Portugal has over 50 international schools across its seven major cities. Among them, International Sharing School (ISS), located in Lisbon, is the only international school in Portugal that takes students from 4 months old all the way up to 18 years old. Miguel Ladeira Santos, CEO of ISS, says, “We start with classes of 8 students with one teacher and one teaching assistant and go up to a class of 20 students. Besides an academic team of over 120 teachers, we also have a team focused on Pastoral Care and Special Education Needs to help students who need special emotional or cognitive support.”
ISS is a family-owned and managed institution whose history started 17 years ago with an acquisition of a British school by a former university professor and his wife. The institution’s management was passed onto the couple’s children, who manage ISS and are focused on developing a truly international-minded curriculum and new pedagogical frameworks. As an accredited International Baccalaureate Continuum World School, ISS students follow an academically challenging, rewarding, flexible, and student-led curriculum.
“We focus on developing intercultural understanding and mutual respect. Besides the valuable academic preparation, the IB curriculum allows us to go above and beyond in promoting the soft skills needed to face an increasingly globalized world,” states Mr. Santos. Students who graduate from ISS are equipped with a qualification recognized and highly valued by the best universities around the world, as well as the personal and social skills to be leaders. Mr. Santos adds, “Our motto is Learning Through Sharing, which really says a lot about us and how we work.”
A notch above its peers
ISS has developed new ways of working and learning through a unique pedagogical framework, which vastly differs from any international school. Mr. Santos states, “We have a team of visionaries dedicated to providing a unique and unforgettable educational experience for the learning community: students, parents, and teachers.” The school’s facilities have been redesigned to create a learning environment that motivates the students to have fun while learning and keeps the community engaged in all activities, ensuring that all academic targets are hit throughout the 3 IB programs.
The IB curriculum delivery has been developed bearing in mind the 3 core values of the school: Multiculture, Care, and Hospitality. Mr. Santos shares, “We believe in learning through sharing, growing together, creating together, and succeeding together. We share our values, knowledge, feelings, cultures, experiences, and time.”
Involving parents to effectively nurture young children’s
ISS parents are encouraged to participate in the student’s day-to-day life. The school leadership communicates weekly with parents updating them on the work done throughout the week, as do the tutors from each group. Mr. Santos says, “We believe active and effective communication solves 80% of the community’s concerns. We also have a PTG (Parents & Teachers Group), who are active members of our community who wishes to be more involved with the day-to-day of the school.”
The PTG helps diffuse information using the appropriate channels and ensures that new parents are properly welcome and acquainted with the school’s routines and procedures. It also provides significant help in the setup and organization of school events. Something that really sets ISS apart from other international schools is the openness to welcome parents into their facilities at any time and day and the availability of the Academic Leadership Team and Board of Administration to meet with any parents who wish to do so, always taking their feedback in consideration and defining and presenting strategies to improve where and if needed.
Maximizing the accessibility and effectiveness of education
The facilities at ISS are unique, as they are part of the tools used to efficiently deliver academic programs. The school’s working and learning spaces have been redesigned by Rosan Bosch to match the vision and values of the institution. The school’s motto of learning through sharing is clearly visible in the design concept for enhanced collaboration, human development, and motivation. The shared spaces of the school connect the learning environment and invite the learners to meet, co-create and communicate. Breakout spaces support hands-on learning, while the concentration zones enable focused individual work. Shapes, tactility, and colors spread across the institute help activate the senses and imagination, making the school one big playground for differentiated learning.
Mr. Santos states, “The sharing spirit of the school forces the community to work in shared spaces, creating hubs for individual working, the group working, lounging and relaxed working areas, formal lecture-style learning areas, and many small focus pods spread out around the school.” ISS believes embracing the different preferences on working styles of each student enhances the quality of the work they develop, and giving students a comfortable and exciting working environment improves their overall happiness and well-being. ISS students and staff are characterized as happy and motivated members of a learning community, and their facilities play a prominent role. More than having a student-based curriculum, ISS has a student-based school organically designed for its students and teachers.
Support to students and teachers
Miguel says, “last year was the first year ISS had an IB Diploma Program Graduating class. Our students outperformed the average IB schools around the World, scoring above average. Most importantly, with the help and support of our team, we achieve a perfect 100% passing rate in our DP Graduating Class.” ISS has an in-house Careers Counsellor who guides the students through their career choices, university selection, and applications. All their students who wished to proceed to higher education did so successfully.
ISS teachers are IB-trained teachers with an average of 9 years of teaching experience with the IB curriculum. Despite this, ISS provides endless professional development opportunities for all teaching staff. Miguel says, “the leadership team is always excited to collect feedback from teachers and teaching assistants. They are encouraged and empowered to be proactive in developing opportunities to grow within the school, challenging team members to take on new roles and responsibilities.” There are plenty of leadership opportunities at ISS, and they always prioritize investing in their team members for these roles rather than looking abroad or outsourcing.
Encouraging innovation and creativity in students
ISS has developed their enhanced learning categories that derivate from each one of its core values, and one of them is creation and experimentation. This allows students to use their creativity in hands-on experiences for problem-solving, developing crucial skills in effective leadership, time and resource management, and mind mapping. “Students starting from 5 years-old have coding and robotics as part of the curriculum connected to math, starting from our Lego Academy for the younger age groups and going all the way to Game Design and Development for the older students,” Miguel adds.
Awards and Accolades
ISS is an accredited IB Continuum World School and is also certified to deliver the IGCSEs and A-Levels by Pearson Edexcel. ISS is a Polygon Education Certified Center that trains teachers from other international schools to deliver the Singapore Maths Curriculum. ISS is also a LEGO Academy and accredited to teach the Rock School programs in their Performing Arts Academy. They were also selected as one of the 10 Must Watch International Schools in Europe in 2022 by K12 Digest and as Learning Community of the Year by the Prestige Awards.
ISS has had many happy and proud moments to look back to, such as students winning mathematics competitions with academic elite international schools, students receiving awards from the United Nations, winning Basketball and Volleyball tournaments, performing their musical creations to large crowds, and exhibiting their artworks in professional art gallery settings. Mr. Santos says, “Achieving accreditation from the IB for all 3 programs in such a short period of time is a happy achievement, which shows the quality of the work they produce at ISS.”
ISS students have been participating in the Model United Nations conferences, actively defending their principles. They are also very proud to have achieved a perfect 100% passing rate for their IB DP Graduating Students.
Preparing students for the future
The pandemic accelerated the revolution ISS was already creating in developing innovative academic programs, differentiated learning, and working spaces. Mr. Santos shares, “Curriculums and working environments have been adapted to provide more flexibility in the student’s learning process. The educational experience we provide also follows a holistic approach that incorporates a substantial focus on one of our core values – Care – developing a personalised approach to both struggling students and high acheivers.” For the ISS community, care means caring for themselves, for others, and for the planet.
ISS’s plan for the future is to continue growing the community, increasing resources to further develop its programs, and SHARE their experiences, knowledge, and best practices with all the learning communities around the world, whether they follow local or international curriculums. “We believe in Sharing for a brighter future and as lifelong learners, always learning through sharing,” Miguel concludes.
For More Info: https://sharingschool.org/
Miguel Ladeira Santos, CEO, International Sharing Schools
Miguel Ladeira Santos is the CEO of the International Sharing Schools group; he is an enthusiastic young leader and an entrepreneur, with a passion for innovative working solutions and follows a high-end customer service culture. With a background in Luxury Hospitality Management and Corporate Finance, Miguel has been running the International Sharing School in Oeiras since the beginning of the project. He is the driver of innovation within the organization. The young entrepreneur is also involved in real-estate projects, also working in the private equity sector. Miguel also invests in and manages other ventures in the fields of sports, luxury lifestyle media, and hospitality.