M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction, University of Scranton (Scranton, PA, USA), Specialization Human Resources Mgt., Universidad de Los Andes (Bogotá, Colombia), B.S. Communication Studies, Northwestern University (Evanston, IL, USA)
Cambridge Coordinator, St. George’s School
Starting with a little history, over 150 years ago, the University of Cambridge, seeking to raise educational standards by providing exams to students outside of the University itself, created the ‘Local Examinations Syndicate’. By designing and giving exams to a broader population, the University began to establish itself as what is now one of the largest international assessment agencies recognized by governments around the world.
What began in 1858 with 370 students taking exams in England, is now an international programme with more than 8 million students in 160 countries sitting exams. In fact, there has always been a global view; exams were made available internationally as early as 1864. The Cambridge curriculums, programmes and examinations that we are adopting in Colombia have a long and successful history around the world.
In 1998, the Local Examinations Syndicate created a new structure, changing their name and establishing three exam boards or groups. The first group is Cambridge Assessment International Education (previously Cambridge International Examinations), which is the world’s largest provider of international education programmes and qualifications for 5- to 19-year-old students. Next, Cambridge Assessment English provides the world’s leading range of exams and certificates for demonstrating levels of English (as a second language). And, finally, the OCR (Oxford, Cambridge and RSA), is a leading exam board (UK only).
Worldwide, more than 10,000 schools are part of the Cambridge Assessment International Education learning community. In Colombia, as of 2017, there are more than 35 Cambridge Schools which have participated in rigorous approval and certification processes and continue to meet demanding criteria to be able to offer the Cambridge International programme.
In Bogotá, St. George’s School (SGS) (www.sgs.edu.co) was founded as a bilingual school in 1958 and has always prepared students to reach high academic standards in languages, maths, sciences, arts, music and the humanities. One key component of the English programme, for more than 25 years, included the use of Cambridge English Language second-language examinations to evaluate students’ level of English. Then, in 2012, to extend the international curriculum, SGS became a Cambridge International School, and has been integrating the curriculum ever since.
Cambridge International has five elements that are at the core of providing excellent, international education to students around the world: international curriculum, teaching and learning, assessment, international recognition and global community.
International curriculum means pursuing deep subject knowledge and conceptual understanding, along with a multilingual education. At SGS, students learn and develop knowledge in academic subjects starting with age-appropriate learning objectives that build (like a spiral) allowing them – and teachers – to revisit concepts and ideas, at always new, higher and deeper levels. SGS has always taught English and French to support a focus on communication competencies in which students learn to read, write and give oral presentations in all of their languages. Spanish as a first language, English is a second language that is positioned as an international academic language, and French is taught as a foreign language. Students start with English in Prekinder, and French in Grade 3.
Teaching and learning refers to the methodologies used by teachers – and by students – to promote the most successful learning experiences and results possible. Cambridge International incorporates methodologies including active learning, collaborative learning and metacognition around five learner attributes: confident in working with information and ideas – their own and those of others; responsible for themselves, responsive to and respectful of others; reflective as learners, developing their ability to learn; innovative and equipped for new and future challenges and engaged intellectually and socially, ready to make a difference. SGS seeks to incorporate these attributes into learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom.
Assessment includes formal examinations – which may be designed in the school or come from Cambridge – at the end of a term or academic year, as well as formative evaluations which are ongoing assessments providing students with feedback on a regular basis.
To guarantee international recognition of the programmes and examinations, Cambridge International coordinates with universities to achieve a mutual understanding of how the Cambridge exams contribute to university admissions and course credits. And in Colombia, the Cambridge schools work together with the British Council Colombia so that local universities can validate the value of students’ experiences and exam certifications.
And Cambridge International promotes and supports a global learning community. Teachers and students have opportunities to connect through digital platforms, online courses and discussion forums, as well as meet in national and international training meetings or conferences. For example, more than 30 SGS teachers have participated in online training or have completed specialized training workshops. Several have attended – or even presented at – the Annual Cambridge Schools Colombia Conferences. There are many opportunities to share best practices and learn from experiences in other schools, and other countries.
For St. George’s School, Cambridge Assessment International Education has become an integral extension of our longstanding tradition and excellence of providing international, multilingual education to our students, and inspiring them to be curious, independent thinkers who are ready to engage positively with the rapidly changing world around them.
UCLES (2017). Our history. Retrieved from http://www.cambridgeinternational.org/about-us/who-we-are/our-history/
Cambridge Assessment International Education (2017). An international education from Cambridge. Retrieved from http://www.cambridgeinternational.org/images/417448-overview-brochure.pdf