THE OPPORTUNITY TO GROW
When Woodside School first opened its doors, in 1998, it had just 20 pupils. Today, it has around 600, and the school is now looking to expand into higher education with vocational courses.
Woodside, in Punta del Este, Uruguay, was founded by a group of teachers whose aim was to provide students with an outstanding bilingual education, grounded in humanistic values. “What’s very important to us is to help our students become respectful and tolerant human beings,” says Susan Griffin, the school’s Director of Secondary.
The fee-paying, co-educational school is a member of the International Schools Association and has been a Cambridge Associate School since 2013. In 2015, it became a recognised Cambridge Exam Preparation Centre and was also approved to offer the Cambridge Pre-U Diploma.
Woodside’s Principals believe that an international, bilingual education offers the best start for their students, who range from two to 18 years old. The international curriculum also reflects the cosmopolitan student body. About 40 per cent of students come from countries outside Uruguay, including Argentina, France, Spain and the US, and the globally recognised qualifications they gain at Woodside enable them to continue their studies abroad.
“I think we’re very well-known internationally for our excellence in education,” says Griffin. “What we’re most proud of is that, when our students finish here, they are astounding – in their level of bilingualism, and how well they’re prepared for education and life.” Part of that preparation for life is about nurturing the humanistic approach that is so important to the school, and a range of social responsibility projects encourage students to think of others. These include schemes where students read with pre-schoolers and work with elderly people in the community. One day a week, students are also encouraged to share a skill or ability with another pupil in the school. “It’s a project that’s about giving our time and not expecting money in return,” says Griffin. “People have become so competitive and we don’t want our students to lose that human aspect.”
The ambitious Woodside team is now planning to take the school’s academic offering even further by establishing internationally recognised vocational courses, beginning with travel and tourism. Ultimately, its Principals would like the school to become a university. Over the past two decades, Woodside School has established a strong international reputation. By moving into higher education it has its sights set on providing students with even more opportunities to flourish.