Location – Carrer de Sant Agustí 3, 08012, Barcelona Spain
Website – https://www.barcelonahighschool.com/
Contact – +34 657 128 649
About Barcelona High School
Barcelona High School (BHS) lives by the promise and mission to help teenagers excel academically, socially, and psychologically. The school relates to students as whole humans and prides itself on a dynamic learning environment.
The school’s innovative open plan fosters meaningful connections across the whole school. Unlike traditional schools, friendships are not limited by individual grade levels, genders, or cliques.
This revolutionary educational pedagogy is referred to as the BHS Method™.
Amanda Slefo, Partner and Director, helped to turn the vision of the school into a reality. Throughout the growth of the school, she has been a powerful inspiration and guide for students and staff. Her role initially involved overseeing educational learning, academic performance, and university placement as she later became a Partner of BHS.
Amanda now wears many hats and remains an important figure to students, parents, and the extended community of the school. She is the matriarch of the BHS family and models a strong life force for the school. Amanda always keeps her door open to ensure each student feels valued by creating meaningful relationships with them.
BHS is the brainchild of Akida Mashaka, an American entrepreneur from Los Angeles, California. Akida created BHS as he recognized certain problems with schools in Barcelona when looking for a school for his son. Akida saw the antiquated methods in education and recognized the pressing need to renew the school system.
Akida is a graduate of Harvard Law School and attended university in the USA on a tennis scholarship. On top of that, he graduated #1 in Psychology in his university class. Akida’s unique blend of passions and empathic mentality led to his creative concept for this revolutionary school approach.
Beyond the Traditional Curriculum
Instead of stuffing information into students, BHS guides students to the possibilities around them. By asking questions, teachers encourage students to challenge their held beliefs and consider other points of view. Students are given choices in class. For example, if they are interested in video games, an assignment can be adapted so they create a game character, for example.
The curriculum isn’t set in stone. Our world is constantly changing, and BHS acknowledges that the program of study should be malleable. The school wants to foster adaptable students that will be able to handle their journeys after they graduate. Life doesn’t have a single answer like a math problem, so BHS teaches students to create their own solutions.
Cultivate Students’ Interest in Learning
BHS makes the curriculum relevant to students’ situations. Teachers want students to understand how they can apply the knowledge that they are learning at school outside the classroom. Traditional education often preaches abstract topics without giving them context. This leaves students feeling unmotivated, with strands of information that are meaningless and empty. On the contrary, BHS adds dimension to the learning process. Instead of spitting out facts, teachers encourage collaboration, practical application, and dynamic discussions in class.
For students at BHS, school is exciting and fun, and learning opportunities arise throughout the day. Teachers are always around to answer any questions, from explaining what a tesseract is to pondering the meaning of life. Above all, learning is a collaborative process, where students get a voice in the direction they want their education to take.
Due to smaller class sizes, teachers get to know students so they can feel supported and understood. Teachers ensure students feel seen and that everyone’s voice gets a chance to be heard. BHS teaches critical thinking, giving the students a chance to develop their opinion and share it with the class.
Home for Students
BHS has a radical approach to education. Above all, the school stands out on account of its family-type environment.
A student once compared the space to a home. Building on this analogy, the main body of the school is like a big, open living room. Students feel safe and learning is done collectively, in community. By taking away the walls, BHS fosters relationships that domino across cultures and ages, allowing for an incredible blend of ideas.
Surrounding the living room, the space is embraced by individual classrooms. Smaller-scale learning takes place here, focusing on specific subject areas. These spaces can be compared to the individual rooms of the house, each with their own personality.
This home is a special place where students are constantly being challenged and supported on their educational journey.
BHS believes in equitable access to education. To enact this ideology, the school has granted several scholarships to students in difficult financial situations.
Changes in Education Trends
Work is combined with play as BHS strives to create life-long learners by instilling curiosity around knowledge. Traditional school models students as machines and knowledge is spoon-fed to students in a single direction. BHS creates students who flourish by encouraging a multi-directional education, where their inputs are welcomed. Learning is layered and teachers model skills and then allow students to apply these skills.
BHS teachers adapt the curriculum in an engaging way. The school rejects the ‘sage on the stage’ model of the past and embraces the model of teachers as inspiring leaders and guides. In turn, teachers are open for their own teachings to be challenged and students get to mold their education to fit their needs.
Guidance and Nurturing Relationships
The school has a mental health counselor which makes students feel at home and reinforces a sense of community. Additionally, BHS offers college counseling and guides students to their future aspirations.
At BHS, students are involved in their learning journey. Student body representatives actively obtain student’s feedback and communicate suggestions to the staff. Through this method, activities such as ‘Movie Night’ and ‘Ski Week’ have been possible.
BHS cultivates the growth of well-rounded students so education is extended far beyond the classroom. Clubs are offered after school. These include the board game club, the beach volleyball club, the music production club, and the art club. These clubs serve as the groundwork to foster deeper connections, motivated by shared interests. Some of these clubs are proposed and organized by the students themselves as students at BHS are leaders and self-advocates.
Achievements and Global Leader
BHS is ranked as the best American school in Barcelona for secondary and high school education, as well as the best international school in Barcelona. This is due to its innovative and radical learning philosophy.
Additionally, through university counseling and guidance, students can achieve their future educational goals at top international universities.
BHS is the most international school in Barcelona as over 80% of the student body is from outside of Spain. Accordingly, BHS has been featured in the ‘Barcelona Metropolitan Magazine’, as well as ‘The Knowledge Review’ as the “International American School for the Global Village.”
Future Plans of the School
BHS has undergone incredible growth. Three years ago, in 2021, the school started with only 5 students in a small underground space. The next year, it grew into an office space, with over 30 students. In its third year, BHS has an enrollment of over 100 students in an open dynamic learning environment. BHS expects over 100% growth in the 2023-2024 school year.
The entire school, from stakeholders to teachers to students to parents, are excited to see the massive change that has been possible in such a short time. In turn, BHS is expected to keep growing, and the potential for this education model is unbounded. The goal is to refine this radical education model and inspiring new schools around the world with the same mission and philosophy. By creating an alternative education system, the old methods will dwindle and this grassroots movement will rise to take their place.