By NATASHA SMITH
At first glance, The International School of the Algarve (TISotA) in Porches seems like any other school in the Algarve, but things are not as they appear. The Resident interviewed sixth form pupils, studying for their A-levels, to discover what sets this school apart from others in the Algarve.
TISotA was founded in 1972 on nine hectares of land, and boasts space for pupils to roam free around the grounds when they are not in lessons. The school caters for both national and international sections and teaches Portuguese and English curriculums, with some teachers operating in both sections. Timetables between the two are integrated, as are sporting events and school trips, which have helped to reduced preconceptions that the school is a divided one. TISotA headmaster, John Butterworth, praises the Portuguese education system as having improved dramatically over the last 10 years.
Mr Butterworth moved to the Algarve 16 years ago after teaching for 18 years in an all-boys school in London. He has seen many changes over the years at TISotA, but one that has really put a smile on his face is the fact that students now have the opportunity to remain in the Algarve school to sit English A-level examinations.
The sixth formers all commented on how supported and encouraged they were by the school community. Students are commended, at the end of each school year, for achieving good grades and giving 100 per cent effort in all their subjects.
They believe that this year has seen a vast improvement in students’ work, as this year they do not receive punishment for not doing homework. They realise that if they do not work, they will not achieve good results in their A-levels so they are aware that they have to be self-motivated. They prefer it this way because they feel they can make their own decisions and feel as though they are treated as responsible adults. They are also encouraged to give back to the school by lending a hand to different departments and classes.
They all agree that the welcoming and relaxed manner of the teachers reduces stress, and the Portuguese culture allows them to cope with the pressure of school life. Classes are small, so individual attention is available.
The school has a special education needs department and a psychologist, as well as a careers advisor. There are spacious facilities for different sporting activities, young children can enjoy their own space in the two self-contained kindergarden units and the older pupils can utilise the 40 classrooms, gymnasium/assembly hall, four art rooms, two music rooms, three science laboratories and computer rooms as well as a design technology workshop throughout their day.
This year, the teachers were delighted with the students’ examination results and hope that they will continue to excel next year.
TISotA can be reached by e-mail on [email protected] or by calling 282 342 547.