E D U C AT I ON E M I R AT E S
I S S U E 4 • 2 01 8
IS SUE 4 • 2018
Classrooms will never be the same
Why Early Years should be fun
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The literature festival for kids
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CONTENTS ISSUE 4 • 2018
GROUP EDITOR UA E
UP FR O NT
PUBL ISHER UA E
8 FROM THE KHDA
The future of education
A DV ERTISING M A NAGER
20 COMING SOON
Meet the heads from five new schools
A RT DIR ECTOR
28 ALL CHANGE
S CHO O L 'S IN
Pawel Kuba, Linsey Cannon
An interview with Aldar Academies' CEO
32 GETTING PREPPY
Inside Foremarke School, Dubai
Catherine Perkins, Rebecca Noonan
34 EARLY YEARS
PRODUCTION M A NAGER
42 CHOOSING TO BOARD
FINA NCE DIR ECTOR
The importance of play-based learning
How to pick the right boarding school
PA TO THE DIR ECTOR S
44 TECH TALK
How technology will change classrooms
46 THE RIGHT CAREER
Greg Hughes, Alexandra Hunter
DIR ECTOR S
Why guidance in schools is more important now
PUBL ISHING DIR ECTOR
48 BIFF, CHIP AND KIPPER
The duo behind the famous reading scheme
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52 POSITIVE IMPACT
What the new policy means for families
55 ALL TOGETHER
How family-centred care is taking over
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57 EMBRACING CHANGE Why a culture change is needed BEING A PARENT
60 NURTURING ADULTS
Top tips on serviving the tough teenage years
64 READING IS KEY
Why literacy has never been more important S CHOOL'S OUT
70 WORDS MATTER
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature
80 CREATIVE CLASSES Extra-curricular art should be a priority
F RO NT COV E R
82 LAST WORD
The cover depicts pupils at Repton School Dubai, reptondubai.org
GEMS Education CEO, Dino Varkey
E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S
• E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S •
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Consultant, Gabbitas Middle East
Sophie Oakes specialises in Early Years education and possesses a comprehensive knowledge of nursery and junior schools in Dubai and in the UK. She has two children who have been educated in the UK and Dubai. In this issue of Education Emirates, she weighs up the pros and cons of children receiving an international education. Spoiler: there are more positives than negatives.
Director Middle East, Gabbitas Education
Fiona McKenzie has over 30 years’ experience in independent education across the UAE, UK and Australia. She moved to Dubai in 2010. In this issue, Fiona offers advice to parents bringing up teenagers (she has raised four herself) and also waxes lyrical on the importance of reading books for pleasure in a time when technology is taking over.
Readly offers the freedom to effortlessly glide between articles and features that consider every essential piece of advice and info needed for education in the independent sector.
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Gregg Sedgwick Founder of Gallery One
Gregg Sedgwick is a British artist, designer and photographer based in England and Dubai. He began a career in branding and design and opened a group of renowned galleries, Gallery One, building a reputation as a photo-graphic artist. In this issue, he talks about why it is so important for creative children to follow their passions by taking extra-curricular art classes.
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01/11/2017 12:35 23/01/2018 10:00
We l c o m e
he late, great comedian and actor Robin Williams once said: “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” It was when he played the inspirational English teacher John Keating in the 1989 drama, Dead Poet’s Society. And nearly 30 years on, in a time of unprecendented change, these words ring truer than ever. This issue of Education Emirates focuses on change. On the changing educational landscape in the UAE, to be specific. But, in order to explore that, we must also look at everything else that is going on around the planet, from changing policies on careers guidance in the UK to rapid technological advances in Silicon Valley, and how we are looking to tackle an uncertain, digitallydriven future. After all, the world will change more
way of teaching our children to broaden their creative horizons, while learning empathy for others, is through the world of literature. That’s why, from page 70, we also have an essential guide to the Children’s Programme at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, which takes place from 1-10 March. As this incredible celebration of words and ideas marks its tenth anniversary, this year it invites more than 180 top writers from across the globe to Dubai for ten days of readings, talks, workshops, activities, and more, to spark the curiosities of both kids and adults. The ability to read is the key to opening new worlds, argues Fiona McKenzie, Director of Gabbitas Education Middle East, on page 64. In the Information Age, she says, reading for pleasure has never been so important, as it fires up imaginations, facilitates learning, boosts
“CREATIVITY AND COMPASSION WILL ALWAYS BE THE CORNERSTONES OF HUMAN EXISTENCE” in the next 20 years than it has in the last 300, says Dr Abdulla Al Karam, the Director General of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), in his piece on the future of education, from page 8. Dr Abdulla also says, however, that all is not lost. Yes, we are going through an unparalleled period of development, and we only have an inkling of what the next 10, 20, 30 years hold. Yet, one thing we can rely on, for us and our children, is that creativity and compassion will always remain the cornerstones of human existence. And one surefire
communication skills, and challenges you to learn something new, or think differently. And so, in this issue, as the UAE educational landscape continues to transform itself in preparation for this unknown future, we’re sharing the words and ideas of those educators, writers, readers and policymakers who really are changing our world. Enjoy!
Kat y Gillett GROUP EDITOR
2018 | E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S | 7
n the movie The Terminator, an artificial intelligence (AI) cyborg from 2029 travels back in time to kill the mother of a man who will eventually lead a resistance movement against machines. It is a fairly grim scenario, even more so when we realise that the real-world 2029 is just over 10 years away. In movies and books, the future is often imagined in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world in which humans and the way they live are under threat. There are few films that portray the future as a happier, cleaner and more harmonious version of our world today. And when we read the stories and the data, it is easy to see why many of us feel apprehensive: 65% of children entering primary school today will go on to work in jobs that do not yet exist; we will soon have robot teachers and robot doctors; and the world will change more in the next 20 years than it has in the last 300. While these claims will likely come true, the good news is that we are not helpless. We, as parents, teachers and policymakers, are able to take steps to ensure this world of the future is one in which our children will thrive personally and professionally, and one in which they will lead happy, purposeful and productive lives (without fear of being pursued by Arnold Schwarzenegger). To be able to do this, it is our responsibility to reconsider our understanding of education and the purpose it serves. Traditionally, education has been regarded as a tool that prepares children 8
E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S
A FINE FUTURE We can all take steps to make sure our children continue to thrive and be happy DR ABDULLA AL KARAM
FOR EWOR D / K HDA
“The world will change more in the next 20 years than it has in the last 300” for work. Yet the world of work is changing. Employers, driven by the need to innovate, are not waiting for schools and universities to change how they “do” education; instead, they are changing their recruitment policies to recognise the talents of those overlooked by current schooling systems. Recently, Ernst and Young, one of the “Big 4” management consultancies, removed academic qualifications from their entry criteria for graduates. They are not the only ones: PricewaterhouseCoopers, Apple and Google are also saying that university degrees are no longer necessary. They have done this because they can see that the type of graduates our education systems are producing are not always who they need. And if these big companies are doing this, we can be fairly sure that the smaller ones will follow. So what kind of graduates do these companies need? In a recent study on the future of work, the Australian Department of Employment identified that the jobs least likely to be affected by automation and AI will be those that require the “human touch” – not simply knowledge, but skills like creativity, problem-solving, social interaction and emotional intelligence. In his book Technology vs Humanity, futurist Gerd Leonhard suggests that our focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) must now include
another part of the apple – the CORE. ABOVE & BELOW Creativity, The KHDA offices embody the spirit of Originality, happiness and wellbeing Responsibility and Empathy will become students’ strongest assets as they negotiate their way in the world of the future. The Principal of Trinity School, an exclusive private school in Manhattan, goes one step further. It is not only important to change how and what students learn, he suggests, but also how they use what they learn. An elite education that prioritises superior achievement without service to others leads to “spiritually barren individualism unredeemed by a commitment to purposes beyond the self”, which, ultimately, results in “unhappiness and meaninglessness”. His belief reflects the culture of leading employers: that a prosperous company, just like a prosperous community, is built by contributions, not claims; by what we give, not by what we demand; and by what we can achieve together, not by what we can make alone. The next step for us is then to identify the best predictor of skills like creativity, collaboration and empathy, and to make more of it. The answer to this, you will not be surprised to hear, is not academic performance, but wellbeing. The old adage goes that “if you treasure it, measure it”. Research has shown the positive impact of wellbeing in education LEFT Dr Abdulla Al Karam
and the importance of positive education in enabling our children to flourish. Late last year, we began the Dubai Student Wellbeing Census, a five-year project to measure the wellbeing of middle school students in Dubai. More than 65,000 students from private schools completed the census, giving us information about the quality of their relationships at home and at school, how well they feel supported at school, and their lifestyle, plus more. We will be releasing the results of the census this February, and every participating school will receive anonymised results about the wellbeing of its own students. Schools will then have access to the data and tools to enable them to make policies and action plans to further improve the wellbeing of their students. In time, we hope that parents will come to choose schools based not just on academic merit, but also on how happy their students are. We imagine a world of the future in which we have meaningful relationships with each other; in which our lives are filled with purpose and positivity; and in which we measure our worth not by how much we have but by how much we give. And by working together, we’re aiming to create this world for Dubai, for everyone living here – a future world in which The Terminator is nowhere in sight.
DR ABDULLA AL K ARAM Director General Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) 2018
E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S
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Up Front SCHOOL NEWS P . 12 COMING SOON P . 20 ALDAR ACADEMIES P . 28
REPTON SCHOOL DUBAI
T E N -Y E A R M A R K
Repton School Dubai, which is also pictured on the cover of this issue of Education Emirates, is marking ten years in the city by offering discounts on annual fees. It has also introduced a slew of new scholarship opportunities. Turn to page 14 for more information.
E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S
All Hear t The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), a Sharjah-based humanitarian charity dedicated to helping refugees and people in need worldwide, has announced a new large-scale secondary school for students with hearing impairment in the West Bank, Palestine. The 2,000-square-metre project will include a high school and dormitory to serve students aged five to 18 from all Palestinian cities. It is set to be complete within two years.
FULL SPEED Repton School Dubai recently took part in the World Finals for the Land Rover 4x4 Schools Tehcnology Challenge for the first time with a five-member team, winning awards for Sustainability and Best Newcomer. The challenge saw team members working together to design and build a radio-controlled four-wheel drive vehicle to set specifications. It was the only school representing the UAE at the finals, which took place in Abu Dhabi, and it came in 10th in the world.
“The challenge saw the team design and build a four-wheel drive vehicle”
A brand-new website has been unveiled by JESS, Dubai. It was developed in conjunction with UK-based company Interactive Schools, and features students and staff interacting with a map of the world in a Minority Report style, to reflect the global reach of the school. The new site also illustrates the school’s drive to ensure students are “future ready”.
At The World Scholar’s Cup final, held at Yale University in November 2017, Taaleem’s Raha International School (RIS) team secured top places in regional and global rounds. RIS students Abel, Monica and Victor came in 8th place at the Tournament of Champions, and won gold medals in the Scholar’s Bowl, Collaborative Writing, Debating and The Team Challenge.
BECAUSE WE’RE HAPPY The Ministry of Health and Prevention is working with the University of Birmingham, which opens in Dubai this year, in order to make the UAE one of the “happiest countries in the world”. The project will see academic experts work with the Ministry to identify ways social and cultural cohesion can be boosted.
“The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts, but of values.” WILLIAM S BURROUGHS
E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S
UPFRON T / NEWS
Climate Control Along with Target4Green, Ajman Academy is the host school for Beyond Cop 21/ Symposium, taking place on 8 February. The event consists of presentations from, and discussions with, speakers on the Agenda 2030 and climate negotiations in and beyond Paris.
MIND M AT T E R S MindChamps Nursery has officially opened in Bloom Gardens, Abu Dhabi. It will be the first of its kind in the Middle East. Further nurseries from the respected international brand are also set to open throughout the emirates this year, including a branch in Al Safa, Dubai this February. The education model is based on nearly two decades of research in neuroscience, psychology and theatre. The capital’s branch is open for children aged 45 days to four years. Admissions in Dubai are also now open.
F O R T H E LOV E O F WO R DS As part of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, contemporary poets from the UAE and UK will unite on stage at Dubai Opera for a celebration of poetry across cultures. The event, dubbed For the Love of Words, will take place on Tuesday 6 March, from 8pm to 10pm, and is supported by the UK GREAT campaign. Tickets start from AED75, available from dubaiopera.com.
Sports Stars The Greenfield Community School Under 16 boys basketball team has gone from struggling in Division 4 to winning the DASSA Division 1 championship title this season. In the semi-final, the boys battled against arch-rivals and sister school Uptown School in a nail-biting match. There might be a movie deal next!
“Change is the end result of all true learning.” L E O B A S C AG L I A
SOMETHING THEY SAID
“Early childhood education is the key to the betterment of society” MARIA MONTESSORI
E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S
UPFRON T / NEWS
On the COVER Repton School Dubai marked its ten-year anniversary by offering parents a discount K AT Y G I L L E T T
epton School Dubai, which is featured on the cover of this issue of Education Emirates, recently marked its ten-year anniversary in the city, celebrating “a decade of excellence in education” as an Outstanding School. On the occasion, the UK curriculum institution, which is partner to the renowned Repton School in England, has introduced a few significant changes, as it responds to growing family demands in the UAE. One
such initiative includes a reduction in fees by an average of ten per cent, effective from the 2018/19 academic year, in order to help alleviate current economic pressure on parents. It also implemented a freeze on Junior School fees. In line with the tenth anniversary milestone, Repton Dubai also announced the launch of ten new scholarships that will be awarded to independent, creative thinkers with broad intellectual interests, from Year 5 to Year 8. Chosen individuals will also be offered a ten per cent discount on annual school fees.
“The 10-year milestone of Repton Dubai is a proud moment for us,” comments David Cook, Headmaster of Repton School Dubai, “as we reflect on the journey of the school in empowering our pupils by harnessing their inherent potential while being guided by our pastoral care focus. “We will continue to work on expanding our focus on world-class education beyond the classroom and academic results by giving our pupils opportunities to build their character and really flourish as individuals.” reptondubai.org
“WE WILL CONTINUE TO WORK ON EXPANDING OUR FOCUS ON WORLD-CLASS EDUCATION BEYOND THE CLASSROOM” 14 | E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S | 2018
EE_Issue6_News - On The Cover.indd 14
Taaleem schools. Inspiring the learners of today to become the leaders of tomorrow.
At Taaleem we pride ourselves in preparing our students for a future even they cannot yet imagine and to become compassionate and lifelong learners. We are passionate about oﬀering our students the very best of learning environments in which to ﬂourish. The International Baccalaureate (IB), New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and Council of International Schools (CIS) accredit our schools and our students are accepted into Oxbridge and Ivy League universities. Find out more about the Taaleem family of schools: www.taaleem.ae
The Taaleem family of schools: Multi-lingual Pre-schools Dubai The Children’s Garden Green Community/DIP 2 years to 6 years T +971 (0)4 885 3484 www.childrensgarden.ae The Children’s Garden Al Barsha 2 2 years to 6 years T +971 (0)4 399 0160 www.childrensgarden.ae
IB World Schools Abu Dhabi Raha International School Khalifa City, EY 1 to G 12 T +971 (0)2 556 1567 www.ris.ae
The National Curriculum for England Dubai Dubai British Foundation Jumeirah Islands, FS 1 and 2 T +971 (0)4 558 7308 www.dubaibritishfs.ae
Dubai Greenﬁeld Community School Dubai Investments Park KG 1 to G 12 T +971 (0)4 885 6600 www.gcschool.ae
Dubai British School Jumeirah Park Jumeirah Park, Yr 1 to 13 T +971 (0)4 552 0247 www.dubaibritishschooljp.ae
Jumeira Baccalaureate School Jumeira 1, Pre-KG to G 12 T +971 (0)4 344 6931 www.jbschool.ae Uptown School Mirdif, Pre-KG to G12 T +971 (0)4 251 5001 www.uptownschool.ae
Dubai British School The Springs, FS 1 to Yr 13 T +971 (0)4 361 9361 www.dubaibritishschool.ae American Curriculum Dubai Al-Mizhar American Academy Mirdif Area, Mizhar, Pre-KG to G 12 T +971 (0)4 288 7250 www.americanacademy.ae
www.taaleem.ae TALEEM.indd 1
UPFRON T / VAT
Virtues of VAT Financial expert Keren Bobker offers advice to families on how to cope with the extra costs of value-added tax K AT Y G I L L E T T
hile many of us will agree that the introduction of 5% value-added tax (VAT) on 1 January 2018 is a positive move for the UAE and its economy, the extra living costs have also caused a stir, particularly for parents who are already paying out large sums for school fees. As the country, its citizens and corporations get used to the change of regulations, we speak to financial advisor Keren Bobker, about how we can learn to manage our family bank balance better.
What are some of the biggest myths and misconceptions surrounding the introduction of VAT in the UAE? A There is a perception held by some that VAT is unfair in some way, but the simple fact is that it costs money to run a major city and 5% is lower than most other countries.
cent without a great deal of effort. I think everyone will be looking for special offers and discounts this year.
A B OV E
â€œMost of us can reduce our outgoings by a few per cent without a great deal of effortâ€? How much of an impact will the extra costs realistically have on expats living in the UAE? A This is going to have an impact on us all, but VAT is a fact of life, and most people will adjust in time. It will have a larger effect on those with the lowest incomes. Q
What aspect of it will have the biggest impact? A While businesses will have to bear some additional costs as the system gets up and running, the real cost to them is in the accounting time, as VAT is reclaimable Q
Use a budget to reduce outgoings
along the business chain. The real impact will be on consumers, as prices of most goods and services have increased. How will the tax affect families? Although the main school fees are zerorated, any extras, such as extra-curricular activities, uniforms, any clubs or hobbies, are now subject to VAT. Many of these costs cannot be avoided. This is extra tough as fewer employers pay even the basic education fees in full these days. Q
Q What issues have you seen so far since VAT was introduced on 1 January? A There has been a great deal of confusion as, despite there being plenty of warning VAT was on its way, many businesses did not plan, or have not taken expert advice as to how it operates. There is good guidance on the government websites, but I am seeing cases where it has been misunderstood and wrongly applied. It is also not unusual for businesses to increase their prices at the start of the year, as they try and keep up with inflation and increased staff costs. These increases, together with the 5% VAT, have caught many consumers by surprise.
Q How would you advise parents to offset these extra costs? A There is little we can do to avoid the costs, as any business with a turnover in excess of AED385,000 a year must register for and charge VAT. There are many small businesses, ones that are trading with a proper licence, which have a turnover below the threshold and buying from them will mean a bill without VAT. That is limiting, however, so this is a good opportunity for people to reassess their spending. Keep a proper budget, see where money is being wasted, and cut back accordingly. Most of us can reduce our outgoings by a few per
What is the most important piece of financial advice you could offer parents? A If the increases are affecting you then you need to start by keeping a budget for all your expenses and using this as a springboard to reducing outgoings. Sensible spending and good financial planning can make all the difference. Q
KEREN BOBKER Senior Partner Holborn Assets; financialuae.com 2018 | E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S | 17
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E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S
SOON Meet the Heads and Founding Directors behind five of the UAE’s newest schools K AT Y G I L L E T T
Brighton College Dubai A third branch of this renowned and academically successful co-educational school from the UK is set to open its doors in Dubai in September 2018. Brighton College UK was established in 1845, and has received numerous awards and recognitions over the years since. In the UAE, where there are already branches in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, it has also reported high levels of success, with its students gaining places at Harvard and Oxford. The 40,000-square-metre campus, designed by Brighton College and local partners Bloom Education, will offer large, airy classrooms, an auditorium and black box performance space, music and art facilities, and a range of sporting amenities, including a 25-metre swimming pool, running track, football pitches, tennis and basketball courts, as well as a cricket and rugby field. A Creative Learning Centre will also enable teachers to deliver lessons using the latest educational technology.
The UAE’s third branch will open in Barsha South in September 2018
YEARS: FS1-Year 13 (up to Year 9 in the first year of operation) CURRICULUM: British LOCATION: Barsha South PRICE: AED64,000-107,000 (founders’ fee discounts are also available) brightoncollegedubai.com
20 | E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S | 2018
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UPFRON T / NE W SCHOOLS
MARCO LONGMORE HEAD MASTER
arco Longmore, who has been named Head Master of Brighton College Dubai, has more than 25 years of teaching experience, and previously worked at four leading HMC Schools in Edinburgh and London, as well as an ambassador and leader of discussion on broader educational and political fields. Longmore, a 47-year-old Scot, studied History at the University of Edinburgh before starting his career in education in 1991 at George Heriot’s School. Just as he moves to Dubai with his wife and two children, he tells us about his hopes for the future of his new institution…
Q What are you most looking forward to with the opening of the new branch of Brighton College in Dubai? A Brighton College was named as the “The Most Forward Thinking School in Britain” in Autumn 2017 by The Week magazine. Our campus will give expression to this as we open and develop in the years ahead. An example of what is meant is seen in our own Creative Learning Centre, which will be a true reflection of that which recently opened at Brighton College UK. The use and development of this centre is one of the many areas that Brighton College Dubai can link to our sister schools around the world. Across my professional experience of four leading HMC independent schools in the UK, I have seen many great features of traditional British education, each with a forwardthinking ambition. Our purpose in the UAE with Brighton College is to found in Dubai our authentic vision of leading British curriculum schooling based on the excellence seen at Brighton College UK. This is already exemplified by our sister schools in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, which have established themselves among the top schools in the Middle East, and that will also be my goal for Brighton College Dubai.
How will this school differ to the other campuses in the UAE? A Brighton College Dubai offers the excellence of a broad and enriching Brighton education to the pupils of Dubai in what will be a unique combination of facilities in the city, based out of our self-contained campus for Brighton College, as well as access to common additional resources for sport, arts and performance adjacent to the school. The Centre of Excellence for Arabic Language, Culture and Arts will offer a comprehensive and engaging educational programme focused on the learning and retaining of the Arabic language for pupils of all ages, including native and non-native speakers. It will also provide training and support for Q
teachers of the Arabic curricula subjects to guarantee the implementation of excellent pedagogical practices and standards across all Arabic subjects, and ensure a positive learning environment for all students. The centre will also provide opportunities for immersion in the rich Arabian culture and heritage through an appreciation for its art, music and traditions. Q Within the UAE education landscape, what policies do you find most interesting and exciting? A The UAE vision for outward engagement is based on a fundamental appreciation of the importance of communication and connectivity. To support this, a key focus for Brighton in Dubai will be the enrichment of the teaching and learning of the Arabic language, so that we can make a notable contribution to the National Agenda for education. I want our Arabic teachers to enthuse about their subject and to inspire their pupils to achieve outstanding results. Our Creative Learning Centre is also a source of generating innovative approaches to learning, which is very learner-centred and ties in with priorities on engagement in learning and innovation. Q How would you describe your leadership style? A Everything that is achieved within a school is based on the hard work and endeavour of pupils, staff and the wider community. My aim is to provide an environment where individuals and groups feel confident and empowered to make decisions and then follow these through with concerted action. Delegated autonomy with accountability is how I know Brighton College Dubai will flourish and I am excited by the enthusiasm of applicants as they have come forward seeking positions at the school. My task, and that of the management team, is to structure and direct that enthusiasm, just as all staff are charged to structure and direct the enthusiasm of our pupils.
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Dwight is well regarded across the world for its rigorous IB curriculum
Dwight School Dubai For those in the know, the reputation of Dwight School precedes itself. Founded in 1872, Dwight boasts campuses around the world and is particularly well regarded for its academically rigorous IB curriculum – in fact, it is recognised by the IB Organization as a world leader in international education. Dwight School Dubai will be located on a 40,000-square-metre campus and will be its first school in the Middle East. Its facilities include: a 25-metre pool, training pool, basketball courts, tennis and squash courts, a full soccer pitch, 400-metre running track, auditorium, specialist labs and innovation centres. And, of course, it will offer the same style of personalised learning Dwight has become well known for, including the Spark Tank programme, which allows students to create products and develop businesses, from idea to market infiltration, while still at school. YEARS: Pre-KG-Grade 12 (up to Grade 9 in the first year) CURRICULUM: International Baccalaureate (IB) LOCATION: Al Barsha South PRICE: AED114,000-130,000 (founders’ fee discounts are also available) dwightschooldubai.ae
JANECKE AARNAES HEAD OF SCHOOL
anecke Aarnaes brings more than 22 years of teaching experience with her to Dubai. Prior to this role, she was Head of School at Oslo International School in Norway, and has had a range of senior roles in the education sector. She has worked in business development, with private educational start-ups and was also Officer to the College of the EFTA Surveillance Authority in Belgium, which monitored implementation of EU legislation from Brussels. She is also a board member of the ECIS, the Educational Collaborative for International Schools. Just after her arrival in Dubai, with her husband and two teenage sons, we find out what she has planned for her new role... What is unique about Dwight? The Dwight legacy introduces the values of a truly personalised Q A
international learning experience for each student through the academically rigorous IB curriculum. Dwight is dedicated to “igniting the spark of genius” in every child. At Dwight we recognise that no two students are the same – therefore, no two student journeys at Dwight are the same. We have specialised in customising an educational path for every student based on interests and talents. Dwight School Dubai promises a unique attention to the individual child. Another exciting differentiator is that Dwight extends globally, with campuses across four continents; therefore my role has an added element of international outreach and interchange, hugely beneficial to both students and colleagues. A student admitted to Dwight Dubai is automatically admitted to Dwight New York, London, Seoul and Shanghai. What is Quest? Quest is a learning accelerator – a support programme designed by Dwight School New York over the past 25 years to bring Dwight’s promise of personalised learning to life for students with specific academic needs to enhance and promote their success. It is designed as additional support beyond the provision that the school will routinely offer in terms of differentiation, learning intervention Q A
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and specialist support. It is a bespoke programme planned in collaboration with parents and faculty. It replaces the need for parents to engage outside tutors to boost academic performance – which I understand a lot of families choose to do in Dubai – and uses the connections between the Quest mentor and the student’s teachers to enhance learning. It comprises tailor-made skill development and learning strategy tutorials; it is an enrichment programme that provides expert teachers for students who would benefit from enrichment in an academic discipline. Q How would you describe your leadership style? A I see myself as a democratic leader who is actively present and focuses on empowering my colleagues, as much as we empower our students to take responsibility for their own learning. I firmly believe that leaders need to model the behaviour we want the organisational culture to be recognised by. It is important to me to foster a culture of trust, passion and continuous transformation set in a collaborative, dynamic and change willing environment.
“Dwight is dedicated to ‘igniting the spark of genius’ in every child”
Fairgreen International School Fairgreen International School will be one of the first sustainbility-focused institutions in Dubai. It will offer the full IB continuum of education and largely incorporate sustainability as an integral part of its programme. This extends through the campus and architecture, to the curriculum and activities, featuring hands-on, project-based learning, technology initiatives and partnerships with experts. The campus will utilise solar power for all its energy needs, recycle all its water for agricultural use, and implement waste separation and wind energy generation. And the school will feature technology-enabled classrooms, labs and maker-spaces, as well as research and food production labs, a library and learning hub, and arts and music areas. Sports facilities include a pool, an indoor gym and auditorium, outdoor football field and courts. Students will also have access to Sustainable City’s Innovation Centre, Junior Innovation Centre, Equestrian Centre, and biking and jogging tracks. Not to mention the City’s bio-domes will serve as its Health, Wellness and Learning Centre, led by Mr Stephen Ritz (turn to page 75 for more). YEARS: Pre-KG-Grade 12 (up to Grade 8 in its first year) CURRICULUM: International Baccalaureate (IB) LOCATION: Sustainable City PRICE: AED50,000-88,000 (founders’ fee discounts are available) fairgreen.ae
FA I R G R E E N I N T E R N AT I O N A L SCHOOL
It will incorporate sustainability as part of its curriculum
GRAEME SCOTT THE FOUNDING DIRECTOR
airgreen International School has announced Graeme Scott, who has more than 30 years of international experience, as its Founding Director. Mr Scott has an Advanced Diploma of Educational Management from Leicester University, and will complete a Master’s Degree in Applied Educational Leadership with the University College London. He began teaching in the northeast of England, before moving overseas to take up senior leadership roles at IB schools in the Netherlands and Thailand, and joins Fairgreen after serving as Deputy Head of the International School Bangkok for six years. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of Sea Change Mentoring, a senior associate for EDUCCA (Australia) Education, and a regular consultant for Fieldwork Education (UK). We speak to him about the new school’s innovative approach in the UAE... Q How will sustainability be incorporated into Fairgreen’s classes and subjects? A Sustainability will be an integral part of the learning experience at Fairgreen, and not a bolt-on extra. We are currently developing our curriculum using the IB framework and integrating sustainability across all subject areas. Sustainability will be a common context for much of the learning our students will experience. In addition, after-school and lunchtime clubs will further enhance our students’ passion for sustainability, and our parent community will be involved, included and activated. For example, our students will be involved in the ‘Million Solar Stars’ initiative, promoting the use of clean energy sources. Fairgreen students will develop a deep understanding of the principles of environmental, social and economic responsibility. Q What kind of family is Fairgreen looking to attract? A Fairgreen families are forwardthinking, have a multicultural outlook,
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value internationalism, and appreciate the need for an education that excites, inspires, and challenges students, putting them at the forefront of cutting-edge sustainable innovation that makes an impact. Q What are your hopes for future Fairgreen students in regards to career progression and life skills? A Students will learn what it means to be a caring and responsible global citizen. And they will do so within an environment of high academic challenge, and extraordinary standards of care and support. All of this will be achieved within the framework of the IB, one of the most recognised and challenging educational programmes in the world. Our graduates will progress into leading careers in diverse fields, while bringing the values of sustainability to the forefront of their decision-making, ensuring the wellbeing of future generations. The need of the hour is for us to all think and act sustainably, from individual deeds to corporate frameworks to government policy, and this is the change that our graduates will effect in the world tomorrow. Q Why do you think Dubai is a good place for this kind of school? A Dubai and the UAE have incorporated sustainability as part of its national agenda, with specific goals for achieving environmental, social and economic sustainability. The country has made it a priority, which allows our students to experience the evolution of sustainable living from a concept on a page to the implementation of innovative measures that make an impact. Housed at The Sustainable City, Fairgreen’s learning facilities include a dedicated bio-dome and the city’s innovation programme dedicated to sustainability-related research and post-secondary education. Fairgreen’s students will have the exceptional privilege of access to the world’s foremost centres of sustainability research, technological advances and innovations, as well as companies and organisations that are built around sustainability, renewable energy use and environmental preservation.
“Fairgreen’s students will learn what it means to be a caring global citizen”
The Arbor School At The Arbor School the focus is on fostering a positive, caring school environment, which offers personalised learning pathways. This is the first co-ed school by Praxis Education, inspired and led by Dr Sa’ad Al-Omari, a Kuwait-born, Cambridge-trained environmental scientist, who is passionate about eco-literacy, environmental justice and ethics, all of which will be embedded within the curriculum through projectbased learning. The 30,000-square-metre campus will incorporate bio-domes, specialised science labs, art rooms, an auditorium and black box performance space, libraries, photography rooms and vocational workshop areas. There will also be a football pitch, multi-purpose sports hall, numerous outdoor courts and a swimming pool. YEARS: FS1-Year 13 (up to Year 6 in the first year of operation) CURRICULUM: National Curriculum for England LOCATION: Al Furjan PRICE: AED56,000-95,000 (founders’ fee discounts are available) thearborschool.ae
CHARLES GRAYHURST THE FOUNDING PRINCIPAL
harles Grayhurst, at one time, was Head of Geography, so perhaps it is no wonder he has ended up heading this brand-new eco-focused school. He has a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and Management from the University of Bath, UK and more than 20 years’ worth of experience in education and international school management across the world, as well as teaching on the cusp of the rainforests in South East Asia. He tells about his wonderful visions for The Arbor School in Dubai…
Q What is the main focus of The Arbor School? A It’s an eco-conscious, ethical school that focuses on elements
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“It is about helping children to recognise that the world is an interconnected place” them. If you look at current issues in schools, mental wellbeing is a massive problem across the board. The levels of anxiety and stress within students is skyrocketing, and it’s getting younger and younger, so we want to create a community and environment that is safe and happy, and where the children are learning real-life skills. A lot of schools may focus on university entrance, and that is important, but universities and academic qualifications are just one indicator of success. It gives you options in life, and it gives you better chances. But, for me, what really makes you a success is the person you are and the values you hold. Because, in 20 years’ time, we have no idea what the job market is going to look like and we have no idea what curricula skills the children might need, so you need solid literacy and numeracy, great IT skills, you need the kinds of skills that are developed through project-based learning, which we will offer. We need to make sure the children are gaining the type of experiences that are memorable, through their hands-on and place-based learning, and give them values so that no matter what type of job they go into they can work with others, they can work independently and they’re good people.
THE ARBOR SCHOOL
The focus is on eco-literacy, environmental justice and ethics
of eco-literacy, sustainability and environmental justice. It’s devised and built in a way that’s trying to respond to a lot of the pressures the world is facing. It focuses on project-based and experiential learning for the students, and it’s imbued with a sense of a values-based education. We’re focused very much on mindfulness and serenity, too. Essentially, it’s about developing in children that appreciation of their environment, their place within it, and how they recognise that the world is an interconnected place. It’s not simply just about recycling programmes, but that the children understand that politics is linked with economics, that economics is linked with the environment, and so once they know this they develop the skills through project-based learning and then they can make meaningful change when they get older. Q How will sustainability be incorporated into the curriculum? A We at Arbor believe in place-based learning, letting the children get out there and experience things. In the UAE, we have world-class mangroves, and the desert is not without its merits. That’s why we have the bio-domes and the learning gardens
in school, so children get a better understanding of soils, hydroponics and different agricultural techniques, for example. When you look at ecoliteracy specifically, it’s not always just about visits to the rainforest; it’s about developing a sense of themselves and the world in which they inhabit. Q Why should a family choose The Arbor School over any other school in Dubai at the moment? A Parents have to make their own choices and decide what they feel comfortable with, but what I know from the schools that I’ve run previously and the vision that we’ve got in the school here, I [can] guarantee that the sense of caring in my schools is high. We’ve got a great ethos, a wonderful vision for the school, it’s forwardthinking and it’s unapologetically different. We have this eco-ethical balance and the focus on mindfulness and student wellbeing, and we’re going to be teaching children their place in the world – not at the expense of academic rigour, but in conjunction with it. We want to make sure children are comfortable at school, that they’re happy and well cared for, and they’re learning about the planet around
THE ARBOR SCHOOL
The 30,000-squaremetre campus will also incorporate bio-domes
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Dunecrest American School Esol Education is the world’s largest operator of accredited international American schools. This year it opens Dunecrest School in Dubai, offering more choice for world-class American and IB education to the city’s parents. Mr Walid Abushakra, Esol Education Chairman, explains: “Dunecrest’s campus, optimally designed for leading-edge teaching and learning, will be home to a warm and caring school community, offering a holistic education that will be academically challenging, enabling them to fully develop as critical thinkers and lifelong learners.” YEARS: Pre-KG-Grade 12 (up to Grade 10 in first year of operation) CURRICULUM: American curriculum based on AERO standards and IB Diploma LOCATION: Dubailand PRICE: AED46,000-89,000 (founders’ fee discounts are available) dunecrest.ae
BILL DELBRUGGE THE FOUNDING DIRECTOR
t the helm of Dunecrest American School is its Founding Director, Mr Bill Delbrugge, who originally studied a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership. With him, he brings more than 27 years of educational leadership experience in the US and overseas. In America, he served as the Superintendent of Schools in Flagler County, Florida, heading the team responsible for the education of 26,000 students, and he also served 1.5 million pupils as Director of Research and Reporting in the Georgia State Department of Education. Just before
his move to Dubai, Delbrugge served as director for more than seven years at Esol Education’s American International School in Cairo, and he has recently been appointed as the President of the Middle East Association of International Schools (MAIS). We catch up with him, ahead of the new school’s opening, to find out more about his plans for Dunecrest... Q What are you most looking forward to with the opening of Dunecrest this year? A We are looking forward to getting to know one another and growing as a school community! One of the most important things we will be doing as soon as we open the school is to acclimatise our new staff and our new students together to bring alive the culture and ethos of Dunecrest American School, and to develop a culture where everyone feels safe in our learning environment. Our expectation is that all kids will succeed and will achieve their educational goals with the assistance of caring, exceptionally positive and proactive teachers. One of the first things we
DUNECREST AMERICAN SCHOOL
Dunecrest will offer an academically challenging environment
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will do to facilitate this is to organise orientation activities. Our team is already developing social and educational activities for incoming staff and students to learn about each other, their cultures, their dreams and their goals. Q Within the UAE education landscape, what policies do you find most interesting and exciting? A The UAE’s visionary approach to innovation and the leadership’s initiatives such as the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Programme make Dubai an exciting city for students to learn. From sustainable initiatives to artificial intelligence, students can explore working models of cuttingedge innovation and be inspired by experts in action.
“We empower students with the desire and ability to reach their highest potential” Q What will Dunecrest introduce to the UAE? A At Dunecrest American School our coursework, from Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12, provides meaningful and challenging opportunities for both individual and collective achievement. We will encourage students to work together in teams, developing their soft skills and learning how to work and achieve with others. We empower students with the desire and the ability to reach their highest potential. Goal setting is part of the fabric of our way of encouraging students to take ownership of their own learning. Teaching students to be problemsolvers and creative is built into all aspects of our curriculum.
Also on the way We profile a few of the other schools set to open in the UAE this year
TH E AQ U I L A SCH OO L
rom Early Years to Year 4 at first, The Aquila School is focused on offering a fun, engaging and “amazing learning” experience for all of its students. Principal Wayne Howsen joins the British Curriculum school from Abu Dhabi’s Al Muna Academy, which, he tells us, was the only primary school to achieve the Outstanding rating, not once but twice. “Aquila will be very much about children loving coming to school,” he explains. “It will be really fun and the activities will be related to the real world, with lots of enquiry-based learning and family workshops.” This means project- and play-based learning, where there are no textbooks or worksheets in Primary. “We want to make learning really relevant to children, so that they can make amazing progress.”
YEARS: FS1-Year 4 (initial opening) CURRICULUM: British LOCATION: Dubailand PRICE: AED45,000-55,000; 15% off for families who join for the 2018-19 academic year theaquilaschool.com
GEMS FO U N D E R S SCH OO L
he new GEMS Founders School in Al Mizhar is currently preparing for a September 2018 opening. As per a statement provided to Education Emirates, the school announces: “At GEMS Founders School, Al Mizhar, we aim to develop inquisitive, compassionate and successful learners who are confident and fully prepared to make a positive difference to our ever-changing world. We will ensure that our students understand, apply and contribute to the world through computational thinking, which encourages creativity, collaboration and leadership, as well as the creation of robotic and technological solutions to real-life problems.” YEARS: FS1-Year 13 (initially up to Year 8) CURRICULUM: National Curriculum for England LOCATION: Al Mizhar PRICE: AED23,000-30,000; AED1,000 Founding Family discount gemsfoundersschool-mizhar.com
GEMS VE RTU S SCH OO L
hile, at the time of writing, not much information has been released about GEMS Vertus School, the following statement was provided to Education Emirates: “At GEMS Vertus School, Al Waha we will be offering an enhanced Na t i o n a l C u r r i c u l u m fo r England, focusing on education for environmental sustainability, using 21 st-century technology effectively and a commitment to nurture our students’ creativity through the performing arts. “We will offer a truly international education from the Early Years Foundation Stage to Year 8, with strong emphasis placed on innovation, creativity, communication, leadership and collaborative learning, essential skills for the future.” YEARS: FS1-Year 8 CURRICULUM: National Curriculum for England LOCATION: Al Waha PRICE: TBA gemsvertusschool-dubai.com
Q How would you describe your leadership style? A I believe it is vital to be handson and eclectic. Leaders must be engaged in the work that is happening at the school and they need to change their style based on the needs of each particular student. Our goal is to help our students reach their educational dreams and to achieve this we must be willing to stretch our own leadership style and abilities to meet the needs of our students.
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Aldar Academies is going through a significant period of growth, so Absolutely Education speaks to CEO Nilay Ozral about the company’s plans for the future K AT Y G I L L E T T
s it stands, Aldar Academies is Abu Dhabi’s largest education provider. In 2018, however, it is only set to get bigger and better, as the company steps into a massive era of development and growth, looking to diversify its offerings to benefit the city’s students, families and teachers. This year marks a number of significant milestones, so Absolutely Education Emirates speaks to Aldar Academies CEO, Nilay Ozral, about the company’s future plans, which include opening a stream of affordable schools and nurseries, as well as raising the bar for education not just in the capital, but for the whole of the UAE.
“We know that not every family can have access to high-tier education” Q Why have you decided to offer more affordable, mid-tier schooling now? A Simply because demand for outstanding mid-tier education exists, and one of our aims is to lead the education sector in the UAE. This growing demand is born out of the “vision” plans that states such as Abu Dhabi are busy working towards, but we know that not every family can have access
to high-tier education. So, our move into mid-tier comes with an important caveat: we insist on providing students with the same opportunities and quality of education as those at high-tier schools. Both sets of students will gain an education that can lead to the likes of acceptance at Oxford or Harvard, but the difference comes from the overall learning experience. A mid-tier school might not have a music recording studio or a swimming pool, but the quality of education will not be compromised. Q You have created a holding company and umbrella brand called Aldar Education. Again, why have you decided to do that now? A The decision to create Aldar Education is the result of our recent expansion, our
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future plans, and our ambition to be the UAE’s leading education provider. Aldar Education will oversee our high-tier Aldar Academies brand, our nurseries – the first of which is scheduled to open this April – and our new mid-tier schools. We’re aiming to open up seven mid-tier schools over the next seven years. Aldar Education will also oversee ADNOC Schools, which we took over the management and operations of at the start of the 2017/2018 academic year. With these new additions, we have brought our total to 11 school campuses, 2,000 members of staff and over 14,000 students. What other plans are in the pipeline? The very next step will be the opening of our first nursery, Aldar Academies Al Forsan Nursery in April 2018 on the site of the Al Forsan International Sports Resort. The nursery will teach the same curriculum as our English National Curriculum FS1 schools, but in a dedicated, premium nursery environment. Parents can therefore expect the same high standard of education and a natural pathway to our primary and secondary schools, as their child will automatically have priority for spaces. We have a brand name for our mid-tier schools, but we won’t be announcing any details until the first location has been confirmed. What I can tell you is that we are currently working to launch another hightier English Curriculum school during 2019. Beyond this, we are also discussing moving deeper into the management and operations of third-party schools. Q
Q What would you like to see more of within education in Abu Dhabi? A Greater access to vocational studies is something I would like to see, because we must acknowledge that not all students can naturally excel with theory-based academia.
BELOW West Yas Academy
ABOVE Students at an Aldar Academies school LEFT Sports and activities are offered across the board
Many students are more naturally gifted with specialist, practical ventures, and therefore the learning pathways that are available must reflect this. Special Education Needs (SEN) should be another area of focus, particularly for those who face the most severe challenges. I’d also like to see better quality education offered at the early stages, which is one matter we’re tackling with our move into the mid-tier space and nurseries. We’ve seen how the formative years have a lasting impact on our children, which is why it’s absolutely imperative they receive the best possible start. From an operational stance, I’d like to see greater flexibility among rules and regulations to allow teachers and other resources to be shared across schools. Doing so will unlock masses of expertise and best practice to boost the entire education sector. Q The growth of the company over the past 10 years has been significant. What have you been most proud of in that time? A I’m immensely proud of the Aldar Academies brand we’ve created, which sets a single standard that all academies must maintain. Yet, we’ve done so without killing the creativity that makes each individual academy unique. Each year
“Greater access to vocational studies is something I would like to see” our students make me proud by scoring above the international average grades, and by securing places at the world’s most prestigious universities. We are a relatively young brand, but we have been successful in bringing our academies on par with the best around the world in a comparatively short period of time. I can confidently say that our students are receiving a first-class education that is on par with the world’s top institutions. Looking within the organisation, I’m proud we’ve created and promoted a culture that rewards talent. We always look to promote talent within, where possible, and provide excellent teacher training with our Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programme to make sure our teachers are always growing and that the quality of our teaching and learning is always rising. That’s why our teacher retention is longer than average for this region. Beyond this, we’re helping to map the educational pathway to Vision 2030, raise the bar for education, and improve the quality of Arabic education in support of the Ministry of Education. I’m certain this will be an integral part of our legacy 15, 20 and 30 years into the future. 2018 | E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S | 29
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New Traditions Foremarke Dubai Headmistress Naomi Williams tells us more about the Prep School’s plans to make education more accessible K AT Y G I L L E T T
ou cannot miss the regal white building that houses Foremarke School Dubai in Al Barsha South. Tradition and specialist knowledge underpin the principles of teaching at this wellknown school, and, as one walks past the towering columns that mark the reception’s entrance, this decades-old ethos – carved out when Foremarke Hall in the UK was established in 1940 – becomes clear. It is not just the neoclassical-inspired architecture that makes Foremarke
distinctive in the UAE, but also its approach as a British-style preparatory school. “The commitment to the prep school model of education and the way it prepares a child for life is absolutely right for me as an educator,” says Headmistress, Mrs Naomi Williams. “The strong commitment to academic excellence and pastoral care and to provide children with a firm foundation was wonderful to see when I joined. “I believe that approaching learning as a process and not a product, when combined with high expectations and being part of an informed, enthusiastic staff, allows children to become confident learners.” Foremarke is split into Lower, Middle and Upper Schools, with separate areas of the building dedicated to the various age groups and, in the centre, a large and impressive outdoor sports pitch can be seen. Facilities also include two multi-purpose outdoor courts, three halls, two junior-sized pitches, and three netball and tennis courts. In March this year, two swimming pools will also be added, and construction on two additional pitches and a sports pavilion is currently underway. The school follows the New National Curriculum for England, with elements of the International Schools Examination Board curriculum, so pupils are prepared for 11+, Common Entrance and Scholarship exams, as well as to apply for senior schools either in UK independent education, in Dubai or elsewhere. Subject matter covered is broad, emphasising Reading, English, Mathematics and Science, all delivered by specialist teachers – many of whom are Apple trained – and who, the school
“Developing effective communication skills permeates everything we do here” states, have high expectations of their students. Neatness, good handwriting and accuracy, for example, are expected, as are respectable manners and morals. “The use of specialist teachers allows us all to play to our strengths,” Mrs Williams explains. “Children are encouraged to become strong, independent learners, to apply their skills to create and compose, and generally enrich their understanding of the world.” This is further enhanced through deliberately small class sizes, where children of all abilities are given the attention they need in order to succeed. Overall, there are 484 pupils from 39 nationalities attending the school, which runs from nursery (with 60 children) to
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Nursery receive 15 per cent off on tuition fees in their first year. “Moreover, in line with our initiative to support deserving students, Foremarke Dubai will also be launching five scholarships for students who excel across five categories, namely academics, performing arts, sports, music and all-round performance.” These scholarships offer pupils a five to ten per cent discount on annual school fees. As Foremarke looks to the future, this focus on making education more accessible will continue. “Our future is to continue our upward trajectory of providing a premium education focusing on high achievement for each and every one of our pupils, no matter their backgrounds, culture, ethnicity, disability or ability, whether that be in sport, academics, drama, music or languages,” Mrs Williams adds. “Each and every one of our pupils at Foremarke are educated so that when the time comes to move to their next school, they are ready and prepared for new challenges, they are successful learners, responsible citizens, and confident, robust individuals.”
A L L I M AG E S
Foremarke offers its students access to outdoor activities, as well as rigorous, academic classes
Year 6 (19 students). Sixty-six per cent of the student body is British. On top of this, the school also has a growing Inclusion department, which Mrs Williams believes will only continue to develop. “I am proud to say that all of our pupils who have had some involvement in the Inclusion department during their time here have made excellent progress in all areas of their learning. “Whole child education is personal, meaningful and powerful,” Mrs Williams asserts. “Developing effective communication skills permeates everything we do here at Foremarke School and we encourage children to interact, to try new activities and to thoroughly enjoy being a child in Dubai.” Besides making learning more accessible to students who face challenges,
significantly, this year, Foremarke has also made the decision to make this premium style of education more affordable, in response to increasing financial pressure on parents. It is doing this by reducing fees by ten per cent, from AED65,000-85,000 to AED58,500-76,500, applicable from September 2018. There is a further discount of five per cent available if payment is made in full for the entire academic year, as well as a five per cent sibling discount, and children joining Foremarke School directly from Dovecote
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Early Years expert Samantha Steed explores the importance of creating a welcoming, friendly environment to spark our children’s curiosities SAMANTHA STEED
Why play-based learning is important for our kids
or more than a century, early childhood education philosophers such as Dr Maria Montessori (18701952), Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934) and Jean Piaget (1896-1980) have extolled the virtues of enabling environments and play-based exploration. Today, most experts in Early Years education understand that learning is best achieved when children communicate with each other, sharing understanding, feelings and knowledge. Yet, while the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) was designed to be primarily play-based, parents and schools have become increasingly focused on targets and learning outcomes. This, in turn, puts pressure on schools to place very young children in traditional classroom settings rather than in an environment created for play. At Ranches Primary School (RPS), we consider the environment itself as the best teacher, as providing a space for children that is interesting and ever-changing is an ideal way to develop their curiosity, give them opportunities to ask questions and talk about the things they have discovered. We believe that when setting up an Early Years setting, practitioners should stand back and ask questions, such as: How experimental is our environment? To what extent do children experience flow, immersion and unconscious concentration? The aim is for us to create an environment where education will be almost inevitable.
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Consider your environment
here are a variety of ways we can design a suitable space for play-based learning. One of the most important characteristics of the best Early Years settings is the use of natural and neutral tones. The calming colours of nature – greens, blues, browns and creams – are most conducive to a calm and receptive mood. On the other hand, bright, colourful and cluttered settings are thought to be a factor in the cause of hyperactivity and inability to concentrate in some young children.
“Learning is best achieved when children communicate with each other” Another aspect to consider when creating an innovative play-based environment is to explore unusual arrangements for furniture. Cupboards and shelves positioned flat against the outer classroom walls can convey a hard look, and therefore do not send a positive message to encourage children’s engagement. Positioning furniture at angles, on the other hand, conveys a welcoming
invitation for children to come and engage with a comfortable, friendly space. To ensure our areas are cosy at RPS, we source furniture from garage sales and flea markets because children prefer familiar “home furnishings” to the more traditional classroom items. We are also always searching for interesting items that can be used in the classroom to stimulate a child’s curiosity. For instance, an Arabian-style jug, blue stones, miniature logs, and large shells we recently sourced from nearby souqs were offered as an alternative to the classic primary-coloured plastic fruit. These items were then placed on what we call “invitation tables” outside the classroom as an enticement for children to enter the environment. We have found that placing a collection of interesting and intentionally organised materials in a location that is visible from the entrance will spark interest in the children. It ignites their motivation to come in and makes them feel secure in the transition from home to school. Of course, by trying to provide our children with the very best of everything may mean we are unwittingly overstimulating them. Yet offering just a few dinosaurs in a basket or a small pile of Mobilo can have a huge impact in engaging children and maintaining their interest. It is also recognised that using non-representational (open-ended) items, such as log discs for plates or pinecones for food, is very important as it exercises the brain’s frontal lobes responsible for the development of imagination.
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LEFT Play-based learning is vital for development RIGHT Well positioned objects can promote curiosity
“The aim is for
us to create an environment where education will be almost inevitable”
Provoke with “provocations”
any Early Years practitioners are now using small “provocations” within the environment. These are experiences that are set up in response to children’s interests and ideas. They can be simple (with essentially one function), complex (two functions) or super-complex (more than two functions). For example, water in a tray is a simple provocation, whereas if you add dinosaurs it becomes a complex unit. Add rocks and plants, and you have a super-complex unit. The more complex the materials, the more
play and learning they provide. So, when a practitioner sets up a provocation, he or she is providing hands-on exploration for children to practise, test, construct and deconstruct their ideas and theories. A good example of a provocation will motivate children and develop concentration, independence, social interaction and higher-order thinking. For example, one practitioner at RPS simply put out some bubbles and water for the children to splash with when it was hot. When the children then came up with the idea of a car wash, she worked to develop upon her simple provocation. “The children were observed putting their scooter wheels into the water tray ‘for cleaning’. So, I added a few sponges, a till and some writing materials. “The children then spent around 20 minutes in dramatic play, interacting with each other and developing new vocabulary. Some children demonstrated how to take turns and some discussed the concept of paying with money and writing receipts. “Very little adult guidance was needed during their play. In subsequent sessions an adult gently prompted the children to explore questions related to capacity and materials.”
In children we must trust
bove all, we must remember that learning is a natural process that develops spontaneously. When we place our confidence in the child, we are often surprised at the immense amount of learning that takes place through the child’s interaction with her or her world. Furthermore, children learn best when they are free to move their bodies throughout the day; they should not be constrained to desks. Over my 20 years’ experience in primary education, I have become committed to preserving environments that support a play-based approach to learning. For children to really benefit from access to schools from the age of four or five, the environment needs to remain focused on fostering a child’s natural curiosity through play to ensure he or she becomes a life-long learner.
SA M A N T H A ST E E D, BA (QT S) Principal
Ranches Primary School, Dubai 2018
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TH E PATH TO
The teenagers behind CareerFear – which informs high school students of job opportunities in the UAE – speculate on the future of the workplace T A N I S H Q K U M A R & R A D E E YA H E B R A H I M
he 21st century is dynamic. New developments are being made in almost every field. The rise of technology may seem daunting, but it is not unprecedented – generations before us had to deal with advances, too. Yet, today, we see it on another level. So far, thousands of jobs have been wiped out by machines. A study by the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) found that almost 60% of Australian youngsters are training for careers that are set to become at least two-thirds automated in the next 15 years. Yes, technological advancements are wonderful, but they are having a huge
impact on traditional careers. So now, more than ever before, it’s vitally important to consider your child’s future carefully. It is thought that by the year 2030, travel agents, pilots and librarians – to name just a few – may no longer exist. However, all hope is not lost. It may seem like there is nothing a computer cannot do, but there are still, and always will be, skills that are inherently linked to the human condition. Three skills that are vital in the workforce – and entirely human – are:
1. Abstract problem creation Computers cannot solve problems that do not already exist. As the world develops, new issues come to light and humans discover and create important problems that had not existed before.
2. Humanity Scientific fields will remain a great option for creative kids
This is perhaps the most striking difference between a human and a machine. Humans have morals, ethics and feelings. Everything is, quite literally, binary to a computer. To be human is to acknowledge, and be able to deal with, the grey areas in life.
3. Creativity Computers are not able to create – at least not yet in the same way as humans. They cannot do things without being instructed to do so in some way, shape or form (thankfully!).
In our evolving world, jobs centred on these skills are likely to be around for a very long time. Business-related, artistic and deeply scientific fields are great options for kids who long for creative outlets. Physicians assess intangible variables in a way computers cannot to diagnose illnesses and find cures for them. They decide the best course of action in a situation unseen before. These are also fields in which relationship and interpersonal skills are pivotal to success. Investment bankers need to be able to see clients as human beings and as organisations of people, and not just deals that need pushing forward. Trades are always good, especially for those who love doing the unpredictable, and they’re also always necessary. Firefighters, policemen, plumbers and the like are almost certain to remain in the future. If your child is ambitious and you encourage them to take risks, entrepreneurship might be the path for them. Your child may be able to recognise
“There will always be skills that are inherently linked to the human condition” where a service is needed and find a way to provide it. Every industry benefits from enterprising minds. Don’t cage yourself – or your child – in, though. Different people predict different things all the time. So it is important to acknowledge the changing nature of our society, but also to appreciate the moment. There are no metrics that are essentially “better” than others in assessing the suitability of careers. But there are ones that are more important to some people than others. We must consider that, especially for our children. We believe the trick here is to identify your child’s strengths early and then nurture them by observing and listening. Sign them up for art or sports classes that they are interested in. If they can’t stop watching the Discovery Channel, buy them a science kit for their birthday. Most of all, encourage your child to do whatever it is they want to do. And then do everything in your power to help them achieve their own dreams.
CA R E E R FE A R .O R G Tanishq Kumar, Founder Radee yah Ebrahim, Head Blogger
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Generation NOW The Head of Dubai College explores what it means to run a sustainable, 21st-century learning community MICHAEL LAMBERT
eraclitus, the early Greek philosopher, once said that you never step into the same river twice because everything changes and nothing remains the same. This observation can be equally applied to today’s schools. Over the past three years, schools in Dubai have seen the introduction of UAE Social Studies and Moral Education, the requirement for all Arabic and Islamic lessons to take place within the timetable, as well as the need for systematic innovation and, most recently, the acquisition of teacher licences for all staff members within their schools. The requirement for all schools to deliver the growing UAE national curriculum now accounts for 20% of their working week over and above the requirements of the curriculum that the school already teaches. For the teachers of Dubai, change really is the new constant. Increased demands can in and of themselves be an issue: in January 2018 The Guardian in the UK reported on an epidemic of stress, which has accounted for 3,750 teachers on long-term sick leave on account of what Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, called “the pressures of a punitive and non-productive accountability
“Parents are welladvised to scratch beneath the surface and ask schools different questions” system”. However, it is knowledge of these increased demands within the context of teacher training figures that really indicates why schools in Dubai will need to change their practices or face staff shortages. The Times of London reported in January of this year that there were around a third
less applicants for post-graduate teacher training in 2017 compared to last year, and that around 2,000 more teachers are leaving the profession than are joining it. Couple this with the fact that ISC Research, which provides data and intelligence on the world’s K-12 international schools market, also highlights that the biggest challenge for English-medium international schools will be the ability “to recruit enough qualified, western-trained teachers; a key selection criteria for many parents”. What should be of concern for both parents and schools is that ISC Research predicts the number of teachers required within ten years will be 780,000 – that is double the current number of full-time staff employed in the sector and 300,000 more than currently exist in the whole of England. Given that a dearth of teachers seems like an inevitability, what should parents be looking for when choosing a school? The traditional Dubai model that is used to wow prospective parents is to show off snazzy buildings in a facilities arms-race with competitors. However, going forward, parents would be well-advised to scratch beneath the surface and ask schools some different questions. There is a close correlation between higher exam performance and length of service, and the fact that staff are choosing to stay at a school rather than trade up is also an indication of its stability. Parents
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need to ask how Students work together long teachers ABOVE stay at the school Studying in the open air on average. RIGHT Additionally, has Dubai College offers the school taken substance into account the findings of the UK government’s first teacher workload survey undertaken in 2016? In it teachers reported that the excessive detail required for data collection, marking and reporting, was a particular cause of unnecessary workload for classroom teachers. Does your chosen school have good systems in place that allow teachers to focus on the most important parts of their work: the pastoral wellbeing of your children and the teaching of inspirational lessons? Over recent decades schools have been subject to more and greater demands of accountability as successive governments have overlaid the accountability systems used in profit-making corporations onto schools. While it is important to ascertain whether the school has sufficient measures in place to ensure that staff are performing well (e.g. detailed job descriptions, annual appraisal and centralised professional development), what will be more important going forward
is the number of measures a school has in place to ensure commitment by staff. Does the school have a Head of Institutional Wellbeing, for example? Schools that focus on being valued by colleagues, positive thinking, self-esteem and provide staff with the confidence to act autonomously will create a sustainable workforce and are likely to become the schools to which the scarcity of teachers will gravitate. As The Times rightly points out, Generation Z are “more entrepreneurial, digitally savvy and adaptable than previous generations, and are being put off by a low-tech and inflexible profession that prizes years served ahead of talent and hard work”. When looking at a school parents should also consider whether it will appeal to the smaller number of Generation Z teachers who are entering the profession. Does it allow flexible working hours for staff, something that has traditionally been considered anathema to education? Can teachers work from home when they are not required in school, for example? School leaders will need to moderate the traditional “hard” human resource management policies of a high-performance
corporate culture they have been compelled (or in some cases have willingly chosen) to adopt if they wish to run schools that last. As we move forward, parents should be as interested in this aspect of a prospective school as they are in the exam results or the facilities. Michael Lambert will be appointing Dubai College’s first Head of Institutional Wellbeing in 2018 as a commitment to running a sustainable learning community.
MICHAEL LAMBERT Head Dubai College 2018 | E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S | 39
The Global Advantage
The benefits of learning overseas far outweigh any negatives, says expert education consultant Sophie Oakes S O P H I E OA K E S
hoosing the right school for a child requires careful thought and deliberation no matter where you are in the world. However, the challenge can be amplified when moving or living in another country. It is easy to see how attending school abroad can be beneficial to a child’s future, but parents can also worry whether or not it is the right choice for their child. When I first get a phone call from a parent relocating to the UAE, the question is always the same: Are the schools any good? I have to hold back a smile as I start to explain the many positives to be gained by being educated in such a dynamic and global education scene, and when the parent hits the ground they are always blown away by the incredible choice of schools on offer here.
“Many schools in the UAE have more than 100 nationalities making up their pupil body” 40
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TH E PRO S A global outlook The first advantage that springs to mind in favour of an international education is the exposure children have to a variety of different cultures and backgrounds. Many schools in the UAE will have more than 100 nationalities making up their pupil body, so celebrating diversity and creating enriching environments for children to become culturally aware is embedded in their DNA. Walk into any international school here and you will immediately feel that welcoming and accepting atmosphere. The fact that most families here originate from somewhere else in the world very much levels the playing field and parents often comment on how inclusive school life is here, celebrating different aspects of many cultures. Being educated in an international school gives students the very skills needed to breed 21st-century citizens for an increasingly globalised world.
The range of choice International schools offer a much broader range of curriculum choices. In the UAE there are more than 17 curricula on offer, with anything from the Canadian curriculum to the Japanese or the most popular British Curriculum or IB programme, giving families a chance to make educational
choices they may not have access to in their home countries. It is interesting to note that there are more IB schools in Dubai than there are in London. While there is a large range of choice, there is also consistency. With the curriculum aligned to the home country and globally recognised qualifications, families can feel secure that their child can resume their studies without disruption should the family move back home. As the education landscape continues to expand, with on average six new schools opening a year, families have access to state-of-the-art facilities, with cuttingedge technology, often in very newly built schools. While institutions at home may look quaint and traditional, they struggle to keep up when it comes to purpose-built art rooms and hi-speed Internet. An international school also has to cater to all comers with a diverse range of extracurricular activities on offer. From skiing to diving, rugby to Irish football, one’s home sport is rarely forgotten. If it is not already represented – then you also have the option to set it up yourself! Then, along with all the sports are the opportunities to travel. With the UAE being an international hub, it is possible for children to explore places they would
SCHOOL’S IN / IN TER NATIONA L EDUC ATION
ABOVE Cranleigh Abu Dhabi is a British-style school RIGHT GEMS New Millennium School offers the CBSE curriculum
never access from “home”. One week you have a group in Orlando at the Kennedy Space Center and the next another group building schools in Nepal.
Preparing our children Children learn to make friends quickly and deep bonds are formed from shared experiences. Children brought up overseas have to learn to be flexible and adaptable. They learn to appreciate others’ viewpoints, gain confidence in critical analysis and independent thinking, and often leave the country competent in more than one language. Mirrored with the opportunity to look at further education across the globe, it is not hard to see how international students gain an edge when it comes to the workplace.
TH E CO N S Feelings of rootlessness For some children, being a “Third Culture Kid” can mean that they struggle to claim an identity. Being born to parents of two different nationalities
and educated in a third can leave a sense of cultural dislocation. This can also be true of children who spend an extended period of time being educated outside of their home country, where they can lose touch with the cultural references and “in stories”. Much of this can be overcome with the easy accessibility of international communication, but you may need to work hard to make sure your child retains these connections. On top of that, international schools can often host quite transient families, so friends and teachers will come and go. It can be disconcerting for children, who have formed a strong emotional attachment to someone, to find people suddenly move on mid-term. It does, however, teach children to be very resilient and flexible with regards to social circles.
Curriculum challenges Sometimes a significant proportion of the timetable can be taken up by topics that need to be covered under local legislation and this can have an impact on the delivery of the international curriculum. There are advantages in choosing, for example, the British National Curriculum, as you can be sure that if you
walk into a school in the UAE or a school in rural Suffolk you will be likely to see virtually the same lesson in progress. Yet, while the same topics will be covered, sometimes these very similarities can raise questions. How appropriate it is to be reading a book with snowmen and conker fights when you are sitting in a multi-cultural environment at the other side of the world?
The full experience? Many UAE schools are producing outstanding academic results, but there can sometimes be a lack of extended opportunities for extracurricular activities. For some parents there is a constant worry about whether or not their children are achieving at the same level as their peers back home and whether they are reaching their full educational potential. However, many parents find that if their children do transition back to a school at home they are often more than a match for their peer group and certainly have a more varied range of experiences to draw on. For those parents who are seriously concerned about how their child compares, there are assessments such as UKiset, which can be used to put their mind at rest. There may be some negatives attached to an international education, but we believe they are vastly outweighed by the positives. Being educated in an international school gives children the opportunity to become culturally sensitive, confident and independent young people ready for the next step on the global stage – something most parents would see as a huge advantage.
S O P H I E OA K E S Education Consultant Gabbitas Education Middle East 2018
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hoosing a boarding school is difficult enough when you live in the UK. When you live overseas it makes selecting and visiting schools a huge task. For those parents with little experience of boarding schools, it can be a daunting prospect; most rely on friends and family for help and advice. Each child and each school is different, but with a little help from the experts you can find that perfect place where your child will blossom and grow. I know exactly how it feels. I lived overseas for many years, moving frequently due to my husband’s job and having four children all with very different needs and aspirations. It made finding the right school a very challenging task. But it’s important to first ask yourself questions such as: Would a single-gender or co-ed school best suit my child? Has my little one got a special talent in music, drama or sport? For example, one of mine was a natural sportsman, and he went on to do a degree on Sports Science. So, to find a school that can stretch and develop these talents is crucial. Let’s be honest, however, not all of our children are outstanding A Grade students. This makes selecting a school that will ensure every child achieves his or her best even more vital for encouraging happy, successful families. I always say I want these children to be top of the pile, not struggling at the bottom of the class. 42
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An expert educational consultant talks us through the process of choosing the right UKbased boarding school for your child SUE ANDERSON
SCHOOL'S IN / UK BOA R DING
So, where do you start?
ur job as education consultants is to identify and match your child’s individual talents, skills and aspirations to a school that will challenge, encourage and develop, to ensure that each child reaches his or her full potential. The purpose and aim of the education consultant who specialises in school placement is to work on behalf of the family, to offer help and guidance in the selection of the “best” school for their child. This is one of the most important decisions we make, so time spent in early exploration and research is wise. In particular, families living overseas are looking for reassurance that their children will achieve their full potential, in a happy, safe, secure environment, as the parents are often not based in the same country. When working with an expert, the process can be simple, but we advise you start early and allow at least 18 months to two years before you make your final decision. Some of the questions an education consultant would help you explore in the meantime are: Should it be a co-educational or a singlegender school? Is it highly selective or more suitable for the “all rounder”? Do you have any special requirements – for example, does your child have dyslexia, a medical condition, learning or physical difficulties, or need
“Families overseas want to know that their children will achieve their full potential”
LEFT Shrewsbury School ABOVE Charterhouse BELOW Christ College Brecon
intensive English language provision? Do you require the school to be in any particular area of the UK? As you discover the various suitable schools that meet your requirements, you will also need to remember the following: always have copies of the child’s school reports available; inform your child’s current school of your intentions, as the Principal will be required to supply a reference; and be clear about if and when you are able to visit the schools selected. Once you have determined these factors, then your education consultant will select four or five schools that best meet the agreed criteria, for your consideration. They will arrange for the school prospectuses to be sent over, and they will always be available to discuss the benefits of each school selected, and generally answer any questions you may have. Ultimately, we would advise you to make appointments to visit three or four schools, preferably in term time whenever possible, as seeing the school in action is important to ensuring you are making the right choice for the whole family.
UK Boarding School Exhibition
nderson Education has visited more than 350 boarding schools and offers free, impartial help and advice on UK boarding schools, language and summer programmes. So, if you are considering the option of sending your child overseas, then you can head to the company’s exclusive event in Dubai at the end of February. The UK Boarding School Exhibition, which is taking place at Grosvenor House in Dubai Marina, gives you the opportunity to talk to education specialists and Heads from some of the UK’s top boarding schools.
WHEN: Friday 23 February, 2pm to 7pm and Saturday 24 February, 11am to 4pm
WHERE: Grosvenor House, Dubai Marina
Registration is free, just sign up online at www.andersoneducation.co.uk
Education Consultant Anderson Education 2018
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The Director of JESS, Dubai predicts how technology will change the way schools operate in three very important ways MARK STEED
t has been recognised, since the time of the Greek philosophers, that change is a fundamental part of human existence, but it is the increasing rate of change that distinguishes the 21st century from previous history. A key reason for this is the way in which technological developments are driving change – and, despite our Victorianstyle examination system – education is no exception. In the 1970s we came to accept that production lines of robots could build cars better than humans can. Today, we are starting to accept that automated systems are beginning to encroach on the domain of the professions, as increasingly robots are taking on key tasks done by lawyers, accountants, journalists and doctors. Now, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR) and robots are set to transform how the world – even schools – operate.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND THE END OF SCHOOL REPORTS AS WE KNOW THEM TODAY
Artificial Intelligence is the term that relates to a huge range of automated digital systems able to perform tasks normally with human intelligence, such as visual and audio recognition, decision-
“Robots are set to transform how the world – and even schools – operate”
making, and data analysis. AI is beginning to be utilised in many areas within education. In the short-term, it is likely to have its greatest initial impact on how schools track pupil progress and how they report it to parents. For decades, Senior Leaders and Heads of Department have spent hours staring at Excel spreadsheets while analysing data produced by tests and teachers, then typically spent hours drafting extensive reports to be sent home to parents. This is set to change. We are already starting to see schools embracing AI systems, such as Microsoft’s PowerBI, which automates the analysis of data and presents it in a visually pleasing and easily understandable format. One important benefit of this is that schools will be able to replace end-of-term reports with a system of live, personalised “dashboards” that will show how each child is progressing. Parents will, in turn, have access to these online and on their smartphones at all times. I am convinced parents will welcome this – despite protestations to the contrary by traditionalists – especially as they have seen similar changes with their bank accounts. Ten years ago, bank statements were sent by post in a printed format; five years ago, they began to be emailed to customers; today, we can log in and get an up-to-theminute view of our account at any time and
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PREVIOUS PAGE All children learn to use technology early on ABOVE Kids playing outdoors RIGHT JESS students using VR
anywhere. Indeed, like banks, schools will be able to build an option into the system for those parents wanting to print out a report for their files.
VIRTUAL REALITY, ENGAGEMENT, EMPATHY AND EDUCATING THE WORLD
Most are familiar with Virtual Reality (VR) – it is transforming the gaming industry and is now also finding its way into classrooms around the world. It enables teachers to take pupils on virtual field trips, travelling to anywhere in the universe and back again, without even having to leave the classroom. The greatest difference between VR and, say, watching a DVD is that VR is an active, rather than a passive, process. Because the viewers are controlling where they look and what they focus on, this inevitably leads to greater engagement. Indeed, VR allows the user to experience what is going on in a way that feels authentic. It feels like the real experience and can elicit an emotional response, fostering empathy and helping to develop mature responses at a significantly deeper
level than would ever be possible from simply watching a video.
ROBOTS AND SUPPORTING PERSONALISED LEARNING
While they will not replace teachers any time soon, it is likely that robots will have a strong supporting role in education over the coming years. The real strength of robots is that they take personalised learning to the next level by making highly specialised support more widely available. Take, for example, the Robots4Autism project, which has built Milo, a humanoid robot designed to deliver lessons in a way that promotes engagement in learners with autism. Milo can walk, talk and even model human facial expressions and never gets frustrated or tired. Milo helps these learners improve their social and behavioural skills and thus help them gain the confidence to succeed academically and socially. New technology has promised for the past 30 years that it will entirely transform
education. I suspect, however, that it will be a few of years more before it delivers on that promise. So, looking to the future, while I hope that teachers will be able to cope when their ClassroomBot breaks down, they can all look forward to the end of report writing!
MARK STEED Director JESS, Dubai 2018 | E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S | 45
GRE AT GUIDANCE
In order to steer students towards a fulfilling future career, schools should be implementing strong advice programmes now T R A C Y WA L T E R S
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SCHOOL'S IN / C A R EER S
ust like the Earth rotating on its axis, the world of work is in a continuous spin. Now, more than ever before, parents want their children to be prepared for a world characterised by a career revolution. Today’s work environments hardly bear any resemblance to that of a few decades ago; career patterns are changing to accommodate the potential disruptive impact of social and digital advancements and global connectivity. So, if we are to truly prepare young people for 2030 and beyond, then strategic career management requires new ways of thinking. The need for good careers education and guidance has never been more palpable, as learners and employers face an emerging global talent pool that will, no doubt, assure powerful competition. This also means students should be entitled to access qualified and gifted careers professionals, who are in the sector, to enable learners to reach their potential personally, socially and economically. Achieving this requires resilience, passion, a creative drive and an uncompromising belief that every single child’s ability can be extended beyond their current attainment. Good careers education and guidance in schools can enable this to happen.
“How is your child’s school preparing pupils for the world of work?”
The benchmarks of the UK Careers Strategy A STABLE CAREERS PROGRAMME Every school and college should have an embedded programme of career education and guidance that is known and understood by pupils, parents, teachers, governors and employers. LEARNING FROM CAREER AND LABOUR MARKET INFORMATION Every pupil, and their parents, should have access to good quality information about future study options and labour market opportunities. They will need the support of an informed adviser to make best use of available information. ADDRESSING THE NEEDS OF EACH PUPIL Pupils have different career guidance needs at different stages. Opportunities for advice and support need to be tailored to the needs of each pupil. A school’s careers programme should embed equality and diversity considerations throughout. LINKING CURRICULUM LEARNING TO CAREERS All teachers should link curriculum learning with careers. STEM subject teachers should highlight the relevance of STEM subjects for a wide range of future career paths. ENCOUNTERS WITH EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES Every pupil should have multiple opportunities to learn from employers about work, employment and the skills that are valued in the workplace. This can be through a range of enrichment activities, including visiting speakers, mentoring and enterprise schemes.
Global economic austerity over the past few years has meant that careers education and guidance services have suffered considerably and we are now seeing growing evidence that young people are ill-prepared for their working lives. Having said that, things are starting to change. The recent UK Careers Strategy: making the most of everyone’s skills and talents (December 2017) recognises that if we want to create a stronger, fairer society in which people from any background can fulfil their potential for a global economy, then, quite simply, careers services themselves must equally be world-class. Q Why is careers education and guidance so critical? A Good careers guidance is like the satellite navigation for the world of work; done well, it will help inspire pupils towards
EXPERIENCES OF WORKPLACES Every pupil should have first-hand experiences of the workplace through work visits, work shadowing and/or work experience to help their exploration of career opportunities, and expand their networks. ENCOUNTERS WITH FURTHER AND HIGHER EDUCATION All pupils should understand the full range of learning opportunities that are available to them. This includes both academic and vocational routes and learning in schools, colleges, universities and in the workplace.
progression and will enable them to make informed decisions whenever choices or a change of route is open to them. It helps them to understand enough about the world of work to know what skills they need to succeed. It is important for social mobility because it helps open their eyes to careers they may not have even considered. Provision starts early and allows learners to explore ideas, before making any potentially life-changing decisions. Its purpose is to help individuals focus on their own choices, resolve issues and make informed decisions so that, ultimately, they will not just be prepared for, but will also thrive in their world of work. Q So how do we prepare learners for the changing world of work? A In the UK, secondary schools and colleges have a statutory responsibility to ensure that their students can access personalised career guidance. Let us stress that bit again: they must ensure this is “personalised”. Why? Because this places the needs of a young person at the centre and will enable them to be their own career author. Without this fundamental value in place, we risk setting learners off on roads that are simply not right for them. The UK strategy therefore adopts a set of eight benchmarks that set a standard of excellence; these were developed by the Gatsby Foundation and, if embedded into the school environment, will set apart both learners and their schools as being superlative careers education and guidance providers. Ask yourself some questions – how is your child’s school preparing pupils for the world beyond school? What emphasis do they place on careers education and guidance? How many of these career benchmarks are embedded into the school programme? Do you have evidence that your children are dynamically prepared for the world of work? It has never been more important for students to be prepared for the global workplace and now is the time for schools and parents to make sure their children understand what is required of them to take their place in an exciting future.
PERSONAL GUIDANCE Every pupil should have opportunities for guidance interviews with a career adviser, who could be internal (a member of school staff) or external, provided they are trained to an appropriate level. These should be available whenever significant study or career choices are being made. They should be expected for all pupils but should be timed to meet their individual needs.
T R ACY WA LT E R S Director of Business Development Careerwave Ltd.
E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S
Roderick Hunt and Alex Brychta co-create Biff, Chip and Kipper stories
Rewarding LITER ACY
Before they arrive in Dubai for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, Roderick Hunt and Alex Brychta tell us about the process of co-creating the UK’s most successful children’s reading scheme K AT Y G I L L E T T
or 30 years, Roderick Hunt MBE and Alex Brychta MBE have been teaching our children to read through the Oxford Tree Reading series books they co-create. In fact, Brychta tells us when we speak to him over the phone from his UK home, a recent statistic showed the stories have impacted some 30 million children from around the world. “Things like this are extremely humbling and make me very proud,” the illustrator says, after recounting the moment he was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to children’s literature from Queen Elizabeth II, an honour that writer Hunt also shares. In March, the pair will be heading to Dubai for the Emirates Airline Festival of
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Literature, where they will talk children through their processes of creating each story in The Magic Key series, which follows the lives of three children – Biff, Chip and Kipper Robinson – and their dog, Floppy. The books use a phonic approach across various reading levels that teaches children to learn the sounds, word recognition, graphic and grammatical knowledge, so students can eventually put this understanding into context. “We have an unusual way of working,” Hunt explains. “I produce a story with a storyboard and ideas for the pictures – I always see it visually first – and then Alex and I meet at the Oxford University Press with an editor, and Alex does the rough sketches for the finished product while we’re present. Very often Alex will say we should do it another way, so I will change my perception or even the text. It’s a very fluid process.”
SCHOOL’ S IN / R E A DING SCHEMES
It is also a very fun process, Brychta explains, laughing as he recalls a time when Hunt played a prank on him. “Rod once said to me: ‘Oh, you seem to be able to draw everything from memory, but there must be something you find difficult to draw.’ And I told him I find bicycles difficult – I never get the wheels quite round, and I find this very frustrating because I don’t like using a compass.” Naturally, the next book Hunt wrote was all about bicycles. Not long after that, Brychta says he got his own back when, in one story, he drew himself as a king, his wife as a queen, and a caricature of Hunt as their servant. “We have a tremendous amount of laughter and fun,” Hunt laughs. Despite the frivolity, both Brychta and Hunt recognise the seriousness of their work when it comes to increasing literacy levels around the world. Hunt comments: “Reading is a way into people’s worlds and the way to expand your vocabulary, insights and imagination. It’s a two-way
process, because when you read you need to internalise and interpret – that’s why I worry about the digital world, where you get instant rewards from an external electronic device.” Meanwhile, Brychta, who was born in Prague in 1956, remembers when he learned to read. “The material I was using at school was appalling – it was so boring and tedious,” he reminisces. “Rod and I agree, children like fun. If you want to teach something to a three- or fouryear-old, if it looks boring then they’re not going to IN THE UAE want to do it. If it looks like The pair will be visiting fun, they can laugh at the Dubai pictures and they find the for the Emirates Airline Festival stories fun. Then they’re going confined to the classroom. “I do of Literature to be tempted to read the next think more grown-ups should book.” read. You need to have a reading Over 30 years and 400 books culture. If the child is at home (and an estimated 100,000 sketches of and sees Mum or Dad reading a book – not Floppy, the most popular character in the just reading to the child, but reading for series), this is the approach both Brychta themselves, even if it’s a magazine – then I and Hunt have taken. “As long as the books think you can improve reading enormously. have humour, then children are going to want “I’ve heard only a few per cent of people to read more of them,” Brychta adds. “That’s ever go to bookshops. Perhaps to build a why they have been successful.” reading culture you’re going to have to have It has not always been easy, however, more people like David Beckham and Justin Hunt explains. “In the classroom we have a Bieber, all kinds of cultural icons around the lot of scrutiny, as the parents and teachers world, promote the fact that they read books read the books with the children. There to make it cool,” he jokes. After all, he says, are a lot of checks and balances in the “Reading is a universal joy”. educational reading world – a lot of political correctness, and health and safety.” Some of the older books have recently caused controversy for imagery that some parents have deemed inappropriate for such young readers. “You have to be so careful about things,” Hunt adds. Yet the books continue to be highly regarded among educators and sell Reading with Biff, Chip and Kipper phenomenally well in more than 100 Illustrator Alex Brychta and writer Roderick countries around the world, and are used Hunt will be talking to children aged four and to teach children to read in many schools, above about how they create each story in the including right here in the UAE. However, Oxford Reading Tree series on Friday 9 March Hunt warns, encouraging a love of literature at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. and promoting literacy cannot just be Turn to page 70 for more information.
READING IS A WAY INTO PEOPLE’S WORLDS AND THE WAY TO EXPAND YOUR VOCABULARY, INSIGHTS AND IMAGINATION 2018
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E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S
JUMEIRA BACCALAUREATE SCHOOL
JUMEIRA BACCALAUREATE SCHOOL P.52 AUTISM ROCKS P.55 HARTLAND P.57
E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S
THE POSITIVE IMPACT
Jumeira Baccalaureate School’s Head of Inclusion explores what the new Dubai Inclusive Education Policy Framework will mean for students, parents and schools BEN VILJOEN
hen the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) launched The Dubai Inclusive Education Policy Framework in November 2017, it spearheaded a positive change in the lives of students and their parents receiving support from schools’ Inclusion teams, alongside those, like myself, currently working in the field. The policy was developed by the Inclusive Education Taskforce under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, and has taken expectations for inclusion in Dubai schools to a new level.
WHAT DOES THE POLICY FRAMEWORK MEAN FOR SCHOOLS?
In line with the new framework, all Inclusion departments and schools have needed to review their policies,
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INCLUSION / POLIC Y CH A NGE
“The focus will help to challenge some of the unfortunate stigmas that still exist” procedures and perspectives. The new framework impacts all levels of support and includes: guidelines on identification and early intervention; admission policies and procedures; leadership and accountability; systems of support for Inclusive Education; the utilisation of PREVIOUS PAGE special education centres An inclusive school by schools as a resource ABOVE for inclusive education; the Students study together at JBS culture of inclusive education in schools; monitoring, Inclusive Education, as well as evaluating and reporting the establishment of an Inclusive procedures; and resourcing Education Action Team that meets expectations. to discuss and review the effectiveness of Rather than focusing on what a student the school’s Strategic Inclusive Education is unable to do, the framework encourages Action Plan and hold the Head of Inclusion schools to change their perspective to and Inclusion team to account. instead determine disability, not as an inherent impairment or difference within WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR the student, but instead as a result of how STUDENTS AND PARENTS? the environment is organised (e.g. physical The new framework will mean more access, flexibility of curriculum and ability structured and effective support for to support). students of determination. We should also As a school, the emphasis is on begin to see increased flexibility in terms identifying and removing these barriers of how schools are able to adapt their that prevent or disrupt a student’s access facilities, curriculum and the programmes to learning, as well as to promote enriched offered to students in order to ensure that life experiences and increased life choices support is appropriate to the child. for people of determination. It is all about The policy also allows parents to hold enabling a student to achieve their full schools accountable for the acceptance and potential. Conceptually, it is a small change, provision for students of determination. however, it has made a huge difference I would strongly advise parents to be for us at Jumeira Baccalaureate School knowledgeable regarding the guidelines of (JBS), a Taaleem school, in terms of how the policy, as this is something they can use we engage with students on a daily basis. to advocate for increased support and the Working to “fix” problems is a lot more removal of barriers for their children. A negative, and mentally and emotionally copy can be found on khda.gov.ae. taxing (for the student, parent and teacher) Implementation of these guidelines than identifying and promoting access and will also mean that all students within what the student can do. Dubai private schools will have increased The Inclusive Education Policy opportunities to interact with students of Framework guidelines are all built on determination and to celebrate and embrace international best practice and have their uniqueness and individual strengths. been developed in collaboration with all This promotes tolerance, acceptance, stakeholders at all levels. At JBS we have empathy and compassion that are all already felt a positive impact from new important skills for today’s increasingly initiatives, such as the nomination of a diverse society. It is my hope that the focus School Governor specifically responsible for on Inclusion and Positive Education in
Dubai schools will help with continuing to challenge some of the unfortunate stigmas that still exist. Increasingly, we should also see more access to high-quality information sessions on a range of topics as schools become more pro-active in the services they provide within their communities. On top of that, there should be a higher quality and consistency of support provision with increased transparency for parents.
HOW IT HAS INSPIRED ME
The new policy is truly inspirational and provides Inclusion teams and school leadership with support in their quest to continue to push the agenda and improve best practice within their schools. Personally, I feel that it has validated the direction that JBS is striving towards as a school, and it is in line with the vision for Dubai. The policy has provided my team and me with a new vigour and purpose, and I predict that it will also have a knock-on effect for tertiary and vocational training options in the near future.
B E N VI L J O E N Head of Inclusion Jumeira Baccalaureate School (Taleem) 2018 | E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S | 53
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INCLUSION / OPINION
We are FAMILY
The healthcare industry is witnessing a ground-breaking change in how people of determination and their families are considered in the treatment plan, explains Adam Griffin A DA M G R I F F I N
here is major change going on right now in paediatric healthcare. It impacts communities, improves access to education and even informs major policy changes at a national level. This change is not a revolutionary new drug, a ground-breaking treatment or a scientific breakthrough. It is more powerful than all of these. It is called family-centred care, and it is a simple, profound and beautiful thing. Family-centred care recognises each family as unique. It values the expert insight parents have into their child and sees them as equal partners in the therapy process. It sees the whole child and understands they exist in a rich and complicated context of home, school and community that must be understood and supported. Care is then tailored to meet the family’s specific needs. Services like Autism Rocks are ideally placed to lead the way in this. Being parents of a wonderful young boy on the autism spectrum themselves, the owners of Autism Rocks understand how stressful it can be to find the right support for your child. They wanted their families to feel respected, informed, engaged and treated with the highest level of dignity and compassion. However, such change does not come easily. Many doctors and therapists feel all too comfortable with the old-fashioned “biomedical” model that places them at
“Parents are now seen as equal partners in the therapy process”
the centre of the care plan. But now, parents are rightly demanding to have their voices heard, because when their feedback is listened to, they speak. When the therapist is offering advice based on goals they have set together, they listen. And when they see the change that is possible, they tell others. One can see this in the massive growth in parent advocacy and support on social media. In groups such as “Autism Mom Dubai” one can see parents taking action to develop online networks and inform service providers, educators and policymakers where change is needed. Around Dubai, one can find parents organising sports leagues and arranging peer support days that were previously unavailable to them. This kind of “advocacy in action” helps others understand more about disability ABOVE The Autism Rocks Support Centre’s tennis group
and reduces any stigmas. This commitment to change is also exemplified by the “My Community” programme, launched in November 2013 by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council, with the noble vision to “promote, protect and ensure the self-determination of everyone in Dubai”. To make this a reality, it is the responsibility of policymakers, healthcare providers, educators, and community shareholders to listen to people of determination and their families. Their insight, expertise and understanding is valuable beyond measure and will help us ensure Dubai truly becomes “a city for everyone”.
A DA M G R I FFI N Head of Occupational Therapy Autism Rocks Support Centre 2018
E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S
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INCLUSION / NEW POLICIES
Embracing Change The Principal of Hartland International School emphasises the need to change cultures from within if we are to fully adhere to the new Inclusive Education Policy Framework
he concept of change in education is not a new one: education systems and their components are subject to regular and cyclical review and revision. Intrinsically, we are driven to constantly improve so that our students can achieve the best they possibly can. One such recent example of change can be seen in the new Inclusive Education Policy Framework. This most important and far-reaching transformation for schools in Dubai was announced by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) in November 2017 and will undoubtedly lead to greater transparency in the rights of people of determination. Though this type of change is compulsory in law, its fundamentals are underpinned by the maturation of the nation and the principled aspirations of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to build an inclusive society. None involved in education could argue with the timeliness and importance of such policy, as Dubai embraces and celebrates the differing needs of its evolving community of students. As school leaders, we aspire to be fully inclusive, but implementation of this new policy will still require many to reconsider not only
“None involved in education could argue with the timeliness and importance of such policy”
school admissions criteria, but also the very values and philosophies that underpin our schools. Government policy may be mandatory and each of us will find our own ways to ensure compliance. The Dubai School Inspection Bureau (DSIB) inspection framework will also both challenge and support that process for schools in the emirate. But is it enough just to dictate policy change? How can we ensure that we embed the change to become part of our DNA as a school organisation? Walker and Soule in a recent article in Harvard Business Review point out that changing the culture of any organisation will require a movement, not a mandate and the Inclusive Education Policy Framework will, in many cases, require that significant culture change from within. Walker states: “To harness people’s full, lasting commitment, they must feel a deep desire, and even responsibility, to change”. A B OV E
Hartland International School embraces the spirit of being fully inclusive
In a 2014 report by Deloitte on cultural change, Linich and Bergstrom state that the “sponsorship and involvement” of the leaders of the organisation are crucial to the success of the implementation of any change in policy and practice. We know that we may need to shift some mindsets and perhaps even challenge some existing and deep-rooted – often unspoken of – prejudices and misconceptions. But the work of the Executive Council of Dubai through its focus on “My community… a city for everyone” initiative empowers school leaders, owners and governors to celebrate and formally recognise diversity and differences. Indeed, it expects it of us. If asked whether my school was fully inclusive, I would state with pride I believe we are. However, I know we have to make further adjustments to our work, procedures and, perhaps, our mindsets. The school improvement process and how it is managed will naturally impact on our success, but such modification can only make us a better and more inclusive school that embraces our whole community, and a school that truly celebrates the diversity that is synonymous with the future landscape of Dubai.
F I O N A COT TA M Principal Hartland International School, Dubai 2018
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E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S
Being a parent
FAMILY READING TIME, SHUTTERSTOCK
COPING WITH TEENS P . 60 GOAL SETTING TIPS P . 63 ESSENTIAL READS P . 66
E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S
NURTUR ING A DULTS As a mother of four children who have safely navigated their way to their 20s, Fiona McKenzie shares her thoughts on how to survive the teenage years FIONA MCKENZIE
hey say it takes a village to raise a child and this is every bit as true of raising a teenager as it is of the babies and toddlers. Teenagers need a range of adult role models: people they can talk to, in addition to their parents; people who like them but don’t necessarily love them; people who will respect them and treat them like adults as they try on their different identities in order to establish who they really are. So much has been written about the teenage years and, to quote Tony Little, the former Headmaster of Eton, being a teenager is like being on “a rollercoaster ride with the distortion of a hall of mirrors all in one”. And, as more neurological discoveries are made, we will all – parents, teachers and adolescents themselves – come to understand more about how the teenage brain develops and functions. But, in the short term, what are the key things to remember when parenting a teenage child?
“Teenagers rely on you as parents to be the one constant in their lives”
Keep on loving them
hen your blue-eyed cherubic child morphs into a grunting Neanderthal who rejects all physical contact (which, frankly, is not a challenge when faced with the odour of a teenage boy mixed with Lynx deodorant), it is important to keep on loving them. They rely on you as parents to be the one constant in their lives that they can always depend on for unconditional love and affection. Hormonal fluctuations can create massive mood swings and unpredictable behaviours. You may not always like what
they do, or how they behave, but they do need to know that whatever they do, you will always love them. So, how do you do this when they appear determined on making themselves as unloveable as possible?
Communication is key
owever surly and offhand your teen may be with you, it is vital to keep on talking, even when you think they are not listening. If easy, open conversations are a regular part of family life it means that when problems arise they can be discussed more naturally
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BEING A PA R EN T / COPING W ITH TEENS
“Learning to fail is probably one of the most important skills a teenager acquires” you had to let them fall over when they were beginning to walk, so you have to stand back and let them work things out for themselves and learn from the experience. As experienced Head, Jonathan Hughes D’Aeth, says: “As long as no one is injured, psychologically damaged or left with a large debt, then the only thing to suffer is pride and that can be fixed!”
Know their friends
Y and it doesn’t become “The Talk”. Even more importantly, listen to your teen. The car is a great place for talking with teens – it is amazing how freely they will chat when there is little eye contact, and they are not afraid of being judged as they think you are concentrating on the traffic. Plus, neither of you can storm off!
Boundaries are important
elieve it or not, teens need boundaries – they are much happier when they have something to kick against. A “my house, my rules” policy may seem perfectly logical to you, but may not to your teen. Explain clearly and honestly why certain things are important to you, discuss the reasons behind your decisions, involve them in the conversation and be prepared |to adapt the rules as your teens grow and change.
e hear a lot about raising resilient children but it is a quality you need to have as a parent, too. Be firm on the principles you hold most dear and feel free to make a stand, but then give them some slack on other areas that you do not
consider to be deal-breakers. Do not sweat the small stuff – do not let what they wear and the length of their hair get to you, for example. As parents, you will often be the subject of your teenagers most unkind remarks – they will say they “hate” you, they may slam doors, they will certainly claim you do not understand them – but throughout all of this it is important to remember that you are their parent and not their best friend. You are in it for the long haul, however often they let you down – and they will – but you will always be there for them.
Learning to fail
et them fail at things – decisionmaking and exercising control are higher order functions that develop more slowly than the more basic motor skills. There are bound to be mistakes, errors of judgement and, to an adult, an almost incomprehensible lack of connection between actions and consequences. Learning to fail is probably one of the most important skills a teenager acquires at this stage. No parent enjoys watching their child fail at something, and the temptation is to interfere and pre-empt the mistake or to take control of the situation. But, just as
our teenage child’s friendship group will often be the centre of their universe and this is where they experiment with different identities, and where they learn to practise relationships for later on in life. They will be especially sensitive to their peer group and often easily influenced by them for good or ill. Get to know your child’s friends and be there for them, whether that means a hot chocolate at the end of a late night or just ferrying them around in the car. Know who they are and be careful not to be judgemental, as today’s enemy can be tomorrow’s best friend.
School is crucial
hildren spend on average around 20% of their life in school and, while it is a relatively small proportion of their time, it forms a big part of the “village”. Not only is it where they will form most of their friendship groups and learn from a wide variety of adults, but also, crucially, schools offer opportunities for leadership, competition, and the chance to succeed in all manner of ways. A good school will value their pupils for who they are and what they specifically can do.
FI O N A M C K E NZI E Director Gabbitas Education Middle East 2018 | E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S | 61
BEING A PA R EN T / GOA L SET TING
A counselling psychologist explains how helping kids stick to New Year’s resolutions can be beneficial
How to help kids succeed As a parent, there are plenty of ways you can help your child make and stick to their own New Year’s resolutions. Here are just a few of my top tips:
CHRISTINA KRITZAS 1. PRACTISE WHAT YOU PREACH It’s hard to overstate how important what we do is versus what we say to our children. The best way to teach a child effective goal setting is to model it to them. Parents are therefore encouraged to reflect on their own commitment to following through with their goals and to demonstrate to their kids that through persevering one is able to achieve in life. 2. BRAINSTORM TOGETHER Kids are less likely to do goal setting independently and could benefit from some guidance from a parent. Setting goals with family members can be a wonderful bonding tool and a great way of showing a child that they have the support of their loved ones in working towards their goals. It is imperative that kids are involved in the process so as to get their buy-in.
hen we hear the words “New Year’s resolutions” it is often associated with phrases such as “this year will be the year”, “I will make positive changes” or, better yet, “every year I say that I will stick to my plan but then somehow the wheels come off ”. Many struggle with the idea of having resolutions as they can be so fixed and often set us up for failure. Therefore, the concept has lost some credibility over the years due to individuals’ inabilities to follow through with their intentions, and it carries mixed feelings for some. As the new year approaches, many individuals feel overwhelmed, excited, anxious, and so on, as they hope they will be able to make the change that they enthusiastically, sometimes apprehensively, speak of. While New Year’s resolutions have received a great deal of flak in the past, the intention behind it all is pure. It gives us an opportunity to reflect on, and re-evaluate, our current
lifestyles. And childhood is the best time to get kids to form healthy habits and learn new skills. So, it is therefore important that kids are taught how to create their own resolutions early on. Regardless of children’s ages, they will be more likely to adopt, and understand, the value of goal setting if their parents are taking the lead. New Year’s resolutions give families an opportunity to connect with one another and create an annual ritual of each stating their intentions for the year ahead. Children also learn how to become more selfdisciplined and have a better understanding of perseverance and the value of having followthrough in life. They can also learn about identifying where they would like to go in their lives and what they would like to achieve on this journey. Finally, this process can help them develop a better understanding of the hard work involved in moving toward one’s hopes and dreams for the future.
3.KEEP IT SIMPLE First-time resolutions shouldn’t be too challenging but rather within realistic reach so as to build momentum and to celebrate the child’s progress along the way. Emphasis should be placed on moving in the desired direction of a goal rather than asking “did I achieve my resolution or not?”. 4. TINY TWEAKS = BIG CHANGES Assist your child in taking small, actionable steps to achieving their goals (for example, encourage your children to pack their LEGO away after play as part of a bigger resolution of “having a tidy playroom”). 5. PROVIDE A FRAMEWORK Introduce the W.O.O.P. strategy to your child when creating New Year’s resolutions: W – What do you wish to achieve? O – what would happen if you achieved your Outcome? O – what Obstacles might get in the way? P – what Plan or actions can you put in place to overcome these obstacles and to help you stay on your desired path?
CHRISTINE KRITZAS Counselling Psychologist LightHouse Arabia 2018
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R A ISING Little Readers Fiona Mckenzie argues that in the Information Age, nurturing a love of reading in your child has never been more important FIONA MCKENZIE
n this digital day and age some people question why the traditional three “Rs” – reading, (w)riting and (a)rithmetic – are still the bedrock of education. To me, having these skills is more significant than ever, particularly when it comes to reading. For many people one of their greatest guilty pleasures is devouring a book from cover to cover in one go; being fully immersed in another world, firing up your imagination, caught up in a narrative that beguiles or challenges you to learn something new or think about things differently. The ability to read is the key to opening new worlds, broadening horizons, learning, evaluating and communicating.
THE IMPORTANCE OF STARTING YOUNG
earning to read starts as early as pointing out shapes in books to your baby. Children love having stories read to them, whether at bed time or any time of the day, and from this they learn about storytelling, vocabulary, how pictures and words relate together, not to mention all the things they glean about the world around them, relationships and living life. Once children are in a position to start reading themselves, it is good to let them
have a degree of free rein about what they want to read. At this stage it is about enjoying reading and getting into the habit of it rather than the content. But even with a difficult book, there is still a value in the practise of reading – sometimes the perseverance pays off and they get more out of it than they expected. Helping children to dig a bit deeper by discussing the book together not only establishes if they have actually understood the text, but it also helps them develop critical thinking skills and learn how to express an opinion.
HOW TO NURTURE INTEREST
uch has been written about how to encourage even a confident reader to read for pleasure and, for the reluctant reader, there are several tried
“Pick a book you can both enjoy and take it in turns to read a page or a chapter”
and tested methods. Reading aloud to a child is still important – pick a book you can both enjoy and take it in turns to read a page or a chapter. Before long you will find they are sneaking ahead without you. Picking the first book of a series and reading it as a bedtime story can work, too, as once they have been drawn into the narrative they will be keen to tackle the sequel. Find reading material that intrinsically interests them – comic books and magazines are good to start with. Plus, using the Internet or electronic devices may make the thought of reading more appealing to them. All of these sources are encouraging a child to read in some format or another.
A LOVE OF HIGH LITERATURE
o, what are the sorts of books that entice and captivate children at different ages? The reading list from leading London independent school, St Paul’s, gives some good ideas about books for seven-year-olds. They recommend, among others, The Butterfly Lion by Michael Morpurgo, The Little Wolf series by Ian Whybrow, anything by Roald Dahl and the Horrible Histories. For reading aloud to children, they suggest you start with books familiar across the generations, such as Wind in the Willows or the Just So Stories. Looking towards 11-plus, Gabbitas tutors often recommend books such as
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“It is good to let them have a degree of free rein about what they want to read”
A B OV E
Help children dig The Secret Garden deeper by reading by Francis Burnet or and then discussing the Silver Sword by the book together Ian Serrallier. More contemporary fiction includes The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon or Michelle Magorian’s very moving Goodnight Mr Tom. Sevenoaks School recommends any of Anthony Horrowitz’s series and the Inkheart books by Cornelia Funke. It is also fascinating to see what authors themselves would recommend children read. Philip Pullman, who wrote the Dark Materials trilogy, suggests that every child should have read Pinocchio and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Top of Michael Morpugo’s list, on the other hand, would be the Just William books and the Man who Planted Trees by Jean Giono. And, as they grow older? Tony Little, the former Headmaster of Eton, has published
a comprehensive list of books that every bright 16-year-old should have read, covering art, science, history, economics, philosophy and traditional classics such as Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, Atonement by Ian McEwan and The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe.
THE END RESULT
y the time the children grow into young adults they should be reading for pleasure, using their “reading” muscles regularly to acquire more vocabulary, to learn different forms of expression, and to identify different genres. They should be able to read, identify key information, sort out what is and is not relevant, and to be able to synthesise the information into a coherent summary. A confident and experienced reader will be able to predict potential outcomes and draw conclusions from the information
given. They should also have developed the ability to evaluate information, spot “fake news”, be able to use source materials for research and have the ability to crossreference ideas and information from different texts. Follow these steps and our children will have the skills for a lifetime of effective and pleasurable reading.
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Yvette Judge, the Chief Operating Officer of the Emirates Literature Foundation, shares her personal book recommendations for children of all ages.
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
Holes by Louis Sachar
Matilda by Roald Dahl
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Pa re n t s
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
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Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian
Railhead by Philip Reeve
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
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The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Room on The Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
14 and under
Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
Not Now, Bernard by David McKee
11 and under
The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson
Ag e s 6 and under
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
18 and under
t is incredibly hard to choose just a few books for each age group, but, for me, the mark of a good story is one that stays with you and that when you reread it you get even more from it. For those I have mentioned for younger readers, these are titles I have read aloud to my own children and in schools, and they have always been loved...
The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
POETRY COMPETITION AT EMIRATES AIRLINE FESTIVAL OF LITERATURE
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Your ultimate guide to this year’s impressive Children’s Programme at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature K AT Y G I L L E T T
his year, from 1-10 March, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature team celebrates 10 years of inspiring a love of reading among children and adults. With an inspiring line-up of authors, and a wide range of activities on offer, there has never been a better time to get you and your family down to InterContinental, Dubai Festival City, and expand your literary horizons. While there is an incredible array of panel discussions and workshops that are suitable for grown-ups, there is also a dedicated Children’s Programme worth getting your little ones involved with. Here is a selection of events you need to know about...
Ticketing information Tickets and venue details for all events are available online at emirateslitfest.com. For more information, call 04 355 9844 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
FRIDAY 2 MARCH
DAME JACQUELINE WILSON: The History Girls The woman behind some of the most beloved characters in children’s literature – from mischievous Tracy Beaker to headstrong Hetty Feather – is in Dubai presenting her new book, Wave Me Goodbye. It tells a moving tale of 10-year-old Shirley, an evacuee in World War II, who is sent to live in a strange, old house with mysterious Mrs Waverley. Printed bookplates with Jacqueline’s signature on will be available, and the first 200 ticket-buyers will have chance to meet her for a special book signing and photo opportunity. 10am-11am, English, Age: 9+, Price: Dhs50
to being eaten by a wolf in a fun-packed session via video link. 10am-11am, English, Age: 4+, Price: Dhs50
JAMES DASHNER: The Maze Runner Go behind-the-scenes of the renowned Maze Runner and The Mortality Doctrine series in this inspiring chat with American author James Dashner. Read more from the author on page 78. Noon-1pm, English, Age: 12+, Price: Dhs50
DESIGNING PATTERNS: Workshop for children with Eric Broug Eric Broug received his Master’s degree in the History of Islamic Art and Architecture from the School Of Oriental and African Studies, London. In this handson workshop, he introduces children to Islamic geometric design, as they get the chance to create their own amazing art. Noon-1.30pm, English, Age: 10-14, Price: Dhs150
JULIA JOHNSON: THE SECRET OF THE CAVE The award-winning author of The Turtle Secret has returned with The Secret of the Cave, a new book inspired by the mystical mountains of the UAE. In her trademark, warm storytelling style, Julia will transport us to the beautiful, sometimes dangerous, mountainous regions in her brand-new book. Noon-1pm, English, Age: 7+, Price: Dhs50
FEELINGS AND FACES: Drawing workshop with Guy Parker-Rees The kids will learn how to draw expressive characters with the illustrator of Giraffes Can’t Dance. Noon-1pm, English, Age: 6-10, Price: Dhs100
TOO MANY CARROTS: Story & Craft, a workshop with Katy Hudson The celebrated children’s author behind Too Many Carrots leads a creative workshop for little ones. They will get the chance to listen to the story and create some rabbit- and carrot-themed crafts. 10am-11am, English, Age: 4-8, Price: Dhs100
HATS OFF TO JON KL ASSEN The master illustrator of I Want My Hat Back reveals the surprising upsides
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Girl of Ink & Stars. Using just ink maps and her knowledge of stars, can Isabella find her friend? Find out at this fun session. Read more about the author on page 76. 2pm-3pm, English, Age: 8+, Price: Dhs50
STEPHEN RITZ: The Power of a Plant “America’s favourite teacher” Stephen Ritz changed the fate of his school… by turning it into a garden. Hear more about his impressive career and how he’s revolutionised his students’ lives. Before you go, read more about him in this issue of Emirates Education, on page 75. 4pm-5pm, English, Age: 9+, Price: Dhs50
SATURDAY 3 MARCH
PHILIP ARDAGH: The World of Moominvalley
Journey to Moominvalley with the biggest moomin fan of all – British author Philip Ardagh takes us through the creation of his new guide to Tove Jansson’s beloved characters. 10am-11am, English, Age: 6+, Price: Dhs50
GUY PARKER-REES: Giraffes Can’t Dance SPOKEN WORD SL AM!: A workshop with Harry Baker The world champion of slam poetry, whose debut anthology The Sunshine Kid is out now, leads a fast-talking, tonguetwisting workshop on the art of spoken word. 1.30pm-3pm, English, Age: 13-18, Price: Dhs150
BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE: Philip Ardagh and Elissa Elwick English children’s author Philip Ardagh and illustrator Elissa Elwick introduce you to Stick & Fetch, a girl and dog detective duo who leave a trail of mayhem wherever they go. The pair bring their stage act of storytelling, hand puppets, live drawing and general silliness to Dubai for the first time. 2pm-3pm, English, Age: 5+, Price: Dhs50
KIRAN MILLWOOD HARGRAVE: The Girl of Ink & Stars The young poet, playwright and novelist reveals more about her notable book The
Join in on this fun session of interactive storytelling and live drawing with the illustrator of this beloved classic. 10am-11am, English, Age: 4+, Price: Dhs50
Saeed’s drone. Who will win? The Emirati children’s author shares his tales in this fun-filled story session, allowing kids to learn more about the Emirati identity and values such as heroism and kindness. Noon-1pm, Arabic/English, Age: 9+, Price: Dhs50
POETRY PIE: Roger McGough And LiTTLe MACHiNe The well-known English poet, children’s author and broadcaster offers a slice of “poetry pie” – witty wordplay and rib-tickler rhymes are set to music in an exciting session for kids. Noon-1pm, English, Age: 6+, Price: Dhs50
MARDI GRAS EMIRATI PARTY: Story & Craft; A workshop with Maitha Al Khayat The much-loved Emirati author and illustrator of several children’s Arabiclanguage picture books presents a funpacked session of readings, crafts and dressing up. Noon-1pm, Arabic/English, Age: 6-10, Price: Dhs150
KATY HUDSON: Tortoises, Rabbits and Runaway Eggs This is the perfect story session for little
ANTHONY HOROWITZ: Alex Rider Returns The writer surely needs no introduction – Anthony Horowitz is one of the most celebrated and successful writers in the UK today, and the author of the Alex Rider series of spy novels. Hear all about the latest adventures of Alex Rider, and the thrilling mission that throws him back into a world of deadly secrets. 10am-11am, English, Age: 9+, Price: Dhs50
MAKE A MINI-COMIC: A workshop with Elissa Elwick This interactive drawing workshop for little ones, led by the rising illustration talent, allows them to create a character and run wild with their imaginations while making their own mini-comic. 10am-11am, English, Age: 5-8, Price: Dhs100
AHMED AL SHOAIBI: The Camel and The Drone Hamad and Saeed are ready for an epic race between Hamad’s camel and 2018
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streetwise humour and a touch of tenderness. Alex will be in conversation with Robert Mitchell. 2pm-3pm, English, Age: 15+, Price: Dhs50
PHILIP ARDAGH: The Eddie Dickens Trilogy Larger-than-life children’s author Philip Ardagh, winner of the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, will take the audience on a hilarious, whirlwind tour of his Eddie Dickens series. 2pm-3pm, English, Age: 7+, Price: Dhs50
DINOS IN THE DESERT: Maitha Al Khayat and Elissa Elwick joint session
Dubai-based author Rachel Hamilton and an eternally optimistic unicorn named Louie ask: how do you give life to characters that don’t really exist? 4.30pm-5.30pm, English, Age: 6+, Price: Dhs50
MAP MY STORY: Writing workshop with Kiran Millwood Hargrave
FRIDAY 9 MARCH
JUDITH KERR: The Tiger Who Came To Tea
BEETLE STORIES: Writing workshop with MG Leonard The award-winning, best-selling writer of books such as Beetle Boy and Beetle Queen hosts a writing workshop that will leave little imaginations crawling with some insect-inspired plotlines. 12.30pm-2pm, English, Age: 9-11, Price: Dhs150
ALEX WHEATLE: Straight Outta Crongton Brixton bard Alex Wheatle, winner of the Guardian Children’s Prize, had a challenging childhood in the UK care system, but has gone on to become a celebrated writer, promoting diverse voices in literature. His Crongton series tells the story of teenagers growing up in a fictional, tough London estate through 72
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RACHEL HAMILTON: UNICORNS DO EXIST!
This international team-up of authorillustrator introduces a camel to a dinosaur, as the kids are asked to help them draw what happens next in the story. 2pm-3pm, English, Age: 4+, Price: Dhs50
This creative writing workshop with the celebrated young author asks children to create a map of an island as the setting for their very own adventure. 2.30pm-4pm, English, Age: 8-12, Price: Dhs150
animal-lovers. Tortoise just wants to sleep through the winter, but his friends have other ideas… Head along to find out how the critters get on. Noon-1pm, English, Age: 4+, Price: Dhs50
THURSDAY 8 MARCH
This is a not-to-be-missed session dedicated to a beloved children’s classic. Judith joins via video link and will read from the book, share stories of her past and the challenges of drawing tigers. She will be in conversation with editor Paul Blezard. 4pm-5pm, English, Age: 4+, Price: Dhs50
MG LEONARD: BEETLE BOY
THE WORLD OF DAVID WALLIAMS
The bestselling British comedian and author of Gangsta Granny and Bad Dad returns to Dubai and is joined on stage by cartoonist and scriptwriter Andy Riley and illustrator/author Tony Ross. This is an absolute must-see if you love a laugh. 10am-11am, English, Age: 6+, Price: Dhs50
SF SAID: PHOENIX The British author of Varjak Paw introduces his deep space epic Phoenix in a celebration of adventure and stories. Noon-1pm, English, Age: 9+, Price: Dhs50
GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS: REAL-LIFE SUPERHEROES
Learn how six-legged, super-powered mini-beasts inspired MG Leonard to write her award-winning novel, despite the fact that she was terrified of insects. 4pm-5pm, English, Age: 8+, Price: Dhs50
Editor Craig Glenday takes us through the world’s wildest record-breakers, offering a fascinating glimpse into the stranger-than-fiction world of the Guinness World Records. Noon-1pm, English, Age; 6+, Price: Dhs50
HOW TO START YOUR COMIC: Workshop with Gabriel Rodriguez
ANIMAL ANTICS: Writing workshop with T om Moorhouse
Kids get the opportunity to create an amazing comic book page, all under the tutelage of the Eisner Award-winning artist Gabriel Rodriguez, who is famous for his horror series Locke & Key. 6pm-7.30pm, English, Age: 12-18, Price: Dhs150
The British author of The River Singers and The New Adventures of Mr Toad, and ecologist at Oxford University’s Zoology Department, teaches us how to turn your love of animals into awesome stories. Noon-1.30pm, English, Age: 7-11, Price: Dhs150
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HOW TO DRAW A DINOSAUR!: A workshop with Korky Paul
READ WITH BIFF, CHIP AND KIPPER: Oxford Reading Tree
Bring the prehistoric critters to life with the help of Korky Paul, British illustrator of Winne the Witch and the self-appointed “World’s Greatest Dinosaur Drawer”. Learn more about Korky on page 77. Noon-1.30pm, English, Age: 6-11, Price: Dhs150
Alex Brychta and Roderick Hunt, the creators of Biff, Chip and Kipper, demonstrate the creative magic that goes into the Oxford Reading Tree series, which successfully teaches kids all over the world how to read. Read more about the duo on page 36. 2pm-3pm, English, Age: 4+, Price: Dhs50
EOIN COLFER: Artemis Fowl to Iron Man Speaking live via video link from Ireland, the Irish children’s author speaks about his series Iron Man, WARP and the forthcoming Artemis Fowl movie. 2pm-3pm, English, Age: 9+, Price: Dhs50
NADIA HASHIMI: One Half from the East Nadia Hasimi is an Afghan-American novelist, pediatric physician and politician. Here she tells the moving story of an Afghan girl who pretends to be a boy in order to save her family. 2pm-3pm, English, Age: 10+, Price: Dhs50
HOW TO DRAW A MONSTER!: A workshop with Tony Ross The amazing illustrator behind Horrid Henry, The Little Princess, and the books of celebrated British comedian and children’s writer David Walliams, teaches the art of creating scary monsters. 2pm-3pm, English, Age: 5-8, Price: Dhs100
SHORT STORY L AB: Writing workshop with Andrey Kurkov The Ukrainian novelist leads a fantastic workshop for teens that teaches them how to craft their own short story and develop characters that are believable and memorable. 2pm-3.30pm, English, Age: 13-18, Price: Dhs150
GARY NORTHFIELD: Julius Zebra Meet Julius Zebra and his pals, characters by notable British cartoonist Gary Northfield, in this action-packed session of readings, draw-alongs and plenty of jokes. Gary is also the man behind the creation of Derek the Sheep. 4pm-5pm, English, Age: 6+, Price: Dhs50
JULIE TOTTMAN: The Hedwig Whisperer Calling all Harry Potter fans – the animal trainer who kept the Hogwarts Owlery in order tells tales of the critters she has worked with. 4pm-5pm, English, Age: 6+, Price: Dhs50
THE X-FACTOR: Writing workshop with Ali Sparkes British children’s author Ali Sparkes is known for The Shapeshifter series, among others. In this workshop she challenges participants to come up with an exciting story, then she determines if the ideas have the “x-factor”. 4pm-5.30pm, English, Age: 10-14, Price: Dhs150
And the winner is… Who will receive the most coveted awards during the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature prize-giving ceremonies?
TA A LE E M AWA R D S Saturday 3 March • 11.30am-noon Arabic/English The much-anticipated celebration of young poets, this year inspired by the theme “memories”, takes place with beloved author and poetry performer Roger McGough, as well as the awardwinning Emirati scribe Maryam Mahyoh. The pair present the prizes, and the session is followed by Poetry Pie, a fantastic live performance from McGough and musical poetry maestros, LiTTLe MACHIiNe.
E M I R AT E S N B D P O E T RY FO R A LL CO M P E T I T I O N Wednesday 7 March • 2pm-5pm Arabic/English Witness the final round of this performance poetry competition, and hear students give an emotional response to their chosen poems.
CHEVRON READERS’ CUP Thursday 8 March • 1.30pm-2.30pm Arabic/English More than 600 teams from the region have joined this year’s Chevron Readers' Cup, and authors Holly Webb and Mouhannad Alakous are hosting the much-awaited presentation of awards.
OX FO R D UNIVERSITY PRESS S TO RY W R I T I N G CO M P E T I T I O N Saturday 10 March • 11.30am Arabic/English Here to present the awards are Ali Sparkes, author of the Shapeshifter series; Sahar Naja Mahfouz, author of 28 Arabic-language children’s books; and Alex Brychta and Roderick Hunt, the author-illustrator team behind the Oxford Reading Tree books starring Biff, Chip and Kipper. After the prizes are handed out, Sparkes takes the stage to talk about Fantastic Master Fox.
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CHARLIE HIGSON: The End
conversation with moderator Shen Husain. 10am-11am, English, Age: 11+, Price: Dhs50
Not only is Charlie Higson an author, but he’s also an actor, comedian and former singer. His action-packed Enemy series is nearing The End, so get the chance to hear all about it from its maker, and find out what he is working on now. 6pm-7pm, English, Age: 12+, Price: Dhs50
THE HOUNDS OF PENHALLOW HALL: Writing workshop with Holly Webb Prolific, bestselling British author Holly Webb uses her magical new series to help you create your own enchanting story. 6pm-7.30pm, English, Age: 7-10, Price: Dhs150
SATURDAY 10 MARCH HOLLY WEBB: Animal Stories
Younger readers can attend this delightful session, where author Holly Webb recounts tales of the adorable pets and animals that inspired her. 10am-11am, English, Age: 6+, Price: Dhs50
LINDA DAVIES: LONGBOW GIRL Join the adventure with Longbow Girl’s protagonist, Merry Owen, an expert archer trying to survive the reign of Henry VIII. Author Linda Davies’ first books for children were the Djinn fantasy series, which drew on the folklore of the UAE and mysticism of the desert. Here she will be in
ALI SPARKES: Fantastic Master Fox Known for her energetic and fun-filled talks, Ali Sparkes will delight you with weird wildlife facts, daring childhood memories and a lot of laughs – and maybe even some stories about her new edge-ofyour-seat series, Night Speakers. Noon-1pm, English, Age: 9+, Price: Dhs50 (free tickets for Oxford University Press Story Writing Competition prize winners)
I WANT… TONY ROSS! The much-loved illustrator brings The Little Princess, Horrid Henry and many more fantastic tales to life through stories and drawings in a fun-packed session. Noon-1pm, English, Age: 4+, Price: Dhs50
AMAZING ARABIAN NIGHTS: Story & Craft, a workshop with Wafa Tarnowska The Lebanon-born, UK-based author helps little ones design a magical Arabian garden in a workshop that explores the stories of her wonderfully illustrated book, The Arabian Nights. Noon-1.30pm, Arabic/English, Age: 8-12, Price: Dhs150
COMIC STRIP CRAZY: Drawing workshop with Gary Northﬁeld Kids can create a comic strip with the master cartoonist behind Derek the Sheep,
Gary’s Garden and Julius Zebra. Noon-1.30pm, English, Age: 6-11, Price: Dhs150
KORKY PAUL: Winnie the Witch Illustrator Korky Paul welcomes the kids to the wonderful world of Winnie the Witch in a session that is complete with silliness, live drawing and prizes galore. 2pm-3pm, English, Age: 5+, Price: Dhs50
TOM MOORHOUSE: The New Adventures of Mr Toad The star of much-loved tale The Wind in the Willows is back with more outrageous antics, and Tom Moorhouse shares the secrets of updating a classic story. 2pm-3pm, English, Age: 6+, Price: Dhs50
ANDY RILEY: King Flashypants and the Toys of Terror Cartoonist and author Andy Riley is joined by his friend, the celebrated British children’s author David Walliams, as they present the third hilarious adventure of King Flashypants. 4pm-5pm, English, Age: 7+, Price: Dhs50
GAME>STORY: Writing workshop with Ali Sparkes This interactive workshop explains how playing video games can actually help kids write amazing stories. Who knew?! 4pm-5.30pm, English, Age: 10-14, Price: Dhs150 74
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World-renowned teacher Stephen Ritz descends on Dubai to discuss how he revolutionised his classroom through food, farming and fun K AT Y G I L L E T T
tephen Ritz became known as “America’s favourite teacher” after he transformed a classroom in one of New York’s most disadvantaged communities by encouraging his students’ interest in food and farming, following a personal tragedy of his own. And it all happened entirely by accident. Since then, he has reached and revolutionised thousands of classrooms around the US, and even the UAE, where he will soon be moving to take up a role at Fairgreen International School, a sustainabilityfocused facility in The Sustainable City. Before that, however, he is coming to our shores for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, where he will tell us, in one of his extremely inspirational speeches, about his incredible experiences in the South Bronx and how we all can relate. Q What are you going to be doing at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature? A I’m going to be a keynote speaker, sharing my experience, strength and hope regarding my book, The Power of A Plant.
“When you teach children about nature, you teach them to nurture, and then we as a society collectively embrace our better nature”
A B OV E
My debut in Dubai started in 2015, when I was fortunate to become a top ten finalist in the Global Teacher Prize. I think what resonated more than anything else with the people of Dubai, and with Dr Abdulla [Al Karam, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General of the KHDA], is that I teach in the poorest congressional district in America. Where I teach is really a difficult and challenged community. But one thing we have down is happiness. Despite all the obstacles facing my students, my classroom is a place of joy, aspiration and inspiration. The book Power of the Plant really speaks to a theme of collateral positivity, if you will. Of passion, purpose and hope, and the notion that anyone can do something great. Stephen Ritz founded Green Bronx Machine, which teaches students to grow vegetables
Q How do you think students in the UAE can relate to your story? A In the UAE you have a couple of issues: number one, the obesity crisis is really unbelievable. Good nutrition and access to healthy food is critical. One of the most interesting things I’m finding in the UAE is the whole spirit of entrepreneurial activity among middle school and high school kids; kids who see the need to feed the world and feed themselves and grow fresh food and grow it profitably. As for little kids, they love growing food. I can think of all these wonderful little elementary school and primary school programmes that I’ve visited where the children just love planting seeds and seeing their seeds grow into something great, which is really a metaphor for their own lives. The bottom line is without farming and farmers, we would all be hungry. But, most importantly, when you teach children about nature, you teach them to nurture, and when we teach children to nurture, we as a society collectively embrace our better nature. So, whether it’s feeding children better food in Dubai or teaching them about food solutions that can help their neighbours in less fortunate places throughout the Middle East and around the world, this is something that resonates deeply with the human spirit.
See Stephen Ritz speak on Friday 2 March, 4pm-5pm 2018
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Successful, 27-year-old writer Kiran Millwood Hargrave shares her best advice on how would-be scribes can make it, too K AT Y G I L L E T T
t just 27 years old, British poet, playwright and novelist Kiran Millwood Hargrave has already achieved much in her career. Her debut novel, The Girl of Ink and Stars, which she was inspired to write after a holiday in La Gomera, the second smallest Canary Island, was a big hit across the world. It has since been praised for its “good, old-fashioned storytelling”, and likened to the work of her hero, Philip Pullman, author of the Dark Materials trilogy. Ahead of her arrival in Dubai for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, we chat to her about how budding novelists and would-be writers can also break into this competitive market today.
What can people expect from your sessions at Emirates Airline Festival of Literature? A It will be a presentation session, where I talk about the inspiration behind my books. I actually started writing in an unusual way – I didn’t develop the plot or characters first, I came up with the world of the books in both cases. So I will talk a bit about world building and how important that was, particularly for my first book, The Girl of Ink and Stars, and how the plot and characters grew from Q
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what you think you should be reading and writing. I think reading for pleasure is so important and is not encouraged enough. Also read things you wouldn’t necessarily expect to enjoy. I read a lot of thrillers and it really helps me with pacing, even though I don’t write thrillers. I think there’s something valuable to be gained from reading any book. Finally, call yourself a writer as soon as possible, to validate yourself and take yourself seriously. Because if you don’t, then who else will?
Kiran Millwood Hargrave came up with the idea for her debut novel while on holiday
that. They are really interactive, engaging sessions. Hopefully it will encourage children to make their own work.
Q Were you surprised by the success of The Girl of Ink and Stars? A Completely. I think my publishers were, too. You can never expect success with a book. Plenty of books far better than mine get completely overlooked and it’s far more to do with timing and the right person seeing it, and having the right support. Q What tips do you have for budding writers in the UAE? A I honestly think the best advice – and I know it’s so boring because everyone says it – is to read as much as possible and to read as widely as possible. Don’t pigeonhole yourself when it comes to reading or writing
Q What about advice on the business side of being a writer? What are the first steps? A Obviously it’s a hard career to make a go of, but it is entirely possible. Unfortunately it’s the people who don’t have support or self belief who tend to drop out and often we need their stories most of all, because we need diversity within the publishing industry. My main advice about getting into it is if you want to do it, you have to do it. The most important thing is to actually write a book, and then go and find yourself an agent, who will essentially act as your manager, and then they’ll go on and find you a publisher. The second you’ve got an agent, you’re no longer alone in it. Also, you don’t have to be doing this fulltime. I know plenty of writers who are also teachers, librarians, lawyers – if you want to do it, you’ll find a way to make it work, but it does take a lot of determination.
Kiran Millwood Hargrave presents sessions on Fri 2 March and Sat 3 March
SCHOOL’ S OUT / EMIR ATES A IR LINE FESTI VA L OF LITER ATUR E
The Illustrator British artist Korky Paul talks about Winnie, Wilbur and why he is not so keen on technology… K AT Y G I L L E T T
Q What can people expect from your orky Paul is a friendly, jovial sessions at the Emirates Airline Festival man. You might of Literature? A Lots of high energy, drawing, audience not know of him, but you will participation, fun, reading stories and big certainly know prizes to be won. What we do is, all the of his work, as he children get a magic ticket, similar to a raffle is the illustrator ticket. We keep the counter foil number and behind the those are put into Winnie’s hat. Winnie, who award-winning Winnie and Wilbur series, is on the stage with me, draws out the ticket. published by the Oxford University Press, We wave the wand and shout “Abracadabra!” which he creates in collaboration with and she sticks her hand in the hat and pulls writer Valerie Thomas. out the number, then we call out the digits. Korky was born in 1951 and raised in Whoever gets all five numbers gets a prize. Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), but we speak It could be a signed book, or I might do a to him from his current home in Oxford, drawing for them, for example. I’m trying to UK, where he’s working on a new Winnie show children drawing and reading is fun. and Wilbur book, and preparing to travel to Q How do you feel about the rise of the UAE for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. He tells us all about his digital in illustration? A I hate it. It’s horrible. forthcoming sessions in Dubai, which are designed to delight, [Laughs.] I like drawing on Korky Paul engage and inspire children. paper; I like the feel of it. is the illustrator
behind Winnie the Witch and a range of other popular kids’ books
“Even if your drawings sometimes don’t work out, it doesn’t matter” [Technology is] just too complicated. I have the equipment; I’ve bought it, but don’t use it. I mean, it has 2,000 settings for my pen. Do you really need 2,000 settings?! Once, I delivered artworks to Penguin and the art director said when they received it everyone was excited and gathered round. I said: “It’s Penguin! They must look at artwork all the time!” But she said that many of the junior team members hadn’t seen artwork on paper before, only PDF! I asked her how many people send artwork digitally – she said 80%. So I’m part of the 20% hardcore elite [laughs]. Q Do you think there will be a day where illustrators are replaced by robots? A I guess they could get machines to draw, but it’s such a thing of imagination. Robots can do tedious, repetitive jobs. So, illustration is the way to go! There’s lots of work around now for illustration. The gaming industry in particular needs artists. It’s bigger than the movie industry now, and they always need artists, even if it is digital. Q What tips can you offer budding illustrators in the UAE? A Draw every day. Draw anything and everything you see. Even if your drawings sometimes don’t work out, it doesn’t matter. It’s like practising. As you do it more and more, you will draw from memory.
Korky Paul hosts sessions on Fri March 9 and Sat March 10 2018
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Before James Dashner arrives in Dubai, we speak to The Maze Runner writer about the hit films based on his books, and how he nurtures his own kids’ creativity K AT Y G I L L E T T
n 19 September 2014, The Maze Runner hit the big screen. The first in a trilogy, based on the dystopian sci-fi adventure novels for young adults by American author James Dashner, it raked in nearly $350million (AED1.3billion) at box offices across the world. It was perfectly timed, as film fans were also flocking to cinemas to see similarly themed stories such as Divergent and The Hunger Games come to life. The award-winning author, who is also known for his series The Mortality Doctrine, among others, had actually released the original book in the Maze Runner series five years earlier. Each of his stories tackle a fantastical future, based in science fiction, which manage to capture the imaginations of young adults everywhere. So, just after Maze Runner: Death Cure hits cinemas in the UAE, and ahead of his debut at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, we talk to the prolific writer about starting out, making it big, and instilling a love of literature in his children.
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Q How have your processes changed since? A My process has changed drastically. I do a lot more outlining now, making sure I know the general path of my story. I also work very hard on developing characters, giving them a realness and depth I didn’t understand yet when I was younger. That’s the biggest tip I can give to aspiring writers: to focus on characters. As a reader, if you don’t fall in love with them, feel a connection to them, or feel like they’re real, then you won’t care what happens to them in the story.
A B OV E
Q Tell us about the process of writing your first book. What techniques did you use? What mistakes did you make? A Anyone’s first book is probably the one that took him or her the longest because you are doing it for yourself, not for any publisher. I worked for years on my first one, off and on, here and there, while in college. It wasn’t very good, and I was such an amateur. I didn’t really have any techniques and I made plenty of mistakes! My characters were shallow, the plot flew along with no restraint or reason, and it had no depth whatsoever in general. Hopefully I’ve gotten better!
James Dashner might be a prolific, successful author, but he is also the father of four children
Q When did you first realise you wanted to be an author? A Oh, it’s something I’ve dreamed of since being little, during those years when books were pure magic. I used to say it all the time, that I want to be an author, kind of like saying you want to be an actor or rock star or professional athlete. But when I hit college and started studying Accounting of all things – which I hated – I decided to make writing a real goal and pursue it with all my heart. Anything but Accounting! Q Where did you find the inspiration for The Maze Runner and The Mortality Doctrine series? A I definitely had concrete influences on both of those series. I would say Lord of the
SCHOOL’ S OUT / EMIR ATES A IR LINE FESTI VA L OF LITER ATUR E
A L L I M AG E S
Dashners’ The Maze Runner is his most widely distributed book and spent 100 weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers list for Children’s Series
Most people are looking for a golden nugget of advice, but it’s really just about practise. Writing is no different from any other talent or skill: sports, musical instruments, singing, etc. You have to practise, relentlessly, day in and day out. That’s how you get better. The act of writing naturally makes you better, little by little. Q How do you encourage your own kids to realise their talents? A I encourage them constantly and consistently, while also reminding them to have a back-up plan! I want them to pursue their dreams and do what they love, but I also want them to understand that the artistic world can be brutally hard to break into. So they also need to do their absolute best in school and be well-rounded, preparing themselves for life.
Flies and the TV show Lost were the biggest inspirations for The Maze Runner. As for The Mortality Doctrine series, I’ve always said that two movies absolutely made me want to combine their philosophies, musings, and implications into my own story. Those movies were The Matrix and Inception. What was it like, seeing your books turned into movies? A It’s definitely been the highlight of my career, almost impossible to describe. Just surreal, euphoric, almost spiritual. Movies have always been a huge passion of mine, and being involved with any film would have been an amazing experience… It’s just transcendent, as cheesy as that sounds. Q
Q What does it take to be a successful author today? A Sadly, I’m not sure there’s an answer to that. Honestly. The worst thing you can do is
attempt to be what the market wants, what the world wants. You have to write what you love and what you feel comfortable doing, pursue the stories that ignite something inside of you, then hope that there’s an audience out there for it. You also need to work really hard at improving your craft. No one is born a perfect writer! Q What advice would you give to young writers hoping to make it big? A It’s all about practise when you’re young.
Q What are your favourite books to read together as a family? A Dr. Seuss has always been a magical thing in our family, as well as countless other picture books when they were younger. My wife especially loved reading to them and with them when they were little. When each of our kids grasped the ability to read on their own, they kind of took off to their own cosy corners to do it. But to this day we still have family “reading time” whenever we can!
See James Dashner speak on Friday 2 March, noon-1pm 2018
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BEYOND CURRICULUM The founder of Gallery One explains the importance of extra-curricular art classes when preparing your talented child for a creative job market GREGG SEDGWICK
iven the importance of the creative industries – some of the world’s most successful companies are built around strong design and creative platforms – I am always surprised by the low esteem attributed by mainstream educational systems to art and design at school. Some 40 years ago, when I was at school, Art was considered “nice to have” for students, but not academically good enough for the more serious subjects. It was taken in order to make up the prerequisite number of GCSEs. But, as my own children progressed through the British curriculum, it became obvious that things have not changed much. Art education at school is structured according to specific criteria. Teachers are required to teach a number of modules that embrace a handful of artistic disciplines. This provides students with a foundation in core skills, idea generation and subject exploration. However, much of a child’s most creative work is undertaken outside the confines of school curricula. Regrettably, I do not think this work is always recognised and nor does it contribute to a child’s formal academic record. I have helped a number of A-Level students construct their portfolios in
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“Much of a child’s most creative work is undertaken outside the conﬁnes of school curricula” GREGG SEDGWICK
preparation for submission to a university application process. A constant theme is along the lines of “this is a piece I did for myself and my teacher says it is not good enough for the folio”. I know where the teacher is coming from, but it is not that it is not good enough – it simply doesn’t fit the prescribed A-Level boundaries. Often, however, the work done outside the confines of coursework can be more profoundly expressive and therefore more significant than coursework – and with just a small amount of contextual thinking, it can form the basis for successful portfolio building. For example, there was one student I worked with who was applying for a top university’s Graphic Design course. His personal projects included highly graphic illustrative artworks that did not form part of his coursework. We retro-fitted the artworks into a series of book covers and magazine spreads, and the result was exemplary. Ultimately, he was offered a place on his selected course. Another example of where art education in schools can be lacking became clear when I visited the 2017 David Hockney exhibition at the Tate in London. The busiest and most animated gallery was the one comprising his digitally generated iPad artworks. As parents, we can often be critical of the amount of time our children spend “looking at a screen”. However, with the right software a child can find both creative expression and technical challenges.
SCHOOL'S OUT / A RT
Brilliant Arabia Student Art Awards Got a young creative in your household? This competition could be perfect for them…
I To nurture these kinds of skills, I would recommend any parent with an artistic child to subscribe to the Adobe Creative Suite. The Adobe software is the cornerstone of most design studios and early adoption can benefit a student’s understanding of “real-world” creative tools. Image editing, website design, video editing and illustration are all part of the Creative Suite, and all the applications can be utilised at basic and highly advanced stages. The Hockney exhibition is demonstrable proof that digital artwork is a credible media and I would encourage children to combine traditional “hand” skills with new media tools as soon as possible. In a world where the future job market is uncertain, there is a growing demand for creative skills. Television, film, web
“I would encourage children to discover new media tools as soon as possible” and design industries are hungry for new talent. So, while schools are teaching the prerequisite skills in Art, at home we can encourage our children to pick up a pencil, a camera or an iPad and realise their creative potential, no matter the medium.
n a bid to encourage young artists and raise awareness of career potential in the arts, Gallery One has officially launched Young Creatives. This UAE-wide artists’ competition has two categories – Art into Product, and Design for Retail – under one overarching theme, Brilliant Arabia, and is open to students aged 12 to 18. In their submissions, students are asked to “portray abstract interpretations of the colour, vibrancy and positivity of Arabia, from the people, landscapes and buildings in the form of paintings, photography, illustrations, graphics or 3D drawings”. Entries close on 22 March 2018, and each of the shortlisted student art pieces will be displayed in a dedicated public exhibition. Winners in each category will be determined by a panel of experts, led by Gregg Sedgwick, and will get the opportunity to have their creative work turned into commercial products and sold through Gallery One. Good luck! www.youngcreatives.ae
G R E G G S E D GW I C K Founder and CEO Gallery One 2018
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L A ST WOR D
The Chief Executive Officer of GEMS Education talks about how his company is on a mission to save families money You recently launched the GEMS Rewards programme for the schools’ students, parents and staff, which offers a range of family-focused offers and benefits through the app. Why have you done that now? A I think if you look at what’s been happening around the world, what we’re seeing is pressure. Cost of living and affordability is an important consideration for families across the world, so that was something we saw. Then, separately, we felt that there was a very clear signal given by the leadership of the country, around the Year of Giving [in 2017], to say: What more can we do? These are two pillars that got us thinking and looking into whether there was any way we could use the strength of our size and our scale as an organisation in order to facilitate tangible benefits for our families. Q
Q You mentioned cost-neutral education. Does that mean there will eventually be a reduction of GEMS’ fees? A It’s not about GEMS fees. [We have to look at] teacher cost as a percentage of revenue in an environment when teachers are diminishing. What happens when a resource is diminishing? Cost goes up. So teachers and the cost of teachers’ salaries will continue to go up, because great teachers will be a premium. The challenge with cost of education is if you want to continue to deliver quality – and teachers are the primary route through which you deliver quality – the direct cost of tuition is impacted. We haven’t come up with a way [to offset that], other than coming up with an affordable solution that includes technology-enabled, non-traditional classroom settings. There are innovative models out there, but for the traditional schools as we see them today there is no driver that allows that cost to come down. If anything, that cost will continue to go up. Hotels break even after one year. In schools, the first dollar of profit a school makes, if you’re a private provider, is after year seven or year eight. So, unfortunately, the direct cost of education
may never come down. However, part of this rewards programme is to ask: Can we leverage our size and scale to at least generate savings for families so that it feels offset? Hence the neutrality. A B OV E
Dino Varkey, CEO of GEMS Education
Q You often say the success of education is down to the teachers, but there is a shortage of decent teachers. Why? A At the simplest level, we believe that,
“We wanted to use the strength of our size and scale as an organisation to facilitate tangible beneﬁts for our families”
beyond everything else, teaching has lost its importance within society. I always bring things back to my grandparents [three of whom were teachers] – they didn’t get paid much, but everybody in the community looked up to them. Our foundation actually conducted a study on how teachers are perceived in different communities in the world. It was interesting that in certain parts of the world teachers were equated to the equivalence of a social worker, whereas in other markets with really high performing education systems teachers were seen with the same importance of doctors. For me, I believe teaching is the most important profession, because it’s through teaching that everything else is born. Q Who was your favourite teacher growing up? A Oh, I have lots. I am a big believer in that if you’ve only had one favourite teacher, then you didn’t go to a good school. Every child should have lots of favourite teachers. For me, my grandmother is one. Even though she never taught me directly, I would argue that she was an incredible influence on my life. As were all my grandparents. I would start with them – they were a big part of who I am today. Hopefully the values I exhibit are down to them. And, obviously, my parents were an important guiding influence. Q What do you think the most important elements are for a teacher to be great? A At the end of the day, it’s as simple as – can you inspire people? Can you see and nurture potential? Can you encourage? Frankly, if you can encourage in a young person, independent of whatever subject you teach, a love of learning – that, for me, is what makes a teacher great.
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