The French International School of Marbella is preparing for its 2nd school year in Andalusia

The French International School of Marbella (efim) is the second French branch in the province of Málaga. This primary school partner of the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE) is organizing an open day on 14 May. The opportunity to learn more about the innovative pedagogy developed by the co-founders.

As we approach the wrought iron gate, the laughter and cries of children rise. It’s 11 o’clock. School children enjoy their break under the sun in the Piruli neighborhood of Marbella. Behind the doors, dressed in their blue sports uniforms, almost all of the children have a piece of fruit in their hands. “We want to promote healthy and accessible food,” explains Rubí Cortés, general manager of efim. It has therefore become a ritual: fruit carts and bottles of water for self-service are offered to the students at every break.

A healthy and balanced diet at your fingertips

The health and well-being of students is the first pillar of this innovative education that Rubí Cortés and Philippe De Carlos, the co-founders of efim, wanted to introduce. In this primary school (pre-primary and primary education) the meals are 100% organic. Children can enjoy international dishes prepared locally in Marbella by a chef. On the daily menu, the chef offers: corn soup, Italian chicken croquettes, pasta and a fruit salad. In the canteen, the meals during the conversations seem to be unanimous among the students: “I love what I eat every time! Titila explains. From the height of her 8 years, the young lady has no doubts: “In the canteen there are things I like, such as potatoes, meatballs and yogurt. But what I prefer is that we have a surprise dessert every Thursday! » A ritual set up by the educational team to break the routine of flavors and bring pleasure to the children’s everyday life. So stay discreet: this young CE2 student will soon have the pleasure of discovering a raspberry mousse and a rice pudding during her next secret desserts. “We’re vegans,” confides Sandrine Gasnier, 8-year-old Kyle’s mother. “When I saw that this school offered a choice of menus without animal products, I was very pleasantly surprised! “Before we move on: ‘I have five kids, so I know the schools well… We’ve always lived abroad. I have worked in the French school in Singapore and I have a good knowledge of the French school system. But here it is different. The kids are really happy. My son says it’s the best school in the world! †

Student well-being central to learning

“We have been carrying out this project for 10 years,” explains Rubí Cortés, general manager of efim. “We thought about a new education model with Philippe de Carlos, efim’s director of education. †

We have thought about the ideal school

“We wanted to develop an ideal school based on the observation that the current system had flaws that could be corrected. Today we have arrived at a model in which the well-being of children is central to education. †

efim Marbella (photo ©Laure Linot 2022)

At efim, a dedicated professional is responsible for the well-being of children. called happyness coach, it intervenes throughout the year to monitor school children and train teachers. For example, various workshops on “welfare” have been set up. Every morning, before class, the students do 7 minutes with the method congratulations which borrows from different approaches such as yoga or sophrology. A way to relax, but also “to increase the psychomotor mobility of children,” explains Philippe de Carlos, efim’s director of education. After each break, the students do heart coherence exercises. baptized them airways, these breath refocus times last approximately four minutes. Then, before leaving school, the school children participate in a “moment of gratitude”: they are invited to focus together on the positive aspects of their day. So many workshops that seem to arouse the support of the students: “Here I learned to deal with conflict in a different way”, says Adam, 9 and a half years old. “We try not to type and rather talk to each other. We also have the right to calm down, and I love these moments of calm,” he adds.

A hybrid pedagogy developed based on the methods of Montessori, Gattegno, Freinet and Feuerstein

The efim offers traditional education in accordance with the French national curriculum, which combines different alternative pedagogies. Here all teachers are gradually trained in the Montessori, Freinet, Gattegno or Feuerstein methods. Séverine Dumas, teacher at efim, is delighted to be part of this educational adventure. “I have been teaching for 12 years and from the beginning of my career I have used methods from alternative pedagogy. Not all children have the same way of learning. For example, the Montessori approach is based on sensory education, while the Freinet method is based more on collaboration between students. By mixing different pedagogies, we multiply the possibilities of each schoolchild to enter education and therefore avoid abandoning children. For Philippe de Carlos, director of education at efim, the proof is there: “By combining methods, we can better meet the needs of children, who are all different. †

Efimero Marbella
efim Marbella (photo ©Laure Linot 2022)

Therefore, when teaching the efim, these 4 pedagogical approaches (Montessori, Freinet, Gattegno and Feuerstein) will be mixed to become more or less important depending on the age and level of the children.

Pedagogies should be combined to best meet the needs of children

A skilled mix that adapts to the specific needs of each: learning to read, mathematics, grammar, treatment of “dys” disorders, moral and civic education, etc. A method that seems to appeal to students: “I like everything I learn here. The problems, the math, the divisions,” says Edin, 9 and a half, all laughing. Ryan, 6, continues: “I like English, Spanish, French, playing a lot of games…” He thinks for a moment na and adds, “In addition, math is better in this school. It used to be just average,” he explains.

This hybrid pedagogy was developed by Philippe de Carlos, co-founder of efim and doctor of educational sciences, after 10 years of research and training. Rubí Cortés is pleased: “We have succeeded in developing an exclusive teaching method, a unique model, to which we add additional proposals based on feedback from the field,” explains the director general of efim. This new educational model developed by Philippe de Carlos over a long period of time wants to be duplicated. The education director of efim explains his vision: “We want to give students the skills to act in the world. Knowledge is not enough, students also need to acquire skills and know-how to learn to learn”.

Ubiquitous trilingualism in every activity

In the corridors it is the intercourse. “Hey Travis! a student asks his English teacher, before greeting with a “Hello! his French teacher. This natural transition from one language to another is the goal pursued by Marbella’s pursuit. This international school focuses on French-English-Spanish trilingualism. “We respect the specifications to approve a French branch abroad,” explains Rubí Cortés, “but we are not limited to the 19 hours of French language teaching of the national education program. We have an original system of developed co-interventions where language teachers come to help the French teacher in all subjects, making trilingualism ubiquitous.”

Every day, in addition to the traditional language lessons in the school curriculum, two native English and Spanish speakers circulate in the classrooms to offer vocabulary in their native language and to teach multilingualism where there is none. Normally not. Each activity becomes the pretext for an encounter with the language. In the canteen, for example, the staff speaks Spanish with the children. “It really is an international school,” explains Sandrine Gasnier. “When I talk to the other parents of students, we come across many nationalities: Romanians, Spaniards, French, English,” continues this mother, before concluding: “We have all lived in different places, but we all want to participate in the education of our children. There is a real family spirit that emanates from this school.”

marbella efim
efim de Marbella: A language and form course with a Montessori teacher (photo © Laure Linot 2022)

The Gattegno approach allows students to learn languages ​​in a fun way using color codes that associate sounds and their spelling.

My son learned to speak French in 4 months

This approach evokes all memories (visual, auditory and kinetic) which optimizes the assimilation. “This provides a significant cognitive economy for the students, whether they are French-speaking or not,” explains Philippe de Carlos. efim’s director of education explains: “Because this Gattegno approach is used for learning all languages, it gives the same reference points and the same mechanics to school children, regardless of the language taught. Sandrine Gasnier, Kyle’s mother, saw the staggering results of this method on her 8-year-old son: “Kyle learned to speak French in four months! He didn’t know a word of French when he got here because although I’m French, we only speak English at home. Today, Kyle speaks French with his grandparents. My mom is so happy! Before I add, ‘I’m so happy with this school, I’d like to put Logan, my 14-year-old son, there, but the college part doesn’t exist yet. †

AEFE Approval and Expansion to College and High School in 2023

“We want to maintain the continuity of education as much as possible,” says Rubí Cortés, general manager of efim. With this in mind, from the beginning of the school year in September 2022, the efim will open an additional sixth-grade class. Before expanding to the other levels of college and high school after that.

At the start of the school year in September 2022, new ‘design thinking’ activities will also be offered to students. This methodology, which stems from digital culture, promotes the trial/errr experience of students. For the director general of efim, it is clear: “At a time when artificial intelligence is increasingly used in the professional world, the individual’s place will be based not only on their computing power, but also on their emotional and narrative difference. »

After this first school year 2021-2022, the Marbella efim hopes to complete the approval process by the French Ministry of National Education.

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