Author Archives: Blog Admin

Creative learning: helping our educators to develop and learn

We often put a lot of focus on our children being creative in and out of the classroom – encouraging creative play in the early years and nurturing creative approaches to learning so our pupils become independent and innovative learners as they progress throughout the school. While this is a fundamental part of what we do, as educators, to prepare our pupils for success in the classroom and beyond, what can we as educators do to ensure we are being as creative as possible? How can we be sure that our creativity in the classroom is having a transformative impact?

With this in mind, St. Paul’s is holding its 5th Education Conference next 28th and 29th March. This follows on from its hugely successful series that addresses continuous professional development opportunities for teachers to help them be better educators and to help them develop as individuals. Investing in our teachers is key to our continuous provision of a world-class education, and every two years we invite specialists from around the world to share their latest research and expertise in current and relevant topics.

In this 5th edition, centred on creative learning, we will have under one roof world-renowned educators who are leaders in their fields in bringing creativity to the classroom, and to our work as teaching professionals. We know that, in our diverse and engaging programme, they will challenge our thinking, help us to look at our own practice and consider ways to do things differently, and, we hope, leave us all inspired to do things better and in a more innovative way with our classes.

Our confirmed speakers include:

  • Phil Badham, Digital Creativity consultant
  • Sue McGonigle, Independent consultant and co-creator of Lovemybooks
  • Anni McTavish, Early Education Associate and Early Years’ Creativity Specialist
  • Mark Steed, AI Specialist and Principal and CEO at Kellett School, Hong Kong
  • David Weston, Founder and Chief Executive of the Teacher Development Trust
  • Cat Scutt, Director of Education and Research, Chartered College of Training

Find out more about our speakers here.

Furthermore, this opportunity is not just for our teachers and staff, but for those in other schools in São Paulo, elsewhere in Brazil, or indeed even further afield.

Since registration opened just a month ago, some workshops have already sold out. Do take advantage of our early bird registration discount by booking your place before 31st December 2019. Don’t miss out on what promises to be an incredible gathering of like-minded individuals who want to ensure that they can offer the best teaching to their children, through creative learning.    

#Creativelearning #SPEdConf      

Reading week: love your books

Books have been everywhere this week at St. Paul’s, sometimes in the most extraordinary places, as we celebrate reading week. With so many books and authors to choose from, it’s often hard to know where to start. In this article we would like to share the importance of instilling a love of reading from an early age and taking it through to later years. Our Head of Pre-Prep, Amy Clifford, explains why this is essential and what we can do, as educators and parents, to nurture it.

Books offer so much to children, from developing an ear for the music of language to acquiring new vocabulary and generating an interest in new words and their meaning. Reading books aloud to children creates an experience that transforms bedrooms and classrooms into settings beyond the direct experiences of the child. For the reader the world of the book opens opportunities for imagination and discussion, as well as empathy and understanding of lived experiences that are different from their own.

This journey of self is important for readers of any age but particularly crucial for young children as they are learning to understand their own feelings and emotions. For young children it is far easier to talk about how a character feels in a story rather than trying to unpick their own feelings over a loss, quarrel or a dispute. As children’s fictional exploration of feelings and emotions increases, their own understanding develops and they become more confident in recognising their own emotions and building a repertoire of strategies to manage their feelings.

Choosing books that help to reflect children’s own realities is also important; sharing books about a new baby brother, starting school, alternatives to the nuclear family or books that reflect ethnic representation and diversity are important to enable children to see themselves in literature and help them understand that their place is valued in the world. Children’s books are an important tool in self-discovery as well as a key to alternative and imaginary worlds. Books also help to create a sense of togetherness, whether at home curled up on a sofa or enjoyed together as a class. Shared stories unite us in a way that inspire talk and connections through our own experiences.

Reading week in the Pre-Prep School is a time where we can all celebrate the rich reading curriculum that we have in a variety of ways. This week’s focus on reading has been particularly special as it has coincided with the grand opening of the Pre-Prep library, a truly wonderful space that is now home to 4000 books and each book has been chosen carefully to reflect the interests, age and stage of the children in the school. This week the children have enjoyed browsing the books, relaxing on the cushions and reading along with their friends. We have a range of highly acclaimed authors in our selection and it is our hope that the library builds children’s love of books as well as their knowledge of popular children’s authors and illustrators.

Happy reading, now and always.


Adding value through character development

Welcome back to everyone after the half term break. I hope you thoroughly enjoyed the holiday and have returned feeling refreshed and full of energy for the rest of the term. As we start the second half of the term, I would like to reflect on the annual HMC conference that I attended in the UK just before half term and what impressions I came away with this year.

At the Autumn Conference 2019 – ‘HMC 150’, I had a chance to meet with friends old and new, hear some inspiring speakers and consider a little about the leadership journey I am on, and how best I can serve my school. A theme that ran through the conference is the political challenge that UK independent schools currently face; inevitably we considered the ways that we could tell our story more clearly, and engage with a British public that might, at times, be sceptical about the value of schools which are attended by such a small sector of children (about 7%) and are seen as elite and privileged.

Alongside this, also at the same time, I have started a new learning journey myself, as I embark a upon a master’s course from the University of Birmingham, in character education. Character is something that is perhaps an intangible thing, hard to describe and put one’s finger on, but at the same time, very clear and evident in those who have it. Over recent years the development of character and the importance of particular character traits – such as integrity, honesty, resilience and determination – have come to the forefront of the minds of educators. Indeed, our own Lion Learning programme encapsulates some of these habits in the classroom and, I hope, will help our children to develop their character alongside their academic skills in everything that they do at school – academic and otherwise. 

Developing character

It struck me, as I started to work through some of my research materials on the train travelling home, that the development of character, habits and attributes that we see so clearly in our children is one of the things that marks out the true value of an independent school education. Perhaps this should be the unique selling point (USP) that we should be most proud of in this sector. On my course I am starting to consider whether (and perhaps how) character can be taught… I must say that I am quite sceptical that it can be taught, but I absolutely agree that it can be acquired and further developed through the right curriculum and enrichment activities, and that these are things that must remain key in our educational provision. 

Sadly many state-funded UK schools are under such intense pressure to deliver good academic results in the national public exams that the development of softer skills and the enrichment of the curriculum (for example through sport and music) have sometimes had to take a back seat. This reduces the opportunities that some children have to participate in those activities and events which will help them to develop their character, and sadly they may end up less confident in those soft skills and good habits which we know make them so attractive to universities and employers when they leave school.

We are so lucky at St. Paul’s to have such a rich and varied programme of enrichment activities, great trips and facilities to support every pupil in developing their character and a committed and talented staff team to support them. These traits and habits bring enormous benefits in the classroom and we should embrace and celebrate them and help our children to take every opportunity they are offered. 

Semana da Cultura Brasileira – a infância e juventude

Joy and reminiscences, but also a week of reflecting on how we can create a better childhood for everyone. Thiago Aquino, head of Brazilian social studies at St. Paul’s, tells us more about how we celebrated Semana da Cultura Brasileira across the school last week.  

For our Semana da Cultura Brasileira this year, we decided to investigate the topic of childhood in our country in more depth, with the theme “Views on childhood and youth in Brazil”. The week explored how the memories built at this time of our life can build who we are. Pupils listened to their teachers sharing their experiences as children and talking about their favourite toys and games. Our children learnt some important parts of our history through a musical show called Quizumba, which retold the story of slavery through the perspective of a child. They watched a professional theatre company performing a play about a teenage girl who faced a terrible medical diagnosis and had to deal with prejudice from her friends. Our Senior School pupils also took part in a talk about the importance of political participation among young people in Brazil. It was a week full of joy and reminiscences, but also one of raising awareness of how we can contribute to making everyone’s childhood better.

Para celebrar a Semana da Cultura Brasileira esse ano, o tema escolhido foi “Olhares sobre a infância e juventude”, e com esse tema quisemos trazer à tona alguns dos momentos felizes envolvidos nessa época da vida, através de um vídeo que os professores gravaram. Também trouxemos os espetáculos Quizumba e Depois daquela viagem, para que os alunos vissem diferentes perspectivas do tema da infância e da adolescência, por meio de histórias de emoção, superação e esperança. Além disso, a palestra para os alunos do F6 tratou do tema da participação dos jovens no cenário político de nosso país, e lembrou-lhes da importância de participar nas decisões que podem tornar a vida de todas as nossas crianças melhor e memorável. Essa foi sem dúvida uma semana de reminiscências, pois os tutores puderam jogar algumas brincadeiras infantis típicas do Brasil com seus tutees, mas também uma semana que nos fez refletir sobre o que é ser criança e como podemos ajudar cada vez mais que todas elas tenham boas lembranças dessa época da vida.

We care, don’t we?

There was a time when the role of a teacher was simply to educate the academic aspects of the brain, to worry only about public examination outcomes and to consider how we could make sure that every child learned their sums, practised the skills taught in art class or was able to write a well-structured history essay. How outdated this approach now seems. Life for youngsters today is far more complicated than ever before. They live a life which straddles the real world, of family relationships, day to day routine and the normalcy of school and a life online of Instagram, celebrities, perfectionism and ‘relationships’ with people they are never going to meet. And of course, on top of this, we still expect them to fulfil their potential academically. 


The pressure that comes with being a young person growing up in this ever more pressured world has led all of us who work with young people to recognise that positive relationships and good mental health should be at the heart of a school. If our pupils are happy, balanced and secure in their lives, then they are much more likely to work hard, enjoy the myriad enrichment activities that we offer and, crucially, able to meet their potential academically.


It is this which lies at the heart of We Care. This is our initiative to ensure that positive mental health and wellbeing is at the forefront of all of our minds, and to help our pupils construct and maintain excellent relationships with other pupils and the adults they encounter in school, and with it responsible and positive behaviour for learning. We Care is a school wide initiative, starting with the very youngest children in the Pre-Prep and going right through to the oldest pupils in the Sixth Form. It is a restatement and a joining up of what we have been doing for many years as a school that believes in the best quality pastoral care; however, we hope that, by being a bit more explicit about relationships and mental health and wellbeing, we can make the outcomes even better.


We care also extends to our staff body (and not just the teaching staff!), and the HR department is working hard on wellbeing initiatives such as yoga and gym membership, to help all of us to feel more positive about what happens in school each day. We hope that it will be an approach that parents will understand and take home to their own relationships there too, and we look forward to hearing feedback from families in due course. 


When Claire Harvey, a British Paralympian, visited our school last year she talked about the impact that anxiety and poor wellbeing have on pupils in schools around the world. She urged us to be inclusive and equitable in our relationships, and to consider how we can make the structure around us positive and supportive for all. This is what We Care is all about – showing that you worry about others, and being ready to extend the hand of friendship and to help a colleague or pupil feel included. Because this makes us feel happier, and when we are happier, everything seems better, even our history essays!  

An Old Paulean time capsule – buried but not forgotten

Imagine a school teacher had asked you to create and bury a time capsule, a memorabilia of present-day things to be discovered in the future. You choose your favourite items, put the capsule in the ground, finish school, move to another country and the time capsule becomes history. But then several years later someone finds your capsule…

This is the story of Timothy Barker, an Old Paulean. In 1985, aged 10, he buried his capsule with:

– a rather lovely drawing of a boy gazing ahead

– a beautiful poem about fireworks, and

– an identikit: a picture of himself, shards of hair, his thumb prints, the flag of a club he and his friend had set up and other details about himself.

Carmen Sapsezian, who manages the Old Paulean group, contacted Tim about this discovery just a month ago through his sister Melody, who also attended St. Paul’s along with their siblings Eleanor and Samuel. Tim was thrilled to hear the news, amazed that the capsule had survived for this long. The class had buried the capsules in the corner of the biology plot. “They were placed in layers with those expected to leave sooner at the top and those staying till the end of school in the bottom layer, mine was at the bottom.

“I remember the excitement of placing the capsules in the ground. I had not forgotten about the time capsule but did not think the school would take kindly to finding it.”

When Tim left St. Paul’s in 1992, the biology plot no longer existed and had been paved over, marking the end for the capsules. It was until 34 years later, when the Pre-Prep area was being refurbished. Over the past year, engineers and other workers had been working tirelessly to transform the Pre-Prep area, building new, modern and secure facilities that allow our children to feel safe, explore and ready to learn.

As the workers were redesigning the Pre-Prep area, one of the engineers stumbled across Tim’s time capsule and took it to our bursar, Nelson Sapsezian.

Jill Brading, who was Tim’s teacher at the time, said the project was in response to some novels by Betsy Byars (a well-known American children’s author) the children had been studying and she included the activity as a personal history idea. The capsules were a rarity as it was only Tim’s class (then Junior Five) that had undertaken this project.

Mrs Brading, now retired, worked at St. Paul’s in the Prep School for three years from 1985 – 1988, along with her husband Neil, who taught history. She fondly recalls a terrifying thunderstorm that made everything so dark that no one could see across the classroom, as well as organising a maths and science exhibition for parents and swimming galas and sports days held on Saturday mornings.   

What a find! Perhaps it’s time to resurrect the project and see what one might discover at St. Paul’s in another 30 years’ time? What would you put in yours? #timecapsulestpaulssp

Rising stars in the Sixth Form!

Every year we enjoy celebrating with the new Lower 6th Form pupils as they receive their IGCSE results in the middle of August; this year is no different, with 50% of all the grades obtained yesterday at A/A* or distinction/* distinction, the top two grades, and 75% A* to B. This is a remarkable achievement and every pupil is to be congratulated on their individual successes.    

Studied by virtually every pupil in the UK system, with exams at aged 16, the IGCSE is an internationally recognised, UK curriculum based qualification which is externally set, assessed and moderated. Our pupils study a broad and balanced curriculum including the arts, sciences, humanities, maths, and languages, and they generally sit 9 to 11 subjects. The pupils who attained the best overall results in the IGCSE, BTEC, and AS Portuguese literature exams are: Amogh, Felipe, Victor, Julia, Lucca, Lara, Eduardo, Laura, Victoria, Gabriela, Rodrigo, Isabella and Gabriela (see main photo, from left). They are to be congratulated especially; many of these have achieved all A and A* grades. This is no mean feat and they should be very proud of their achievements.

The breadth of success across the departments reflects the many strengths of the St. Paul’s curriculum and the determination and commitment of our pupils; those studying foreign language French, Spanish and Portuguese all scored 100% A/A* grades. In the sciences, IGCSE computer science (64%) and physics (59%) pupils both did very well. And in the humanities, 76% of pupils who chose global perspectives, a new course introduced just 2 years ago, did brilliantly to obtain an A/A* grade. Finally in the arts, music technology pupils attained 100% * distinction, the very top grade.  

Doing well in examinations is not everything, but these results open doors for our pupils for the future. It will lead them, we know, to great success in their IB diploma programme studies in the final two years of school, and to great college offers when they graduate in 2021. Well done everyone!

Excellent IB results for St. Paul’s once again

Once again the St. Paul’s School Upper Sixth are celebrating some fabulous IB diploma results across the full range of curriculum subjects and we congratulate them all!

This year’s diploma cohort, the largest in the school to date, celebrate an average points score of 33 (10% above the world average). We are especially proud that over 90% of pupils achieved the bilingual diploma, studying both Portuguese and English as a first language, and that our modern languages remain a real strength in the school. All pupils studying a second modern language scored one of the top two grades (6 or 7) and are well placed to be excellent global communicators.

Special congratulations must go to those pupils scoring 40 or more points (from a maximum of 45). This is an enormous achievement and puts them in the top 2% of IB diploma graduates globally. Very well done to them!

Internationally recognised as one of the most rigorous post-16 academic programmes, the IB diploma provides a balanced curriculum of 6 subjects for each candidate, including languages, maths, science, the humanities and the creative arts. In addition, the core, which includes a 4000 word academic research paper, theory of knowledge and creativity, activity and service, ensures that candidates have a broad, global mindset and a strong set of human values. IB graduates really are well prepared for their university experience and lives in the adult world, whether at home or overseas.

These results are the product of much commitment, determination, support and encouragement for the pupils from all sides and we thank the teachers, support staff, parents, friends and the wider school community for their part in the achievements of theseyoung men and women. It is not easy to complete a school journey with such a challenging sixth form curriculum and we congratulate every pupil for their individual achievements. We wish them well for the future and hope they will come back and see us soon!

St. Paul’s digital leaders sharing achievements at BETT Educar

Last week, some of our Senior School digital leaders presented their achievements at BETT Educar, the Latin American version of the great BETT Show in the United Kingdom.

Bett Educar is the largest education and technology event in Latin America. Every year it brings together over 230 national and international leading companies, exciting Edtech start-ups and 22,000 participants from the education community. Educators, learners and innovators come to the event to seek inspiration, discuss the future of education and discover Edtech products and solutions to improve teaching and learning outcomes.  

The digital leaders shared with the audience their role in school, advocating for responsible and safe use of digital resources, testing software and offering support to pupils that need guidance in digital learning. They recommended that other schools should also adopt a similar programme, as digital leaders can be great allies to the leadership in terms of voicing the technology needs of all pupils.    

They were ever ready to astound and charm their listeners by describing their views on technology applied to education and how they see their future when properly prepared to use digital resources. They argued that not only does being digitally literate help them in the present to learn better, it also prepares them for their academic life at university. They also argued that the use of technology has helped them develop even further skills they consider essential for their professional and personal lives: entrepreneurship, creativity, autonomy, innovation, computational thinking and critical thinking and problem solving. In the presentation, one of the pupils Gianlucca explained that he and other peers used this set of skills to launch his new company, a marketplace for people who want to sell miles or buy plane tickets.  

Our teachers were also speakers at this year’s event, and shared experiences together with other experts. “It is always reassuring to see that we are on the right track and leading the way with regards to technology and robotics; things are continuously changing and events like these lead us to reflect on how we can give pupils the best possible learning experience”, says Ms Louise Simpson, our head.

Images: St. Paul’s and BETT Educar

Old Paulean Day 2019

On Saturday 18th May, we had well over 200 Old Pauleans come together for a pleasant afternoon of good food and good stories, at our annual Old Pauleans’ Day. It was lovely to see former staff and pupils connecting and exchanging special memories.

The event reminded us that wherever our alumni move on to, however long ago they studied here, and whatever they go on to achieve, they are Lions for Life!