St Peter's School
St. Peter's is the only school in Barcelona to offer the IB continuum from 3-18 years of age with English as the main language of teaching and learning.
- St Peter's School
Carrer d'Eduard Toldrà, 18
- T +34 93 204 36 12
- E [email protected]
- W www.stpeters.es
- Lower School Ages: 1-9
- Lower School Sexes: Co-ed
- Middle School Ages: 10-14
- Middle School Sexes: Co-ed
- Senior School Ages: 15-18
- Senior School Sexes: Co-ed
- Total School Numbers: 634 boys and girls
- Teaching Language: English/Spanish/Catalan
- SEN: SEN considered case by case
- Boarding: Not available
- Uniform: Yes
- School Year: September - June: 3 terms
- School Hours: Nursery: 8:30 - 16:00h Foundation 3 to Year 5: 9:00 - 16:30h Year 6 to Year 8: 8:15 - 16:00h Year 9 to Year 12: 8:00 - 16:00h
- Fee Currency: EURO
- Fee Details: Foundation: 10.100€ - 12.700€; Primary: 19.400€; Secondary: 20.300€
- Fee Extras: First enrolment fee, Deposit fee, Bus service, Language support, Uniform, Trips
- Religion: Non-denominational
- Memberships: BSS, CICAE, EPIC.
- State/Independent: Independent: privately owned (individual/corporation)
- Adapted or School-Developed Curriculum
- International Baccalaureate (Diploma)
- International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP)
- International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP)
- None (school may be licensed, or may be "inspected" by its own owner, but it is not independently accredited or inspected by recognised agency or organisation)
No school can pay to be in
The Good Schools Guide International. Period.
What The Good Schools Guide International says
Since 1992 and 2003 respectively, Josep Maria Ginjaume Culell, BEng (in charge of finances) and Jordi Ginjaume Culell BEng MBA (in command of operations). These brothers are the sons of the founders of St Peter’s, who were considered visionaries when they opened the school in 1963. It was the first bilingual school in Barcelona, classes were mixed, and they offered a lunch service.
They make a formidable team and continue in the visionary style of their parents. Neither has a background in education or is directly involved in teaching. Instead, they bring their capacity as engineers to understand what the future will look like and align this with their teaching vision for the school – one of conceptual learning and understanding rather than rote learning and memorisation.
Together, the brothers have given the school an identity and a purpose. Academics are important but not more so than critical thinking and 'real' content that will be relevant to the future world. Having recently completed the Executive Programme at Singularity University in California, they have introduced a new approach that focuses on science and technology and incorporates the exponential changes occurring in our society. ‘At St Peter’s we have put together a smart curriculum (within an IB framework) that indicates an abrupt and radical change from classical teaching models.’ St Peter's School believes that a new paradigm is required in education, and this goal is shared by the board of directors.
Parents agree the school offers a progressive forward-thinking approach, though we heard a few whispers that ‘they don’t always walk the talk’ eg lessons about sustainability and zero waste in stark contrast to luxurious school trips and sometimes wasteful use of school resources. Some parents also say they feel that the brothers take too much of a 'behind the scenes' role, allowing the teachers to be the face of the school. However, parents of younger students feel Jordi is more visible - present in school assemblies and school exhibitions so it seems that things are changing.
But just because Josep Maria and Jordi don’t know the names of all the students in the school, it doesn’t mean they are any less concerned about their education. Their passion for wanting to equip the next generation for the future is addictive and their shared vision for the school is such that they almost finish each other’s sentences. The serious themes are punctuated with a hint of playfulness in Josep Maria’s choice of quirky orange framed glasses. He certainly stands out in a crowd!
New candidates accepted all year round. All students and families are interviewed and an adequate level of English, Spanish and Catalan (course-dependent) is required (and tested if deemed necessary).
Incoming IB Diploma students must present the homologation of their previous studies, equivalent to 4ESO (Educación Secundaria Obligatoria - completion of the first four years of secondary education in Spain).
In 2023: 67 per cent of students stayed in Spain, 10 per cent headed to the US, 10 per cent to each of the UK and Europe and three per cent to other international destinations.
A university and careers advisory team offers useful information sessions, workshops and coaching, with uni representatives also invited in. Individual guidance, however, deemed slightly lacking, with students left to find their own path (though school helpful with the actual university applications once decisions are made). So those looking at alternative pathways to university may need outside help.
Successful IB Diploma students can apply for Spanish university entrance without taking the Selectividad (the Spanish university admissions test). But students applying to some courses (maths, physics, economics and medicine especially) may wish to raise their converted IB score by taking two additional 'specific exams' - up to two additional points per exam - earning a maximum score of 14 on the Selectividad. St Peter’s helps prepare students for these exams (las Pruebas de Competencia Específica) beginning in January of grade 12 (final year).
2023 IB results: average result was 33 (slightly down from 35 in 2022 and the same as 2019, the last comparable year before Covid). 64 per cent of students received a bilingual diploma.
Teaching and learning
St Peter's aims to develop critical and open-minded thinkers who leave prepared to live, study and work in an international environment. Most parents feel the school achieves this well: ‘Multiculturalism, the ability to relate to others, the importance of critical thinking and public speaking are all aspects that students learn from the earliest years of school.’
Toddlers accepted from as young as 12 months (unusual as most international schools in Barcelona take children from age 3), learning to share, take turns and play together while immersed in an English-speaking environment. Parents like the continuation from preschool to school without children having to adapt to a new environment.
In primary and middle years (max 20 children in a class), inquiry-based learning and a focus on communication and curiosity sets the school apart. Academics are important but it’s skills such as resilience, communication, and confidence in the face of challenges that will help students navigate their future.
Teaching the children emotional intelligence has been key particularly since Covid and the head of foundation years was picked out by parents for extra credit in this area - working on emotional resilience with students and building confidence.
Language acquisition is gradually introduced. Spanish (four hours per week) and Catalan (one hour per week) from year 1 onwards, French (two hours per week) from year 5. Communication skills are also taught through activities such as internal public speaking competitions for students as young as seven and Model United Nations for older students.
Teachers use a child’s natural curiosity to bring their attention to the learning. Instead of presenting a new topic or theme with a PowerPoint, a teacher will enter the classroom with a bag of objects linked to the unit of inquiry and chosen to stimulate curiosity. A science lab for the very youngest students (for ages 1-5 and named LAB-05) was a popular addition to the school facilities in September 2021 and reiterates the ethos that it’s never too early to stimulate curiosity. 'The objective is to spark a love for science and encourage a spirit of research from early ages,' says school.
Parents feel that subjects such as artificial intelligence and robotics are helping to prepare their children for the future, although some say that this desire for innovation sometimes creates a few gaps in the delivery of humanities.
Teachers always on-hand to provide more challenging work and support if needed. Changes (in a good way) have been noticeable, following the implementation of the IB continuum with school engaging teachers with intellectual curiosity; competent teachers who are open to change and confident outside of their comfort zone.
Teachers seen as providing sound (and honest) advice on what subjects they think individual students will be best suited to - invaluable when making subject choices for the diploma programme. Year 11 students also have trial classes with their upcoming IB teachers which goes down well.
IBDP students participate in an industry placement week. Students placed according to interests and future career options to gain experience and to learn to make choices. In general students spoke highly of their experience.
Teaching staff come from over a dozen different countries, with a low turnover each year. Continually striving for enrichment, the school welcomes a diverse group of teacher candidates and uni students (through an in-house University Programme) from countries including Denmark, Germany, Ireland, and the United States. ‘Receiving students from universities worldwide enriches and broadens our understanding of where our education project has to be driven,’ says the school.
Students from year 2 upwards are expected to own a laptop.
Learning support and SEN
Students with ADHD are given extra time in exams. School is very supportive when children are diagnosed - not only with the students, but with the whole family. Teachers went out of their way to support families during Covid.
There is a full time in-house therapist, but not one who is a native English speaker. School appreciates that families may also want to work with an external therapist, particularly if there is a language barrier, and they are open to this combined approach.
Coping strategies are proposed for children who are struggling with class dynamics and social interaction eg receiving the following week's materials online to mentally prepare their child ahead of activities that week.
Students without a high level of Spanish or English receive special tuition (at extra cost) in smaller groups, which prepare them to access normal classes.
Catalan is compulsory from year 1 to year 10: a support programme for those who are non-native is offered for free. From year 1 to year 4, there is one hour of Catalan a week; years 5 and 6, two hours a week; years 7 to 10, three hours a week. There is no Catalan in the diploma years.
The school offers international families language classes in their mother tongue - one more sign of the collaborative approach here.
The arts and extracurricular
The (very popular) After-school Hub offers activities across these areas: Language Hub (including Chinese and Spanish as a second language), Thinkers Hub (eg chess, robotics and YouTube creators) and Creative Hub (music, arts and book club).
A fun and varied section, but some parents say it can prove too much for younger children at the end of a long school day and they would prefer more sports and arts within the actual curriculum time. The school day is long in Spain and while many international families don’t want to make it longer, especially for young children, it is an accepted part of Spanish culture.
Sports Hub forms part of the After-school Hub, with the likes of judo, self defence and trail running sitting alongside the staples of football, basketball and volleyball.
Ethos and heritage
Located in the exclusive Pedralbes neighbourhood of Barcelona, just off the ring road Ronda de Dalt (important to know when navigating morning rush hour traffic), the school is in a narrow street with no formal drop-off or pick-up zone.
The school makes the best of this tricky situation by having two separate entrances for different age groups and staggered start and finish times. Extended care offered for those with children on different start times.
At drop off, two people are always on standby to help children safely out of cars and through the school gates. From middle school, students may only leave school alone with pre-authorisation from parents, younger children must be accompanied, and ID is necessary if that person is not a parent. Parents say that school is very strict on this point.
On entering the school, everyone is friendly and welcoming. It’s hard not to feel ‘part of the family’ here and parents tell us that the warm environment and supportive staff (especially the full time nurse) are highly valued.
Uniform is considered good quality by parents, with the fund-raising non-uniform days popular among students.
The wide variety of food in the school canteen (including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options) keep most students happy, as do the fresh fruit and sandwiches each morning. One teenage girl said she never felt hungry. Students in grades 11 and 12 allowed out for lunch.
Particular emphasis is paid to collaborative research and innovation projects (not only internships for students) within the field of language acquisitions, which makes sense for a trilingual school in a bilingual region.
Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline
Good attention paid to mental health and wellbeing, with all children and families having the opportunity to request individual psychological attention, in person or online. During Covid, the school introduced ‘psychological reflection’ in audio format (in English and in Spanish) recorded by the school psychologist for students and parents. Focusing on different themes and evolutionary stages to cover the breadth of student ages and providing a sense of solidarity and emotional support.
Parents say communication with staff is very open and teachers are quick to nip issues in the bud eg friendship problems or slumps in grades.
School is clear about the challenge of choosing content and methodologies to prepare students for their next stages in life, though some parents do say that a more holistic approach to lifestyle could be incorporated in the students’ daily lives eg understanding the importance of exercise and nutrition.
Pupils and Parents
A balanced mix of local and international students (45 and 55 per cent respectively), with over 50 nationalities represented. But no revolving doors here, with the majority of these international students coming from long-standing families, here for the duration. Spanish families are drawn by the IB pathway. This makes it a super school for those looking for the combination of international environment and integration in the local community. Spanish and Catalan are spoken in the patio (aka playground).
Efforts are underway to forge a stronger parent community, especially for those just joining the school, with events, coffee mornings, workshops, short talks etc. Recent talks include maths in primary years, innovation at St Peter’s and safety on the internet.
Parents also invited in to give classroom talks. Reading and sharing cultures for the younger children, sharing career tips with older ones. Alumni also invited back to share their experiences.
Social events, such as wine tasting and the start-of-year class pica pica (tapas), are met with a mixed response - some more popular than others but no one could accuse the school of lacking effort.
It is clear that the school sees its relationship with families as a partnership. The secure online learning portal allows parental access to daily learning experiences, developmental observations and individual learning assessments. Parents of younger students say the school gives clear and concise explanations of plans for the school and offers parent meetings to explain how individual projects help in student's development and how parents can be supportive without interfering.
Parents are thanked for helping out and parental opinions both sought-out and appreciated. The school does its best to adapt to any issues raised and make necessary changes. Parents feel heard. One commented, ‘An aspect that I have always appreciated about St Peter's is that it is a small school, with few pupils. This allows us to have a direct relationship with the teachers and with the staff who are always available.’
There is consensus that St Peter's is not as international as some of the larger international schools in Barcelona and that Spanish/English-speaking families will naturally find it quicker to integrate into both student and parent communities.
Tuition fees comparable to similar calibre schools and significantly less than the two big American schools in Barcelona. Parents feel it’s good value for money - that breakfast, lunch, books and photocopies are all included certainly helps.
The Maria Rosa Culell Scholarships for Excellence (named after the general managers’ mother) is a grant merit-based support for incoming IB students with excellent academic and non-academic achievements, ‘avoiding limited resources being an obstacle to completing these two school years.’
The last word
A relatively small school with an innovative and international outlook. As the only school in Barcelona to offer the IB International continuum at all stages, St Peter's embraces the IB's structure while simultaneously offering a twist on the content: ‘learning for a disruptive future’. Students leave with an intellectual curiosity and a strong sense of community.
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