St Margaret’s British School for Girls in Chile successfully delivers an education that is at once both international and community-focused. Founded in 1941 by a group of foreign residents, the school was established to provide a British education that would enable its girls to excel in society. It has continued to do so ever since, and only in 2005 St Margaret’s moved premises to its current modern site in Concón, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Attended by around 950 girls, aged 3–18, the school is the only Spanish-speaking member of the Queen Margaret of Scotland Girl’s Schools Association, an international group of schools present in eight different countries.
This strong international network enables the girls from the various schools to interact with one another and undertake regular cultural visits. St Margaret’s students have benefited enormously from such opportunities, and the school plays host to over 30 foreign students every year, providing them with the chance to immerse themselves in Chilean life.
Exchange students have the option of a four-week term or year-long stay at St Margaret’s, during which time they live with a local family. ‘Our visitors are treated like one of the family,’ says Rosemary Faille, International Affairs Coordinator. ‘Apart from improving their Spanish, what visiting students really enjoy is the Latin American experience.’
That experience is further enhanced by weekly field trips, which range from visiting a horse show or sightseeing in the capital to modeling clay in a pottery town.
In addition, the school encourages pupils to get involved with community projects. These can include providing for children with special needs, visiting hospital wards or teaching English.
Headmistress Carolyn Pettersen explains: ‘It is our aim that guests will broaden their global outlook, establish new friendships that last for good and learn to use their initiative and develop independence – skills that will stand them in good stead for life.’
St Margaret’s has developed a demanding academic curriculum and, as a British school, achieving a full command of English is a high priority. The school teaches the Chilean national education curriculum and also offers an International Baccalaureate (IB) programme. As well as providing a broad spectrum of subjects – Spanish, English, social studies, experimental science, mathematics and arts – the IB is based on three principles: creativity, action and service.
A lively array of arts activities and social initiatives are included in the curriculum, while a firm focus on sports ensures that St Margaret’s pupils are highly active. Each girl is encouraged to participate in a sport to help them learn about discipline, teamwork and fair play. As for service, the school’s sense of community spirit, which is of such benefit to exchange students, is key to the education it provides to all of its pupils.
‘At St Margaret’s we educate women for life,’ says Carolyn. ‘Standards are high, the school is run based on Christian values and the broad academic curriculum is balanced, with a wide choice of sporting, creative and extracurricular activities.
‘There is a strong sense of community, great emphasis is placed on pastoral care and in this friendly and supportive environment, girls flourish.’
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