Annual Report 2019 - 2020

2019 - 2020 school year has an unique story that started in September with our School Opening Ceremony, and jumped in March into the new world of virtual learning that paved the way to an unexpected graduation.

Class of 2020

If you had to choose a few words to describe the school year 2019 - 2020 what would they be? We would definitely choose surprising, challenging and intense. This year brought us the opportunity to transform learning, not only in our school, but around the world. The last 3 months of the school year were transformative, just like learning should be.

"We started the school year in September with 572 students and 103 teachers and sent to the sky 600 biodegradable balloons filled with our hopes and dreams.

Start of the school year

Until February 2020, our life was passing by at its natural pace. We were curious about what was happening in China and Asia, but we never thought it would get to us - here is a new virus, not even a very powerful one and it has managed to slow down, without much effort, the whole world.

We must emphasise the importance of education with passion, now that COVID-19 has pressed a great alarm. Now we have to analyse, with all seriousness, what is changing in the way humans act, because otherwise I am afraid that the next revolt of Earth, of Nature, could possibly be fatal to human kind.

We need rigorous and responsibly educated future generations in order to avoid getting into such crises or, if we do, to trust our education, our minds, that we can overcome these adversities.

At Avenor College, we focus on education for developing life skills, critical thinking and a complex understanding of the world. Many of these life skills are not examined, they are not reviewed, they are not marked. They are part of the extended Avenor Curriculum and the profile of the Avenor Graduate takes all of this into consideration.

Now is the best time to look at Education: Don’t just learn by heart – learn with passion."

At the beginning of the pandemic, when schools were closing one by one all over Europe, Avenor initiated a project together with teachers around the world to create a powerful message. 17 Romanians with a passion for education, from 11 cities in 6 countries were moved by the words of Kitty O'Meara and through her words they sent a message to all teachers, students and parents.

It became clear very fast that even though schools were closed, learning had to continue. At Avenor, the learning was focused around 5 areas, keeping in mind the most important one, during the lock down - our community's wellbeing.

Two days after the lock down started, students continued their learning online using an adapted timetable which was design to cover the needs of each age group.

Our older students, from the 2nd to 12th grade, easily adapted to online learning, while our younger students struggled in the absence of the warm presence of their tutors around them.

Through separate Learning plans, one for each key stage, we guided the learning of our students in the next 3 months.

Along the way we documented every step of the learning process, so that parents can follow and support us on this new learning journey.

Besides making sure that our students continued the learning process in the best possible way, we focused on sharing with teachers from other schools all the knowledge that our team had with regards to Communicating with students through Zoom and Google Classroom, creatively planning activities, critical thinking, students' formative assessment, feedback, relaxation techniques for teachers, experiments.

We offered 13 workshops attended by hundreds of teachers from state schools

Let's take a closer look at the results

Throughout the year, our community was engaged in events that showcased student learning, celebrated results and brought us together like a family. When the school closed in March, events, just like learning, continued to offer students the context to meet, to listen to each other, to appreciate what they have accomplished together.

118 events were organised during the 2019 -2020 school year

At Avenor Nursery, a total number of 19 on-site events were developed by including new and challenging activities, such as: Book Hunt, in which the main aim was to find 'reading treasures', Storyteller’s Chair, where children participated in a story session held by special guests from the Avenor community, Autumn Bazaar, where Reception and Year 1 children had an Autumn Sale where parents enjoyed buying handmade crafts.

Before March 2020, 31 events were organised at school, including new events such as Forest Day, part of our first PBL project, during which students learned secrets about Băneasa Forest and developed new skills.

We celebrated together Romania's National Day. Over 500 students, teachers and members of the Avenor team gathered to dance the greatest “hora” in our school's history.

Our high school students organised a great Christmas Charity Fair. Our campus was was filled with parents, students, teachers and guests looking for gifts, sweets and interactive activities. The highlight of the event was the 500 singers choir who performed Christmas songs. Proving amazing student leadership skills, Ana-Caterina, one of our scholarship students, managed to gather the entire community around this event. We were very proud of our high school students for raising 40,000 lei, funds that went to Dăruiește Viață Foundation.

Work in Progress was a display of creativeness that sheered light onto Avenor creative perspective and expectations starting with Nursery and building its way up to high school. This year’s exhibition was consistent and built around the central idea of artistically exploring the human body at all key stages. While Nursery created colourful and playful paintings, Primary used different mediums like charcoal, coloured pencils or acrylics to explore shapes and elements specific to the human body. Middle School went into collage, photography or film-making to play with the idea of human representation. The 8th graders that are passionate about fashion, trends and clothes have decided to explore and express themselves by designing outfits made out of textile and plastic. High school displayed a spectacular selection of visual and filmed pieces from their IGCSE and A Level coursework that was well received and much appreciated.

Starting with March 2020, we adapted and redesigned our events.

During the Virtual Learning, Avenor Nursery organised 10 online events, including Wacky Easter Egg Challenge, Drive-in Movie Night, Summer Shows and Cultural Learning Expeditions. One of the most exciting and eagerly awaited online event was Drive - in Movie Night, where around 70 children transformed the cardboard received in the Home Learning Pack into a car, in order to sit in while enjoying ‘The Gruffalo’ movie together.

In school, we redesigned events like the High School Options Fair, during which parents and students found out more about Avenor College International High School, the IGCSE and A Level options and what paths can they go on after graduating our high school.

26 Summer Shows and graduations kept our hearts warm

Every year, in June, we celebrate Middle School graduation with a special ceremony inviting Grade 8 students to step through a tunnel of daisies created by their colleagues, on the lyrics of the famous Gaudeamus igitur. This year, this ceremony, very dear to all, could not take place, so we adapted to the times we live in and we managed to offer children a ceremony, although atypical, full of many beautiful emotions. Their form tutors, along with some of their teachers, travelled over 300 km and visited each of them to hand out their graduation diplomas. It was a very emotional day.

Our 12th graders met at their High School Graduation Ceremony, said their goodbyes, and admitted that although they were surprised that the high school years had passed by so quickly, they are prepared for what follows next. Our special guest, Horia Tecău, professional tennis player and multiple champion, advised them to learn from all their victories, but especially from defeats, because any experience has a role in their growth. They will treasure forever their beautiful memories, the laughters and teachers' advice and they will keep the hope that their bond will never end. They will be forever avenorians, special people, brave and clever, ready to change the future.

Also, 14 community events were designed for Avenor parents, staff members and for teachers from other schools. These events included parent support webinars held by the PSHE team to help parents overcome the challenging lock-down period. Also class teachers covered various topics through webinars to offer support on learning aspects.

The pandemic brought a lot of pressure on the way we managed our finances. Here you can see how we initially planned our year from the financial point of view, but a lot of factors determined us to shift the investments that we had planned into other areas.

For instance, over 40.000 euro were invested in IT equipment in order to support the online learning of our students.

Cristina Bumboiu, Head of English Department

2019- 2020 is the year that has taught us how to become better together.

We always seek to involve Avenor College students in new contexts which give them to opportunity to use the language in new, creative ways. Our desire to develop new projects and courses brought us closer and helped us to discover each other’s ideas and talents.

Knowing that there is always a strong team to rely on when facing a challenge is probably one of the most important lessons that we have re-learnt this year.

Very proud of our student's English results

Our Show and Tell project encouraged Pregatitoare and Grade 1 students to practice their Public Speaking skills and to communicate meaningfully.

Grades 2 and 3 have been preparing towards the Spelling Bee event which was organised into several rounds. Many talented young children eagerly prepared for the competition and are looking forward to it for next year.

Starting with November, grades 4 and 5 have been preparing for the ESU (English Speaking Union) Public Speaking competition, event which due to the current COVID-19 context has been postponed.

We had the opportunity to participate in the COBIS Black Sea Schools International Creative Writing competition - organised by the British School in Tbilisi. Avenor won two 2nd place prizes: 1 in KS3 (grade 7) and 1 in KS4 (grade 9).

In mid November, our grade 9 Debate team had the opportunity to meet in a Friendly Debate other like-minded young debaters from another international school.

U16 European International Schools Public Debate placed our 9 grade Debate team on the 4th place

Dana Papadima, Head of Romanian Language Department

The Romanian language and literature department provided the image throughout the school year of a consolidated, unitary and coherent team, which led to a positive impact in students' results.

Being a group of teachers trained for several years in communication skills and collaboration, we successfully practiced work meetings, sharing learning methods and styles, and teaching the power of example through peer teaching hours.

The most important goal of the department was to develop an Avenor curriculum for the Romanian language taking into account the goals of the official programme, but also the objectives of the BSO.

The emergence of the pandemic has unfortunately stopped school competitions in regional stages, in which our students were already qualified, but facilitated the application of modern, highly creative methodologies through online platforms and elaborate schedules for each lesson.

At the level of personal and group leadership, we practiced increasing professional autonomy for each teacher, with precise attributions and responsibilities and awareness of their own role in the dynamics of the team.

Along with the actual Romanian language classes, our department continued and excelled in the activities of cultivation of the national spiritual heritage.

We further aim to strengthen communication and collaboration with colleagues who teach Romanian in Primary, and together we will expand the Romanian language curriculum for grades 0-4.

Mihaela Ancuța, Head of Mathematics Department

This school year was a year of enthusiasm and adaptability. I have traveled a path of knowledge and self-discovery.

We shared moments of joy, we overcame difficulties, and most importantly, we made friends. Experience gained this year will help us face any challenges in the future.

All Maths teachers collaborated very much and they supported each other. They have adapted excellently, using a lot of resources from the Internet at that time, choosing the most appropriate to the needs and contexts of students.

The students showed their spirit of initiative, the desire to contribute and collaborate. Shifting to online learning determined them to have more autonomy in learning.

Very proud of our student's Maths results

Octavia Paul, Head of Modern Foreign Languages

This year brought an important change in the structure of the lessons offered to the the 3rd and 4th grade students. They explored all the three foreign languages ​​offered by the school - Spanish, French and German. The 3rd graders enjoyed this throughout the school year, and the 4th grader for a few weeks so that they can better choose the language they will study further in school.

High school students successfully prepared their portfolios for the end of the school year, with the support of foreign language teachers - the Predicted Grades were very well chosen.

A change planned during the year, but which will only start in September 2020, is the change of the Cambridge A level course to the AQA level.

Another major improvement in our department has been the recruitment of new colleagues so that we can provide students with more hours and support for those in need.

The next school year we will have 6 members in the department, instead of 3.

Claudia Andrei, Head of the PSHE department.

This year gave us the opportunity, at community level, to feel in real time the need for support, to ask for help, to get closer to each other, each in its own isolation imposed by the authorities.

The team of counsellors functioned as a rescue and reinsurance safety net for community members, meeting the needs and concerns of students, teachers and parents.

We all went through a collective transformation and we are glad that we could be share this experience and be there for each other.

The PSHE department played an important role during the lock down when all students, parents and teachers needed support to manage the new way of learning, maintaining relationships, working and continuing their lives, sometimes under a lot of pressure.

As part of the Personal, Social and Emotional Development classes, all the nursery school children were actively involved in age-appropriate democratic elections in their groups. Democracy is both a Romanian and a British value and we aim to cultivate it from early years at Avenor Nursery. Children became more aware of the importance of expressing choices by voting and were exposed to democracy-related vocabulary.

In school and high school, students were encouraged and guided to make their voices heard through the Student Council. This school year they elected 4 Student Councils, one for each key stage, and they all made proposals to the management team of the school, in order to create a dialog over topics that raised students interest.

During 2019 -2020 school year, Avenor students were represented by 4 Student Councils demonstrating good student leadership.

Viorel Căpățînă, Head of Humanities Department

Whether we look at the historical, geographical, geological, economic or psychological past, or learn from our own experiences, many events can be avoided if we understand how the world, society and nature work.

During the classes, in Humanities the students had the chance to approach the principle of causality (cause-effect) through critical thinking: the question of why?, analysis and synthesis of information, evaluation, construction of conclusions, organization and presentation of projects. All this put the students in different positions, giving them time and space to think more deeply, to understand the principle of operation and to make the right decision.

Other principles we approached in all our disciplines were the principle of location in space and the principle of location in time. Either they discovered the main changes in society in various historical periods, or they went through the geological evolution of the planet and the diversity of connections between Earth's geosphere and human culture and traditions, or they studied the mechanisms economics and the principle of functioning of the human mind, students understood (hopefully) that everything must be taken as a whole, as a system.

Ali Yuksel, Head of ICT Department

Remote learning and teaching is the "new black" in education.

For many of us, the transition from teaching in a physical classroom to a fully virtual environment is a new experience and poses several challenges. We as teachers are employing creative measures to make online classes an engaging experience not just for Avenor pupils but also ourselves.

Here are the things we are doing to successfully make the adjustment to remote teaching.

  • We’re familiarising ourselves with technology.
  • We’re setting realistic goals.
  • We’re more attentive to our pupils’ needs.
  • We’re keeping engagement up.
  • We’re taking advantage of available resources.
  • We’re keeping parents involved.
  • We’re collaborating more with other teachers.
  • We have learned to bridge physical isolation.
  • We’re putting more time on reflection.

Wanting to help the medical staff treating patients infected with COVID-19, we decided to use the 3D printer the school usually uses for robotics classes, to make protective face shields. Boxes with protective equipment were sent to Suceava, which at that time was a quarantined city where doctors were struggling with both the pandemic and the lack of equipment.

Dharmesh Cohan, Head of Science Department

It was an easier transition because I put into practice digital skills that I had already used. I learned a lot, with more work, and I had confirmations about some students.

Speaking of differentiation, some of them, who did not do so much in the classroom or did not focus on tasks, changed their learning behavior in a good way. They are more involved, work on optional tasks, have questions and voluntary answers. They changed their attitude towards learning. I also had some losses. A drop in a few good students in physical class. But this is real life.

Maybe, some of them can think better without rules and I can understand them.

Very proud of our student's results in Science

Mari Nicolae, Head of PBL Department

Imagine a place where students are empowered to investigate a local problem, guided by a driving question. Teachers are co-creating the launch of an entry event, running core activities and giving students ‘choice and voice’ options. Then, a gallery walk offers the context to critique and redrafting a final project, presented in front of an authentic audience (parents, experts, authorities or other members of the community).

This is the project-based learning, known as PBL.


David Taylor- Educational Consultant, PBL Curriculum specialist

"It is worth acknowledging that some would see our new approach as a further shift towards project- based learning (PBL). Whilst this provides a degree of clarity and sense of direction, we fully recognise that PBL means different things to different people, schools and organisations. Consequently, it will be very much Avenor-Based Learning, utilising and adapting aspects of PBL practice to suit our unique context."

"During the Forbidden Forest investigation, we realised that the forest has a lot to teach us. For 6 weeks we turned the Baneasa forest into an outside museum. The PBL lessons taught me how to ask creative questions using thinking routines. One thing that I’ve found very useful was the fact that lots of things discovered during PBL lessons are helpful in other subjects as well. PBL pushes me to become an independent learner.' (Natalia - Grade 4 Student)

Irina Zamfir, Head of EPA Department

When my colleagues and I pivoted to online teaching this spring, we spent little time grieving our old lessons or trying to mimic them through Zoom.

Adapting art classes for a socially distanced world was at least as hard for art teachers as it was for teachers in other disciplines, and perhaps it was uniquely difficult, given the importance of tactility and presence in all arts.

We were presented with new opportunities that we absolutely took advantage of:

• Make technology work for us by encouraging students to create by using the technological tools at their disposal.

• Use a language they all are familiar with, the language of new media and transform the traditional art, drama or music lessons into opportunities to express perspectives and experiences

• Make classes more interesting and interactive

• Better focus on individual work, reflection and research

In Music, singing on Zoom is not the same as singing. As teaching shifted from one new format to another, it seemed like some students were regressing. A confident singer didn’t feel as confident on Zoom. His singing ability hadn’t changed, but the medium had. Art teachers helped by turning off (or down) the anxieties of a new medium. The music teachers gave students focused advice on camera position, eye contact, and white balance to help students feel like the unfamiliar parts of a new situation were taken care of.

In HS Art&Design/Theatre Studies/Media Studies courses, we turn to books, historical studies, philosophical frameworks, and artistic expressions to locate our own and others’ experiences and find insights that help us make sense of what’s happening but also keep on producing art from home to be used for the IGCSE and A Level examination.

As many of our school events were cancelled, students were presented for the first time with the situation of no shared outcome at the end of the term or school year. Teachers from the EPA Faculty have responded to these needs by making sure that students’ work is seen and shared during classes or on our online platforms, and by giving students assignments that provide respite from real-life struggles.

Ionel Vodă, Head of the Sports Department

During the 2019-2020 school year we implemented “Leadership for students in PE lessons" - a project that gave the students the opportunity to take over the role of the teacher and lead their colleagues through the warm-up part of lessons.

The students were delighted with this opportunity and did very well.

Overall, the pandemic brought challenges for the sport teachers all over the world and made us ask: how to keep students engaged in sports without equipment and most important without their team mates around.

Creativity played an important role here, since we had to find a way to continue to encourage students to practice a healthy lifestyle.

In 2019 -2020 Avenor opened 46 included clubs and 23 paid clubs. As a novelty, students attending performing clubs played an important role in the Middle School Winter Show where the students prepared special performances.

348 students attending clubs in school
46 included clubs and 23 paid clubs

Due to the pandemic, clubs activity was suspended and the clubs teachers offered students a very special Summer Show.

Cristina Farcaș, Summer School Coordinator

This year, our Summer School has been developed in two directions. On the one hand, we launched the programme with a total of six weeks. This year, children with ages between 6 and 9 had the opportunity to participate, for two weeks, in educational activities in the Greenfield campus, an attractive location in terms of its proximity with the Băneasa forest, as well as in terms of its sports facilities.

On the other hand, the educational content focused mainly on outdoor learning and movement; topics such as ‘Survival Tips and Tricks’ and ‘Nature is Trendy’ provided the optimal framework for exploring nature in all its meanings.

The safety measures set by the authorities for this summer were within our reach and therefore we could easily comply with all of them. The number of available places was the only aspect that needed to be adjusted, being limited to 38 children for each location.

A day of summer school meant 20% indoor vs 80% outdoor, Project-Based Learning (PBL), which offered children the opportunity to choose what they want to investigate or what skills they want to develop sports, expeditions in the forest near the school, or in parks near the nursery, fun and plenty of "social closeness", respecting the physical distance requirements.

Thank you!