Upper Junior School (Grades 5-6)

In Grade 5 students make the transition into the International Curriculum. Students from Grade 5 to Grade 6 follow an adaptation of the Cambridge International Curriculum (Key Stage 2/3), a renowned international curriculum that gains an academic advantage over national curriculums because of the flexibility of its syllabus. The open-ended character of the curriculum allows us to continue to emphasise the Portuguese Language and History while, at the same time, implement the Cambridge International programme. We recognise that our pedagogical model is of great value. We therefore keep working under the same axioms which have built our school: project-based learning, one-to-one teaching and learning, and a special focus on communication and technology. We continue to mentor children to become innovators, responsible and happy adults with the necessary skills for the 21st Century and our globalised world.

The main objective of implementing an international programme goes beyond the scope of its syllabus. We essentially want to mentor children to become curious, knowledgeable, caring, empathic and driven for success. We hope that our students grow wanting to create a better world, while practicing respect and comprehension for other people and cultures.

Students are encouraged to experiment with different approaches to learning and take responsibility for their own educational progress. Our pedagogical model helps students to ask challenging questions, to think critically and to develop their research capacity.

During their last years of middle childhood, between the ages of 10 and 12, children exhibit a natural willingness and enthusiasm to accept challenges. This natural state should be valued as a catapult for creativity, critical thinking, effort, perseverance and the desire to try new things. Upper Junior School is therefore a phase where students use this energy to establish profound meaning to the knowledge they have acquired. It is a phase that promotes high levels of autonomy and project work. Project work continues to connect subjects together and challenges students even further. Upper Junior School places a high importance on the intellectual dimension of the programme as well as in its effort to create well rounded caring individuals.

Our teaching and learning practices can be organised under four pedagogical axioms:

Project-based Learning: Project learning involves researching themes or finding solutions to set problems. An inquiry-based student profile is cultivated. Fieldwork is often carried out. Projects combine various subjects’ syllabus under one umbrella theme. The syllabus is then taught by the students as they present their work/findings to the class.

Communication: Great importance is placed on the presentation and communication of all student work. Larger projects or smaller activities such as a written text are encouraged by the teachers to be shared. Arrangements are made so that students share their presentations and work collaboratively with other year groups as well as with parents and the school community.

Autonomous work and Individual Learning Improvement: Gaining in depth knowledge of subject contents. Producing intellectual material under the guidance of the subject teachers. Teachers will be available to students that need individual learning improvement.

Class Management and Organisation: Tutor time and Social Skills are moments to discuss the daily life of each class/group. The monthly plan is designed and reviewed as a class and specific tasks are assigned to students on a rotating basis and students will evaluate and be evaluated for their involvement in school life.

The academic structure is supported by two areas which we find fundamental for raising a thoughtful and productive citizen: Global Perspectives and My Time.

– Global Perspectives

Grades 5 and 6 students have a weekly time dedicated to Global Perspectives. Global Perspectives is a unique, transformational programme that helps students develop outstanding transferable skills, including critical thinking, research and collaboration. This innovative and stimulating skills-based programme places academic study in a practical, real-world context, tapping into the way today’s students enjoy learning, including group work, seminars, projects and working with other students around the world. The emphasis is on developing students’ ability to think critically about a range of global issues where there is always more than one point of view.

These collaborative activities emphasize more about the process rather than on the final product. One of the main objectives is to develop an understanding of the relationship between the curriculum subjects and their influences in various areas of knowledge. Students have the opportunity to collaborate with the other classes, share their ideas and receive their comments. In particular, it stimulates in each the ability to evaluate alternatives and calculate risks and, above all, don’t be afraid to fail. Projects will vary along the school year to also include developing actions that affect the community and the world, where the student plays a starring role and not be a mere listener. In our curriculum we consider the service as a reciprocal and collaborative engagement with the community in response to a genuine need. Through these activities, students develop and apply personal and social skills in real-life situations involving decision-making, problem-solving, initiative and responsibility for their actions. Students are involved in the decision of what to do and how to do it and witness the consequences of their actions. This learning occurs naturally, and the students respond to specific needs identified in the community.

– My Time

Once a week, Grade 5 and 6 students will have the opportunity to work in the areas they enjoy most. The school offers a wide range of activities – sports, art, music, robotics, programming, educational cuisine, maths, sewing and school newspaper – and each student chooses the activity that meets their interests, every term. MyTime is an optional activity.