KSI Receives IB Accreditation; Students May Now Graduate With Colombian, US, and International Diplomas
Bogotá’s Knightsbridge School, a part of Knightsbridge Schools International (KSI) has recently received its International Baccalaureate (IB) designation, allowing the school to offer this internationally recognized high-school (secondary, pre-university education) diploma program for students, integrated with the school’s current curriculum that already allows students to simultaneously earn both Colombian and United States recognized high school diplomas.
Above: A KSI Bogotá primary grade classroom
KSI is a private primary and secondary school attended by both Colombian and international students that traces its heritage back to Bogotá’s La Candelaria school. Teaching 85% of its classes in English, the school leverages its international affiliations with schools elsewhere in Europe and The Americas to provide a globally oriented education, even to its primary grade students. After absorbing the operations of the longstanding La Candelaria school, Knightsbridge has now had its own Ministry of Education credentials for a year, and going forward, is accredited to offer the IB diploma.
Finance Colombia was recently provided with a tour of KSI’s campus in the far northern reaches of Bogotá, and after being shown around by two precocious and amiable students, Juanita and Fabiana, was able to learn more about the school’s offerings from its Canadian born director, Gloria Lorza.
“We are educating today’s kids for future careers that don’t even exist yet. We have kids coming in at reception that will graduate in 2026, 2027, So we have to be smart in what we are teaching kids and, more than that, in how we are teaching kids and how the brain learns best, so that is a huge responsibility,” said Lorza. “Everything we are doing here, we are actually thinking of student learning. For example, in some schools you might find that when you are going into a classroom to observe teachers, you are actually looking at the teaching. We are not looking at the teaching here, we are looking at the learning: What is happening in the classroom, how engaged students are and how they are participating in their education. That is a key skill that they need.”
Giving an example of a children’s play space, Lorza continued. “So with the playgrounds, we have to think about the brain that we are teaching. What do four year olds need to develop the motor skills, that later on, when they are in the reading and writing process, will impact them in their actual learning? So it’s key that we consider the brain. The actual brain mass is the same in all of us, but all of our minds are different and we make different connections, and through inquiry, and through being thinkers, through being knowledgeable, through being creative; it really helps kids not only to learn for content, but to actually learn for the future. I think that in education we say it, but it’s not what we have seen. And that is where we need to change and make a shift.”
The multilingual education starts from the very earliest levels, and involves all students. Unlike some traditional schools that teach “foreign language” as a discrete subject taught in a class apart, Knightsbrige seeks to prepare students to enter a global workforce without having to play catch-up.
“I think that we are not a school that is focusing on content. We realize that kids have some skills that they need to develop and that schools have to help develop those skills. One of them is for them to be very good communicators and right now, for a student entering, two languages isn’t enough. They are going to need a third language. It’s not enough with just English and Spanish. And they need to be good communicators both in writing, as well as in their oral development. They need to be able to stand firm and really explain their thinking and their learning,” says Lorza. “They need to be creative. Not everybody has to draw the flower exactly the same. The curriculum has to be something that lives so that people are creative. Companies right now want people who are creative, but not just in the drawing sort of creative, about thinking outside the box. If you have a problem, well let’s think outside the box on how we can solve it. They need to have critical and analytical thinking. They need to be going deeper and not wider. It’s not so much memorization of information that is important.”
In addition to classical academics, KSI offers a values based education, says Lorza. “What are the values that we highlight in our staff, our maintenance workers, security, our students? Our KS code: those kids that are ‘caught’ being empathetic, those kids that are caught being respectful, those who are cooperating, all these values that will make a difference. Why? Because all things being equal, and everybody graduating with algebra, reading, math and all of that being equal, someday they are going to be in front of people. They will put a psychologist in front of them and they will be valued not by what they know, because they will say: ‘Well, you have an engineering degree, so I hope you know your mathematics.’ They are not testing you for that. They assume that if you are an editor you will at least have gone through the writing process. But they will sit someone in front of you to see how you are in terms of values and ethics and what you are going to bring. And how are you a critical thinker? Are you a problem solver? Do you have character? They will look for that, and so we teach that every single month.”
The school has a modern campus consisting of several buildings including science laboratories, gymnasium, cafeteria, and administration building. There is an on-site security detail, and a contracted transport fleet of school buses. “If you look at what the major focus is, like we have got the building, we have got the mortar and the brick. The mortar and the brick are important to have, but that is not what makes an educational institution. It’s what you are actually teaching in the classrooms, and what kids are expected to learn, and the professional development. So our budget’s major focus is on professional development of our staff, because the rubber meets the road with classroom. It doesn’t even meet the road with the director,” says Lorza.
“And we have a lot of professional development, but professional development is not taking ten arrows, shooting them, and waiting to see which one hits the bull’s eye, that’s just silly. It’s actually planned very strategically. We are right now focusing on numeracy and literacy development because they need the English, they need the vocabulary in both Spanish and in English, and they need numeracy as another language. So we need that professional development, and teaching mathematics, and changing parent mindsets and student mindsets that to be a mathematician is not because my parents are good at it, or not good at it. It really just means understanding numbers.”