Expression International Alternative School, Penamacor, Castelo Branco, Central Portugal

We are a small alternative school based in Penamacor, Central Portugal. We use ALC tools and the English National Curriculum as guidelines for learning. We have a mixture of Portuguese and English staff and children of all different nationalities. Our school day runs from 9am until 4.30pm. Children are able to attend for four or five days.

We use content through Project Based Learning as a vehicle to conceptual understanding, allowing students to access their passions and cultural identities, and we promote student exploration and inquiry to allow us all to learn from each other and support each student to go beyond teachers expectations. We are open Monday to Thursday, with additional childcare available outside of the educational session time. We accept children from 3 – 18 years old.

ALC’s use specific tools and methods to allow the children to be self directed in their learning, along with full democratic say about the running of the School. Rules are discussed and decided by everyone at the Culture meetings and adults and children are seen as equal. A range of alternative approaches are adapted to suit each child’s learning style and alternative methods and materials coming from approaches such as Steiner and Montessori, along with democratic principles are blended together.  The teachings of Krishnamurti are integral to the schools ethos and aims in allowing the children the time and space to not only learn about knowledge of the outside world, but about themselves, their feeling, thoughts, and inner workings. Children are encouraged to question, inquire, and explore for themselves. km0_6005

Numeracy and literacy are explored through stand alone sessions to provide a solid foundation and within the tasks  and projects the children are doing. Reading is not pressured, but supported. Younger children explore letters and numbers in a fun and hands on way through games and play with a focus on phonics through song. The older children look at interest led projects and activities, and learn about self awareness, critical thinking and evaluation skills. Individual support for literacy and numeracy is given according to the child’s interest, ability and their desire to learn.

We are the first school to offer an alternative form of education within the Castelo Branco region. There are no tests, learning and skill targets are set in collaboration with students and based on an ‘Approaches to learning’ continuum. We aim to become a bilingual setting, so Portuguese is spoken throughout the week in a relaxed and informal environment, and lessons are given in a  natural way. Our aim is to allow the children to integrate in an informal setting while still  having the back up of their own home language and mother-tongue.

We are offering a number of options for students completing their academic studies:

  • as members of the EUDEC, we can supply students with a recognised Democratic Diploma. https://www.eudec.org/Home
  • selected iGCSEs will be offered and supported.  http://www.cambridgeinternational.org/programmes-and-qualifications/cambridge-secondary-2/cambridge-igcse/
  • vocational certificates can be earned through work placement and academic support.
  • school certificates will be given, detailing skills, talents and achievements.

We have children from many national, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. We strive to include a variety of abilities and skills so that there is no ‘norm’, just a diverse community of learners.

If you would like to know more, or come for a visit, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Please also keep up to date with what we are up to on our Facebook page

Please read through our mission statement below and the documents and information page on our website for further information regarding admissions and fees.

Mission Statement

Learning happens in every moment without us even being aware of it. We consider all forms of learning important and not just the acquisition of knowledge. Life is a constant movement of change. Knowledge gained from books last year has altered this year or been disproved all together and been replaced with other knowledge. The constant change in technological inventions and findings mean today’s knowledge is outdated tomorrow. Nothing is concrete. We aim to work with children at their own pace to learn about this ever changing world, themselves, and their reactions to it. Learning about themselves, their reactions and feelings, and their developing personalities as well as gaining academic knowledge is a must in order to attempt to gain understanding in this ever changing world. We work with them to discuss and explore  what learning is at it’s core and their own preferences and choices around this. Critical thinking, analysis, and self enquiry are key to this approach.

Along with teaching the children to think about society and how the system works and why, we also support them to explore themselves and how they work, both on a emotional and mental level. The work of Krishnamurti and other philosophers is discussed and explored with the older children and they are taught to question how they think and feel about subjects and why this might be. We believe that there are two sides to learning. That of academic and traditional subjects in the way of knowledge, and that of self knowledge and understanding. Both are equally important in creating a grounded and peaceful human being. Discussion time and self enquiry time are as important as that or remembering and recording facts.  

Children have a natural inquisitiveness which leads to learning naturally about everything. We aim to support them along the way. All topics are covered in a practical manner allowing the children to see the relevance of the subject to the real world around them.

A 21st Century Education

Children today will need to succeed in a very different world than the one we’ve known – one completely outside the reach of traditional schooling.

Gone is the era of stable corporate employment. The future is in the hands of the entrepreneurs, freelancers, and creative community builders. The skill set required to identify an opportunity, organize a team, plan the work, execute to fulfillment, and build your reputation from these successes does not come from “Sit down! Shut up! Learn what I tell you to! Now barf it onto this test.”

Children need a setting to develop their fluency in digital media, their social, cultural and emotional intelligence, motivation, self-knowledge, and their sense of purpose. They need a platform for sharing their learning in a digital portfolio with a collaborative community.

Our aims:

To support every child’s interests and inquiry based learning needs in a safe and supportive environment.

To work alongside parents to support the children social and emotional needs.

To be childlike in our inquiry ourselves, and to learn from them as much as they learn from us.

To provide support for all academic subjects and to enable literacy and numeracy skills in an unhurried and unpressured environment.

To provide an environment where children can be still, calm, and quiet, as well as energetic and active when needed too.

To allow our passion and excitement for learning to rub off on the children.

To allow the child space to discover what it is that they love to do, who they are, and what they truly feel about things.