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iCad+ – WSA Q and A

iCad+ – WSA Q and A

Caption: Students studying at iCademy in Dubai, UAE. iCad+ is a group within iCademy, with a focus on students with learning difficulties.

What is the name of your school or institution?
Our group is called the iCad + group- we are part of iCademy Middle East.

What qualities and characteristics would you say define iCad+?
Our iCad+ program is a learning program developed by iCademy Middle East to support the academic and broader learning needs of students with special educational needs, and importantly the additional language needs of these students who are also bilingual learners.

Our program is aimed at serving the whole student by focusing on both life skills and educational outcomes. We recognize the need to focus on long term objectives for our students, to provide them with an optimal platform of confidence and independent living skills to transition to life after schooling. Our wide range of modules for example, Personal Safety, Rights and Responsibilities in the workplace, and Dealing with problems in Daily Life are designed help our students engage in real life issues in a supported environment as a way of developing maturity and personal responsibility.

Our iCad + group was specifically created to fill the gap, which we perceived in Dubai, to cater for students with mild to moderate learning difficulties. As such it is a unique environment in Dubai: by working in a small group setting we are able to focus on individualized objectives for our students with a range of special educational needs, whilst retaining an inclusive ethos. Our students, as valued members of our wider iCademy Middle East community, participate in all iCademy Middle East school events e.g. Sports Day, National Day, school trips, and camp.

How many nationalities are represented within iCad group?
There are currently 10 nationalities represented within the Group.

Are there high proportions of a particular nationality?
We have a fairly equal mix of students from the Mena region, European and Asian students – more specifically we have British, Saudi, Egyptian, Pakistani, Yemeni, Kuwaiti, Russian, Ukrainian, Dutch, Nigerian and Greek students.

What is the teacher: student ratio of iCad?
We maintain a ratio of support of 1:6 in the iCad + group. 1:8 in the Employability Group.


Does iCad have a waiting list?
No. To find out about admissions, you may go to www.icademymiddleeast.com. You may also call +971 4 440 1212 for more information.

Can iCad play a part in promoting healthy lifestyles?
In line with the rest of ICademy Middle East we promote a healthy lifestyle within our group. Our students take a specific module, Healthy Living, in their Asdan Personal Social Development course. Our focus on life skills in cooking classes, our exercise classes and another module of Personal Social Development called Use of Leisure Time, are all geared towards building long term healthy habits in our students.

Physical education and sport is an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle. How does iCad ensure children engage in physical activity?
We have swimming classes weekly with a swimming coach as a way of improving swimming skills, safety in the water and general fitness.

Our students choose between sailing and the gym as their physical activity on Wednesday afternoons. In general, the younger group go sailing at DOSC once a week between October and May; and the older students have sessions with a personal trainer at Engine gym in Jumeirah.

How do you promote healthy eating?
We operate a ‘no soda policy’ for our students and our students are asked to bring healthy lunches; i.e. no crisps, sweets or fizzy drinks, and including a variety of proteins, carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables. Our Healthy Living module provides an overview of good nutrition principles that are necessary for a healthy life, and we reinforce these principles in our regular cooking classes.

Does iCad have cafeteria facilities for its students?

What is the starting and finishing time of your school day?
Sunday – Wednesdays: 8.00 a.m. – 2.15 p.m.
Thursday: 8.00 a.m. – 1.30 p.m.

Is there an iCad ‘school’ uniform?

Please advise on the iCad discipline policy?
Our iCad + group as part of iCademy Middle East strives to maintain a positive learning environment where students, families, teachers, and staff are treated with respect, and where they respect the personal rights and property of others. We are governed by the same Code of Conduct as others students enrolled in iCademy Middle East. This is explained more fully in the Q+A for iCademy Middle East.

How does iCad differentiate learning?
At the beginning of each school year, students take the Scantron Diagnostic Assessments (grades 3–8) in English and Math to pinpoint proficiency levels, which helps us create meaningful targets for each student, and allows us to measure progress over the school year.

We differentiate for students in our group by narrowing the academic focus to allow concentration on core subjects of English, Math and Science/History; we adapt the pace as appropriate for the student (for example, we allow a grade to be taken over 2 years); and, we can differentiate by choosing the most appropriate grade level for the individual student by subject. This allows us a flexible and responsive approach to each individual’s learning profile.

Our students have individualized learning objectives which incorporate a broader focus on personal development in addition to traditional academic objectives; for example, social communication, personal organization, dealing with confrontation etc. as we maintain that these objectives are vitally important to the student’s long term adaptability and personal success.

Do you develop independent learning through homework and, if so, what are your recommendations regarding this, particularly time spent on homework?
For our students work that is not completed during the day can be completed after school hours as homework. In line with our overall approach we take on board the views of the family in terms of the amount of homework which we feel can be effectively supported by the family at home and keep in mind the stress that this can put on all involved.

How do you feedback progress and attainment to students and parents?
As expected in a small group environment we have an open door policy and have regular informal contact with many parents each day at drop off and collection. For others there is regular contact by email or phone.

For feedback on academic work, because of the nature of our online curriculum, all students and teachers have constant access to the gradebook and student progress via their own student or parent account.

How often is the more formal feedback such as reports and parent/teacher meetings?
We have two formal reports per year prepared by teachers in the iCad+ group which encompasses the full range of our iCad + curriculum. We have parent teacher meetings to discuss these reports, but we are always happy to arrange meetings to discuss progress as and when required.

In addition, our parents can access online support for the K12 academic subjects from our online teachers who are assigned to students and communicate with students and parents on a regular basis through Kmail and online web conferencing.

Is Arabic taught as both a first language at iCad?

Do you offer EAL or TEFL support for those students where English is not their first language?
Yes, we have within our group an EAL teacher. It is a particular focus of our group to support our bilingual learners’ learning needs. Many of our bilingual students may have residual issues in language learning which can undermine their academic success. Therefore, teachers within our group collaborate with our EAL teacher to support these additional language needs, and by incorporating this EAL element into our English literacy program we are able to provide individualized support.

Some of our students may also participate in an innovative hybrid ELL program developed for K12 Middle East by Advance Consulting for Education (http://www.aceducation.com).

Is Islamic Education/Studies for the Arab Muslim students delivered in Arabic for them?
Yes. iCademy Middle East meets the requirements set by the UAE Ministry of Education in respect to the Arabic Language, Islamic and Social Studies curriculum. Qualified teachers teach UAE approved Social Studies, Islamic Studies, and Arabic via our online whiteboard, Class Connect, and also incorporate homework and exams. The Ministry of Education curriculum is used, comparable to that of traditional (non-hybrid) schools in the UAE.

Do you have a dedicated prayer room/s for the Muslim students?
Not in the Centre, but one is available in the building.

If external examinations and assessments are part of your curriculum, which ones do you offer?
Our ASDAN accredited courses, presently of Personal Social Development and Employability, are externally assessed in the UK.

Our other K12 subjects academic subjects are assessed within iCademy Middle East by our teachers.

What is you medium of instruction?
We took as the basis of our iCad + curriculum, our online American K12 core academic subjects of English, Math and Science or History; alongside the UK’s ASDAN accredited courses in Personal Social Development and Employability; and, individualized ESL support.

The + element, represented in the name of our group, iCad +, encapsulates these additional life skill elements which have enhanced our online academic curriculum.

We manage a unique balance of a blended learning online program for our academic K12 subjects with a focus on experiential learning in a small group setting for our life skills subjects. We believe that this provides the best of both worlds: our modern state of the art technology driven K12 curriculum together with hands- on kinaesthetic learning.

To what level can you offer support for those with learning differences?
Our group has been set up to specifically cater for students with a range of mild/moderate learning difficulties. Our small group approach, narrowed focus on core academic subjects, and sensitive pace allows us to foster as much meaningful engagement as possible for each individual student.

Can you also support gifted, able and talented students?
Some of our students may show a gift in a particular area, for example art, or sport; we believe in nurturing each individual student’s gift and interests.

Does your school have particular expertise in dealing with a specific learning need such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, aspergers syndrome and so forth?
Most of the students in our group have a wide range of learning issues including Dyslexia, Dyspraxia , ADD, ADHD, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Speech Language and Communication Difficulties and General Learning Difficulties. Many of our students also have underlying issues with anxiety, sometimes exacerbated by their experiences in previous schools.

Kindly provide details on the support for specific learning needs your school provides?
We are used to creating individualized support for our students and have experience in delivering, for example, intensive reading intervention for our students. We use the K12 Mark Reading Remedial Program for Mastery, Acceleration and Remediation of reading issues. Our MARK12 courses are for students who are working between a third to fifth grade level who are struggling readers. MARK12 Reading I gives students who are reading several grades below grade level the opportunity to master missed concepts in a way that accelerates them through the remediation process by incorporating adaptivity and online assessments. Students work independently and with our support to develop oral reading, comprehension, phonics, spelling, and fluency skills. They also practice grammar, usage, mechanics, and composition. The engaging course features new graphics, learning tools, and games; adaptive activities that help struggling students master concepts and skills before moving on.

Does iCad have an educational psychologist or access to one to assess and support those youngsters with more challenging learning and emotional needs?
As necessary, we can provide referrals to licensed U.A.E. educational psychologists. We have worked closely over the last few years with Speech and Language therapists and Applied Behaviour Analysts in Dubai.

Do you have a parents’ group?
We have a Facebook group so that parents from all over the GCC can connect to provide one another support, answer questions, and express concerns.

Are there opportunities for parents to support the learning, activities and events?
Our students and families interact with teachers and other students through regular outings and field trips. Many of these activities are culturally and educationally oriented—visits to the Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque, Desert Clean Up and Dubai’s Bastikiya have been among the events. We welcome participation in most trips by parents and siblings.

Our iCad + group also organize a special event each year to entertain their families where students can demonstrate the cooking skills learnt during year. This is a great opportunity for families to get to know each other and also to see how their son/daughter has gained in confidence in the jobs they are assigned at the party.

Is there an opportunity for parental representation on your Board of Governors?
Yes. Our newly-formed Board of Governors seeks representation from at least two additional parents; please contact the enrollment office for more information or email dclaver [at] icademydubai.com.

Do you offer specific activities, events or information sessions for those parents new to the school?
Yes—we offer Open Houses and Coffee Mornings periodically at Dubai Knowledge Village as well as at our other Learning Centers. Please contact the enrollment office for a current schedule at +971 440 1212.


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