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Michael O’Sullivan, Chief Executive of Cambridge International Examinations, visited Argentina at the beginning of September, where he spoke at the ESSARP Conference, a forum designed for teachers and heads interested in bilingual education and networking with fellow educators. The theme of this year’s conference was “Crossing Thresholds”.
Michael’s speech, “Encouraging, recognising and rewarding real learning”, focused on how the Cambridge curriculum equips students in Argentina and around the world with the skills and knowledge they need for success in school, university and life. “When we design our curricula we do not start with exams,” he said. “We start by identifying clearly what is to be learnt, in order that students can develop both core knowledge and skills of thinking and application together.”
We have 325 schools in Latin America, of which 212 are in Argentina. Michael visited some of these with regional colleagues Richard Gilby (Regional Director, Latin America) and Lucila Márquez (Senior Schools Development Manager, Latin America). One of these was our southernmost Cambridge school, CIERG (Colegio Integral de Educación Río Grande).
Michael said of CIERG: “This is a kindergarten to grade 12 low-fee foundation school serving 1000 students in a city about the same size as Cambridge, located on the Argentinian part of the island of Tierra del Fuego. To get there we travelled by car three hours over the still snow-covered mountains from the world's most southerly city, Ushuaia.
“The school has a strong community feel – the whole school and its sports facilities are completely and comfortably enclosed within a converted shopping mall, which provides necessary protection against the winds blowing in from the Atlantic and Antarctic.
“CIERG is pioneering bilingual education in Tierra del Fuego. English-speaking Argentinian teachers work closely with their Spanish-curriculum colleagues, and the children are already exemplars of the Cambridge learner attributes! Even the primary children are keen to speak English and unafraid of doing so in front of their classmates.
“It brings a warm glow to us at Cambridge to know that, on another island at the other end of the world, outstanding teachers are working to give students a passion for learning, and the chance to achieve their full potential. We are proud to be able to contribute to the work of CIERG, an outstanding school and a wonderful community.”