The Olive Tree School (near Sitges) teaches the British curriculum to 3-16 year olds. From 14-16 years old the Cambridge GCSE examinations are followed. The school is British Council accredited. All staff are UK trained and highly experienced. The Olive Tree School is a warm, caring school, well-known in the area for its dynamic vision of education, high expectations, very high proportion of native English speakers (70%) and small classes. It is situated in beautiful grassy gardens and has a modern laboratory and large art studio. The Saplings nursery has its own gardens and vegetable plot. Ratio of 1 teacher: 7 children. Very small classes of 12 in lower primary and 16 in upper primary and secondary ensure high quality learning. After-school clubs include drama, tennis, chess, photography & film-making, taekwondo, art and football.
Modistes 8, 08810 Sant Pere de Ribes
Tel: 93 188 6215
“My boys have been here for 6 years now and have blossomed- intellectually and socially. Lessons are stimulating and really draw them in. The welfare has been excellent, all teachers have taken great care of them. There is a unique flavour to the school, courteous and calm with a commitment for all children to succeed. Free lunchtime clubs are great! This is a very special school, a happy place where the children don t want to leave at 4 o’clock! I highly recommend it all the way to 16.” (SP, Nov 2015)
Audrey Reeder is the founder and head teacher of The Olive Tree School situated just 5 minutes from Sitges (Barcelona). The school delivers the UK National Curriculum to students aged between 3 and 16 years old who come from 26 different nationalities. Here she tells MumAbroad about the school’s unique vision.
Why did you found The Olive Tree School in 2010 and what is its vision today?
I founded The Olive Tree to offer a high-quality British education, both academically challeging and creative. I also felt strongly that a school must be built on a warm, caring ethos - care for every child and a true commitment for them all to grow, all children without exception. In practice, this means truly supporting and stimulating each child, in small classes of 16 maximum, and working with teachers who are passionate about inspiring and guiding young people.
What is the philosophy of the school?
We believe a love of learning is the right of every child: we light this spark by making the learning relevant, active and exciting. We believe pupils need a high degree of initiative and resourcefulness to meet the demands of a fast-changing world: our creative curriculum is based on problem-solving, thinking skills and communication. We also believe respect and altruism are the key to creating a happy community: we foster this by ensuring that every interaction between pupils and staff is founded on deep respect. Finally, we believe parents need ongoing dialogue about their child’s welfare and progress: we offer open and supportive dialogue with families.
What curriculum does the school follow? What language are pupils taught in?
We follow the English National Curriculum from Early Years (3 years old) to Year 9 (14 years old). Our examination courses (14 -16 years old) are the British government IGCSE. The students are taught in English for all subjects, apart from Spanish and Catalan lessons. Spanish is taught from 3 years old and all the way up the school. We teach the British curriculum but are free to adapt it to the needs of our pupils. We choose to bring the curriculum to life with active, pupil-centred learning.
Which official bodies recognize and licence The OliveTree School?
We are regularly inspected by NABSS, the National Association of British Schools in Spain. We are fully licenced until 2018. We are also recognized by the Generalitat de Catalunya, the local government. All our staff are British government-trained.
How is The Olive Tree different from other international schools in the area?
1. Our maximum number of pupils in a class is 16.
2. About 80% of our pupils are fluent in English on admission.
3. We have a dynamic methodology, where the child is taught the skills to be an independent learner from a young age, researching, weighing up evidence, solving problems and presenting confidently.
4. Our pupils are often said to display high levels of initiative and responsibility.
5. Welfare at primary and mentoring at secondary are excellent at our school. Pupils have high levels of trust in adults and dialogue is open and supportive.
6. We provide opportunities for pupils to develop as global and local citizens, working closely with charities, the Model United Nations, TED Talks, etc.
What facilities do you have at your current premises?
We house our 3-16 year-olds in a beautiful airy building with 2 grassy gardens, a sports pitch and a tree-lined adventure playground. We have a Science laboratory, an Art studio, a large gym and theatre, a music room, a computer room and a homely library. We have the lovely Saplings, a child-centred setting with private grassy garden for our 3-5 year olds. Every classroom is bright and colourful and has large, open views.
We are 5 minutes from Sitges, Sant Pere de Ribes and Vilanova; 30 minutes from Barcelona.
What is your parent community like?
Our parent body is multi-cultural, dynamic, outward-looking, welcoming and highly supportive of our work. Also very loyal.
To what do you attribute the clear success of the school?
It is a very loved school. Its success has been largely due to the fact that it is run democratically by an team of excellent teachers. We are also a very reflective staff: we constantly look for ways to improve our practice and the educational life of our pupils. We also choose to invest heavily in staffing, so that we may keep classes very small. We are not motivated by profit but by excellence in education - families respect the fact that every decision is taken with the child in mind.
What is your vision going forward?
Small is beautiful in education. We have intentionally controlled our growth in order to preserve our intimate, family-feel school, where cross-age friendships abound and where every adult is trusted and known to every pupil. We have seen that small classes mean greater achievement and excellent pastoral care – and we are now seeing that this recipe works for all pupils, from nursery to the end of secondary. The proof is that our 16 year-olds do not want to leave The Olive Tree!
Can you describe The Olive Tree School in three words?
Inspiring, courageous and nurturing.