Frequently Asked Questions
What is the main language used at Aljezur International?
Lessons are taught in English, although most tutors are proficient in Portuguese. Each year we have new students whose native language is not English and we encourage students of all nationalities to join us. We are proud to say that we have taught children from five continents over the years! All students take part in Portuguese language lessons every day as well as studying Portuguese culture and arts.
What if my child is not fluent in English?
We encourage students who are not fluent in English to integrate immediately with their class group. This builds their confidence and allows tutors a chance to assess their level of ability. Tuition can then be geared to increasing their grasp of English without damaging their inspiration and capability to learn. We find that when an individual is immersed in an environment where a foreign language is used, their level of comprehension increases rapidly. We can offer additional English lessons if students, parents and tutors feel it necessary.
Can my child go to Aljezur International from the Portuguese system?
Yes. We frequently enroll students of many nationalities who have been attending Portuguese primary school and also have students who come to us from the secondary stages of their education. After completing their IGCSEs with us, some of these students return to the Portuguese system for the 11th and 12th years and are then able, if they wish, to enter university or college either here or abroad.
Which subjects are compulsory?
All students study Maths, English, English Literature, Portuguese language, Portuguese Culture & Arts, Physics, Biology, Geography, History, Computer Studies, Business Studies, Music, Drama and Art until the end of Year 9 at which time they are required to make certain choices of subjects they will continue to IGCSE level. Other subjects are offered to this level such as German, Spanish, Chemistry, Global Perspectives and Travel & Tourism. When students are in Year 11, depending on their mock exam results which happen five months before the Cambridge exams, tutors, students and parents decide which subjects will be continued to the final IGCSEs. Generally, students enter between 7 and 10 IGCSE subjects but this is flexible and depends on the individual student’s needs. Some students enter certain IGCSE exams younger than usual if the tutor feels they are ready. Younger students have recently been introduced to craft and cookery lessons, as well as gardening and livestock care.
What are IGCSEs?
The International General Certificate of Secondary Education is an international qualification for school students. IGCSE was developed by the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) in 1988 and is currently offered as a qualification by CIE and is typically taken by 15 – 16 year olds, and prepares students for further academic work including progression to AS level, A level and International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. IGCSEs are recognised by academic institutions and employers around the world.
IGCSEs provide a broad study programme and include a variety of subject areas: languages, humanities, social sciences, mathematics, as well as creative, technical and vocational courses are covered. With a choice of Core and Extended papers in most subjects, IGCSE is suitable for students of different ability levels. The IGCSE allows teaching to be placed in a localised context, making it relevant in different regions. It is intended to be suitable for students whose first language may not be English, and this is acknowledged throughout the examination process.
In 2013/14 Cambridge IGCSE papers in more than 60 subjects were taken by students in over 120 countries worldwide. For more information on Cambridge and the IGCSE see www.cie.org.uk
Do you only teach to IGCSE level?
Our core group of students study with us until this level. We can also arrange private tutorial support for students studying for AS and A level qualifications.
What happens if my child is not an academic achiever?
Tutors at Aljezur International believe in a “Stage not Age” principle of teaching to ability. We consider it our role as educators to bring out the unique qualities in each individual. Although we aim for students to leave our care at 16 with as many high grade IGCSEs as possible, we don’t simply train them for these exams. In small groups, we establish close individual contact with students, building their confidence and trust and, working alongside parents, we are able to assess the individual strengths of each child and adapt our teaching and targets accordingly.
One advantage of small groups is flexibility. If a child is finding the level of learning too easy and it is obvious that they are not working to their best ability, they can study in the next level group. Likewise if a child is experiencing difficulties due to a lack of foundation knowledge in particular subjects, he or she can join a group with similar abilities. This flexibility is one of our core principles and allows us to provide each child with an individualised learning programme. As every child is unique, we recommend you discuss their potential with our tutors; we rely on regular contact with the parents of each child who attends Aljezur International School.
Are students expected to do homework?
Yes. We believe that at this stage of a child’s education homework is a vital part of his or her learning experience, as it reinforces what has been taught or discussed in class. We expect students to spend a maximum of one hour a day doing homework. Tutors do not give homework which has to be completed for the next day and so your child can organise themselves to do their homework in advance. We rarely experience cases of failure to do homework but, if we do, our policy is that the student stays behind after school and completes the homework under the supervision of a tutor. Obviously there are times when, for some reason, homework can’t be done or is genuinely forgotten, and situations like this are dealt with at the tutor’s discretion. All students are given homework diaries which are checked regularly in class and signed by tutors and parents.
Do you write report cards for students?
Yes, you will receive three report cards every year. At the end of every term, students sit tests in each subject and the results of these tests, as well as grades for effort and achievement, are included in their report card. Tutors also write a synopsis of each child’s progress which will be discussed in more detail with parents at meetings.
What are the school rules?
If you ask any of our students “What is the school rule at Aljezur International?” they will tell you “respect”. With that rule there is little need for many others and certainly it is not necessary to have a formal, numbered list. Students behave within given guidelines of required and respectful behaviour, both in and out of school, and we rarely have disciplinary issues.
Who covers lessons if a teacher is absent?
Full-time tutors are in school even when they have a break in their timetable so they are always available to cover for each other. A log is kept of lesson plans so students continue with the topic they are learning, meaning that on the rare occasions a tutor is absent, there is no break in continuity.
Do we need to buy books?
For most subjects, books and other resources are supplied by Aljezur International and include internet access and laptops for research in the classroom. We have recently introduced a scheme by which parents buy books from us for certain subjects and, when students have finished with the books, we buy them back.
Do you use computers in lessons?
We encourage students to use computers for research and presentation purposes and recently installed a new computer suite.
What sports do students take part in?
We provide a diverse experience of Physical Education. In the past students have followed an holistic theme and learned basic yoga and martial art movements. Students have also been introduced to Tai Chi and Capoeira. For weekly sports lessons we usually use the municipal sports centre in Aljezur and the adjoining swimming pool. with students alternating between team games, gymnastics and swimming. Our sports instructors implement a complete individual fitness programme with students’ fitness levels being monitored closely and progress being recorded. Last year students were also instructed in various water sports at the beach as well as being put through their paces in cross country running round our land.
Does Aljezur International have a school uniform?
No, we do not have a policy of compulsory school uniforms. We do, however, expect our students to be dressed in a practical and respectable manner while attending classes and when representing Aljezur International School on field trips.
Do you provide any after school care?
At the moment we don’t provide after school care. As we are such a small learning community, we don’t have a demand for it. However, we are always open to discussing the possibility should the need arise.
We recently introduced an after-school Thursday Club Day where students have the opportunity to take part in either drama, music or self-defence. On that day the coach leaves school at 5.30pm rather than the usual 4.15pm.
When can parents see tutors?
We maintain an open door policy for parents and welcome them to sit in on lessons at any time. As we don’t wish for classes to be interrupted unnecessarily, we require that parents contact tutors beforehand if they wish to speak to them for any reason during the school day.
Are our children insured while they are under your supervision?
Yes, your children are fully insured. The policy covers them while at the Aljezur premises and whilst on all school excursions. Payment for this insurance is included in the fees and full details of the cover can be provided on request.
How often do students go on school trips?
We believe that field trips are not only educational but also offer a bonding experience, and so form an extremely important part of a child’s education. Currently we go on at least two school trips per term. For details of recent and forthcoming trips, see the Trips and Projects page of our web site.
What kinds of projects do students at Aljezur International take part in?
We like to combine different subjects through project work, to demonstrate to students how all areas of life are interconnected. During their first three years with us, children study the Oxfam Global Citizenship programme, an ongoing project which aims to increase awareness of the world we live in and to give students a sense of where they belong in an increasingly global society.
We have set up regular communication between our students and children at the charity-funded Alwan Kindergarten in Syria. We regularly take part in sponsored events to raise money for the school.
As part of a Business Studies project, students set up their own business which made and sold products at markets and fairs.
What plans does Aljezur International have for the future?
Below is a brief synopsis of Aljezur International School’s development plan:
- To maintain our atmosphere of willing cooperation and high academic achievement
- To introduce work experience and community service for older students as part of their life long learning programme
- To allow students a greater voice by establishing a monthly student-teacher consultation meeting
- To make available the services of a professional counsellor for teenagers and career advice
- To increase the use of computers in every day lessons and reduce student paperwork by 25% over the next 2 years
- To offer more facilities for further education through the means of tutorial support and “virtual classrooms”
- To increase contact and integration with the local Portuguese community through a variety of projects