Pupils at Hamelin-Laie International school in Catalonia don’t just work hard academically, they also strive to be good, happy and ethical citizens. “Emotional well-being and ethical living are continuously taught throughout our holistic educational programme,” says Director and Head Teacher Sonia Sas. “Our students develop in a way that allows them to understand the world they live in and the people they share it with, at the same time as gaining an everlasting self-confidence.”

The teaching of these values starts early, incorporated into the infant-school curriculum as “Stories to Learn From” – fables that inspire empathy. Older pupils have “Values” lessons and take part in weekly assemblies that focus on dialogue and compromise. They also work with local charities, organise campaigns and fundraise through sponsored races, collections and concerts.


An international concern

Hamelin-Laie is a family enterprise, established by Sonia’s grandfather after the Spanish Civil War. In 1989, Sonia’s mother transformed it into the first trilingual – English, Spanish and Catalan – school in the country. With around 1,200 pupils aged from four months to 18 years, covering 28 nationalities – some from as far afield as Australia and China – it is now a truly international school.

In January 2016, the school moved to new premises in the quaint fishing village of Montgat, 12 km from Barcelona. Set between the coast and the mountains, the classrooms and libraries enjoy wonderful sea views. Facilities include playing fields and centres for languages, dance and music. Six Lemon World, a new residence for International Baccalaureate students, opened last year, and an 800-seat theatre and additional sports fields will be built later this year.

“On our timetable we include various activities, which, in other schools, might appear as extracurricular,” says Sonia. “Big band jazz orchestra, musical theatre, acting, chess and cookery lessons are all obligatory. We feel they complement our everyday education.” In addition, pupils can choose to take part in after-school activities including robotics, taekwondo, rhythmic gymnastics, fencing, skating and rollerblading.

“We know our methodology works because of the excellent feedback we get from former pupils about their current professional successes,” says Sonia. “They tell us how grateful and proud they are to have been at the school, and many of them stay connected.”