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International School São Lourenço serious about education

The International School São Lourenço (ISSL) in Almancil, although a private fee-paying school, is a non-
profit organisation run since 2006 by a Board of Governors composed of parents elected by the Parent
Teacher Association (PTA). It is little wonder, then, that this school is serious about education.
Under this leadership and with the appointment in 2007 of head teacher Terry McGuire, the school has
introduced a number of important initiatives: progress evaluation for both pupils and staff; investment in the
latest teaching aid technology; increased Portuguese culture and language in the curriculum; a broader and
stronger commitment to A-level teaching and much improved communication with the parents.
Terry Maguire says, “Providing the highest quality education for their children is one of the greatest
responsibilities that families have. The school that children attend will have a massive impact upon their
future.”
While the original school buildings, soon to be abandoned for a new facility, are not what make the school
stand out, children from the ages of 3 to 18 attending ISSL have always enjoyed an exceptional education.
The school operates with the internationally recognised and demanding Cambridge IGCSE programme of
study. This programme offers a broad choice of curriculum and has a reputation for developing successful
students: so much so, that many top schools in Britain have replaced the standard GCSE in favour of it.
A-level success
At ISSL, high expectations drive staff and students to work hard for educational excellence all the way from
the youngest classes through the 6th Form A-levels. The school is always prepared to respond to changing
needs and thus teachers have been brought in for new A-levels in Business, ICT and Biology. The reward of
this attitude is that 9 out of 10 ISSL graduates applying for university are accepted into their preferred choice
of institution.
Individual assessment helps develop learning success
This achievement is due in part to the special additional programmes adopted by the school. Performances of
children are boosted by on-going assessment and target setting procedures which both monitor and
encourage accomplishment. The tools employed include Cognitive Achievement Tests (CAT) for the
children.
CAT allows teachers to be more effective, enabling them to track the progress of their pupils and to identify
the strengths and weaknesses of each individual. The children enjoy the challenge and reward of meeting
their targets; meanwhile parents are kept informed and updated for a better on-going view of their children's
progress. Special Needs and Learning Support for individual pupils are now addressed and reinforced by
new staff qualified in this area.
Self improvement program for teachers
Teachers are also evaluated in a process through which attainment in their own professional development is
encouraged. Their system brings in outside audits for an objective appraisal of progress against targets.

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