6th Felipe Segovia Symposium: Over 700 SEK educators take part in a laboratory experience to advance the new education model

The 6th Felipe Segovia Symposium has brought together over 700 educators from SEK Education Group, made up of the nine SEK International Schools in Spain, France, Ireland and Qatar and Camilo José Cela University, with the two-fold purpose of sharing, reflecting and collaboratively defining new lines of work, through this teaching ‘laboratory’ and learning experiences, and on the other hand, keeping teachers, students and families united despite the circumstances.

“I invite you to see this Symposium as a reflection in itself, to learn and collaborate with each other”, announced the President of SEK Education Group, Nieves Segovia, in her opening address of the 6th Felipe Segovia Symposium.

Organised by the Felipe Segovia Foundation, with a new digital and interactive format and a greater international projection, the 6th Felipe Segovia Symposium brought together over 1,000 virtual participants, including teachers, students and families, who followed the event to reflect on the challenges that Covid-19 has posed to learning and teaching in society. “Each school will not only have a physical experience, but also a digital one,” said Nieves Segovia. In addition, she stressed that the global challenge of education, where one of out of five children in the world is still out of school, remains a challenge, particularly during a pandemic, when this number has increased by 10 percent.

This annual event, which has been held for the first time online, has addressed as a central theme the acceleration of change processes in education wrought by the pandemic, and specifically, changes to the SEK education model. ‘Today everyone is saying this is a new era. But my father [Felipe Segovia] already said in 2004 that we were living a new Renaissance in a new era. He sought to educate a new type of person, who was capable of impacting society. This phrase is a call for all of us to think about our role in this new Renaissance’, she said in her speech.

The SEK Group President discussed the challenges, changes and transformations that affect education in today’s society. Segovia said that ‘Schools and universities are a space for hope’ in an environment full of changes that, in this fourth industrial revolution in which we are immersed, forces us to undertake ‘a life-long learning process’.

New post-covid education models

With the student at the centre of its education model, the President of SEK Group outlined the major dilemmas faced by teachers, which were already raised long before Covid-19, and which has brought about a new reflection on the application of the different dimensions of the Intelligent Classroom. These considerations began within weeks of the onset of the pandemic, when the design of the SEK Future Learning Model was tackled. During this period students have learned with technologies ‘that are also social’ according to the President, with learning pathways that may be different for each individual.

Camilo José Cela University is working along these same lines and presented its new multi-environment classroom model at the Symposium. It has designed a ‘flexible and differentiating’ teaching model applying the most innovative methodologies ‘as corresponds to the first university of the 21st century’, in which learning extends to any physical space, ‘regardless of the place and time’, according to Emilio Lora-Tamayo, Rector of UCJC.

The Symposium was an opportunity for reflection and collaboration. Teachers collaborated and co-designed practices through 23 different lines of professional inquiry, posing questions, solving problems or discussing ideas that led to micro-innovations that will subsequently be included in a playbook featuring best practices to be shared with the entire SEK and UCJC teaching community.

Presentations by Fernando Reimers and Stephen Heppell

The expert Fernando M. Reimers, Director of the Global Education Innovation Initiative and the International Education Policy Program at Harvard University, and a regular collaborator of Camilo José Cela University and SEK Schools, assessed the work done on the day by the community of teachers and students under the title Educar para un Renacimiento (Educate for a Renaissance). “It is very significant that SEK has created design laboratories for students to work on projects and guide their education towards solving problems. I believe that this Symposium will be remembered as the moment in which the SEK Group took the time to think about what we have learned and what this means for the future ”, he stated in his presentation.

The expert made reference to the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically regarding the acquisition of the knowledge and skills necessary to promote sustainable development, human rights, gender equality, peace, global citizenship and cultural diversity. He also outlined how the COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated the global economic crisis and how the impact it has caused will remain with us for a long time. ‘The pandemic has aggravated many challenges in education that already existed previously,’ warns Reimers, who pointed to an OECD study indicating that 26% of 15-year-olds in Spain are dissatisfied with their lives. In addition, in several surveys conducted as part of the same study, the Harvard University professor found signs that in many countries teachers are the fulcrum for teaching in schools, and very few teachers transfer control over learning to their students.

For his part, the expert in education innovation and Director of the Felipe Segovia Chair for Innovation in Learning at Camilo José Cela University, Stephen Heppell, emphasised his  learning ethos, stating that ‘the best learning experiences are not easy to achieve, it takes sacrifice and motivation’ and stressed that ‘for many children, it is very motivating to be able to measure how much they are evolving in their learning.’

The event also included the online awards for best practices in education. Despite the fact that it was not possible to hold the traditional SEK Day this year due to the public health situation, SEK wanted to continue honouring all the award winning projects, teachers and actions that deserved to win the prizes awarded by SEK every year. The María Rosa Bonet Award recognised social commitment for initiatives aimed at reducing the negative effects of the pandemic. This prize money went to the Asociación Hermanas de los Pobres.