How do "Houses" build community in our GBIS schools?
A "House system" is a very common feature of a school with British values and traditions, and our GBIS schools in Spain, Portugal, France and Italy, have been focused on incorporating the House system to build community spirit, to develop a sense of identity and belonging, and to celebrate achievements. Already long-established at Stonar School, South-West England, these Houses underpin our core GBIS values of Enrich, Challenge, Shape and Achieve.
Our teachers connect to share best practice and to make this a reality in their schools - from designing logos, T-shirts and even developing House mascots. Here, Kerryn Koh, Year 6 Teacher, Key Stage 2 coordinator and a Senior Leader Coruña British International School, shares how this looks at her school in Galicia, northern Spain.
Houses at CBIS
This year at CBIS we have revamped the house system to foster a greater sense of community and house identity. While we were already using the houses to award points in all the classes, we wanted to create other events that students could participate in and feel like part of a team.
House Captains had already been appointed and while previously their role was only to tally the house points, they have relished in their increased responsibility and have been fantastic at leading their house at our events.
Firstly, to help create a sense of identity within the houses, we launched a house T-shirt competition where the winning design would be printed on the back of the T-shirt for the whole house. The children were very enthusiastic about this and the winners loved seeing and wearing their designs.
On the front, the official logo was also placed for uniformity purposes. In the end, the majority of the students ordered a house T-shirt and they look amazing, especially when used during house events.
We are also in the process of developing house cheers for each house which the children will learn to help motivate their team. We hope to have a cheer-off towards the end of May to see which house shows the greatest house spirit!
The inter-House dance was a great success with all of the children participating and dressing up to play the part. The House Captains led the dances and also helped to create the instructional video for all of the classes to practise with. Teachers were very supportive and dedicated time to practise the dance a few times with their classes before the competition. In the end, everyone had a great time and the overall video was well received.
Our next event was an Inter-House Maths Olympics challenge where the teams competed in a Maths relay. Questions were tailored to each year level and the difficulty of the relay race adjusted accordingly. Younger students in KS1 competed in a range of Maths games instead where they won points for their houses.
Further Inter-House events have been programmed for the rest of the year that have been inspired by our curriculum areas to encourage students to showcase their many talents. This of course will lead to the House Cup presentation, whereby the winning house will be announced for the year based on all of their achievements.
Furthermore, as part of a school initiative, we are collaborating with various outside organisations to promote the importance of social responsibility among the students. Four areas have been identified to link with our four Houses:
- The Environment
- Proximity Aid
- Emergency Aid
- Cancer and Rare Diseases
Events have therefore also been arranged to try to incorporate the houses in raising awareness for these organisations. For example, our Readathon this month will be used to raise funds for two organisations while concurrently running a reading competition between the houses. Houses will be challenged to see who can read the most over the space of the month and prizes will be awarded.
Later in the year, we will also be collaborating with a local environmental group to help to clean beaches in our area. Children will work in House teams with the aim to see which house can make the biggest difference for our local beaches, linking in our House system with the Globeducate Agenda to address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.
In this way, and with other initiatives in planning, we hope to not only create a great sense of community within the school, but also show our students that they can make a difference.
* Kerryn Koh is Key Stage 2 Leader at Coruña British International School, Galicia, Spain