Duncan Giles. | Mallorca international School


Q.—Welcome back to Majorca! What have you been doing since leaving your last position?

A. — “I never really left, but at last did find time to explore this beautiful island and discover some of the many delights it has to offer. Professionally, I have been busy too, continuing in my role as Executive Head at Kensington School, Barcelona as well as completing the NPQH (National Professional Qualification for Headship). It has been a healthy mix of work and play!”

Q.— Why Mallorca International School?

A. — Mallorca International School is unique in that it is under sole ownership and also the only school on the north side of the island. I was excited to discover a different part of Mallorca I knew less well and also to join a school during the early stages of its development. The opportunity to shape and build its future vision and success alongside the General Manager, Antoni Segui appealed greatly.

Q.— What is the vision for the school?

A. — “It is a fairly simple and logical one; To create a balance between the emotional and well-being needs of our students whilst embedding the academic rigour to ensure effective teaching and learning is in place at all levels. This is a small school with a unique family environment and we see that as our truly greatest asset. Hand in hand with this outstanding outcomes for all students should follow.”

Q.— How will you ensure that academic standards are high?

A. — “School Leadership needs to be clear as to expectations, both for students and colleagues. We wish to set ambitious standards for all pupils, instilling a strong sense of accountability and work ethic. The school needs to secure and retain excellent teaching staff who have a deep understanding of how pupils learn as well as the main features of successful classroom practice.”

Mallorca international School Duncan Giles

Q.— ‘Understanding how pupils learn’ Could you explain this further?

A. — “We are fortunate to have Tricia Taylor within the school. She is preparing to launch her ‘Memory and Mindset Programme’ to students. We want them to be better metacognitive thinkers and independent learners as well as to understand how memory works and the most effective strategies to achieve this. It is an ambitious project but one that we feel will deliver great results. Ms Taylor is a published author on the subject, ‘Connecting the Dots’ and lectures on the subject in schools around the world.”

Q.— How has your experience in Barcelona helped you?

A. — “Kensington School, Barcelona holds an enviable reputation for academic excellence that is richly deserved and I feel privileged to be a part of its success. We have already begun collaborating with them in the Spanish and Science departments as well as across whole school areas such as accreditation. We will continue to explore further opportunities to develop this working relationship for the benefit of both school communities. For understandable reasons, the conference held by the National Association of British Schools in Spain (NABSS) will not take place this Spring, but in future years this conference will provide an excellent opportunity to further cement our ties.”

Q.— This is still your first month in the post, what has surprised you most since your arrival?

A. — “First and foremost, the strong sense of camaraderie amongst the staff who work extremely well together, always putting the needs of the child first. Secondly, the students are unfailingly polite and engaging, with a thirst for knowledge and a desire to learn. This was immediately apparent in my many handover sessions last year and has been confirmed day-in, day-out as I share the building with them. Finally, the sense of ambition this school has is inspiring. There is a quiet determination and a strong desire to be the best it can be with an openness to progress and change for the betterment of its students and staff. It is a really motivating work environment and I believe that does rub off on the pupils.”

Q.— Any stand-out moments?

A. — “Well, the first day is always special. The sense of anticipation and excitement at meeting students for the first time. However, for now it has to be the Year 10 students completing their mock exams which were taken in the Crestatx Church across the road from the school. There was a real sense of occasion; the Guardia Civil halting traffic so we could cross safely, the inspirational and peaceful setting. I don’t think I have ever sat or invigilated an exam in more beautiful surroundings. The determination of our students really stood out and the buzz around the school as they prepared was very rewarding. I am fortunate to teach the Year 10 Business Studies class so I know how much it all meant to them and I wish all our Year 10 students every success”

Mallorca international School grounds

Q.— What are the plans for the school?

A. — “Mallorca International School is in a period of growth: In September 2021 we will welcome the Year 11 intake and with it, our first GCSE examinations. That year group is already at capacity as are a number of other year groups within the school. Nevertheless, we are preparing to accommodate additional students with an exciting expansion programme. Further to the new classrooms built last year, this summer will see the completion of the Art and Music Studios. The following year a new classroom block and library will be built. This is a school which lives in the present but continually looks to the future with purpose and confidence.

Q.— A final message for the readers of the Majorca Daily Bulletin?

A. — “Buy the paper! In this ever changing world, I worry as to the longevity of the printed press. There are a great many financial constraints on publishers and a real need to drive revenues that makes sales so important. I love reading a real local newspaper, the pleasure from turning a page for the first time over a coffee in a local cafe. I would be heartbroken if these small pleasures were lost.”