Gardaskoli is a lower-secondary school for students from 13-15 years old in a town called Gardabaer which is located about 14 kilometres from the centre of Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland.
Being a part of an affluent society, the school has a canteen, a school library, 3 computer-rooms and it also provides personal lap-tops for all the teachers that they can use at school or at home.
There are 42 certified employees at the school and 17 uncertified serving 430 students from 8th to 10th grade. The overall aim of the school is to support students in order for them to become responsible individuals and prepare them for further studies as well as taking part in modern society. The school has a principle, an assistant-principle and chairs of grade. Their role is to set over-all aims for the school, handle communications with the local school authorities as well as the Ministry of Education and to make sure that daily work within the institution runs smoothly. Chairs of each grade are also available to teachers and students when needed.
Gardaskoli emphasises the motivation of students to assume responsibility for their own behaviour. Upon this groundwork personal growth and mutual respect is developed. This includes goal setting, conflict resolution, restitution and self-evaluation. Students have a sense of belonging focusing on the learner´s individual needs provided in a safe and respectful environment.
Programme of studies
All the teachers at Gardaskoli are specialized in their subject. Heads of academic departments oversee the work within their department in cooperation with their colleagues. Each department works as a team concerning lesson plans, exams, grading and daily professional work.
In grade 8, the classes are of mixed abilities and the emphasis is on giving the students space and time during their first school year to adjust to the working methods, traditions, values and the communication system within the institution.
In grades 9 – 10, there is streaming in the core subjects of Icelandic, Maths, English and Danish, but mixed ability classes in other subjects. This means, individual schedules for each student and they attend their classes according to the subject, similar to the upper-secondary school system in Icelandic schools. In order to meet the needs of gifted students the school offers upper-secondary level courses in Icelandic, English, Maths, Spanish and Accounting. This means that those who pass can have their studies valued at most upper-secondary schools in the Reykjavik area after they graduate from Gardaskoli. Apart from compulsory subjects, the school offers various selective courses such as woodwork, sewing, computers, arts and music.
Subject teachers are available to give extra assistance where needed and there are 6 extra lessons a week after regular school hours where the students can come and get help with their studies. The school also has two guidance counsellors who play a central role in supporting students to make the most of their school years and help them to plan for the future. The counsellors are available to students and parents to discuss educational, vocational or personal concerns that may affect the well-being of students. The guidance counsellors also lead a group of peer helpers who assist their fellow students in various ways in preventing bullying and maintaining a good atmosphere among the students.
The student council is highly effective and organises all kinds of extracurricular activities in cooperation with the Youth Centre of Gardabaer which is located within the school and is open both during school hours, as well as to ten o´clock in the evenings at weekdays. The staff at the youth centre oversees and organises various social and leisure activities The youth centre is open three evenings at weekdays and the students can come together to take part in various clubs or just to play a game of cards, play ping pong, listen to music, watch a movie or meet their friends. There are also bigger events such as dances 4-5 times a semester and the school play is usually shown in April. The youth-centre also organises short school trips in cooperation with the grade level chairs at school.
Each student has a supervising teacher whom they meet at least once a week. The supervising teachers are responsible for his or hers students´ well-being and take an active part in communicating with parents on a daily basis. Gardaskoli offers active parental involvement via the internet and takes care to distribute information effectively. Supervising teachers play the main role in that respect through the information-centre MENTOR where parents can obtain information about their children´s attendance, grades, meetings and so on. The school´s website also provides all information about the school, its daily activities as well as major events