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Top Ten Highlights from School Visits, Part I

Top Ten Highlights from School Visits, Part I

Here is the first in an occasional series when one of our team of highly experienced school reviewers reflects on their recent visits to schools, highlighting areas of ‘best practice’ that caught their attention. Pom Mullan, who has been with us for four years and has more than 25 years teaching experience in the UK and UAE picks out ten areas which could potentially inspire other schools:

1 Extra-curricular activities at Cranleigh Abu Dhabi are not extra at all but are closely woven into the school day. They have a full-time dance teacher and it’s compulsory for students to study the subject into secondary school. It’s common when walking around the school to see students engaged in a variety of art and performance subjects in many of the public areas. The architecture of the school encourages such activity.

2 Community support at Safa British School, Dubai, Al Quoz. The school has been rightly celebrated for welcoming the children from two families fleeing the Syrian conflict into the heart of their school. Surely an example that others could follow?

3 STEM at GEMS Wellington International School, Dubai. Superb facilities including a fully equipped space observatory and huge teams – 15 in Science and 13 in Maths – underline a highly ambitious approach to these subjects at the school. The well qualified international team work incredibly closely together and are rightly proud of their results.

4 Innovation at JSS. Evidence of creative thinking and entrepreneurial endeavor abounds at the school. A group of Y9 students have created hand soap which they can sell and which is used throughout the school. They also have a bank and run a radio station which is played throughout the school during break and lunchtimes.

5 Mindfulness at Dubai College. Current head Mike Lambert pioneered the introduction of mindfulness classes in his previous role as head of sixth form. The success of this project has led to the widespread application of mindfulness techniques throughout the school, a trend that many other schools are now following.

6 English as an Alternative Language (EAL) at Emirates International School, Jumeirah. An incredible 95% of students arrive at the school with little or no English. According to Barbara Exley, head of primary, herself a language expert many of these children are able to communicate adequately in English within a month of arrival.

7 Head-teacher involvement at Hartland International School. Fiona Cottam, the principal is a music specialist who rather than teach during the busy day prefers to contribute at all musical concerts and events by playing the piano.

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8 Teaching according to pace of learning at The English College Dubai. Many schools stream children according to ability with more able children working on more difficult material than their peers. Fahad Kahlaoui, former head of maths and now a senior leader, pioneered a programme along with his team to teach all of the children the same material but at their individual pace of learning. The results at GCSE have been exceptional for a mixed ability school.

9 Maintaining mother tongue ability and cultural links at Greenfield Community School. GCS is known around town for its excellent mother tongue programme. The head of language has developed a link with international embassies in Dubai so students can interact with other children from their home countries.

10 An innovative start to the day at Clarion. Pupils, parents and staff meet in the entrance hall at drop off where a qualified T’ai Chi master conducts a short but focused session of movement and breathing to bring focus to the day ahead. Beats the usual double espresso!

If you as a school believe that you have a hidden gem which you would like to share with the broader school and parent community in the UAE please feel free to contact us on pommullan@WhichSchoolAdvisor.com and we’ll be happy to arrange a visit.

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