After a long struggle and many complications, Alice Van den Eine re-opened the doors to the British School last September and with a new address, just outside Lagoa, it is proving to be a big success. The Algarve Resident visited the school on the last day of term, before the pupils broke up for Christmas, and spoke to Alice and her Headmistress, Anne Laverick, about the school’s bright future here in the Algarve.
With 40 students aged between three and 11 years old and 10 fully qualified, experienced teachers, the children certainly receive a lot of care and attention. But there are already several other well-established international schools in the Algarve and we wanted to know what Alice believed was special about hers.
“We have a very low student teacher ration,” explained Alice, “meaning that our pupils often receive one-to-one attention. What’s more, we adhere completely to the British National Curriculum.” She went on to explain that this decision was based on the kudos that the British Curriculum receives across Europe. “It is recognised everywhere as being the most inclusive for European students,” she commented, “and we have a multinational student population, so it is imperative that what we teach encompasses their needs, and is relevant to them all as individuals.” The students are encouraged to learn other languages and they receive five hours a week of Portuguese language lessons.
After teaching in the UK for many years, Headmistress Anne Laverick wanted a change, so came to teach in the Algarve. When we asked her how she finds life at the British School, she laughingly retorted, “challenging” and “different”.
Anne went on to reveal that, in her 17 years of teaching, she had never had such a rewarding, pleasurable job. “It’s relaxed here and the children are very happy and always learning,” she commented. “We have struck the perfect balance between learning and fun”. Looking around the classes, it’s easy to see that Anne is right – the school has a very friendly, cheerful and relaxed atmosphere, the children seem to get along with one another and, evidently, work very hard.
The main school building is a converted farm, which sits in the middle of 32 hectares of land, so there is a lot of room for the school to expand – something Alice and her staff fully intend to make happen. Alice revealed that she is confident that, by September, the gates will be open to students up to the age of 16. “The team is very excited about the coming year and we have high hopes for the British School’s future,” Alice told us, before gathering all pupils for their final assembly of 2003. “I am very happy with what we’ve achieved.”