In the search for educational and recreational options for children during the summer, the BSB Summer School stands out for offering a wide variety of learning and fun experiences that contribute to the integral growth of children. Pedro Sala, Coordinator of the BSB Summer School, explains what the summer programmes at the British School of Barcelona consist of, which will take place in Castelldefels and Sitges between 25th June and 26th July 2024.

What are the philosophy and objectives of the BSB Summer School?

The BSB Summer School is a fantastic opportunity for students (whether from BSB or other schools) to continue learning English and acquire new skills in an international environment. Our philosophy focuses on the application of the methodology we use at BSB in a more relaxed and playful summer environment. At BSB, we implement a learning model focused on the development of soft skills in all our curricular and extracurricular activities, including the Summer School. Our aim is for students to develop these skills while also having a great time with our programme.

What makes the BSB Summer School different?

One of the elements that sets us apart is that BSB’s own staff are the ones who organise the Summer School in English during those weeks. Coordinators, teachers, support staff, administration and kitchen staff all participate in the Summer School. The teaching staff are the ones who teach daily classes at the school (Science, English, PE, Art, etc.), develop the school’s methodology, know the facilities, and apply the same protocols that they would apply on a school day. This gives them an added value that perhaps other day-care centres cannot offer. On the other hand, we have first-class facilities connected to other sports clubs, which helps us to offer quality sports activities with the supervision of our staff and in a very flexible way, allowing a very varied and dynamic programme.

Do you offer more than one Summer School programme, depending on the theme or age of the participants?

Yes, we offer three different programmes: Summer Play (three to five years), Summer Activity (six to twelve years) and Summer Language in English or Spanish (twelve to sixteen years). The latter is only available at BSB Castelldefels. In Summer Play, younger children will enjoy a variety of activities in small groups with our English-speaking teachers. They will improve their English skills by playing games, singing songs, making crafts, acting, playing sports, and much more. In Summer Activity, students will take part in different activities based in a real context, which will allow them to improve their English language skills and vocabulary. These include sports, arts and crafts, music, dance, among other fun and dynamic activities. Summer Language is an intensive language programme (English or Spanish) in the mornings, complemented by other activities in the afternoons.

Across all campuses and programmes, how many students usually participate each year?

Usually, more than five hundred students participate between all campuses in total. Last year we had a record eight hundred students in total. We had four hundred and seventy students in Castelldefels and two hundred and sixty in Sitges, in addition to the seventy in the language programme. All of this was spread over the five weeks, and we kept reduced groups (between twelve and fifteen students per group).

What are the main activities offered during the Summer School?

The main activities are taught in English by specialists in art, drama, music, science, modern dance, sports activities (especially swimming) and activities offered by our external specialist, IGNITE, which this year will include robotics, coding, and artificial intelligence workshops. On the other hand, we also have special guests each week who offer amazing magic shows and workshops, impossible juggling, mad scientist experiments, etc.

At which BSB campus does the Summer School take place? Do activities take place at other off-campus facilities?

The Summer School is held at the BSB Castelldefels and BSB Sitges school facilities as well as at the adjacent sports clubs (GranVia Mar in Castelldefels and Club Natació Sitges in Sitges). In the Summer Activity programme, students also take a weekly trip to the Olympic Canal in Castelldefels (BSB Castelldefels) and to the Sitges Surf Club (BSB Sitges) to participate in kayaking, big sup, water park or surfing activities in a privileged environment.

How are staff selected to work at the Summer School?

The staff working at the Summer School are BSB staff and are selected depending on the demand and the programme of activities we want to include in the weeks. Exceptionally, external specialists and support staff are hired to complement the activities we can offer. In all of them, we look for knowledge of the subject, proactive attitude, native level of English and ability to adapt activities according to the group and age group. Finally, it is an essential requirement to know the school and child safeguarding policies. A profile that fits very well as support staff are the BSB Alumni, who have been part of BSB and know perfectly the school’s methodology, facilities, staff and policies. Seeing how generations that have passed through BSB reinforce the methodology to the younger generations is something that also strengthens the school’s ecosystem.

Beyond academic and recreational activities, how do you promote children’s integral development during the Summer School?

We focus on nine Learning Habits that relate to four key areas: emotional engagement (attention and determination), critical and independent thinking (curiosity, imagination and thinking), strategic learning (organisation and reflection) and collaborative teamwork (socialising and leadership). We believe that applying this BSB methodology can provide the basis for success in school in the future and in life and prepare students to take on the challenges that lie ahead in today’s world. This applies not only to the activities in the programme, but also to the interaction with peers and teachers, the Healthy Habits we encourage on a daily basis and other aspects, such as mealtime manners.

What is the feedback on the experience that participants have had in the past?

Last year, 50% of students extended their participation in the programme by at least one week because they were delighted with the Summer School.

Another indicator by which we evaluate the satisfaction of students and families is that they repeat the experience every year. We see this frequently because they tell us that, year after year, the experience is different for their children depending on the educational stage they are in and the variety of activities we offer.

Are there plans to expand or improve the Summer School programme in the future? What are the long-term goals or visions for the programme?

One of the aspects to be expanded are the excursions or trips that we want to organise during the Summer School.

We have very ambitious plans for the future, such as organising our own summer sports camps (in English). We have already run this during the half-term holidays this year and it worked very well, but we would like to organise a more extensive programme for the summer holidays in the future.