The Agrupamento de Escolas da Boa Água (AEBA), a public school located in Quinta do Conde, Sesimbra, serves 1490 students from preschool to middle school, with ages between 3 and 16.
The Agrupamento de Escolas da Boa Água is organized under the school cluster system and is specifically formed by 4 smaller but integrated units:
- Escola Básica n.º 2 da Quinta do Conde (primary school);
- Escola Básica n.º 1 do Pinhal do General (primary school);
- Jardim de Infância do Pinhal do General (pre-school);
- Escola Básica Integrada da Boa Água (primary and elementary school).
We have 140 teachers and 56 other personnel working daily in our mission: to create a school that responds to the needs of all our students, that empowers them and allows them to learn as happy persons.
The schools were built in 2009 – the 2 with a greater capacity – and in 2011 – the last one with 100 preschool students. The oldest one is a primary school, which existed when all the others were built.
Since the AEBA is relatively new, teachers and support personnel are relatively young with several teachers that are not yet public teachers and who change schools every year.
Quinta do Conde, the village, has grown a lot in the latest years and has now around 30000 people.
Most of the residents weren’t born in the village; they came here since the houses are much less expensive when compared to other areas and it’s near the capital city– only 30 km from Lisbon – so they can go there to work every day.
It is correct to say that AEBA was created to meet an increasing demand due to a significant growth in population. Quinta do Conde maintains certain country life characteristics alongside with suburban lifestyle features.
One can also say that our schools have a complex social and economic background. Students’ general performance and results need improvement; in addition, we face problems with dropouts, truant and misbehaved students. This seems to be consequence of a community in which the social role of school learning is seriously undervalued. The fact that most of the school staff has been very unstable through the years didn’t have a positive impact in dealing with those issues.
In AEBA we have a lot of students from other countries – Brazil, African countries with Portuguese as official language and Eastern European countries, represent around 4% of our students, so we have special curricular offers to these students like the PNNSP (Portuguese for Non-native speakers programme) – this programme allows the development of Portuguese language skills and their self-integration in the Portuguese school system. Students are evaluated when they arrive at a Portuguese school – they start learning Portuguese in one of 3 possible levels.
We also organize Native Country Days in the libraries of our schools – we have 3 School Libraries – where these non-native students can share their culture and traditions with the Portuguese students.
Some of these children are actually part of our students’ orchestra – a project called New Generation Orchestras, that started in Venezuela and is now growing in Portugal – since one of the areas we value is the artistic one, starting from the primary school.
We are also a reference in the support we provide to children with special needs. We have 2 special units in AEBA giving support to multidisabled students – children with severe permanent handicaps – that are perfectly integrated in our classes. They have special programmes and technical staff to support them and they do some activities in the Special Room; other learning activities take place within ordinary classrooms with their fellow students and with the support of the Special Needs Teachers. We have 15 students supported by these units who come from all around our region and not just from Quinta do Conde.
The academic results of our students match the pattern for students from similar social contexts. We have less than 5% of the students, about 10 years old, who do not achieve the expected skills for primary school. In the end of middle school – with about 15 years of age – this value goes up to around 10% of the students that are underachievers, unable to get into secondary school.
For students that cannot achieve the expected results we have programmes adapted to their needs so they can finish middle school even if they can´t do the national public exams and pass in the end of the 9th grade.
We assess our students’ performance every 3 months and our performance as a public education institution every year. In July, when classes have already ended, we do a general evaluation of the different critical areas of our school and assess individual performance, in terms of strengths, weaknesses, what the major achievements have been and what we need to improve.
Furthermore, we outline an improvement plan for the following school year and we choose a team who commits to making the necessary changes.