing schools that are world renown, such as Eton, Harrow and Rugby as well as many other less well known, but sometimes equally impressive, schools in various parts of the country.  The organisation includes over 50 international schools and this is a growing division, as many UK schools set up franchise schools around the world, most notably in the Middle East and China. 

Our divisional meeting, of heads of international schools within HMC comprises an eclectic mix; established schools like our own (and the other Latin American school, the Grange, from Chile) both have long histories and traditions, which stretch back decades.  Alongside us are the ‘newbies’; schools which have recently opened in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and which have a ‘mother ship’ back home.  Schools represent countries as diverse as India and Switzerland, Qatar and Malaysia, Australia and France. The growth of new schools with English language (often British) curriculums is something that has been quite incredible in the last decade and remains a discussion point not just for the international division but also for the membership in general; how will the association maintain its standards?  UK schools are all required to be inspected by the same inspectorate, against the same standards – this is not possible for a number of reasons in different areas of the world; how can the association ensure that accounting standards and governance and financial processes are maintained?  UK schools in the group are all charities, with a specific set of accounting regulations – whilst there are a whole host of ownership and governance models in overseas schools, with many of them being profit-making enterprises – something that does not fit with the HMC model.  Trying to fit different shaped pegs in to an HMC hole seems quite a challenge and our discussion on this topic was very animated.

Speakers at the conference are always designed to catch our attention and give us some ‘takeaways’.  Dame Rachel de Souza CEO of the Inspiration Trust was a great speaker.  With her brand of disruptive education, but based on the firmest of positive principles, she has done great work, it seems, in improving pupils’ chances in tough schools in the east of England.  I liked her direct approach, no-nonsense and straight talking; and her focus on appointing the strong and charismatic senior leaders to take her schools forward. 

We also heard from a voice that anyone of a certain age in the UK would recognise – BBC newsreader, Michael Buerk. He most famously brought to the consciousness of the nation the plight of hundreds of thousands of starving East Africans in the 1984 famine which led to the first international celebrity efforts to raise money and put an end of poverty and starvation in Ethiopia.  The footage and images that he brought into our living rooms quite literally changed the world. Michael was there in Manchester, however, not to talk about poverty but to be a ‘grumpy old man’!  He got the tone of the conference just right, asking us all to consider the entitled lives of millennials, and what we can do to help to focus on what is important in our schools.  His light-hearted approach was both fun and thought provoking – often the best kind of speaker. 

In amongst the keynotes we had panels on teaching and learning and pastoral care, drugs awareness, and workshops on taking your school brand overseas, or being an executive head in a group of schools.  In addition, a new video on digital awareness was revealed which has been made in partnership with HMC. This video sends a message to try and harness the positives of social media and digital tools – rather than a down right ‘don’t do it’ message, which we know that our children are probably going to ignore.  I encourage you to watch it with your children and discuss the message which it contains and any questions that are raised from it. 

More important than all of these things, though, is the opportunity to network and connect, and to try new things.  I always enjoy meeting up with old friends and colleagues and this year I attended my first ever football match – watching Manchester United draw to Valencia at Old Trafford.  Well worth it (and the fish and chips were delicious!). 

BTEC music technology results for St. Paul’s pupils

More great results!

Following on from the success of our IGCSE results last week, we are celebrating again with our L6th pupils this week, following the first ever BTEC music technology results which the pupils have achieved.  27 of the pupils chose to follow this new course, capitalising on our excellent new recording studio and music technology facilities and none of them has been disappointed.  81% of the grades were awarded merit or distinction (the top two grades) with 8 of the pupils securing starred distinctions, recognising exceptional performance in the assessments. 

Many congratulations to the 27 happy pupils and many thanks to our wonderful music department, and especially those involved in setting up this new course.  It has been a great success and we are delighted, once again, to be leading the way with internationally  recognised courses which allow our pupils to excel.  

IGCSE results for St Paul´s pupils

Great results yet again!

We are delighted with this year’s international GCSE results, which the current L6th pupils received last Tuesday (14th). Their first ever internationally recognised public exams, these are a watershed moment for the new IB diploma pupils and recognition of two years of hard work and commitment through the IGCSE course. These two year courses include coursework and examined components and are a benchmark assessment, used in British and international schools in the UK and overseas.   

The overall results are fabulous, with 48% A*/A (the top two grades) which put our pupils on a par with UK selective independent schools. In particular 16 key individuals deserve to be proud of all they have achieved, scoring 8 or more A grades: Carlos, Gonzalo, Nicole, Luigi, Sophia, Estela (all A/A*), Pedro (all A/A*), Rafaela, Zahra, Laura (all A/A*), Julia (all A/A*), Valentina, Aida, Gian Luca, Arthur (all A/A*), and Lorenzo. “It is extremely challenging to prepare so thoroughly for so many subjects across a diverse curriculum and these boys and girls deserve many congratulations”, said the school’s Head, Ms Louise Simpson.   

This year, as part of the ongoing integration of our Brazilian and British curricula, we have expanded our curriculum offer so that all pupils now complete an international qualification in the arts (music, music technology, visual arts or drama) and we have added a new subject, global perspectives, to the humanities. Pupils now, typically, do 9 or 10 IGCSEs rather than 7 or 8 as in the past. In addition, this year the pupils have all completed an AS level qualification in Portuguese literature, in order to prepare them for the IB even better. The AS is a UK 6th form qualification, designed for 17 year olds, and we are delighted with the overall success in these results, which bode extremely well for the IB Portuguese 1st language course which the pupils have just embarked upon. The results for these papers are remarkable – with 86% of the grades being A or B (the top two grades).   

Across the board some subjects deserve special mention at IGCSE too: the benefits of a bilingual education are clear for our pupils – with 100% of the foreign language IGCSE papers in Spanish and Portuguese scoring A and A* grades and 89% in French.  Our pupils show great promise in science too, with 55% A*/A in the three sciences. And in the new subject of global perspectives, pupils have shown their internationally minded approach by scoring 56% A*/A.  In maths, we are delighted to see that the results are building on last year with encouraging improvements.   

IGCSE results for St Paul´s pupils

IGCSE results for St Paul´s pupils

“We could not be happier with the overall 79% A*/B and we wish the Lower 6th many congratulations as they celebrate and now settle into their IB diploma programme as the term progresses. I am sure that they will enjoy celebrating with their families, all of whom have contributed significantly to the success of these hard working boys and girls”, said Ms Simpson.   

Positive thinking in school: supporting our children to be happy, healthy and productive in school

As I sit in the departures area at Heathrow, on my way back from the annual meeting of head’s of the school’s in COBIS (the council of British international schools), I inevitably find myself reflecting on some of the speakers and themes and their importance and influence on educational leadership at St Paul’s. We are lucky to be members of a number of groups of quality international and UK independent schools and each of them has their own annual conference, at which many important themes are explored. Over the last two months, I have attended three such conferences, COBIS, the Latin American Heads’ Conference and our own St. Paul’s educational conference. I have learned much!

A common and extremely important theme across all three of these professional opportunities was wellbeing and providing the right kind of support and guidance to help our children develop excellent mental health and be able to cope when life is challenging for them. With the recent tragic deaths of pupils in schools in São Paulo this is perhaps more pertinent and prominent in our thoughts than ever before.

We heard this week from two contrasting speakers on the issue of mental health for young people: Dick Moore is a former independent school headmaster whose son, Barney, took his own life in his early twenties. The impact was crushing to the family, as you can perhaps imagine, and we were inspired by Dick’s incredible humour and positivity in the face of such challenge. He now raises awareness of mental health issues in young people, particularly in boys and young men, and advocates for better support, open communication and practical strategies to help to create spaces where these young people can share their thoughts and feelings, be themselves and open up to accepting help. These, he says, are key.

Natasha Devon is an impressive woman and she too had us all thinking about how best to approach mental health issues in school. Natasha reminded us about the neuroscience of the teenage brain (a fascinating topic in its own right) and shared with us some startling statistics about mental health issues in the UK. It is interesting to note that approximately similar proportions of young men and young women have mental health issues, but that girls and women are far more likely to seek help and respond positively to it. Natasha supposed that boys in general are less likely to seek help because our methods of counselling and clinical support are intrinsically feminine and that this does not sit well with boys and men. She described to us a counsellor’s office, in muted, ‘feminine’ colours, with chairs facing each other, soft music and flowers on the table. Boys, it seems, do not want to look into an adult’s eyes, and they are generally not impressed by sweet smelling flowers either! Society also teaches our boys to ‘man up’ and be strong. It does not, in general, encourage men to be sensitive and reflective. Even the language that we use around courage and being able to cope is often ‘masculine’ in its nature. This made me think about how our new school counsellor, due to join us in August, might arrange their space… and why parents should really make the most of car journeys to talk to their teenagers, boys and girls, both sets of eyes fixed firmly ahead! These are opportunities to talk without judgement, and when you might really get to the heart of any worries that your children have. Read more about Natasha’s work here.

One speaker who was common to both our own conference and the COBIS one was a wonderfully charismatic positive psychologist, Christian van Nieuwerburgh. A Belgian, born in Lebanon to a Japanese mother, he is a linguist par excellence and, in my view, offers a fantastic insight into coaching and positive psychology. He is acutely culturally aware (he has even devised a new form of coaching for people of the Islamic faith) and utterly pragmatic in his approach. His witty and engaging workshops and keynotes in São Paulo encouraged us to develop a coaching approach in our work and our teaching, helping to identify what drives us and identifying ways to help young people set goals, based on knowing themselves and particularly their strengths, better. Reminding us that the people around us are generally committed to doing good things as well as they can was a key message, which hopefully will make it easier for us all to establish and maintain the highest quality and most productive relationships in all parts of our lives, even when we don’t always agree!

As parents and educators the most important thing for us all must be the mental health and happiness of our young people. Being attuned to the challenges that our boys and girls face, and helping them to navigate through the process of growing up is not easy. Professionals like psychologists and counsellors are key, of course, but it seems that what is more important are family relationships and openness between our children and those who care about them and can intervene when they need help. Creating space and time to share worries and problems are of prime importance if we are all to support our children to be happy, healthy and productive in school.

St. Paul’s selected as a Microsoft Showcase School for 2017-18

We are delighted to announce that St. Paul’s School has been recognised as a global leader in the successful integration of technology with teaching and learning  

 In a special ceremony on 10th May, Microsoft will award St. Paul’s School with the prestigious Showcase badge in recognition for its excellence in transforming and enhancing its physical and online learning environment to deliver more personalised education to its pupils.  

By receiving the badge, the school joins an exclusive community of some 850 premier schools from around the world, in recognition of its pioneering efforts and innovation in rethinking teaching, learning and assessment in order to drive deep 21st century competencies.   

In July 2017, and with the appointment of a new Head of Digital Learning, the school invested heavily in a six-point digital learning strategy for developing digital natives for the millennial generation. Through the implementation of the strategy, the school’s infrastructure has been transformed and enhanced, pupils have been given greater access to a wider range of devices and resources, and staff have embarked on a professional development programme to ensure that technology is effectively embedded into all aspects of the school’s diverse curriculum.  

All teachers have been assigned a tablet or laptop to connect to their smartboards, allowing them greater flexibility in adapting their classroom set-up to reflect pupils’ needs. All Prep pupils (aged 6 to 11) have access to devices on a 1:1 basis, and in the Senior School we have implemented a highly successful BYOD (Bring Your Own Device programme.) The introduction of Office 365 and cloud-based working has also opened up new opportunities for collaboration and flexible learning.  

 “Being selected as a Microsoft Showcase School is a great honour, and we are delighted to be receiving recognition for our staff’s passion for creating the best learning environments possible,” said the school’s Head, Ms Simpson. “We look forward to sharing our experiences with other schools in our community and the world to continue finding innovative ways to equip our pupils with the best possible tools for success within the classroom and beyond.” 

 As a Showcase School, St. Paul’s will work closely with Microsoft to lead innovation in education and communicate a vision for education enabled by technology, by hosting and mentoring other schools in the community on transformational educational practices. 

 “Microsoft Showcase Schools are shining examples of those applying purpose-driven innovation in a variety of ways to build connection, motivate pupils and to create community in and out of school, ” said Anthony Salcito, vice president, Worldwide Education, Microsoft. “These schools are truly transforming learning and providing more personalised education to pupils empowering them to achieve more.” 

 

St. Paul’s pupils support the elderly through the FBB’s Programa Multiplicar

St. Paul’s School is a proud supporter of the important work that the Fundação Britânica de Beneficiência does. As part of our comprehensive enrichment programme, which is a key element of the holistic education we offer at St. Paul’s, many of our pupils enjoy volunteering for the Fundação’s extended programme (Programa Multiplicar), which exists to assist the elderly in São Paulo who face situations of extreme vulnerability.

A group of our Senior School pupils recently visited Casa Madre Teodora dos Idosos, where they spent an enjoyable afternoon playing bingo, singing songs and getting to know the residents. The project offers a fantastic opportunity for exchange, where our pupils learn from the elderly and immerse themselves in another reality quite different from their own. Indeed, they certainly benefit from and enjoy these enriching visits as much as the residents do. You can read a full report on the visit on the FBB’s website at https://fundacaobritanica.org.br/voluntariado-programa-multiplicar/.

Healthy Hearts, Healthy Minds

The fourth edition of the St. Paul’s School Education Conference, held in São Paulo on 24th and 25th March (with pre-conference workshops on Friday 23rd March), was a resounding success. The approximately 400 delegates who attended from schools in Brazil and other countries in Latin America through our connection with the LAHC (Latin American Heads Conference) spoke very highly of the event, the calibre of the speakers, and the networking opportunities afforded. The positive learning atmosphere and engagement of all those who attended were tangible throughout the weekend. These delegates came together with world-renowned speakers to discuss the importance of placing pupil wellbeing at the heart of classroom practice, and came away inspired with practical strategies for implementing in their own schools.

 

The theme “Healthy Hearts, Healthy Minds” was approached by each of our speakers from a different angle, thus providing a wide and varied panorama of the meaning of the word “wellbeing”, and the essential role it plays in nurturing pupils who reach their full potential in every possible aspect. Professor Guy Claxton opened the conference by sharing his “Learning Power Approach”, sharing useful strategies for nurturing confident, independent learners. Coaching and positive psychologist Professor Christian van Nieuwerburgh meanwhile reflected on the important role that teachers play as coaches, inspiring pupils to be the best they can be. Cambridge lecturer Dr Nick Baylis reflected on the “science of wellbeing”, and how teachers can help pupils to leverage emotions, both positive and negative, to achieve extraordinary things.  Paralympian and diversity champion Claire Harvey MBE rounded off the conference to a standing ovation in an emotional and inspirational keynote on the importance of inclusion in schools. Delegates had the opportunity to work with each of these speakers in smaller practical workshops, as well as with bilingualism professor from the Open University, Dr Rose Drury, and an influential headteacher from innercity London, Joan Deslandes OBE.

Our charming team of pupil helpers were an asset to the school, and all those who attended were delighted with the support and guidance they provided.

Special thanks must also go to all our donors, exhibitors and sponsors, without whom the success of the conference would certainly not have been possible. We are particularly grateful to our platinum sponsors Care PlusCultura InglesaLATAMSodexo, and WZ Hotel Jardins, to our silver sponsors Atelier Gourmand, and to our bronze sponsors Heleno Torres AdvogadosIntuitivo, and to our own parent and teacher association.

Many positive and transformative ideas arose from the discussions that took place across the weekend, and we are already looking forward to the fifth edition of our conference in 2020. We are delighted that our education conferences give us the opportunity to welcome and learn together with educators from all over the continent. If you weren’t able to make it this year, make sure you come along in 2020!