Interview with Natasha Needham from SJSJ International School La Sella
After having recently posted an update on the new amazing location of the SJSJ International School in La Sella, we are now talking to head teacher Natasha Needham to find out more about the learning
After having recently posted an update on the new amazing location of the SJSJ International School in La Sella, we are now talking to head teacher Natasha Needham to find out more about the learning system of the school.
Natasha, can you tell us more on your background and since when are you with the SJSJ International School La Sella team.
I studied in England where I graduated in 2006. I joined the school in September, 2014. Having worked for one year as a class teacher, I was offered the opportunity to become the head teacher. I also trained extensively at the Steve Jobs School in Amsterdam in order to prepare me for the role. Here, in Spain, we are incorporating the British and personalised learning system into a new, hybrid approach, which allows a certain freedom for the children while maintaining a clear learning framework.
You say on the school’s website that “Each child has their own individual learning plan, which caters to their speciﬁc learning needs.” Can you give us more details on this special learning plan.
We believe that every child has individual needs and his/her own way to progress. We recognise children’s strengths and talents and place emphasis on that feeling of achievement. In areas where children struggle, we spend more time and use different methods that suit how the child learns best. Our approach focuses on learning from a fun, yet, relevant point of view. Whereas some children are strong visual learners, others learn better in a practical environment, for example. We want to allow children to cultivate a love for learning and become independent. In order for the children to be interested in learning, we want them to acknowledge and reflect upon their progress. Through this process, children can improve their skills significantly.
How do you adapt this learning plan for individual needs? Do you have an example?
We had, for instance, a girl from Lithuania. When she joined the school, she was not capable to speak in English or Spanish. Her English started to develop a fluency within three months, and her use of Spanish began to grow. Every child has a personal iPad, so the children are able to communicate easily by drawing, or even translating into various languages. In this way, they can interact in a symbiotic manner in order to enjoy all the activities of the group. Therefore, language barriers are easily surpassed.
We tend to work with a small group in each class. We include like-minded children in the group. The groups, though, are not closed: there is constant potential for change in the sense that individual children can join a different group, according to their development with the appropriate skill level. In doing so, the children have new experiences with different teachers, whilst learning to adapt, socialise and enjoy the diverse mix of the school.
Which are the activities that children like the most?
Although this is a difficult question in itself to answer, I can safely say that they enjoy a large variety of activities. Using relevant applications on the iPad, playing and creating socially inclusive games at playtimes and exploring the world around us through our scientific and topical studies are just a few examples. The iPads enhance their opportunities to connect with a world of knowledge and communication for the ever expanding future ahead.
The teachers love this approach and find teaching in this way very rewarding. On a daily basic they see children making good progress and growing in confidence in their capabilities. Parents also notice the difference that the small class sizes and personalised learning makes. Above all, the children are very happy at our school.
If you are interested in our approach, please contact the SJSJ International School La Sella for more information or arrange a trial day for your child.
For more information, visit: https://www.stevejobsschooljavea.es/