Miguel Ladeira Santos, CEO and President of the Board of the International Sharing School shared the history and vision of the school in Taguspark in the Oeiras Valley with The Portugal News.
Although the school in Lisbon opened recently in 2019, the team behind the school have many years of experience in education, with Miguel’s parents first buying the British School in Madeira some 15 years ago.
“At the time there were 40 students in the school, of which four of them were myself and my siblings which meant we made up 10 percent of the pupils”, explains Miguel.
“My parents bought the school and since then have worked to develop the curriculum and to also expand the school, opening four other schools in Africa initially before identifying the market in Lisbon and the need for a new international school in the capital.”
In 2018 the team bought a private Portuguese school and have since then developed this into a substantial campus which was opened to student in 2019.
The International Sharing School belong to an NGO non-profit Foundation where sustainability, innovation, creation and art are key to not only the development of the pupils but also of the teachers. Currently the school is home to students of 50 different nationalities with classes of up to 20, working in English as well as teaching Portuguese, German, Spanish, French, Mandarin, Italian and Russian and learning languages not simply as a form of communication, but also as a way to immerse students in different cultures.
At the centre of the school are three core values that run throughout the curriculum which has been designed to accommodate children from 4 months up to 18 years old. These values are multi-culture, care and hospitality.
“With so many different nationalities at the school, multi-culture is fundamental for our students and their families,” explains Miguel.
“We promote global citizenship, the promotion of the mother tongue but also cultural interaction and collaboration across different fields and nationalities as an international school.”
Care is the holistic side of the school where pupils learn about caring for themselves and for others while also looking at caring for nature, sustainability, animals and also building trust and confidence.
Finally, hospitality covers the sharing of resources, empowerment, social skills and building a community and family.
The family aspect and community of the school is of great importance at the International Sharing School, and is demonstrated with the open-door policy of the team who are always available to help families and children. The school is also run by a family which includes Miguel and his two brothers managing the school and also his younger sister and nephews actually attending as students – creating a true family atmosphere.
“Our programme structure allows for children from four months old to attend, all the way up to 18 years old. We find that often parents want all of their children to be able to attend the same school at the same time and this allows for this”.
While the thinking behind the curriculum and its core values is based on research, experience and knowledge, when walking into the school there is a real sense of space and freedom for learning.
“We have worked to break down spaces and walls so that there are no fixed classrooms, to be honest the school looks more like a Google office than a classroom, allowing students to be able to learn in the way they feel most confident and to be the best that they can.”
Furniture in the school is all bespoke and flexible and the spaces exude creativity while there is also a strong focus on technology, something that has only been heightened since the pandemic. Students are now able to log in and learn online with a completely immersive online learning experience allowing the classroom to be brought directly into the home.
The school blends a mixture of learning methods incorporating hard and soft skills to help to create citizens of the world.
“We are not trying to reinvent the wheel here, what we are trying to do at the school is to make kids confident and to encourage curiosity in students,” said Miguel.
Each student at the International Sharing School benefits from a personalised structure which allows students to make the most of the various different learning approaches in the school with the ultimate aim of making students the best they can possibly be.
Ultimately, the mission of the International Sharing School is very simple: “To develop inquiring, knowledgeable and open-minded lifelong learners who aspire to build a better tomorrow, through a supportive, respectful and caring environment promoting learning through sharing.”
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