The Courtyard International School of Tervuren

Belgium

Sue Kay

Founder and Head of School

Stéphanie Uceny

Deputy Head, PYP and MYP
Coordinator and French Teacher

It was very simple and quick to get up and running – far faster than we thought it would be. It gave us far more possibilities than we ever could have imagined.

Sue Kay, Founder and Head of School

The Courtyard International School of Tervuren offers an international, multilingual education founded on six distinctive pillars – International Outlook, Bilingualism, Leadership and Service, Outdoor Education and Sustainability, and Empowerment and Adventure. The school currently delivers the IB Primary and Middle Years Programmes, with plans to also offer the IB Diploma Programme to older students soon.

Curricula Supported
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Grade Levels: Pre-K–12

Implementation History

Getting Started

Sue Kay is the Founder and Head of The Courtyard, while Stéphanie Uceny is its Deputy Head, PYP and MYP Coordinator and French teacher. They recall that the school made the transition to ManageBac just before the pandemic. “It was guided by the gods – perfect timing!” laughs Sue. “It was very simple and quick to get up and running – far faster than we thought it would be. It gave us far more possibilities than we ever could have imagined. The day the pandemic was declared was our training day, and the next day our school was online!”

Lockdown Lifeline

With lockdown forcing the school to close, ManageBac was rapidly implemented across all PYP and MYP classes. All members of the school community immersed themselves in the platform from the start – something Sue and Stéphanie would advise that other schools do when implementing the platform, lockdown or not.

“The first few days everyone was working by trial and error,” Sue recalls. “But the whole community was working and connecting through ManageBac, because it was our means of communication. There was no better time for people to really find out the ins and outs of what’s possible. Once we got over the small hurdles – such as passwords – it was very, very smooth after that.”

From the start, ManageBac facilitated a rich remote learning experience for students, even keeping its very youngest learners engaged. “It really kept our community going,” Stéphanie says, adding that, during lockdown, pre-school teachers used the system to set a wide variety of indoor and outdoor tasks, including a ‘Daily Challenge’. Parents returned each task via ManageBac, complete with photographs, drawings and videos, giving educators and senior leadership the utmost visibility over the remote learning experience.

Higher up in the school, Upper Primary and MYP students were encouraged to use ManageBac independently. For younger students, the simplicity of the platform was helpful. “We are not a school that promotes computers in primary,” Stéphanie explains, “so some of the students had a very weak knowledge of logging in, finding documents and so on. But ManageBac is very clear, and it was easy for them to see and understand the messages.”

When it came to recreating the full school experience online, “everything magically came together via the ManageBac facilities,” says Sue. “It answered all the hopes we had to try to keep our community together, and it really did. We could have school just as before, and the communication was very swift and easy – you could put up group messages, and we didn’t need anything else, except Zoom.”

Back to School

Now that the lockdown days are over, ManageBac is still firmly embedded in the school day. “We use it for everything,” says Stéphanie. “Teachers set homework on it and set dates for tests. We use the Zoom online class for when children have to stay at home, and we put messages on the discussion board. Our reporting and newsletters go through ManageBac, and we’ve got timetables and attendance on there – it’s really useful for everyone to have that tool.”

The platform is used extensively for curriculum planning: “Our units of inquiry go on ManageBac – they’re very accessible; it’s simplified it a lot for the teachers, because it’s very clear in ManageBac”, explains Stéphanie. “There are some things you just have to tick, so it’s much easier for new teachers to launch the programme and go through the courses.”

As a trilingual school, The Courtyard also makes use of the opportunities for collaboration that are built into the system – with Dutch, French and English educators all working on Unit Plans together, adding reflections for each other’s reference, collating students’ work centrally in the Portfolio and recording positive feedback in the Behaviour tab.

Meanwhile, ManageBac’s analytics tools provide insights into coverage of all aspects of the curriculum – from ATL skills and Learner Profile attributes, to assessment criteria – informing forward-planning. This visibility has also been helpful for the school’s wider teaching faculty, such as the conservationist-in-residence, artist-in-residence and sports teachers, who are able to view the whole school curriculum and component Unit Plans, and base their teaching on what students are already doing.

ManageBac is part of our community 365 days a year – Stéphanie Uceny

Future Plan

The Courtyard’s next move is to introduce the IB Diploma Programme, and they are currently using ManageBac Passport to support this process. “It’s a great tool – it makes it so much easier,” says Stéphanie. “Instead of having to run around trying to find documents and Unit Plans on the IB website, I have it right away on ManageBac.”

And, with the IB announcing its intention to explore digital assessment formats for the IB Diploma, Sue and Stéphanie anticipate making full use of Passport’s online assessment environment in the future. “We’ll be coming your way an awful lot more,” says Sue. “The connections there are going to be even more vital than they are now.”

Both are excited about the possibilities offered by ManageBac as the school’s curriculum expands. “As we’ve been working with ManageBac for a couple of years now, every time we open a new door it’s very exciting, because there’s a world of things to discover!”, says Stéphanie. And when it comes to CAS and TOK, the platform will help to “keep everything together and linked up”, adds Sue – allowing the school to weave and track these key components throughout the curriculum.

Support Along the Way

As The Courtyard has embraced all that ManageBac has to offer, they have appreciated the support they have received along the way. “When there’s a question and you go to the help and support, the replies are very quick – even throughout the weekend and through the night,” says Stéphanie. “I’ve been amazed to get a reply on the same day, thinking I’m going to have to wait until Monday! The replies are always very helpful, and it’s really nice to work like that, because when there’s a problem, a solution is found the same day, if not within a couple of hours.”

Sue agrees, adding that ManageBac “marries the school and programme in such a wonderful way.” “We were hugely overcome with the possibilities that were offered when we came together with the IB in this way,” she concludes.

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