THERE IS welcome news for the eastern Algarve as a new international school is to be opened in one of its most picturesque and relaxed areas. For those with children, the area has presented one significant obstacle – a lack of local education facilities. As a result, families have settled instead in central or western Algarve, so that their children can attend the established international schools in those areas.
But everything is about to change, as September 2006 brings an exciting new development to Tavira with EAST – the Eastern Algarve International School at Tavira. The school is planning to open in temporary buildings in a small rural tourism hotel, set in five hectares of the Assêca Valley, only five minutes from Tavira. The site even has a swimming pool!
EAST is the result of the hard work and persistence of Terry Payne, the school’s director, whose impressive qualifications and experience make him the ideal candidate to bring the venture to fruition. His last two academic years were spent at the St. Julian’s School in Lisbon, but having visited Tavira often over the last 20 years, his passion and understanding of the locality have driven him to fulfil a much-needed requirement.
EAST will lend the city status by enhancing its reputation both in Portugal and internationally as an important educational centre. The school will encourage migration by families to the area, boosting the economy and supporting house and land prices, where they are currently lower than those in central and western Algarve.
Terry Payne’s ambition for the school is simple: EAST aims to be the best school in Portugal. “A principal factor is that it will be staffed by first-rate people, from highly talented teachers to highly experienced support staff – and all must be fully qualified,” he says.
EAST is owned by the parents, staff and community, with a Council of Members to manage it on behalf of their association. Terry Payne continues: “We view education as a partnership between all those concerned – so the relationship between school and parents is vitally important. We will expect the full support of parents to inform us about anything that may affect the progress of students, to reinforce our work ethic and, of course, to regularly attend events such as parents’ evenings.”
The school has the full support of Tavira Câmara, so the advantages to the community are obvious – creating employment, boosting the local economy and enriching the area’s cultural and social life. Macário Correia, Tavira Câmara President, has welcomed the project and will support the school’s construction, as EAST will be a non-profit making organisation.
EAST will initially be open to students from pre-school age three to Year 11, and will operate a radical curriculum tailored to the learning needs of the 21st century.
A much-modified version of the National Curriculum of England will emphasise EAST’s international character plus its setting in Portugal. For example, a good proportion of learning will take place outside the classroom, within the community and the rich local environment. Learning will take place across age groups, and residential experience will also feature strongly. The school is also accepting students from further afield, who will board with families and travel home at weekends. Enquiries are already coming from abroad!
There will be a strong focus on languages, with many options available. As an indication of the dynamic, forward-thinking nature of the school, students will have the option to choose, among others, Mandarin, Hindi or Arabic, reflecting the growing strategic importance of these in future business and world affairs.
The arts, sports and health will all be treated with high importance. All students will receive instrumental tuition, high-quality, healthy lunches are included in the fees and regular sports offered will include beach soccer, beach volleyball, ultimate Frisbee, golf and horse riding.
Terry Payne summarises EAST’s philosophy: “Learning will relate to the real world, recognise the interconnection of knowledge across subject areas and aim to develop the full potential of every individual. The aim of EAST is to develop education for life!”
There is a meeting at the school on Saturday, May 6 at 3pm for prospective parents and students. Anyone interested can find further information on the website at www.east-pt.com or by phoning 914 721 566.