James Kearney reflects on a great year at Sotogrande International School

At the End of Year Celebration Assembly James Kearney, Head of Sotogrande International School, reflected on the school year, in this excerpt he is sharing the many achievements of the year.
Our students

We really are very proud of our students’ achievements this year.  On a daily basis I am amazed by them  – by the way they approach problems, think outside the box, rise to challenges and importantly DO NOT GIVE UP.

This year I was inspired by the lengths our students went to in the P6 exhibition, the M3 community project and the M5 personal project.  The creativity and inspiration that students have when you give them a blank slate, a problem with no clear solution, is truly limitless.

Once they leave school, students will face problems for which they will not know the answer.  The solutions to world problems require innovators, entrepreneurs and creative thinkers;  people who have the courage to think differently, to challenge the status quo, to push boundaries and to get things wrong.

These are the behaviours that underpin the philosophy and practice at Sotogrande International School. In order to develop these behaviours, we offer students coaching –  a process that creates a safe environment for students to explore ideas, to experiment and, sometimes, to fail and then crucially to receive feedback.    This has a marked impact on them as they grow and transition through our school thus preparing them for the world of university and work that awaits them.


Having a supportive environment to fail gracefully allows students to grow, to get better and through feedback, improve.  This, in turn, affects results.  Whilst we are here to educate the whole child, academic achievement is critical.

IB Diploma

Our current D2 students are waiting for their IB results to arrive. We are proud of the hard work and dedication they showed whilst preparing for, and the calm and professional manner in which they conducted themselves throughout the exam process. We look forward to sharing their results when they arrive and wish all of our D2 students well in the next stage of their education.

A Levels

Achieving 120 points in these exams is equivalent to a grade A at A-level and I would like to give a special mention to the following students who achieved this,  Nadina Castro Gavira – 140 points, Thomas de la Rosa 145 points and Carlota Sanchez- 125 points.

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Our M5 students recently graduated and I would like to congratulate them all and give a special mention to Paloma Jaudel Melian, Eduardo Parra, Pippa Smith and Oliver Davis who all achieved 7’s in every subject across the board.

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Aside from academic excellence, our students have also excelled in various areas and I would like to share some of their achievements with you.


Our athletes have won championships around Europe: in Italy and Portugal.  Congratulations to the Under 18 boys team, who won the Algarve cup a second year running, the girls under 14 team who won the gold cup at the Mediterranean football competition in Italy.

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Atletico de Madrid

We are really excited by our new partnership with Atletico de Madrid who will be sending top coaches from their training school to work with our students.  We feel that this will be an exciting Launchpad for more achievements within football.


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Cross country

This was the first year in the history of the school that our students won the Costa Cross Country championship.  Our dedicated team took part in early morning training sessions and the training paid off! Congratulating to all involved.


This year saw numerous students break records and achieve personal bests at the Costa Athletics competition earlier this term.  Our school came an impressive 2nd place.


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Pedro Marin –  won the Under 16’s Spanish Gold Championship.  

Sebastian and Christian Collins have played in a number of high ranking American tournaments and have been great ambassadors for SIS.  Sebastian achieved his first competition hole in 1 in January.

Our Aces students have flourished in the sporting area, Beau Coenraad won the JFGA Junior Tour championship and Natalie Armbruester won the Junior European Open in November.

Sotogrande International Schppl

Our Tennis students at Soto Tennis have competed at various events around Europe.  With Tom Gondinard, Dhillon Verdee Oakley and Sophia Marinescu earning a chance to take part in the Rafa Nadal tour in Barcelona.  Congratulations to Adam Singleton won the Soto Tennis under 14 competition.


The D2 art exhibition was phenomenal, and I would like to publicly thank the E gallery in Sotogrande Port, for allowing our students the opportunity to have their work hung in a professional environment.  Congratulations to Loreto Villegas Maestro who achieved 2 prizes at the recent NADFAS awards, claiming the prize for the best piece of work in the under 15 category and the overall prize for the best piece as named by the NADFAS members.

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Drama and music

Over the year we have had the pleasure of attending numerous theatrical and musical events, most recently our primary show, Charlie, and earlier in the year our secondary performance of Bugsy.  These shows engendered, joy, laughter and tears in the audience thanks to the excellent performance of the students. Congratulations to everyone who took part.

During the start of our summer term,  LAMDA examiners came to spend a few days with the students to assess their performances. Congratulations to everyone who took part.  All students passed with either a merit or a distinction.

Apple Distinguished School

As a school one of our notable achievements this year was to gain “ The Apple Distinguished School status” – a testament to the hard work and focus of the IT team, led by the guru Super Sanchez!  On the back of being the first and only school in Spain to achieve this award, we have been invited to present at numerous conferences.  The most notable was the Apple Leadership Summit, where 6 students blew the conference away, by explaining their concept of the composting machine. The students were confident, polite and transitioned between 6 different languages as they met school heads from across the world. Congratulations and thanks to,

Faisal Kreis, Julian Barcelona, Marta and Peleyo Crespo, Billy Chandler and David Partel.


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Thank you and enjoy the summer!

I would like to congratulate all of our students on their hard work, dedication and commitment throughout this year.

I wish to thank this wonderful community of staff, students and parents for a very successful year.  You work hard every day to make this a unique and innovative educational community.  The last few weeks have been no different; none of the events would have happened without great teamwork and collaboration. Special thanks to Mr Wickersham, Mr Sanchez, the sound engineering, marketing and maintenance and events teams for all of their hard work in preparing and running the many celebrations you have experienced this week.

I wish to thank you, the parents, of SIS for your energy, support, feedback, commitment and the trust you place in us, the SIS staff, to educate your most treasured possessions.     

I wish you a wonderful summer and look forward to seeing you all in September.

James Kearney, Head of Sotogrande International School
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