In 2020, Newton College, one of our International Schools Partnership (ISP) schools in Spain, set itself a challenge – could it reach the highest standard of learning improvement we have for our schools?
Just three years later, under the leadership of a new headteacher, Alan Taylor, the school has fully embraced ISP’s Learning.First. approach and has achieved the highly impressive ‘Mastering’ status in our continuous learning framework.
The school has recently had that status validated by an independent, international evaluation team, Best Practice Network (BPN), becoming the first of our schools anywhere in the world to do so.
Dr Maggie Wright, Regional Managing Director, Iberia at ISP congratulated Newton College and Headteacher Alan Taylor: ‘I am delighted to congratulate the exemplary work of Newton College and Alan Taylor who, by adopting ISP’s Learning.First. approach, has demonstrated a deep commitment to prioritising the holistic development and growth of every student in his care.
‘His visionary leadership has been instrumental in guiding Newton College on this remarkable journey. Newton College has become the first among our 71 ISP schools worldwide to have this amazing achievement externally validated which reflects the exceptional efforts of our talented educators and showcases the extraordinary potential that lies within each and every one of our students and teachers.’
‘Newton College has emerged as a global leader in education, setting a new standard of excellence that will continue to inspire and influence educational practices worldwide.’
Let’s take a closer look at how Newton College achieved its success.
ISP’S LEARNING METHODOLOGY
At ISP, we put learners and their learning first. Everyone is a learner with the power to take ownership of their learning and support the learning of others.
We give our schools a framework and the tools to reflect on their practices and be confident on the areas for action that will improve both student and professional learning. We call this framework the Learning Improvement Process (LIP).
It consists of nine criteria which research shows have the greatest impact on student learning. Schools collect evidence against these areas to identify and drive whole school targets and actions. This contributes towards the continuous improvement of our students and schools and helps us be the School of Choice, wherever we are in the world.
HOW DID NEWTON COLLEGE USE THE FRAMEWORK TO IMPROVE?
The external evaluation team, Best Practice Network (BPN), highlighted in their report that ‘Newton College uses ISP’s unique approach of gathering evidence in “real time” to help their students achieve the very best academic outcomes.
BPN noted that ‘The school’s success comes from strategic, specific improvement planning around the systems and evidence required to achieve “Mastering” in each of the nine criteria of the LIP.’
They also commented that ‘their staff, students and parents know what the school means by learning, can identify what type of learner the school is trying to develop, and they work in partnership to understand how to help all students get better.’
WHY DOES THE SCHOOL’S APPROACH STAND OUT?
One of the most impressive things about the school’s approach is how it has engaged with key stakeholders.
‘They set realistic, smart, and achievable targets, which they share with all stakeholders’ said BPN.
Teachers and leaders – teachers and leaders are involved in contributing evidence against the review criteria. BPN noted that this was ‘unprecedented and serves as the gold standard for all other ISP schools.’ In their view, this ‘has resulted in a strong team of reflective teachers and leaders committed to improvement’.
Parents – Newton College was noted for being ‘highly successful in engaging with parents, who are regularly invited to participate in the learning visits to classrooms, and support in interpreting learning data to better support their children’s needs.’ This approach means ‘parents understand the school’s aim in creating independent and confident learners and are able to work in partnership with the school to achieve this.’
Students – BPN noted ‘students (from early years to Grade 12) can describe their learning and know how they are getting better’.
This means that everyone in the school community is working towards the same goal using the same language of learning to continuously get better.
Fiona Lee-Allan, Director of Learning for Iberia at ISP reflected on the whole school community being involved: ‘As a region we could not be prouder of what Newton College has achieved in such a short period of time. Their commitment in keeping a sharp focus on self-evaluation and improvement has been a whole school initiative that the wider community has also embraced. The school is at an exciting stage in their journey and to be recognised as a Mastering school is testament to the whole school community’.
WHAT ELSE WAS HIGHLIGHTED?
BPN highlighted a few areas where Newton College excels and has made the most of being part of the ISP community:
Academics – Newton College has achieved above-average points in the IB Diploma results for the past three years, and is ranked as one of the highest scoring schools for Spain’s University Entrance exams, EvAU.
Extra-curricular activities – ‘Students and parents applaud the range of ILOS (International Learning Opportunities for Students) and the ongoing commitment to ensure students can engage in experiences, where they can practise life skills and connect with other ISP students across the world.’
Professional development – ‘Middle Leaders at Newton College have embraced ISP’s Middle Leadership for Learning programme (MLLP), which has empowered them professionally and resulted in their own action research, enhancing and improving learning and teaching across the school.’
Alan Taylor, Headteacher, Newton College was delighted with the school’s success, and said their work was not finished yet: ‘Our simple but relentless focus upon learning has brought us to this exciting milestone in our development. Our aim has always been to engage our teachers, learners and families. From our initial steps to understand what good struggle looks like to evaluating our impact with evidence.
‘I am delighted on their behalf that this work has been acknowledged through the Mastering School status. Now our work really begins as we consolidate our improvements and extend our philosophy of getting better together into other areas of school life.’
The evaluating team outlined that: ‘Newton College is an ISP Learning beacon school; it is a place where the learner and their learning is the focal point of everything they do… The approach taken by Newton College can be held as a roadmap for all ISP schools in their pursuit of “Mastering” in the nine criteria of the LIP.’
Please join us as we congratulate Newton College on their success. With a number of ISP schools set to have their self-evaluations externally validated soon, we are looking forward to celebrating the next school to have its ‘Mastering’ status confirmed by independent partners.
By Emily Porter, Group Chief Education and Innovation Officer, ISP
The International Schools Partnership is a leading global educational private group with 70+ schools across 19 countries and growing. Founded 10 years ago by an experienced team of committed educationalists, we deliver multiple curricula to an international community of over 61,000 students. We put learners and learning first.
Read more from Newton College’s Headteacher, Alan Taylor, in this ISC Research piece on ‘embracing the right kind of struggle’.