Schools to become much more fun

A new educational initiative is to be introduced into all schools by the 2019/2020 academic years. A number of schools already benefit from this, including St Bernard’s First and Middle, Governor’s Meadow, St Mary’s First, St Joseph’s First, Notredame, St Paul’s, Hebrew Primary, St Joseph’s Middle and St. Martin’s.

The initiative will be introduced this academic year at St Anne’s and Bishop Fitzgerald, and during the next academic year it will be introduced at Bayside, Westside and the Gibraltar College. Its introduction and implementation has engaged a leading Professional Learning Specialist, with sessions ‘tailor-made’ for teachers, senior leaders in school and the Department of Education. These sessions explore digital technologies and their use in the classroom.

Teachers will be supported as they develop students’ essential skills and attitudes, focusing on creating students who are knowledgeable, caring, balanced, reflective, resilient and creative. The Department of Education have emphasised on the need to use technology in teaching in order to develop these essential skills and ‘understand what it means to be a responsible digital citizen’. The use of mobile technologies has proven useful in providing teachers with a means to provide students with additional meaningful learning experiences and has been used during school visits to a number of locations around Gibraltar. The technology has allowed an ‘anytime, anywhere’ approach to learning and allows students to explore and learn from their environment. Digital resources used during the field trip can then be used to continue their learning back in the classroom.

As regards to this initiative, the Department of Education will be conducting a review on the curriculum delivered in its primary schools. They hope to focus on Early Years and Key Stage 1, before moving on to focus on the other Key Stages, and incorporating ideas and philosophies drawn from their visit to Finland. The review aims to provide schools with a framework that will aid teachers in educating students within a local context. The new curriculum framework will better support the learning opportunities that digital technologies can offer and will allow teachers to build on the project-based learning experiences offered in the schools. Furthering this, the review facilitates the Department of Education to formalise the Gibraltar Studies curriculum, continue to promote bilingualism from a young age and develop its computational thinking and coding curriculum.

The review will specifically look at supporting students in the development of tools and strategies, in order to ensure a solid foundation of emotional and mental well-being and so that they develop into confident and happy individuals. The curriculum will also incorporate local outdoor learning opportunities, as a result of the review. These opportunities are facilitated by the use of digital technologies as a learning tool. The aim of this is to instil learners with love and respect for the outdoors, nurture self-esteem, develop teamwork skills, provide real life opportunities to create independent learning and develop healthier bodies. The Department of Education is currently in the process of planning for the introduction of outdoor learning forest areas in those primary schools with the adequate space and will be liaising with agencies that already support the schools, to explore how they can tap into Gibraltar’s rich and diverse learning environment.

Minister for Education, John Cortes, stated ‘When I said some time ago that we were undergoing an Education Revolution in Gibraltar, I wasn’t referring just to buildings. It’s a change in the way we do things. We are responding to changing times and widening of resources available to teachers and learners, and maximising the richly active and environmentally diverse community to which we belong. Being in school in Gibraltar – whether teaching or learning – is going to become even more productive – and much more fun!’