One of the things that many families look for when choosing a school for their children is an innovative curriculum that prepares students for the challenges of the world around them. In addition, there are other requirements such as the school’s ownership or languages. Services such as kitchen and after-school activities are also important: according to an affinity test carried out by MiCole, 70% of families are looking for a school with its own kitchen and 60% are interested in after-school activities.


It is important to take a good look at the school and its educational provision, as well as considering the quality of its curriculum. Jon Locke, Executive Principal of The British School of Barcelona, says: ‘I think we understand that our model for education needs to constantly change and evolve. What we did 10 years ago is not necessarily still the best approach given the constantly changing world our students will encounter. Educational research and pedagogical practice is always being questioned and developed, so I think it’s vital that we are looking at the research and constantly evolving what we do’.


In order to guarantee that the educational provision offered by centres is what they claim it to be, there are measures such as inspections by independent bodies or official accreditations. This is the case of the BSO (British Schools Overseas) inspection, carried out by the Department for Education, which assesses the level of excellence of international schools overseas. In 2021, The British School of Barcelona was rated as Outstanding in every category, describing it as a centre that ‘provides a high quality British education which focuses on the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils, with excellent facilities and clear vision and leadership’.


What should we look for when choosing a school?

The educational provision is not the only factor and there are many other criteria to take into account when choosing a school for our children. With this in mind, and to help families evaluate what each centre has to offer, the Executive Principal of The British School of Barcelona (BSB) proposes five key aspects that determine a school’s excellence:


  • Taking learners’ preferences into account: one of the features that make education excellent is flexibility and adaptability. The key to keeping students motivated and enjoying their learning is to take into account the preferences of students of all ages. ‘At BSB we focus on giving students more say in their curriculum, determining what subjects they study. This begins in Primary, where we take a transdisciplinary project approach. This continues with students refining their GCSE options, so 40% of their curriculum is made up from subjects they have opted for. In Pre-University, our students have a choice between IB and A Levels’, explains Mr Locke.


  • Teaching skills that go beyond school: education should prepare students not only for school, but also for life after school. Therefore, it is important to integrate learning habits into the curriculum that enable students to acquire a wider range of skills, such as ‘Curiosity, Resilience, the ability to Socialise, Concentrate or Critical Thinking’, says BSB’s Principal.


  • Committing to its students’ mental health: the learning journey is long and involves both physical and emotional changes. Specialist staff, individual support plans and a close relationship between tutors, students and families are key to ensuring that young people of all ages are cared for. Jon Locke explains: ‘We have seen a significant increase in students needing further mental health support since the pandemic. We have therefore provided specific training for our pastoral staff so they are equipped to manage this increased need. We have also run some parent webinars to help support parents as they tackle issues for the first time. It is definitely a joined up approach’. In this regard, The British School of Barcelona is one of the only two school in Spain to hold the international Wellbeing Award for Schools accreditation, which demonstrates the highest standards in protecting the emotional wellbeing of the whole school community.


  • Constantly evolving: in today’s ever-changing world, new trends and needs emerge that must be incorporated into education plans in order to adapt education to the future that awaits young students. From integrating technology as an educational resource in the classroom and planning a digital strategy, to incorporating new disciplines or teaching skills such as public speaking and leadership, education must also consider these types of demands for their professional future.


  • Students’ results are excellent: although results are not the only thing that families should look at, it is a factor that cannot be ignored. After all, a school that can guarantee access to excellent higher education offers a passport to a bright professional future. As Mr Locke explains: ‘At BSB, we aim to make learning so much more than a set of grades or numbers, but, at the same time, we acknowledge that we have a duty to our students and their parents to ensure they get the very highest exam grades they can. We achieve this through a combination of setting high expectations, giving students more say in their curriculum, our focus on the skills and habits they will need to thrive after BSB, and the best possible personal, social and academic support for every one of our students. This helps ensure students are ready to take up places at great universities all round the world’.