Academic Principles

The British System

Willow International School is an independent (full-time) school which charges fees to attend, instead of being funded by the government. The school provides a United Kingdom (U.K) based academic curriculum which closely follows the U.K. English National Curriculum. The curriculum subjects provided are the same as a U.K. state maintained, school.

The National Curriculum is a set of subjects and standards used by primary and secondary U.K. schools, so children learn the same things and experience a consistent education, year on year. It covers what subjects are taught and the standards children should reach in each subject. Through curriculum references, standards are tracked and maintained by all staff.

The National Curriculum is organised into blocks of years called ‘key stages’ (KS). At the end of each key stage, the teachers formally assess the children’s performance. These assessments are used to formally track progression and help to highlight any barriers to learning for students who may display a requirement for Special Educational Needs (SEN) learning. All students joining the school are screened for the requirement of SEN provision.

As well as state-maintained schools, other types of schools like academies and private schools do not have to follow the national curriculum. However, by following the U.K. National Curriculum, this ensures that Willow International Academy teaches a broad and balanced curriculum including English, Maths and Science (core subjects) as stipulated by the U.K Department for Education DfE.

Willow International Academy is also accredited with one of the main qualification providers in the U.K. – Pearson Edexcel International. The school has undergone a rigorous inspection protocol, in order to gain such high accreditation. Pearson Edexcel provide the school with U.K./Internationally recognised exams (iGCSE) which are sat each summer in May/June of each year.

The exams are recognised by both the Department for Education (DfE) and the Office for Qualifications (Ofqual). These two departments serve the United Kingdom’s Minister for Education and constitute the government’s authority for tertiary (ages 5-16) education in the United Kingdom.

All teachers at Willow International Academy, are fully qualified in their subject field, hold a teaching qualification which has been issued/authorised by U.K./Spanish government educational authorities and have been vetted/cleared to work with boys and girls of school age.

The school has been authorised by the local authorities to open as a place of education and has ensured that all requirements for health & safety and the well-being of all students and staff have been carried out – including all Covid-19 measures.

The school has shown that through the impeccable high standards of its governing body it is meeting the demanding and rigorous inspection standards required for an academic, full time school – in line with the British council, BSO inspectorate standards and local/Valencian policy.

Primary School – KS1 & KS2

Key Stage 1

Our aim is for children to enjoy their time at school and to develop knowledge, understanding and values in order to reach their full potential in all academic and social areas of school life.

The work of each year group is guided by the appropriate level of the English National Curriculum, Key Stage 1, which is by nature broad and balanced. Subject areas include English Language, Mathematics, Science, Geography, History, Design and Technology, Art and Craft, Music, Physical Education, Health Education, Religious Education and Information Technology.

In Language and Literacy we aim to provide a rich and stimulating environment in which children find interest and pleasure in communicating in English. They are offered many experiences to develop their interest in reading with fluency, accuracy, understanding and enjoyment. The development of handwriting skills forms an important part of Language and Literacy. At this early stage, the children also start their Modern Foreign Language (MFL) tuition through the study of the Spanish Language.

In Mathematics and Science we aim to develop a knowledge and understanding of the role of these subjects in everyday life. Children are encouraged to relate their Mathematics and Science work to other areas of the curriculum and the skills and attitudes acquired are important components of cross-curricular topic work.

Key Stage 2

The Upper Primary School covers the National Curriculum Key Stage 2, academic years 3 to 6 (age 7-11) and is referred to as Key Stage Two.
Under the guidance of the Head of Primary, teachers provide stimulating activities to build up pupil confidence and harness natural curiosity. Children thereby achieve high levels of knowledge, skills and understanding while enjoying the learning process. Where possible and appropriate, children are taken on out-of-school visits in order to enhance classroom teaching. Some pupil work falls easily into identifiable subject areas, however, children are also involved in a variety of cross-curricular topic based investigations.

Our approach promotes a variety of skills and offers scope for the development of many different concepts. We emphasise active investigative methods to facilitate purposeful learning and to encourage independence, while at the same time ensuring that the main requirements of the National Curriculum are covered. As in England, towards the end of Year 6, the children take Standard Assessment Tests (SATs) in the core areas of Literacy and Numeracy.

In addition to English and Maths, children also study Art, Science and Technology, History, Geography, Computing, Music, P.E. In addition, Spanish Language study completes the Junior curriculum. Children will also learn about personal, social, health economic education and citizenship.

In general, Key Stage Two children work mainly with one class teacher, although certain subjects, such as Music and Physical Education, may be studied with specialist teachers.

Primary School – KS1 & KS2

Key Stage 1

Our aim is for children to enjoy their time at school and to develop knowledge, understanding and values in order to reach their full potential in all academic and social areas of school life.

The work of each year group is guided by the appropriate level of the English National Curriculum, Key Stage 1, which is by nature broad and balanced. Subject areas include English Language, Mathematics, Science, Geography, History, Design and Technology, Art and Craft, Music, Physical Education, Health Education, Religious Education and Information Technology.

In Language and Literacy we aim to provide a rich and stimulating environment in which children find interest and pleasure in communicating in English. They are offered many experiences to develop their interest in reading with fluency, accuracy, understanding and enjoyment. The development of handwriting skills forms an important part of Language and Literacy. At this early stage, the children also start their Modern Foreign Language (MFL) tuition through the study of the Spanish Language.

In Mathematics and Science we aim to develop a knowledge and understanding of the role of these subjects in everyday life. Children are encouraged to relate their Mathematics and Science work to other areas of the curriculum and the skills and attitudes acquired are important components of cross-curricular topic work.

Key Stage 2

The Upper Primary School covers the National Curriculum Key Stage 2, academic years 3 to 6 (age 7-11) and is referred to as Key Stage Two.
Under the guidance of the Head of Primary, teachers provide stimulating activities to build up pupil confidence and harness natural curiosity. Children thereby achieve high levels of knowledge, skills and understanding while enjoying the learning process. Where possible and appropriate, children are taken on out-of-school visits in order to enhance classroom teaching. Some pupil work falls easily into identifiable subject areas, however, children are also involved in a variety of cross-curricular topic based investigations.

Our approach promotes a variety of skills and offers scope for the development of many different concepts. We emphasise active investigative methods to facilitate purposeful learning and to encourage independence, while at the same time ensuring that the main requirements of the National Curriculum are covered. As in England, towards the end of Year 6, the children take Standard Assessment Tests (SATs) in the core areas of Literacy and Numeracy.

In addition to English and Maths, children also study Art, Science and Technology, History, Geography, Computing, Music, P.E. In addition, Spanish Language study completes the Junior curriculum. Children will also learn about personal, social, health economic education and citizenship.

In general, Key Stage Two children work mainly with one class teacher, although certain subjects, such as Music and Physical Education, may be studied with specialist teachers.

Secondary School – KS3 & KS4

Key stage 3

Transition from Primary

Starting Year 7 is a big step in a child’s education and marks the point where, under the British system, students move from being in Primary to Secondary School.  We acknowledge the anxiety this move can sometimes cause and work with Year 6 pupils to help them prepare for their first day in Secondary.  As part of the transition process our own Year 6 are taught some lessons in Mathematics, Science and English by Secondary specialists and come over to the Secondary building to experience them in the same rooms they will  be using from Year 7 – including the Secondary Science Lab. We also run a specific transition day in May/June of Year 6 where all pupils are invited to the Secondary School for the day and participate in taster lessons, activities and workshops that allow them to meet their form tutors and teachers they will be seeing from September.

Form Groups

In Secondary, due to our small class sizes, pupils are able to remain in their tutor groups providing stability and a familiar working environment. Classes are mixed ability with differentiated provision to enable students to learn how to make new friendships, to develop strategies for coping with change. We appreciate parental support in speaking to your child and helping them through what can sometimes be a difficult time for them.  In our experience all pupils quickly adapt to their new groups and go on to make a wider and more diverse set of friendships within a couple of weeks of the new school year.

Year 7, 8 and 9 Curriculum

Pupils in Year 7 and 8 study a varied curriculum closely based on the National Curriculum of England.  Subjects studied include English, Mathematics, Science, Humanities, Art & Design, Performing Arts, Music, French, Computing, PSHE, Spanish and Physical Education.  Lessons are normally delivered in single/double (45 minutes) slots.

Towards the end of Term 1 of Year 9 pupils begin to receive advice and support on choosing the subjects they may wish to study in Years 10 and 11.  An information event for parents as well as an options day for pupils is arranged before pupils are asked to decide on the final subjects, they will study from Year 10.

Assessment, Recording, Reporting and Tracking

Pupils  in KS3 are assessed regularly using both formative & summative assessment methods. This progress is closely monitored through teacher tracking and regularly reported to parents.  Unlike under the Spanish educational system, there is no requirement to “pass” one year before moving to the next, although pupils will be expected to be working at a particular level by the end of an academic year.  You will receive two written reports each year (Autumn & Summer) and will also be invited in to meet with your child’s form tutor and subject teachers.

Key Stage 4

Becoming a successful GCSE student

Years 10 and 11 mark a very intense period of study under the British system as pupils begin to prepare for, and then take, examinations known as (I)GCSEs – (International) General Certificates of Secondary Education.  Pupils will be expected to be more independent in their study habits and to start to enter into a regular revision programme whereby they are reviewing and revisiting topics they have covered in preparation for the examinations they will take at the end of Year 11.  We would expect pupils in Years 10 and 11 to be studying for approximately 1½ hours per evening in order to make good progress – this study time will not always be directed by class teachers via homework tasks and it is important for pupils to undertake private study and review any gaps in their understanding.

Attendance is another key factor to success at IGCSE.   The law requires that pupils attend school on a full-time basis unless they are too ill to do so.  If your child is sick and needs to stay at home you should contact the school as soon as possible. Attendance rates of 95% are expected of all Year 10 and 11 pupils; please note that attendance of 98% represents one day off every two weeks or approximately 204 lost learning hours over the two-year course, – the impact of non-attendance on final attainment is historically apparent and strikingly obvious.

Form Groups

In Secondary, due to our small class sizes, pupils are able to remain in their tutor groups, providing stability and a familiar working environment as they transition into a more autonomous way of learning. Classes are mixed ability with differentiated provision to develop strategies for coping with change and building relationships. We appreciate parental support in speaking to your child and helping them through what can sometimes be a difficult time for them.  In our experience all pupils quickly adapt to the learning expectations and go on to make a wider and more diverse set of friendships within a couple of weeks of starting their new school year in upper secondary.

Year 10 & 11 Curriculum

Pupils in Years 10 & 11 study a core curriculum and are also able to choose three optional subjects. Subjects include:

Compulsory IGCSE Subjects Compulsory Complementary Studies Optional IGCSE Subjects
English Language
Mathematics
Double Science
Spanish
Physical Education
Personal, Social & Health Education
SMSC Enrichment
Art & Design
English Literature
Computing
Drama
Geography
History
Physical Education
Psychology

External Examinations

Compulsory and optional iGCSE subjects will culminate in examinations at the end of Year 11. Please note that these examinations are externally set, marked and moderated by the examination board. (I)GCSE is a highly regarded qualification which is accredited by OfQual and currently examined, in our school Pearson Edexcel.

Examination timetables are set by the board each year and cannot be altered. Speaking and practical examinations can take place as early as February of Year 11 whilst written examinations normally take place from the end of April until the end of June. It is imperative that parents do not book any holidays for pupils in Year 11 after Christmas as any examinations that are missed cannot be taken at another time and normally result in an X (NO RESULT) grade in the final exam.

Assessment, Recording, Reporting and Tracking

Pupils in Years 10-11 are now assessed against the new GCSE criteria using a scale of 1-9 (9 being the highest available grade). You will receive two written reports (Autumn & Summer) each year and will also be invited to meet with your child’s form tutor and subject teachers.

Pastoral Care

Teaching and non-teaching staff will offer the best guidance to pupils as they grow and develop in the school.

For younger pupils the class teacher and learning assistant are the initial points of contact for help and advice, either through their class teaching or on an individual basis. Our dedicated pastoral and wellbeing leader ensures all pupil’s needs are planned for and met through the curriculum and assembly programme.

In the Secondary school, a designated teacher will be responsible for the academic and social welfare of his/her tutor group. This may be via the Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) programme, year group assembly, or more informal contacts during the daily tutor period, which starts each school day. Visiting speakers also add a further dimension to our provision of “pastoral care”. Senior members of staff in the Secondary school are responsible for both the PSHE programme and the wider aspects of pastoral care. Staff training ensures that students are given the best possible advice.

School, Family and The Community

As a basic principle, Willow International Academy, actively encourages effective communication between school and parents. “We endeavour to involve parents fully in the education of their children and see this partnership as an essential aspect of our care for every individual.

Opportunities for effective communication and participation exist in a wide variety of forms. On a collective level there is a regular flow of information to parents and students via newsletters, calendars of events and handbooks. From time to time the reactions, opinions and requirements of parents are canvassed via discussions, questionnaires or surveys. The school planner also acts as an effective communication tool between students/teachers/parents.

Families are provided with regular written reports (Autumn Summer) on individual student progress and along with parent-teacher consultation evenings.

The Headteacher, Deputy Headteacher and teaching staff are also available, by appointment, to discuss pressing matters that cannot await the next consultation evening. Further contact between parents and staff also occurs at such pleasant annual events as the Performing arts evening, leaver Ceremonies & Prom and the May fair/open days.

Religion

Currently, students of many nationalities are attending Willow International Academy, and a variety of religious faiths and denominations are represented. The school is proud of this diversity. Christian values, ethical and moral, guide human relationships and our teaching includes Christian Faith from an ecumenical point of view. Religion is encompassed as part of our Spiritual Moral Social and Cultural (SMSC) provision. However, in line with U.K. National Curriculum standards, students belonging to other faiths are free not to attend lessons or celebrations of a Christian nature if their parents so request.

Pastoral Care

Teaching and non-teaching staff will offer the best guidance to pupils as they grow and develop in the school.

For younger pupils the class teacher and learning assistant are the initial points of contact for help and advice, either through their class teaching or on an individual basis. Our dedicated pastoral and wellbeing leader ensures all pupil’s needs are planned for and met through the curriculum and assembly programme.

In the Secondary school, a designated teacher will be responsible for the academic and social welfare of his/her tutor group. This may be via the Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) programme, year group assembly, or more informal contacts during the daily tutor period, which starts each school day. Visiting speakers also add a further dimension to our provision of “pastoral care”. Senior members of staff in the Secondary school are responsible for both the PSHE programme and the wider aspects of pastoral care. Staff training ensures that students are given the best possible advice.

School, Family and The Community

As a basic principle, Willow International Academy, actively encourages effective communication between school and parents. “We endeavour to involve parents fully in the education of their children and see this partnership as an essential aspect of our care for every individual.

Opportunities for effective communication and participation exist in a wide variety of forms. On a collective level there is a regular flow of information to parents and students via newsletters, calendars of events and handbooks. From time to time the reactions, opinions and requirements of parents are canvassed via discussions, questionnaires or surveys. The school planner also acts as an effective communication tool between students/teachers/parents.

Families are provided with regular written reports (Autumn Summer) on individual student progress and along with parent-teacher consultation evenings.

The Headteacher, Deputy Headteacher and teaching staff are also available, by appointment, to discuss pressing matters that cannot await the next consultation evening. Further contact between parents and staff also occurs at such pleasant annual events as the Performing arts evening, leaver Ceremonies & Prom and the May fair/open days.

Religion

Currently, students of many nationalities are attending Willow International Academy, and a variety of religious faiths and denominations are represented. The school is proud of this diversity. Christian values, ethical and moral, guide human relationships and our teaching includes Christian Faith from an ecumenical point of view. Religion is encompassed as part of our Spiritual Moral Social and Cultural (SMSC) provision. However, in line with U.K. National Curriculum standards, students belonging to other faiths are free not to attend lessons or celebrations of a Christian nature if their parents so request.