E D U C AT I ON E M I R AT E S
I S S U E 7 . 2 01 8
IS SUE 7 . 2018
AHEAD UAE Heads on what next year will bring
ED TECH The virtual reality
BRAIN GAMES Keep little minds active this summer
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TOP CAMPS AND ACTIVITIES IN THE UAE AND BEYOND 13/06/2018 17:12
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CONTE N ISSUE 7 • 2018
10 #8WEEKSTREAK The KHDA’s fun summer challenge
14 NEWS What’s going on in UAE schools
18 ON THE COVER Jumeira Baccalaureate School’s positive promise
20 TOP BUYS Must-have seasonal school supplies
24 VISITING MARS The ed tech company with a new VR experience
28 A THOUSAND WORDS Budding photographers showcase their work
s c h o o l’ s i n
34 EXAMS ARE OVER
45 OLD MEETS NEW
How to manage results day this season
Marco Longmore on opening Brighton College Dubai
36 THE YEAR IN REVIEW
46 PLAY TIME
What UAE schools are most proud of in 2017/18
Why play means power in the Early Years
40 PIONEERING SPIRIT
51 THE UK WAY
Behind Taaleem’s future expansion plans
The pros and cons of the British curriculum
52 IN THE FIELD How technology is transforming school trips
54 SAVED BY THE BELL The school that has a No Homework Policy
61 EXPANDING MINDS Nurturing gifted and talented students
62 SKILLS FOR LIFE The story of Dubai’s Integreat Center
s c h o o l’ s o u t
66 BRAIN GAMES Ways to keep kids’ minds active this summer
E M I R AT E S E D U C AT I O N
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@AB SOLUTELY_MAGS ‘AB SOLUTELY MAGAZINES’
70 SUMMER CAMPS Our pick of the best courses in the UAE this year
74 HIT THE ROAD How to keep the family entertained on long trips
76 MAKING MELODIES Why a London music school is popular here
78 FUN IN BRITAIN Summer camps to try if you are in the UK
l a s t wo r d
82 JONAS AL-SIBAIE The University of Oxford student from the UAE
F RO NT COV E R Jumeira Baccalaureate School jbschool.ae
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E M I R AT E S E D U C AT I O N
• E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S •
CON T R IBU TOR S
Director, Gabbitas Education Middle East
Fiona McKenzie has more than 30 years’ experience in independent education across the UAE, UK and Australia. In this issue, she talks about how to navigate your way through exam results day (page 34). Also, as a mum-offour, she shares plenty of advice on page 66 on how to keep the kids’ minds active this summer.
Head Master, Brighton College Dubai
Marco Longmore has been busy with all the preparations for the opening of Brighton College Dubai this September. In his article on page 45 he tells us about the principles and philosophies he plans to instill within the new school’s curriculum, and how these have been passed down for generations.
Principal, Hartland International School
Fiona Cottam has been working within the education sector for decades, and currently heads the UK curriculum Hartland International School in Dubai. That is why we thought she would be the perfect person to weigh up the pros and cons of the National Curriculum for England (on page 51).
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We l c o m e
chool’s (almost) out. But that does not mean the learning has to stop. In fact, says Fiona McKenzie, the Director of Gabbitas Education Middle East, “educationists raise sound reasons as to why taking your eye off the academic ball for this length of time can be detrimental to children’s learning”. That is why we at Absolutely Education Emirates have dedicated this issue to summer learning. What does this mean? No, it does not mean loading your kids up with copious amounts of homework or side projects that are just going to stress them out. The summer holidays, after all, are a great time for us all to relax and enjoy each other’s company without worrying about the school run or who has which after-school activity tonight. It does mean, however, making sure your children
You do not have to fork out wads of notes in order to make sure your children continue their education, however. It is just as McKenzie suggests in her article – you could take them to museums or galleries, download fun and educational games to play together, or even encourage older children to take an online course in a subject they like or have never tried before. Alessia Macedo, a Year 9 student at Repton School, Dubai, has her own suggestions for teenagers. She says why not try learning a new language, writing a short story or even trying out a new instrument? (She fully intends to learn the ukulele herself this summer!) Even starting their own YouTube channel and uploading content can be a fun and interesting way for them to learn and share their vision with the world. Times have changed. This season is no longer about lazy summer days and picnics in
“TIMES HAVE CHANGED. THE WORLD IS COMPETITIVE. IT IS IMPERATIVE OUR CHILDREN GET THE HEAD START THEY NEED” are always learning, always soaking in knowledge, and always using that grey matter of theirs. Summer camps are a great place to start. We have our pick of hundreds here in the UAE, and we have featured 13 of the most unique on page 70. Whether your little one is a budding stage star, a football fanatic or very into technology, there is a camp here for you. Alternatively, from page 78, we have also included a bunch of camps you could try if you are travelling to the UK this summer (which we know many of you will be). There, they can also get a breath of fresh air in the great outdoors.
the park (depending on where you are from, of course). The world of today is competitive. So it is imperative that our children get the head start they need. While switching off entirely this summer certainly sounds appealing, it only means that come September your child may struggle. And if the Dubai Student Wellbeing Census has taught us anything, we definitely do not want that to happen. Happy travels!
Kat y Gillett GROUP EDITOR
2018 | E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S | 9
#8WeekStreak The KHDA has introduced an initiative to encourage kids to try all sorts of new activities during the break, and win prizes while they are at it… T H E K H DA T E A M
alling all students! The summer holidays are just around the corner – and what better time to try something new? Last year, students from all over Dubai posted great photos of themselves doing new activities for #10WeekStreak. This year, you have told us you want to do it all again – but because the holidays are slightly shorter, we are going to have an #8WeekStreak instead! From Sunday 8 July to Thursday 30 August, we challenge you again to learn or do one new thing each week this summer. It does not matter where you are in the world – in Dubai, South Africa, China,
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or Antarctica – you can learn or do anything you want. Maybe you are an aspiring ventriloquist or want to try mastering the moonwalk. Maybe this is the summer you finally learn a new instrument. Just post a picture of yourself doing that activity on Twitter or Instagram using the #8WeekStreak hashtag. To sweeten the deal, we will be giving away prizes each week to students who post, as well as one major prize to a student who posts every week during #8WeekStreak. And in case you cannot think of what you want to try out this summer, we have put together a handy little list for inspiration (see page right). So that is it! Do you accept the challenge? Time to start doing, learning and posting! #8WeekStreak. We cannot wait to see what you get up to this summer!
UPFRON T / K HDA FOR EWOR D
Send us any questions you have to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday 08 July
Join a summer reading club, or create one with your friends
Monday 09 July
Learn a magic trick and impress your friends the next time you see them
Tuesday 10 July
Have you tried gardening? Show us how your potted plant grows through the summer
“WE CHALLENGE YOU AGAIN TO LEARN OR DO ONE NEW T HING EACH WEEK T H IS S UMMER” Wednesday Thursday 11 July
Set a summer goal – 10,000 daily steps, anyone?
Head to the beach to cool down and maybe try a new watersport like scuba diving or paddle boarding
Friday 13 July
For some DIY fun, build your own Slip & Slide
Go old-school and send a handwritten letter to someone close to you who you haven’t seen in a long time
Are you a budding actor or comedian? Sign up for an improv workshop at Courtyard Playhouse!
Appreciate the little things – wake up early to watch the sunrise
Start your day on a funny note with an early morning laughter yoga class (laughteryoga.org)
Get moving – ride a bike, rollerblade, or go for a swim
If you’re watching TV, fit in a bit of exercise (and look on fitwatch. com for inspiration)
Sign up for music lessons and learn a new instrument at Dubai Music School
Try your hand at origami and make objects to hang from the ceiling (origamifun.com)
Learn how to predict the weather by just looking at the clouds (thehomeschool scientist.com
Download and read a classic book for free from classicreader.com
End your summer hols It’s mindful Monday – on a positive note – two or three times a do a random act of day, stop what you’re kindness every day doing and ask yourself for a week “How am I feeling?”
Make a photo journal of your summer
Brush up on your coding skills before the school year begins (hourofcode.com)
Sign up for a MOOC (massive open online course) on mooc.org
Interested in the universe? Sign up for Dubai Astronomy Group’s workshops and stargazing events
Make one new friend this week – perhaps a new neighbour or someone at camp
Learn a new language, or brush up on your High Valyrian (duolingo.com)
Read a book you wouldn’t normally read – try short stories, memoirs, or non-fiction
Write or design a book – and get it printed (blurb.com)
28 August Solve a Rubik’s cube
Volunteer for a good cause!
Try out a city-wide treasure hunt via geocaching.com/play
Get craft y and liven up some boring plant pots with bright colours
Learn more about your roots by researching your family tree
Have a TED Talk bingefest (ted.com)
Build a Lego castle – clear off a table and make it a family project
Sign up for a first aid course
Do you have pets? Teach your dog a new trick
Surprise your mum and cook dinner for your family
Sign up and volunteer for a good cause – visit volunteers.ae
No equipment? No problem! Get fit using just a chair (YouTube: 10 Exercises You Can Do With a Chair)
Heading to the beach? Clean up any trash you spot
Time for a science experiment (check out sciencebob.com)
Whip up some fiveminute ice cream in a bag (see science. howstuff works.com)!
Visit a local farmers’ market and learn where your veggies come from
Feeling artsy? Paint your plain old canvas sneakers
Too hot to play outside? Sign up for indoor sports at Dubai Sports World
Make something out of recycled materials
Invite your friends over for a giving party (read more on punchbowl.com)
Trampolines are so 2016… team up with your parents to build a water blob instead (go on, Google it)
Make your own hard-to-pop bubbles with the recipe from stevespanglerscience. com
Try a sport you’ve never played before
Whip up some Ooblek Make your own – a non-Newtonion healthy frozen treats – fluid that can act like try the recipe a solid or a liquid in for rainbow certain conditions popsicles from (instructables.com) geniuskitchen.com
Team up with your siblings, write a short skit and act it out for your family and friends
Try a Zumba class and get your heart rate up!
Are you a budding filmmaker? Make a stop-motion film
E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S
The IB at Southbank International School is more than an education. Itâ€™s a grounding for the increasingly complex and demanding world we live in. A commitment to academic excellence and a uniquely liberal ethos. An inner belief and confidence carried for the rest of life. Through university. Through a career. Into a lasting impact on the world. Places for 2018 entry are understandably strictly limited. Apply today at southbank.org/applynow
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21/02/2018 15:21 12:01 12/02/2018
Up Front SCHOOL NEWS P. 14 MUST-HAVE SUPPLIES P. 20 THE VR MARS EXPERIENCE P. 24
HARTLAND INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL
Our cover star for this issue is Jumeira Baccalaureate School, where the team is focusing on Positive Education, wellbeing and happiness. Find out more on page 18.
E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S
Mars O d ys s ey Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) hosted an event where teachers and education experts shared their vision for the future of learning. During the What Works event, educators also heard insights into the Mars One project, which hopes to establish the first human settlement on the Red Planet. Mikolaj Zielinski, a Dubai resident who aspires to be among the first 100 settlers, said: “I will stay there until the end of my life and contribute to the scientific advancement of the human race.”
TECH S O LU T I O N S Alef Education, an Abu Dhabibased education technology company, has implemented its education system at Maplewood International School, a Canadian school in Abu Dhabi. Over a period of five weeks, Maplewood used Alef’s innovative platform to teach Arabic content to their Grade 6 students.
N OV E L P R I Z E Pre-registration for the Montegrappa Writing Prize is now open. First-time novelists aged over 21 from the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia are eligible to enter. Entries can be on any theme, but must be in English and include a 400-word synopsis of the book and the first 2,000 words of the almost completed manuscript. Submissions open on 9 October. emirateslitfest.com
O nwa r d s a n d Upwa r d s
VR IN ARABIC
Kings’ School Al Barsha’s ranking was raised to Very Good as the school embarks on an ambitious AED20 million expansion programme and announces a new principal, Rebecca Gray, who is currently Primary Head Teacher. Alan Williamson, Director of Education for Kings’ Education, said: “Rebecca is an outstanding leader with a formidable track record from the UK.”
More than 300 teachers and principals from Dubai schools participated in the third edition of the Living Arabic event, hosted under the theme Mars 2117. Teachers gathered at Kings’ School Dubai, and with the support of the KHDA, discussed a range of innovative methodologies and future practices for teaching Arabic language and Islamic education.
CAMPUS L AUNCH The UK College of Business & Computing opens its Dubai campus in June 2018. Located in the heart of Dubai International Academic City over 19,000 square feet, the Dubai campus will initially deliver Pearson BTEC qualifications in business management, computing, travel and tourism, and health and social care.
“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself” JOHN DEWEY
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UPFRON T / NEWS Top Story
New Head Horizon International School will welcome Darren Gale as its new headmaster from September. He commented: “This is a great opportunity to build on the achievements of one of Dubai’s most popular and wellestablished British schools.”
GIRL P OW E R H.E. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Tolerance, presented the H.H. Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Awards for Excellence to 43 girls from GEMS Education schools across the UAE at a ceremony held at GEMS Dubai American Academy. Nominated by their schools for their academic success, commitment to social responsibility and global citizenship, the winners were each presented with a scholarship covering a year’s tuition fees. Sir Christopher Stone, CEO of GEMS Education, said: “Each one of you is an inspiration to this generation and I wish you all continued success in your career.”
UNIVERSITY B O O ST Middlesex University Dubai has announced it is running Summer Workshops for students who have enrolled and confirmed their place for September 2018. Between 9-20 September, students can take part in these complimentary pre-sessional workshops to help them prepare for their course ahead. These include an English Language Booster Course, Academic Skills Workshops and Digital Literacy Workshops.
Charity Spectacular Aldar Academies recently held its fifth annual student-led charity concert, raising more than AED40,000 for Red Crescent. Over 500 students led the evening of music, dance, and theatre under the lights of the magnificent Emirates Palace Theatre in Abu Dhabi.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrowmindedness” M A R K T WA I N
SOMETHING THEY SAID
“One’s destination is never a place, but always a new way of seeing things” HENRY MILLER
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UPFRON T / NEWS
A l l -Ac c e s s Pa s s
A TIME TO G I V E During Ramadan, Hartland International School ran two initiatives to give back to the wider community. One externally supported needy families and workers in the UAE under the supervision of the Emirates Red Crescent charity. The second was an internal project aimed at helping workers at Hartland.
A new membership platform called FamilyPass has launched in the UAE offering year-round access to eight family-friendly attractions, including IMG Worlds of Adventure, Aquaventure Waterpark, Al Ain Zoo and Dubai Parks & Resorts. The average cost for four people is AED999 per month and members also receive exclusive discounts on food and beverages, retail and other partner outlets. familypass.ae
ALL A- B OA R D A new guide for schools in Dubai has been launched by the KHDA. The Gift of Good Governance, as it is called, encourages school governing boards to engage better with the community and identifies eight key features of effective boards.
LITERARY WO N D E RS
THE FUTURE’S BRIGHT
An enhanced International Foundation Programme (IFP) has been introduced at Middlesex University Dubai. The IFP provides students with the basic understanding of the educational landscape, helping them transition to university by teaching the use of academic conventions, fostering a learner-centred environment and encouraging independent learning.
Brighton College Al Ain has been, for the second year, rated Outstanding by the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge, the only facility in Al Ain to do so. Head Master Dr Ken Greig, said: “This is a unique school and we are all incredibly proud of what teachers, pupils and parents have achieved.” Inspectors confirmed the “overall quality of students’ achievement is outstanding”.
The Emirates Literature Foundation has announced two new key members of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Ahlam Bolooki will be Festival Director while Jennifer Malton becomes Chief Operating Officer. Isobel Abulhoul, the founding Festival Director, will continue as CEO and Trustee of the Foundation.
S T AY S A F E Research by Continental, the tyre and automotive manufacturer, shows that more than half of UAE parents who regularly take their kids to school have not conducted a proper check of their car’s tyres in the last month. This was found after the company tested cars at a school.
E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S
he buildings in which Jumeira Baccalaureate School (JBS) is housed might be decades old, but the facility is incredible. It is big – very big – yet full of character and, importantly, soul. The latter is primarily thanks to the passionate leadership team, as well as the wonderfully diverse mix of happy, active students who attend. We visit the school during Ramadan, when pupils are busy stocking up the school’s Ramadan Fridges. “The students are actively involved,” explains Principal Richard Drew. “It’s really important that the emphasis is on the students realising what that’s about and how it works.” This teaching of values and character strengths is very important to the JBS philosophy, as is championing wellbeing and mindfulness, and integrating the Positive Education approach. The team is doing this so well that this year’s inspection by the Dubai School Inspection Bureau (DSIB) saw the school move up from being rated Good to a solid Very Good. According to the report, one of the areas in which it shines best is: “Students’ outstanding personal and social development and their innovative
On the COVER
Positive Education, wellbeing and happiness are at the core of everything Jumeira Baccalaureate School does. Absolutely Education Emirates investigates K AT Y G I L L E T T
18 | E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S | 2018
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UPFRON T / NEWS
ALL IMAGES Students at Jumeira Baccalaureate School are happy, active learners in a safe environment
contribution to the school, local and global communities.” The Head of Secondary, Erika Elkady, explains further. “We always say that you want to teach students certain character strengths and virtues… All of these approaches to learning skills are helping to develop the student to become someone who is able to deal with the challenges of the 21st century.” This is why a large investment has been put into making sure every one of the teachers has or will be undergoing training in Positive Education. It is why the school was among the first to take part in the Dubai Student Wellbeing Census, headed by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA). It is why leaders have implemented new recruitment processes, to ensure they are attracting happy teachers who will stimulate young minds. And it is why initiatives such as the fitness-inspired Fitnovation regularly take place. “Young people can be high achievers,” says Drew, “but they can be terribly unhappy about themselves and what they’re doing; they can feel isolated, they can feel disconnected, and that research is numerous. “As educators we’ve decided we want to do something about this – do it innovatively and do it now. That’s our journey, and we’re at the start of this journey.” None of this comes at the detriment of test scores, however. In fact, as an International Baccalaureate continuum school, the pass rate in secondary has been at 100%. Alkady comments: “This is remarkable because it’s very unusual in the IB world, but it’s even more remarkable because we are a fully inclusive school… We are very proud of that 100% pass rate.” There is also a big focus on the provision of high-quality extra-curricular activities, as well as teams ready to encourage and push
“Every one of the teachers has or will be undergoing training in Positive Education” gifted and talented students to reach their highest potential. “We try to get the most out of each and every student,” Alkady adds. This sense of diversity, inclusiveness and global mindedness is visible from the moment you step through the doors, and walk among the colourful hallways. Head of Primary, Martyn Shadbolt, agrees. “The nature of the IB curriculum is on global international mindedness, so it is inherently built into everything we do.” Above all, says Principal Drew, it is about “fostering that really supportive environment but also with high expectations”. What more do we want?
jbschool.ae 2018 | E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S | 19
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E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S
LOUDER The Early MBA Programme helps young adults to stand out on university applications and make more informed career decisions later on, says one expert educationist... SA DA F R A Z A
oung adults are faced with extremely tough decisions when it comes to their future. How are they to really know if the course they have selected on their university applications is the right one for them? How are they to demonstrate tangible examples of key skills required as an adult when they have not had the opportunity to gain valuable work experience? Many end up making ill-informed career decisions that they live to regret as these decisions were based on limited information, often from well-meaning but biased sources and without having taken the time to reflect on their individual fit against myriad current and futuristic choices available. The school calendar keeps students very busy, but the activities they are busy doing are often the same as most of their peers. That is why, when students apply to top universities, they struggle to stand out. According to Tiago Ries Marquez, a lecturer at Imperial College London, the two key skills universities are looking for is that of initiative and leadership. Firstly, they want to see candidates who 22
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not only signed up for optional school activities, but also sought opportunities elsewhere in their spare time to go above and beyond their peers. Secondly, they want to see tangible examples of how candidates led different groups of people either by inspiring them to act one way or by solving problems together. Students are helped most by opportunities that allow them more exposure to the real world. Too many people graduate from Oxbridge and Ivy League universities with the false understanding that they have already made it in the world with these mammoth brands behind them. Then they end up doing very little with their lives. While top universities are amazing springboards, the other half of the puzzle is the separate journey of self-discovery and seeking out the most appropriate
â€œParticipants also get face-to-face access to industry experts who offer advice and encouragementâ€?
opportunities with the best natural fit. It is not a coincidence that a lot of children follow the same careers as one of their parents. This is a cause for some concern. It is not to say that their parents are not ideal role models for them to follow, but it raises the question of whether or not the child was first able to assess other career options with the same depth of understanding granted to their parentâ€™s choice of industry. Early influences and adolescent experiences play a big part in determining the path a child will pursue. By the time it comes to actually picking their major in
UPFRON T / C A R EER S
ALL IMAGES Participants learn from some of the world’s leading business minds during the Early MBA Programme
college or seeking advice from the university careers counsellor on which roles to apply for, the decision has already been made in the individual’s mind and the specialist will just help them further develop the answers from within.
The Programme These issues are what the Early MBA Programme seeks to address. It was started by a group of successful entrepreneurs, bankers, lawyers and educationists who learnt key life skills the hard way and believe young adults should be empowered with the right information and opportunities to practise real-world skills in order to maximise their potential. Throughout the programme, students aged 13 to 18 are introduced to important skills as they work in small, mixed teams to compete for the final prize, which includes access to invaluable advice from the Early MBA’s Advisory Board. This board is made up of executives from the world’s top companies such as Goldman Sachs, McKinsey & Company, Procter & Gamble and PricewaterhouseCoopers. It also includes university lecturers, Silicon Valley and private equity investors
WHAT THE PARENTS THINK Kaiser, father of Anusheh, a previous Early MBA participant, shares his thoughts on the programme… he world around us is not only changing but also becoming more competitive. Our children need to be better prepared when stepping into it by having the edge over others. This edge can be language, a skill or competency that will be needed in this new world. With this in mind, I enrolled my daughter onto the Early MBA Programme. Certainly, it was worth it, as the programme introduced 13- to 18-year-olds to the concepts of businesses, negotiation skills and what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur or as an executive. Indeed, an excellent exposure to the real business world.”
One of the benefits of the Early MBA Programme is that once students have finished the course, they are able to articulate with confidence the role they played and how they demonstrated the skills sought by universities by drawing on the specific simulations and scenarios they found themselves in. Participants also get face-to-face access to industry experts who offer advice and encouragement and are available to answer any questions students may have about different industries. Guest speakers and one-to-one coaches in the past have included the Chairman of Unilever China, a Partner at McKinsey and Company, an industry leader at Google, and a Head of Investment Banking at Barclays, who described the energy of the recent Early MBA students as “contagious”. If your child wants a head start in their career now, then begin here.
The next Early MBA Programme will take place from 16-20 July in London and 22-25 July in Dubai. Places can be reserved online at earlymba.co.uk/apply
and fund managers, as well as emerging market entrepreneurs. Students compete in diverse teams and practically apply themselves through a proprietary business simulation, finance careers game, negotiations role play, a branding project for a real company, networking exercises, career choices case study and university admissions elevator pitches.
S A DA F R A Z A Educationist Early MBA Programme 2018
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TRANSFORMING EDUCATION The classrooms of the future are all set to look very, very different, says Geoffrey Alphonso, CEO of Alef Education, one of the driving forces of hi-tech learning ecosystems for the 21st century K AT Y G I L L E T T
any of us reading this will remember, during our own school days, when computers were reserved for the few Information Technology classes we had throughout the week (and many will also remember before that). In 2018, iPads, tablets and even Virtual Reality (VR) experiences are commonplace, and the classrooms of today are changing exponentially. Alef Education is one of the driving forces behind that change. The Emirati company, which was founded in 2015, is the creator of the “world’s first artificial intelligence (AI)-powered transformational technology-enabled education solution”. Along with its AIpowered knowledge partner, Saal Mars, it has introduced a Mars VR experience that enables students to learn all about the Red Planet and space travel to further reinforce their interest in STEM subjects. We speak to Geoffrey Alphonso, CEO of Alef Education, to find out more about how the company aims to stimulate budding scientific minds, and how different he thinks classrooms will look in the future. Q Tell us more about Alef’s Mars Experience. Is this available for schools and students now? A The Alef Education Mars Experience allows students to travel to Mars using 24
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Virtual Reality, encountering numerous adventures and dangers along the way. This very popular experience is one of our many immersive Science modules that help to bring our content to life in a fun and engaging way for students. Right now the experience is available at our office in Masdar City and can be booked by schools and teachers. Q What can this experience offer students specifically that traditional learning techniques cannot? A In the traditional learning model students
are exposed to content in the form of static, one-size-fits-all textbooks or papers. In this day and age, where students are constantly absorbed in exciting and interactive content, this model is hardly relevant. The Alef platform provides students with engaging, multimedia content that immerses students and differentiates based on the students’ strengths and weaknesses. This multimedia content comes in the form of games, videos, and simulations, all designed to teach the students in a way that is fun, familiar and effective.
A student engaged in learning through technology
UPFRON T / TECHNOLOGY
“The VR Mars Experience allows students to travel to Mars in 10 minutes instead of nine months”
A B OV E
Geoffrey Alphonso, CEO of the leading education technology company Alef Education
Q How does the VR Mars Experience support the Emirates Mars Mission, where a spacecraft is set to arrive at Mars in 2021 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE? A The VR Mars Experience supports the Emirates Mars Mission by allowing students to travel to Mars in 10 minutes instead of nine months, building excitement and intrigue that will hopefully inspire the next generation to contribute to the project. Q A school and its students in Abu Dhabi became the first in history to begin an education journey incorporating AI into formal classroom academic learning. How did you facilitate this? A This past academic year marked a remarkable time of success and growth for Alef Education. We launched our platform in a cycle 2 public school in Abu Dhabi with over 250 students and saw tremendous gains in student performance over a short period of time. Not only did test scores increase, but the school also saw marked improvement in student behaviour and overall engagement.
Q How many schools in the UAE now incorporate this kind of technology? A Currently Alef Platform is incorporated in one public school in Abu Dhabi. We will also be launching the Alef Platform in two charter schools in New York, USA. Q Why should more schools introduce AI and VR technologies into their classrooms, do you believe? A At home, students are spending hours upon hours playing immersive video games and engaging with smart technologies. However, when these same students step into a classroom it often feels as though they have travelled back in time. AI and VR technologies can be utilised to help bridge the gap between what students perceive as “fun” and “work” to foster a more enjoyable and effective learning experience. Q What does the future hold for these kinds of technology? Where do you see it all going? A There are many exciting potential uses of AI/adaptive teaching platforms. One area that Alef Education is especially interested in
is the use of AI platforms to allow for interestbased learning. In the future, smart platforms will be able to identify a students’ interest or goal and push the most relevant content to that student. For example, if a student is interested in space and perhaps wishes to one day be an astronaut, the system will push the most relevant Mathematics and Science content to that student to help set them up to achieve this goal. Q What will a classroom of the future look like, in your opinion? A The classroom of the future will be totally transformed, in my opinion. Technology will drive a new and immersive learning experience that unleashes the intrinsic motivation to learn. Traditional norms in terms of bell schedules, students studying in cohorts, will be transformed into a learning environment where students can learn at their own pace and at anytime and anywhere. As we unleash the power of AI and hypermedia technology I picture more virtual classrooms, larger classroom sizes and teachers who truly embrace the role of facilitators to support students learning at levels that are fit for their individualised pace. At Alef Education our innovation team and world-leading experts are already trying to imagine what the future of learning and the future of schools will look like. We do this to prepare ourselves to embrace the ever-changing world we live in and to ensure that we are prototyping and thinking about how we can constantly stretch the imagination to truly support our vision of “Transforming Education”.
“TECHNOLOGY WILL DRIVE A NEW AND IMMERSIVE LEARNING EXPERIENCE THAT UNLEASHES THE INTRINSIC MOTIVATION TO LEARN” 2018
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UPFRON T / MEN TA L HE A LTH
SAY MA’A SALAMA
Summer is the time when many people leave the UAE for good, but how does the constant coming and going of friends affect our children? A clinical psychologist weighs in…
aying goodbye to loved ones is one of the most difficult things that life asks of us. For children, it is one of their top ten stressors – to say goodbye to a friend, or to a place. As parents, our instinct tells us to protect them from difficult feelings, but, if we look at childhood as a training ground for adulthood, one of the best things we can do for our children is to teach them how to say goodbye gracefully, by honouring their friendships and memories. We can do this by first managing our own anxiety as they sit with difficult feelings such as sadness and grief, before we remind them to remain hopeful that the friendship will continue. Here are a few things parents can do to make goodbyes more meaningful and less stressful for their children and their families…
T H E C O N S C I O U S PA R E N T
If you are trying to comfort your children and teach them to sit with difficult feelings, you first need to understand your own feelings about goodbyes and change. How do you manage goodbyes? How do you tolerate sadness or anxiety? Do you allow your children to see you cry? Is it okay to express difficult emotions within your family, or does someone quickly try to change the subject in order to distract you or convince you to feel something else? Children do as we do, not as we say, so what behaviours are you modelling when it comes to dealing with difficult emotions?
B E O K AY W I T H S A D N E S S
Do you think children should be allowed to feel sad, or angry? Most parents will want to protect their children from difficulties, but instead of “making them feel good”, change your parent mindset to “I want them to get good at feeling”. The only thing constant
emotions as they experience grief. Validate their feelings and comfort them during this process by sitting closely, hugging them, and listening to them with open ears and an open heart.
P R OV I D E I N F O R M AT I O N
Discuss what will remain the same and what will change. For example, you are no longer in the same school but you will be in the same football league; or you are no longer in the same country but you have summer holidays in the same city, etc. Acknowledge that while they may not be physically together, they can still nurture their relationship.
H O N O U R T H E PA S T AND BE HOPEFUL OF THE FUTURE
in life is change, so use these opportunities to teach your children about how to deal healthily with grief and goodbyes.
K N OW T H E D I F F E R E N C E
Saying “goodbye” to friends and loved ones does not happen in a single moment. Change happens in a moment, but transitioning to a new way of being without a loved one takes more time. For children, the transition period may be longer. A goodbye can range in duration and finality from an over-the-summer vacation to changing to a new school, or a permanent goodbye due to a move out of the country.
Together, you can consider possible ways of saying goodbye and still staying in touch. Share your ideas and get your children to share theirs. Can they make a scrapbook of all their favourite memories? Would they like to start a blog where they both contribute? There are many ways to stay connected and close.
K E E P S T R E S S O R S LOW
Depending on the type of goodbye and the level of stress associated with it, keep other stressors to a minimum. Do not try to introduce too many changes and goodbyes all at once.
L I S T E N A N D VA L I DAT E
Parents most often jump into problemsolving mode too quickly and do not give children a chance to voice all their concerns and worries about the goodbye. Ask children what they fear, what they worry about, what is the hardest part about this goodbye – and develop the narrative. During this process, be okay with them crying, expressing anger, and being confused and critical – these are normal
D R S A LI H A A F R I D I Clinical Psychologist and Managing Director The LightHouse Arabia 2018 | E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S | 27
IMAGE BY FRANZIE ALLEN MIRANDA
WHERE: Atrium, Building 4, Dubai Design District W H E N : 24-30 June E N T R Y: Free
WORDS Discover Dubaiâ€™s design scene through a new photographic exhibition that includes never-before-seen works by four budding UAE-based artists W o r d s b y K AT Y G I L L E T T P h o t o g r a p h s by LO UA I M R O U E H , F R A N Z I E A L L E N M I R A N DA , H E R N A N H O E N T S C H a n d S A N DY T I N A R I
28 | E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S | 2018
UPFRON T / PHOTOGR A PH Y
our UAE photographers’ works are being showcased from 24-30 June in Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation’s (DIDI) first-ever photographic exhibition. The crossgenerational DIDI x DXB photo series examines the world of design through the eyes of young visual creatives. Sass Brown, Dean of DIDI, says: “Looking through their lens, open your eyes to how they view this magnificent city and its design community.” On top of this, two of the featured artists will also be leading a free twohour workshop, Brand Photography for Design Portfolios, on 30 June, to help pre-college students build a consistent brand image and teach them how to successfully photograph their own design portfolios and projects (email email@example.com to book a space). Meanwhile, feast your eyes on a sneak preview of the works that will be showcased in this brand-new exhibit...
Franzie Allen Miranda An up-and-coming street photographer, Franzie Allen Miranda looks at design in the world around us through his work, reflecting on how it shapes our daily experiences.
The 18-year-old portrait photographer explores the intersection between design and creativity among the city’s youth. He uncovers a burgeoning creative scene and provides a platform to emerging artists to voice what design means to them.
2018 | E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S | 29
WE FIND THE SCHOOL THAT FITS FIND THE SCHOOL THAT WE WE FIND THE SCHOOL THAT FITSFITS
www.gabbitas.ae NURSERY & SCHOOL SEARCH UNIVERSITY, HIGHER EDUCATION & CAREERS ADVICE
STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES NURSERY & SCHOOL SEARCH NURSERY & SCHOOL SEARCH & GUARDIANSHIP
+971 445 16933 | firstname.lastname@example.org UNIVERSITY, HIGHER EDUCATION UNIVERSITY, HIGHER EDUCATION & & CAREERS ADVICE CAREERS ADVICE Gabbitas Educational Consultants is registered in England No. 2920466. Part of The Prospects Group.
STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES & GUARDIANSHIP & GUARDIANSHIP +971 445 16933 | email@example.com +971 445 16933 | firstname.lastname@example.org Gabbitas Educational Gabbitas Educational in England ConsultantsConsultants No.Part 2920466. is registeredisinregistered of TheGroup. England No. Prospects Group. 2920466. of The Part Prospects GABBITAS.indd 1
UPFRON T / PHOTOGR A PH Y
Sandy Tinari is a photojournalist and brand specialist whose photographs reveal talents within Dubaiâ€™s design community. She showcases the diversity and creativity of this cityâ€™s design sector.
Product designer and photographer Hernan Hoentsch focuses on designed objects through experimental photography techniques, while collaborating with designers and incorporating layers of meaning through visual representation.
2018 | E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S | 31
SSAT Education is a respected Education Consultancy working with schools across the Middle East SSAT is entrusted by both private and government schools in the Middle East to provide quality, pedagogically trained educators from around the world. SSAT Middle East is a British Company, with their recruitment department located in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. The United Arab Emirates is a safe, thriving and rapidly growing 21st Century Country.
GET IN TOUCH Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates PO Box 15703 Tel: +971 03 7640331 | Fax: +971 03 7640339 Web: www.ssat.me
Schoolâ€™s In EXAM RESULTS P. 36 PLAY IN EARLY YEARS P. 46 VIRTUAL FIELD TRIPS P. 52
The Heads and Principals of nine UAE schools have told us all about their biggest achievements in the 2017/18 academic year. We also ask: what happens next? Page 36.
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A RE I N Our resident education consultant gives us advice on what to do when that all-important results day for senior students comes around FIONA MCKENZIE
t’s that time of year again! Exam season. All around the world children are either enjoying their summer break post-exams or still have their heads buried in books as they cram in last-minute facts and figures, whether it is that all-important quote from Hamlet or that tricky chemistry formula. Any of these vital pieces of information could help them to secure that precious mark that moves them from an A to an A* or a 6 to a 7. So what happens when it is all done and dusted, the exams are finished, the lid is lifted off the pressure cooker and suddenly summer is here? Surely it is time to relax, to enjoy that unfamiliar concept of “spare time” and to remember what it is like to read a book for pleasure rather than analysing every last turn of phrase. That is until results day… Here Fiona McKenzie, from global education consultants Gabbitas Education, gives her top tips on how to prepare for exam results day so you can be in the best position possible to secure your UK university place...
TAKE CARE OF CONTACT DETAILS
UCAS, the university admissions system, should already have your child’s contact details on file. But they advise all candidates to log into their website and double-check that everything is up-todate. They will need a valid email address, plus a landline or mobile number. 34
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EE_Issue7_ Gabbitas_ExamResults.indd 34
CHECK THE NOTIFICATION PROCESS
ABOVE Taking the test RIGHT The right results BELOW The University of Oxford
How is the university expecting to receive your child’s results? If exams were taken in school, there is no problem – UCAS will send the results through automatically. But if your child is an independent candidate, not linked to a school, they should read through their UCAS notes to see if they need to contact the university directly.
TALK TO THE S CHOOL
Make sure you know how – and when – results will be delivered. Is your child expected to visit the school, or log in to track, or will they be notified via post or email? If you are unsure, someone needs to check with the school.
DO NOT M AKE ANY PL ANS FOR THE DAY THE RESULTS ARE DUE
As soon as the results are out, your child will need to act quickly – whether they are accepting an offer, going through clearing
“As soon as the results are out, your child will need to act quickly”
or (worst case) arranging re-sits. Sometimes there is a very narrow window for taking action, so make sure they spend the day somewhere with a reliable Wi-Fi or phone signal. Also, keep in mind, the UK is three hours behind us at the moment. So you might get a call as late as 9pm or 10pm.
DIS CUSS YOUR CHILD’S NEXT MOVE
Since his or her exams, your child has had time to reflect on where they go from here. So set aside an hour or so to talk through their next move. What happens if they get the grades, and what happens if they do not? It is best to do this before the day, while everyone can still be objective.
SCHOOL’S IN / EX A MS
TAKE THEIR MIND OFF UNIVERSIT Y
This might be the most stressful event of your child’s life so far – and as the date approaches, the uncertainty can be agonising. So if you can, take some time out as a family to do something fun. Things are about to get hectic, so enjoy this time while you can.
BE THE VOICE OF HOPE If your child is disappointed with their results, it does not mean all is lost. They will still have options, including a good chance of finding a place through Clearing. Even so, it might be hard for them to stay positive – so be ready with a few choice words that offer a fresh perspective.
FIONA MCKENZIE Director Gabbitas Education Middle East 2018
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YE AR IN
REVIEW The leaders of nine UAE schools reflect on the 2017/18 academic year and tell us what they are most looking forward to next term K AT Y G I L L E T T
s yet another academic year comes to a close, we might be busy planning our summer break and busy September start, but we are also reminiscing over our kids’ biggest highlights in this past year. What they have learned, what they have achieved, and how far they have come should be celebrated. So we asked some of the UAE’s top Heads and Principals to look back on their school’s proudest moments in 2017/18, and what is still to come…
Dubai British Foundation
Sharon Storrie, Principal his year we are proud to have become the first and only early years provider to be awarded membership of British Schools Middle East (BSME). Essentially, this means that BSME is satisfied that the education at Dubai British Foundation (DBF) is of a standard that would be found in leading UK schools. Membership is recognition of the quality of education at DBF and of our staff ’s continual drive to provide the best possible educational experience for our children, both academic and pastoral.
Dubai British School
P A B OV E
Dubai British Foundation BELOW
Dubai British School
At the heart of our school continues to be our commitment to providing a happy and safe learning environment, where children feel nurtured, secure and fulfilled. We whole-heartedly believe that developing the children’s interests, personalities and talents go hand in hand with their academic achievement. Therefore, a key focus for us next year will be to continue developing our children’s Characteristics of Effective Learning (resilience, perseverance, confidence) alongside ‘Learning and Living’ a Positive Education philosophy for our school community.
Brendon Fulton, Principal erhaps our most notable achievement as a school this last year was being awarded the top DSIB (Dubai School Inspection Bureau) rating of Outstanding, an achievement accentuated by the fact that we were the only school to move up to this grading. This makes Dubai British School one of only 14 schools in the whole region with an inspection rating of Outstanding from the KHDA (Knowledge and Human Development Authority), and one of just a few schools to also have an inspection rating of Outstanding from the BSO (British Schools Overseas).
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SCHOOL’S IN / R EC A P
Nord Anglia International School Dubai
A B OV E
Students at DESSC
Matthew Farthing, Principal e have so much to celebrate at NAS Dubai. It is difficult to single out particular single events but some do stand out. For a school that is still young, a GCSE pass rate of 71% A* and A is distinguished. For our Early Years to be judged as Outstanding in each of our two inspections is also significant as we climb up the KHDA ladder from our first inspection where we were graded as Good to our second grading of Very Good. The recent Dubai Student Wellbeing Census was very interesting as it recorded very high levels of happiness, optimism, life satisfaction, sense of school belonging, academic self-concept, peer belonging, connectedness with adults and teachers at school, cognitive engagement, and friendship. From a student point of view things are working well and of
Nord Anglia International School
The school has exciting plans for the next academic year, including the continued development of our exciting and thriving vocational programmes and alternative curricula, and the introduction of a STEAM cross-curricula learning area. As always, however, we will be doing out best to ensure that all students are safe, happy and able to continue to Enjoy, Aspire & Achieve.
Dubai English Speaking School and College
Andrew Gibbs, Principal t DESSC, we have been praised for our approach to inclusion and have been used as an example on how to develop an inclusive ethos. Our admissions policy demonstrates our continued commitment to inclusion and why we value this approach. During the next academic year, we are most looking forward to our
increased use of technology. We want to be future-ready from KS1 right the way through to Sixth Form, hence we have invested heavily in developing a strategy to further develop the use of technology across our primary and secondary school. We will be looking to use cutting-edge concepts to support our curriculum and ensure students are engaged with the latest “smart” technologies. We are committed to further developing our online platforms, use of Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality, and enable our students to access the latest hardware and software available in education. We will continue to innovate our pedagogy, but in a prudent way that also teaches students to be responsible users of technology.
“We at DESSC are most looking forward to our increased use of technology” 2018 | E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S | 37
One of the important projects that we have focused on across the school has been on the topic of wellbeing, and this is something that will continue to be an agenda item and our new fitness suite will support that as we progress into next year. We have also reconfigured parts of the school and developed new areas such as our state-of-the-art Food Technology Room and our Design Technology spaces. We integrated the use of contemporary technology, such as the use of 3D printing. Our new “Open Thinking Lab” is planned for a September opening. We have invested significantly in our work to reach out across the Dubai community of schools. Our programme for Gifted and Talented students has seen us organise and host numerous events. Other highlights include our Swim Squad achieving promotion in the Dubai league, our Year 3 Netball Team winning their division, and our firstever Shakespeare play production. I end the year with a genuine confidence for all that the new academic year holds ahead.
A B OV E
Best friends at Nord Anglia International School Dubai
particular interest is this high sense of school belonging. At NAS Dubai we have 74 different nationalities coming together every day learning to grow up in environments without prejudice or community cliques. This year we also added a second swimming pool, a learner pool and splash area for our youngest pupils and a full-sized international standard floodlit 4G rugby pitch. Currently, we are also in discussion with the architects about an extension to create a “makerspace” and a “tinkerspace”, an extended library, a Sixth Form Centre and more student breakout areas for individual and collaborative learning. As we consider how schooling will continue to change and the pace of change ahead, we take our model from some of the existing projects that are evident outside of schools, such as the Dubai Future Accelerators, and can apply a similar approach to innovation and entrepreneurship in schools.
“One of the important projects that we have focused on across the school has been on the topic of wellbeing”
Hartland International School
Fiona Cottam, Principal he school has doubled in size since last year but, importantly, we very much have a community feel, something that was recognised formally in January, when Hartland International School had its first DSIB inspection. We were incredibly proud of our achievements, attaining a Good outcome overall in this first milestone for the school.
Raha International School
Iain Colledge, Principal aha International School achieved an Outstanding judgement in its most recent inspection. This is the second consecutive time the school has achieved this and Raha is now the only K-12 school in Abu Dhabi to achieve this accolade. Our IB Diploma results continue to increase and they are well above world averages and, in the last two years, we have also sent students to some of the top universities in the world, including Cambridge. Recognising how exceptional our student body is has inspired the school to begin a world-class entrepreneurship programme. We have many potential global leaders and business groundbreakers in our school and we want to support their journey to greatness later in life. This programme is being developed now and will include all ages from EY1 to Grade 12 and will also incorporate the arrangement of internships for our leavers, and tailored and highly engaging work experience for our students.
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SCHOOL’S IN / R EC A P
The Children's Garden Green Community
Karen Green, Principal and Head of Inclusion et’s do a school production next year. A show! With lots of music!” said one of our team in June 2017. Everyone agreed this was a fantastic idea. Yes, we have almost 200 children, aged two to six. Yes, we would need to borrow the auditorium in our sister school. Yes, we have never done this before. So, we thought, why not give it a try? In a staff meeting in Term 2, the newly written story with accompanying music was described (the adapted Abba song a favourite). On 19 April, we performed Stop! In the Name of Stars for all our parents. We told the story of the stars who were sad because everyone around was busy looking at their phones instead of appreciating the natural beauty of their world. The children spoke, sang and danced beautifully. The production was a triumph!
A B OV E
Uptown School BELOW
Victoria International School
Christopher Bromham, Principal his year Uptown School staged our first whole school production. Over a fifth of the secondary school were involved as performers or back stage in the production of Bugsy. We sold out for two nights. We were also very pleased to be part of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Distinguished Students programme, which brought in Emirati students of high educational standing to be part of our school.
Next year, we are excited to be introducing Artificial Intelligence to Uptown School! We are working with Century Learning to give our student access to an online linelearning platform that assesses their strengths and highlights areas for development. It then provides further learning materials to support students with their next steps. We will also see a significant jump in the number of students sitting the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme exams at Uptown. We have set high standards and are confident that each graduating class will continue this success.
Victoria International School Sharjah
Dean Pyrah, Executive Principal ISS celebrated its 10th year of operation as the premium school in the Northern Emirates during the 2017/2018 academic year with a visit from the Australian Head of State, Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove.
“Next year we are excited to be introducing Artiﬁcial Intelligence to Uptown School!” During this all-important year, we also saw the opening of our dedicated Innovation Centre and home to our Robotics and Virtual Reality centres. The Centre is a dedicated space that brings together a number of departments in the school to work on STEM and innovation projects. Looking forward to the new academic year, VISS will be introducing a new pedagogical model – the evidence-based High Impact Teaching Strategies (HITS). In conjunction with the Victorian Government, teachers at VISS will be implementing a model for effective teaching focusing on improving student outcomes using evidence-based teaching strategies to maximise student learning. This initiative, the first in the UAE, will see VISS teachers trained in one of the most up-to-date pedagogical practices worldwide. 2018 | E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S | 39
Absolutely Education Emirates speaks to Rosamund Marshall, the CEO of Taaleem, about Dubai’s education sector and the group’s expansion in Abu Dhabi K AT Y G I L L E T T
DUBAI BRITISH FOUNDATION
ROSAMUND MARSHALL, CEO OF TAALEEM
t was back in 2005 that Taaleem (formerly Beacon Education) was founded. The idea was to fill the gap in the UAE for top-quality schools with an international outlook. It began with four facilities – The American Academy for Girls in Al Mizhar; Uptown Primary School in Mirdif; Dubai British School in The Springs; and The Children’s Garden in the Green Community – and now there are 10. At the helm of it all is CEO Rosamund Marshall, a woman with more than 30 years of management experience in the education sector. Before moving to Dubai just five years ago, Marshall was CEO of kidsunlimited, the fourth largest nursery schools operator in the UK, and previously the Chief Operating Officer of Nord Anglia Education PLC. If anyone understands this business, it is she, and so Absolutely Education Emirates visited Taaleem’s head office to find out more about the group’s plans for the future in an increasingly competitive market…
E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S
ABSOLUTELY EDUCATION: What would some of the biggest achievements from the past year be for Taaleem and its group of schools? ROSAMUND MARSHALL: I think the quality of education and some of our recruitment strategies that have come into play, because the quality of the school never actually exceeds the quality of the teachers. So the investment in teachers and training and safe recruitment practices, and really planning effectively in terms of recruitment to make sure we’ve got the right mix, demographically and academically, of staff. We’ve had a phenomenal year in terms of school inspections. Dubai British School here in Dubai went to Outstanding; Raha International School was re-inspected this year and maintained its Outstanding, but actually went up in a lot of other judgements and indicators; Jumeira Baccalaureate School (JBS) has been sat at a solid Good forever, and it’s now moved into
“The quality of the school never actually exceeds the quality of the teachers”
SCHOOL’S IN / INTERVIEW
AE: Teaching life skills in education is certainly a big talking point at the moment, particularly with the lack of certainty in the future job market. RM: Exactly. The world of work is changing fast. We are trying to prepare children for the future and we’re not even sure what it’s going to look like yet. The acceleration of change is much faster now than it ever was in our parents’ or grandparents’ day. And you see that in a wonderful example of Emirati families here. Their parents didn’t go to school, their parents may not even read or write, yet they themselves as parents have had the luxury of an education, gone to university, done very well, and their children are now coming through international education. Their global mindedness is impactful now. You can see that seismic change of culture in just a span of 50 years in this country. So this is a perfect lens on that change in society, and therefore it focuses the mind very sharply on how much we have to prepare the children for the unknown; how to deal with challenge, take risks, enquire and research. As educators we’re learning all the time. ABOVE Al Mizhar American Academy
a very solid Very Good. And it’s palpable in JBS. The lead inspector there talked about this golden thread you could see that went right through from the security in reception to the teachers in the classroom, demonstrating that they were all there in JBS for the children. That’s really the values of Taaleem as an organisation – to make sure everything you do is about inspiring young minds. So it’s nice to see that manifest itself. AE: JBS is really focusing on Positive
Education and re-evaluating their recruitment processes to make sure they are also hiring happy, inspiring teachers. Is that the same across the board? RM: To a degree it has been. When you look at hiring people you want them for their skills, expertise, their background and the knowledge they can bring to the job, but attitude is the real turnkey part of it. You can have people, who are very, very knowledgeable on something, and they might have done lots and lots of things, but they don’t have the right approach to work. In a values-based service sector like ours in education, it’s really important that the attitude is there. Positivity, attitude of mind, enthusiasm, that commitment to the children, for taking responsibility – it all comes down to having the right attitude. That’s heightened now
AE: How do you keep up
with that rapid change, as a company? RM: We attend conferences, we speak
BELOW Dubai British School Jumeirah Park
and certainly the way that JBS and other BOTTOM Raha International schools at Taaleem are School taking it is ensuring people come conditioned to making sure the children have the best experience they can. It is the toughest job in the world, to sit there – or stand there and move about – and inspire those children and engage with them and make those connections. We all remember in our lives who was successful with it with us. We had a favourite teacher, who we felt really moved us or clicked us into the right career path, and those connections are really rare and really individual for each child. So your teacher in front of 20 or 25 children has got to try and do that 20 or 25 times over. AE: Do you remember the teacher who
did that for you? RM: I do, yes. She wasn’t a school teacher,
but a teacher outside of school at a music lesson. For me that teacher has made me pretty much what I am. All the things I did, which might not have been about the skill itself – playing piano – but more about how you present yourself; how you’re on stage; how you’re performing; how you talk to people; how you meet people. The whole life skills part that comes outside of the actual, pure knowledge is often equally important. 2018
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DUBAI BRITISH SCHOOL
to people, we speak to suppliers, we speak to new technology providers, but we also have our own sense of research within thought knowledge processes within the organisation. One of the greatest advantages for Taaleem as a group is that we have 1,200 staff who are coming from 1,200 different backgrounds and mindsets, and so once you get a few of those in the room and ask “what if?” – and start future scoping, and looking at innovations – the answers that come out of that are very rich indeed. A lot of our innovation in the schools has come from one or two people talking about it, saying “we’ve got this issue, how should we deal with it?” and then that creates something of an idea, which then somebody else adds to and somebody else complements and extends. AE: Do you think that comes as being
actually take this forward for the benefit of the students. Our values are pioneering, professionalism, nurturing and spirited – the whole pioneering and spirited bit is that no idea is not able to be heard. As long as it’s sensible, it’s not going to create a threat to anybody, then we’re certainly going to entertain it and look at how we can actually expand upon that.
“Our values are pioneering, professionalism, nurturing and spirited”
a part of a group of schools? RM: It does. The group is the enabler, but
it is also the central drive. Being a valuesbased organisation, one of our values is pioneering. We would not be true to ourselves if we always sat here and looked as if we were driving through the rear view mirror and doing what we did yesterday. So looking forward to the future is a huge part of the culture of the organisation and our strategic planning, and asking how we 42
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AE: More new schools open up in Dubai
every year, and the market is getting increasingly competitive. Do you think it is in danger of becoming over-saturated? RM: Certainly at the moment, coupled with the slight downturn in the economy. We’ve seen some job losses among our parents, and there’s been an impact on the number of new enquiries from overseas, being
slightly lower. But there is actually a higher retention of our students within our schools this year, so that sense of movement is not quite so high. A couple of years ago I think it was quite a new phenomenon. People would take a look at new schools, but when they go into those schools they realise they have extremely small classes, and there’s not that ability for children to make friends as easily, and it hasn’t got the same sense of culture and background and family feel. If you’re investing in it for the long term, which Taaleem investors are, then you can’t just flip and change the economic cycle of the school business, because the people at the heart of that are the children. AE: The Knowledge and Human
Development Authority (KHDA) launched the Dubai Inclusive Education Policy Framework last year to ensure that all schools in the city accept students of determination. But inclusivity is already important to Taaleem schools, isn’t it? RM: Taaleem is an inclusive company, so everything we do is looking at every child and realising their best interests. It’s not our philosophy to be selective. There are selective schools, and they do very well, but they also then attract scholarship students in order to make sure that their exam
SCHOOL’S IN / IN TERV IEW
“We won’t apologise for being inclusive” results stay very, very high. We also have Oxbridge and Ivy League destinations, but we do have children who may be have more learning difficulties or challenges, but they all achieve something. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not bright; some of them are exceptionally bright. We would never make any apologies for being an inclusive society. It’s good that the UAE National Agenda is to actually drive inclusion through all schools, and not make it selective. A) We’re slightly ahead of the game in that, but B) we’re also very well structured and set up. We’re also looking to do more, and to take children with more challenges, and give them that real school experience. These children shouldn’t be shut away and left out of society. That just creates another problem, for parents, for family members, and for society itself. Children don’t see the differences between them; it’s the adults who have that problem. Therefore, for us, it’s about making sure we give those children a chance. AE: What are you focusing on next year? RM: I’m looking forward to next year
because we have extra support coming in. We have a new Director of Education and a new Director of Marketing. For me it will be about the continual question of pulling forward schools in terms of academic
ABOVE Greenfield Community School BELOW Uptown School
progress and their results, but also looking at our own talent development within our team, how we are building our succession plans, and how we are actually growing. We have new schools on stocks in Abu Dhabi, which are very exciting. Every time we design a new school we outperform the one we had before and come up with more exciting designs, and then you want to stick those back into your existing schools. Perhaps the physical environment won’t change, but the internal learning environment can. One of the other major areas we are looking at is Early Years focus, because that’s where so many of those connections and opportunities can be created for young children to realise their confidence and understanding of school life at a very early age. There are lots and lots of different things within the schools strategic plan and they’re all going to get melted down over the course of July into a more streamlined company plan. So we are looking at growth of our existing schools, but also growth of new schools, and also
then improving the quality of daily life for all of our families. AE: So is there quite a focus on Abu
Dhabi now? RM: Three new schools are on the plan
at the moment in Abu Dhabi that we’re contemplating, all in different phases. Abu Dhabi has a different climate educationally from Dubai. There certainly seems to be a number of super-premium, premium and other school options for parents here in Dubai. Now, until that economy swings back a little bit, there are still opportunities in Abu Dhabi to fulfill their requirements. We already have Raha International School, which is the only K-12 school that is rated Outstanding in Abu Dhabi. It’s IB and it’s over-subscribed by twice the capacity of the school. So we get a lot of applications for it. If we can actually house those students in a new school campus, which is what we’re looking to put up first in 2020, that will relieve that tension. Then there are other curriculum schools that we want to follow up with as well. So there is lots of promise there, lots of growth, and opportunities for our own teachers then to have career paths within Taaleem, which is what we wanted. taaleem.ae 2018
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want our pupils to be the first-class version of themselves and not the second-class version of other people” is the often-repeated message of Mr Richard Cairns, Head Master of Brighton College in England. So it will be as well for the pupils of Brighton College Dubai. The combination of a heritage dating back to 1845, along with an unrivalled reputation for excellence in education – described last year as Brighton College was named the “Most Forward Thinking School in Britain” by The Week magazine – gives a sample of the rich combination of traditional quality with an innovation in thinking and delivering the experiences of education. Such an education is geared towards developing the best in pupils who grow up in a highly challenging world, where they will be stretched in their future lives with a desire for the betterment not only of themselves and their close relationships but also the wider community that they inhabit and will frequently lead. Across such an expectation, Brighton College Dubai aims to lead in prompting and delivering the national agenda for excellence in educational outcomes promoted by the UAE’s government. How we bring a sense of achievement from pupils of the school is based on the stated and manifest desire to see a love of learning for its own sake in all pupils (and staff) at Brighton College. This is built around the inspiration to have an education defined not merely by UK national standards but stretched beyond that by particular innovations in curriculum,
“Our pupils are educated to walk forward in life with conﬁdence but without arrogance”
A B OV E
Brighton College Dubai opens in September 2018
such as the Brighton social humanities “Story of Our Land”. Such innovation threads subject disciplines from History, Geography and social education that bring an understanding of place, context and diversity in the countries that our pupils live. This is a curriculum model that has been successfully adopted into the UAE through the work of Brighton College Abu Dhabi and Brighton College Al Ain, which have been top A-level schools and deemed Outstanding two times in their relatively brief histories. That ambition and story of success seen in other Brighton Colleges in the UK, UAE and also now in Thailand, is the model with which Brighton College Dubai opens. As a genuine branch of Brighton College seen in governance, leadership and curriculum, the expectation of academic excellence is deeply rooted; there have been 92 Oxbridge offers at Brighton College in the last three years alone. However, our education is balanced with a desire to see breadth and depth to experiences in the co-curriculum. Artistic performance and sporting competition is an integral part of
the life of pupils. That pupil experience is nurtured for all by a pastoral system based on the great depth of a genuine House system, bringing pupils across school years under one House leadership and support that is as much based on senior pupil leaderships as staff involvements. Pupils of Brighton College Dubai are educated to walk forward in life with “confidence but without arrogance”. With that in mind, education has a lasting impact for the wider community, beyond the daily experiences of the pupils who pass through the doors of the school each morning.
M A R CO LO N G M O R E Head Master Brighton College Dubai 2018
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TIME to PLAY
For education to be effective when our kids are young, play and work are not mutually exclusive, says Al Forsan Nursery’s Early Years and Foundation Stage Principal SUSAN CARPENTER
education forward. Today, the goal for early years educators is to create a supportive environment for this discovery to occur within – one that offers the freedom to play but still gives structure to learning, and allows progress to be measured.
THE ZONE OF PROXIM AL DEVELOPMENT ( ZPD) arly theory from Lev Vygotsky, a pioneer of child development, explored how an effective environment of play not only allows children to reinforce what they already know, but encourages them to construct new knowledge. One of his most influential concepts in this regard is the ZPD. In short, Vygotsky defines ZPD as the gap between a child’s limit of cognitive development when left to solve problems independently and their level of potential development when collaborating with peers or under the guidance of adults. Play provides the ideal environment for ZPD to happen within, and today the kind of effective guided learning Vygotsky championed can be defined in three ways: Playing and exploring. Here, children paint a picture of the world around them by investigating and experiencing new things.
ood news for pre-schoolers: conventional wisdom might tell us that “play” only happens at the end of the day or during weekends, but in early years education it is seen as a fundamental learning tool within the classroom. Play-based activities underpin the curricula at Aldar Academies Al Forsan Nursery, the leading education provider’s first nursery, which is scheduled to open in Abu Dhabi at the end of 2018. In the broadest sense, play creates an open, encouraging, and social learning environment where children can explore, interact, and take risks to lead their own 46
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ABOVE & BELOW Young students from Aldar Academies schools become active learners
“The physicality of playing and exploring develops students’ ﬁne motor skills”
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SCHOOL’S IN / E A R LY Y E A R S
ALL IMAGES Whether through sports, crafts or technology, students are encouraged to get involved and have fun during classes
and behaviour. Based on these observations, teachers will then play alongside the children, while subtly questioning their actions and the environment around them to nurture their thinking and challenge their play.
A HOLISTIC EDUCATION HIDDEN IN PL AY Creating and thinking critically. Students develop their own ideas, link multiple ideas together, and develop strategies for completing tasks. Active learning. Children focus on tasks that are specific, thematic, and fun, and are encouraged to keep trying when they encounter difficulties.
ALL-IMP ORTANT ACTIVE LE ARNING ctive learning is among the most important of all areas, as this is where the child is most engaged with the environment, resources, and their peers. Here, they are deep in learning, cleverly disguised as play. Ever-changing themes such as food or the animal kingdom dictate the content of play, while separate
“Ever-changing themes such as food or the animal kingdom dictate the content of play” “areas of continuous provision” remain the same and give deliberate direction to the activities. Creating highly sophisticated, childcentric areas of continuous provision was a priority during the development of Aldar Academies Al Forsan Nursery as we sought to provide a leading early years education in a premium environment. Our nursery has a capacity of 200 students, with ten intelligently designed areas of continuous provision, ranging from role-playing to water play and a technology zone. Each area is carefully planned to provide specific key learning opportunities relating to the child’s individual phase of development, but they won’t realise that. Instead, children are left to choose the area they want to interact with, and simply play and interact with their peers as teachers carefully observe their interests
hrough active learning and the natural breadth of activities involved in free play, children can’t help but grow in all of the most important areas. The physicality of playing and exploring develops students’ fine motor skills, while the peer collaboration involved with active learning nurtures social, language, and communication skills. Lessons in teamwork and respect are also learned as students play in groups and construct understanding from the interactions they have with children of different abilities and personalities. Meanwhile, those activities that encourage creation and critical thinking begin to develop a basic degree of emotional intelligence that is built upon as children progress through the higher grades. Do not let the laughter and mucky fingers fool you; in the world of early years education, play is a fundamental element of any child’s cognitive development.
Aldar Academies Al Forsan Nursery is now hosting open days for interested parents to discover more about the learning environment, curriculum and teaching methods. aldaracademies.com
S U SA N CA R P E N TE R Al Forsan Nurser y’s Early Years and Foundation Stage P rincipal Aldar Academies Al Forsan Nursery 2018
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SCHOOL’S IN / CUR R ICULUM
THE UK WAY One Dubai Principal shares her thoughts on the pros and cons of the National Curriculum for England F I O N A C O T TA M
he UK Curriculum, or National Curriculum for England (NCfE) as it is formally known, is a broad, balanced curriculum that is suitable for students from across the globe. The breadth of subjects includes the Arts, Sciences and Humanities, and overall it is a very liberal model that can be adapted to meet the needs of children whose previous learning experiences might have been in another country-specific or world curriculum. With a proven track record of providing the most accomplished routes to universities and as a longstanding and renowned model of education, the NCfE is known for academic excellence across the world and truly is a global passport to success.
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Students at Hartland International School
Throughout the Primary phase and early Secondary, there are a core group of subjects that one would expect to find in a traditionally British education system. They include the Arts, Sciences and Humanities subjects. At various stages, parts of the curriculum become optional. For example, at the age of 14 at the start of GCSE, and again at 16 at the start of A-Level, young people can choose subjects that are of greater interest to
“The NCfE is well known for academic excellence and is a global passport to success”
them and thereby narrow their focus to ensure greater success. However, the core subjects of English, Mathematics and Science are compulsory through to the age of 16 at the end of GCSE level. A student would normally take approximately 10 or 11 subjects at GCSE level and most schools will offer in excess of 20 optional subjects to add to these core subjects. Such choices and decisions are always taken with the expert advice and guidance of the school, and also with the support and discussions that are had with parents. At the age of 16, students’ narrow down further and tend to choose three or four subjects from a further range of over 20 that are offered at school.
The curriculum is very established in the realms of academia and has a strong global reputation. As well as the traditional content that one might expect to find, the NCfE also promotes spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and prepares all students for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life. One
of the core aims is that it provides a framework for the knowledge that will help young people on their journey to becoming globally educated citizens and helps engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement. In the Primary years, the curriculum remains as broad and balanced as possible with a strong focus on discovering childcentred learning, but as children grow, so too does the curriculum evolve and become more specialised. The range of subjects that older children can focus on is vast and ranges from Economics to Engineering, Art to Arabic, Music Technology to Mandarin, and Physics to Photography and Psychology. All of these will lead to a variety of pathways and are delivered under the regulations of a national examinations benchmark that makes it easy for parents, students, teachers, schools, universities and employers to track progress and understand targets for future learning.
THE CHALLENGE S
Delivery of the curriculum is through English and some of the content may have a British-centric approach. Examples of where this might manifest itself are in the learning of monetary units in the Primary phase, where the British pound is used, to the higher years of History subject content. However, international teachers understand the need to modify the content and curriculum to suit the needs of the students that they teach and can contextualise accordingly. The adaptability of the International GCSE framework also means that teachers and schools have the choice to take a more international approach to the choosing of examination boards that better suit their context and cohort.
F I O N A COT TA M Principal Hartland International School 2018 | E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S | 51
In the FIELD By using virtual reality in the classroom, we are offering our students contextualised learning experiences like no other
t JESS Dubai we have been exploring the role of Virtual Reality (VR) in education for a little over three years now. This has incorporated the use of a range of hardware, from simple mobile VR technology to the roomscale immersion afforded by the HTC Vive and Windows Mixed Reality headsets. The impact has been huge and a recent survey conducted with staff and students who had been involved with VR projects across the three JESS schools offered some clear data to support this...
“The most prevalent reason for integrating VR is probably the concept of the virtual ﬁeld trip”
97% of students said that they enjoyed using VR in their lessons 76% believed that VR helped them develop a better understanding of the topic being covered 77% of staff thought that VR increased the engagement and motivation of students I have spoken at several events across the region in the last few months about the power and potential of VR in education. When looking for the “Why?” of VR, there are in fact many reasons to harness this emergent technology, from the way it can help foster empathy to the way it engulfs us in learning content and the way it can
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allow students to travel in time to learn about history like never before. The most prevalent reason for integrating VR, however, is probably the concept of the virtual field trip. Using this technology, students can transcend boundaries of location, logistics and economics, and teleport into places they may never get the chance to see in real life. What underpins this concept is the way that VR can help to contextualise learning – far more than its sibling AR (Augmented Reality) can. If students are learning about Japan, VR can transport them to Osaka or Tokyo to see it for themselves. The sense of presence that VR can generate is potent at producing meaningful learning experiences, more so than any traditional media. Students have a visceral reaction to the content and deeper learning is far more attainable. Here are three examples of virtual field LEFT & RIGHT trips we have conducted at JESS students enjoy learning through VR technology JESS Dubai this year...
BELOW Engaged, active learners are happy pupils
Year 7 and 8 students used a curated set of 360 videos on our mobile VR headsets to build upon their prior study of Africa and learn about a range of topics, from waterfalls to tribesmen. They accessed the content via a curated set of QR codes and used OneNote to record notes and complete follow-up tasks about each experience.
THE AMAZON ODYSSEY Year 5 students used the stunning Amazon Odyssey app on the HTC Vive to travel to the rainforest and learn more about the wildlife that inhabits this wondrous place. They were even able to use a virtual camera to capture images of these creatures, just like a real wildlife photographer!
THE LONDON BLITZ This unique experience saw the Year 6 students using the Timelooper app to transport themselves to modern-day Trafalgar Square. As they looked around, time melted before their eyes and they were in the same spot in 1941, during the infamous Blitz of London. This is a great example of contextualised learning through VR. So what’s next for virtual reality field trips? The answer is multi-user experiences. In all of the examples listed above, even if students were using headsets concurrently, they were not present within the same virtual space. What if they could all stand in a distant land together and explore as a group, sharing the experience? That concept might sound like a distant fantasy, but the truth is that it is not just coming soon – it is in fact already possible. In April of this year I hosted the world’s first global lesson inside VR alongside Pixar co-founder Loren Carpenter. The #VRclassroom project was a collaboration between HTC Vive, Immersive VR Education and Langley College in Slough, UK, which is where the students were based. Using Immersive’s Engage platform on the Vive, I connected with the group of students inside a virtual moon base before teleporting them to Avebury – the site of the world’s largest stone circle. We watched a video from the National Trust together
“What if they could all stand in a distant land together and explore as a group, sharing the experience?” before exploring the site and taking pictures with our virtual tablets. I then transported them a little further – Mars to be precise – where the adventure continued. All the while I was stood in my lounge in Dubai while they were in Slough! From Mars we moved on to the final destination – a virtual lecture theatre where Loren delivered a stunning presentation about his career, the founding of Pixar, as well as computer science and quantum physics. Physically, Loren was at his home in Los Angeles, but sitting with the students, watching this legend of animation walk around the stage before us, was incredibly powerful and it genuinely made it easy to forget he was not really there.
S T E V E BA M B U RY Head of Digital Learning JESS Dubai 2018 | E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S | 53
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This is why Dubaiâ€™s Rising School has chosen to implement a No Homework Policyâ€Ś MICHAEL BARTLETT 54
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number of studies have revealed revolutionary discoveries about the effectiveness of normal practices adopted in the field of education. One such study carried out by Stanford University looked into the benefits of removing homework from school life. The overarching finding was that homework could actually have a negative impact on the learning experience, and this applied to all students regardless of level of capability. With the standards of education constantly evolving, it is important to evaluate the practices that are used when knowledge and skills are taught to the younger generations. One of these practices is the No Homework Policy, which we have implemented at Rising School in Dubai, as we believe this allows our students to fully develop into well-rounded adults. The school is not afraid to break away
SCHOOL’S IN / HOMEWOR K
“Parents are not qualiﬁed educators, and therefore might not be able to help in the most adequate way” from the “norms” in order to cater to the wellbeing of our students, which is why we have introduced this rule as a means to improve learning. At Rising School, an American curriculum school located in Nad Al Sheba, we take into consideration the findings of studies such as that by Stanford, and focus our efforts on improving the overall education experience of our students. We implement the No Homework Policy for a number of reasons, including the idea that homework can have an extended effect on the physical wellbeing of the children, as they could possibly become run down due to stress and exhaustion. If asked, this would be the ideal scenario for any student – not having to do any their own resources, whereas schoolwork in the afternoon once the high achievers would not find the bell has rung – but there are a number of assignments stimulating. highly valid reasons for why not assigning Over and above its negative effects on homework is beneficial to the learning different students, Stanford’s study found process. One example is that common factors that led to this students who struggle with conclusion, including the fact learning materials may be that parents are not qualified ALL IMAGES burdened with feelings of educators, and therefore Students at Rising helplessness when left to might not be School have more time able to help in the to pursue hobbies and other interests without most adequate way. the added pressure of This could make a homework frustrating situation even worse, as not only does homework tire out students after a long day at school, but also reduces time spent playing and engaging with the family, both of which are vital to a child’s early development. Rising School prioritises providing an inquiry approach to education, where students learn as they explore their surroundings. This is not possible if they are tasked with the chore of homework, as during this time they do not have concurrent questions addressed. In addition, Rising School recognises the importance of engraining within children a love for learning, encouraged by intrinsic motivational factors. This is achieved through working alongside teachers when provided with a multitude of engaging resources. Therefore there is no need for
“We believe our No Homework Policy allows our students to fully develop into wellrounded adults” either students or teachers to schedule additional study time. Our No Homework Policy allows students to explore hobbies and outof-school interests, facilitating their development into well-rounded adults. As a result, they are also left with ample time to get engrossed in a good book with their parents, growing their vocabulary and sparking their creativity.
D R M I C H A E L BA R T L E T T Executive Principal Rising School 2018
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MINDSET vs SKILL SET Careers guidance in schools and universities must improve in the UAE in order to connect education and employers, says the CEO of Xeed Global K I M S A H O TA
ision 2021 is defining the pathway for the UAE to become one of the leading countries in the world, and in order to translate this vision, one of the six pillars that has been mapped as a priority to achieve this is to have a first-rate educational system; careers education and employability forming a crucial part of any educational system. Education will be a fundamental element for the development of the UAE and the best investment in its youth. In line with the vision and the aspirations of the UAE, Xeed Global aims for schools to implement careers guidance with qualified careers advisors, colleges and universities to be equipped with the knowledge of employability and the labour
market, as well as changing trends in the UAE and the world. We aim to educate students on the future of jobs, the fourth industrial revolution and what employers and recruiters are looking for. We are introducing the best practices from the British schooling system and experts in the UK, and adapting them to suit the needs and requirements of the UAE. Most importantly, we are discovering the gap of skills to enter the job market with the careers and employability diagnostics and programmes, and giving certified training to careers advisors in order to help meet the UAE national agenda. We must connect the world of education and employers by ensuring international benchmarks in employability and careers guidance. But first we must ask: what is it that employers are looking for? Ninety-six per cent of employers surveyed said that they would indeed choose mindset over skill set. Harvard University has also indicated that correct and appropriate
mindset would indeed make students three times more employable. The ability to demonstrate traits such as determination, motivation, professionalism and initiative is key in employers’ decisions over their perspective employees. So are we doing enough to educate our students and graduates on what employers really want? The answer is no… This was recognised in the UK, where the careers office often used for internships/ work experience saw the value of training programmes designed to educate students. This resulted in higher outcomes of employment and better-prepared students for the workplace. Transferable skills are a vital set of abilities that can be applied to almost every industry, making them valuable attributes for employers. They can be picked up in a wide variety of contexts, whether that is through education, hobbies, work, or just at home. So not only is it practically
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LEFT Interpersonal skills are important if a graduate is to gain employment
TO P S KI LL S Kim Sahota says some of the skills employers look for in graduates include: Commercial awareness • Interpersonal skills • Time management • Confidence • Self-awareness • Decision-making skills • Ability to work under pressure • Initiative • Leadership • Emotional intelligence • Creative problem-solving • Adaptability
guaranteed that you will have them, you can also use them to prove to employers that you are a good fit, even if you have not had any direct experience yet. These transferable skills are particularly important for recent graduates, as their studies and/or previous work experience may not directly relate to the jobs they are applying for. Yet the skills they have gained could be more relevant than they think. Students require not to be spoon-fed opportunities and, in this competitive age, as placements and skills learnt via a degree are simply not enough, preparation is key to establishing what the market and our employers want. Then we must align programmes to meet these requirements, in order to give our youth and our educational system the boost it needs. Careers departments in universities primarily focus on helping students with
their work experience requirements; this sees the careers element and the skills acquired from employability training getting lost along the way. Students believe if they have a degree and have completed an internship this will mean they have automatically secured a job, a high paying one at that. Soon after they leave, reality hits and they realise some 40,000 students have just graduated with the same internship. So do they now have the skills to set them apart, or even know where to begin? The short answer is no. So what now? Universities with 30% of their league table ranking now coming from employability have commercial motivation to embed employability and careers services, but they also have a huge responsibility to their students. We need to follow suit with the likes of the UK and USA, where institutions have implemented employability courses, testing, psychometric testing, group and one-to-one careers guidance as a fundamental part of what they deliver in the classroom. The importance of preparation should not be underestimated – athletes do it, airline pilots do it, professional speakers do it, musicians do it. Successful people do it. So our youth should do it, too. It is an employer-led market and academia needs to start bridging the gap between education and employment, because today so many of our graduates are remaining unemployed after completing university and are unable to understand why. The job market fluctuates, but with the right skills and mindset outside of academia students will thrive and find opportunities readily available to them. Education, careers guidance and what employers are really asking for must be aligned in order to meet the necessary threshold if we want to be one of the leading countries in the world with a first-class educational offering.
K I M SA H OTA CEO Xeed Global xeedglobal.com 2018
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E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S
WE ROCK THE SPECTRUM KIDS’ GYM DUBAI
THE GIFTED & TALENTED P . 61 VOCATIONAL TRAINING FOR ALL P . 62
Looking for a fun activity to try with the kids this summer? We recommend We Rock The Spectrum Kids’ Gym Dubai, where children of all abilities are welcome to get active and play together. werockthespectrumdubai.com
E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S
DUBAI COLLEGE A tradition of quality in education
An outstanding British Curriculum secondary school in the heart of the city Outstanding sporting and creative success for almost 40 years The leading Oxbridge, UK and US university admissions record in the UAE The best GCSE and A Level results of any school in the Middle East and Africa UAE Sports School of the Year 2015-16
Dubai College is a not-for-profit school Visit www.dubaicollege.org for further details emiratesCOLLEGE.indd DUBAI education advert.indd 1 1
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INCLUSION / GIF TED & TA LEN TED
Expanding Minds Tournament of Minds is offering high-achieving students a great opportunity to develop skills even further, says its UAE Director…
chools in the region are increasingly looking to fill gaps in opportunities for students who challenge the mainstream. We are seeing more programmes being created for students with learning difficulties, which is a critical development in meeting the needs of all learners. However, we must also ensure that students who are performing above grade level have equal opportunity for extension to reach their full potential. This time last year, our Gifted and Talented committee were brainstorming how we could improve the quality of our extension programming. We knew we wanted to enrich the curriculum rather than accelerate, giving students the opportunity to delve into meaningful challenges where they could create and learn through experimentation. We were mindful to supplement our existing enquiry-based curriculum by making extension an exciting and engaging venture while also focussing on character development as much as academic development. With these goals in mind, we began researching existing programmes to bring to the UAE, and we were fortunate enough to find Tournament of Minds (TOM). TOM is a dream programme that ticked all the boxes. It is a creative, problem-solving tournament for students in Primary and Secondary school that presents real-world challenges, requiring a cross-curricular approach to solve. Students work on a challenge for six weeks in teams of seven, and while they may be working on a STEM or Social Sciences challenge, they must
“It is a creative, problem-solving tournament for students that presents realworld challenges”
B R EE A N TOW N SE N D
A B OV E
Students present in dramatic fashion
present their solution in a creative, dramatic fashion that shows the evolution of their thinking. It provides opportunities for students who are talented in academics, the arts, and leadership, which are all equally weighted for a team to be successful. TOM is a perfect fit for schools and students in the UAE, as it aligns with the National Agenda for 2021. Through this programme, students strengthen their problem-solving ability, extend their creativity and become more flexible in their thinking. These are essential skills that they will apply when tackling future challenges to improve sustainable environments and infrastructures, developing competitive knowledge economies and maintaining a cohesive and inclusive society. Tournament of Minds has been running in Australia for 31 years and is now spreading out across the globe. This year, competitions are being held in New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Uganda, the Republic of South Africa, and most recently the UAE. What started as an extension opportunity brought in to school to target a small group of students turned into a National Tournament
that hosted 51 teams from 13 different schools across Abu Dhabi and Dubai in a single academic year. Our inaugural tournament was held at Raha International School this May. Excitingly, the four winning teams will now go on to Darwin, Australia in October to compete in the International Finals. Although it has felt like a whirlwind, it is easy to see why it has been overwhelmingly successful and is forecast to double in size during the 2018-2019 school year. To find out how your school can get involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
B R E E A N TOW N S E N D Gifted & Talented Coordinator Raha International School TOM UAE Director
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SKILLS for LIFE Dubai’s Integreat Center is the first of its kind in the city, offering programmes that teach life skills and vocational training to young adults with additional needs... K AT Y G I L L E T T
he Dubai Inclusive Education Policy Framework has been a major driving force behind making sure schools accept and cater for children of all abilities. But what happens after school? That is where Integreat Center comes in. It is Dubai’s first “holistic special needs centre” for young adults between the ages of 16 and 25 years old, teaching them life skills development and vocational training to set them up for fruitful careers and a life of fulfilment. Nikita Patel, the co-founder and business development manager of Integreat Center, says the idea was born when they noticed a gap in the market. And since opening its doors towards the end of 2016, Patel has seen vast improvements in her students’ confidence. As summer kicks in and we all have more time on our hands to explore educational avenues outside the school gates, Absolutely Education Emirates finds out more about this great initiative.
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What exactly does the Integreat Center offer? We offer two full-time programmes in life skills development and vocational training. At Integreat Center, we empower our students and give them the skills to be independent and integrated into the workforce and society. Integreat Center also offers Social Integration sessions on a weekly basis from 2.30pm to 3.30pm at the centre in Umm Suqeim 3, and it is open to students from the community. Social Integration sessions help students with additional needs build their social and communication skills, while targeting a specific creative skill set. On Mondays we offer Project Building – jewellery-making, arts and crafts – while Wednesdays focus on Communication Diaries – drama, making presentations, public speaking – and Thursdays are Varsity Games – competitive games and sports. Why did you set it up initially? There are very few opportunities for young adults with special needs to develop further and, after conducting multiple focus groups with parents of this population this notion was reinforced. We set up Integreat Center to fill a gap in the market. We began with research of best practices from around the world and adapted them to create a holistic curriculum
“If a student cannot learn the way we teach, we tailor our programme to teach the way they learn best” for young adults with special needs, focusing on life skills development, vocational training, functional academics, as well as social and communication skills. What were the biggest challenges when getting it up and running? The biggest challenge initially was to create awareness about the potential of this age group of students. When in the right learning environment, and equipped with important independence skills, the potential of our students is phenomenal.
INCLUSION / ACTI V ITIES
LEFT The Integreat Center team BELOW It is all smiles for the students
Additionally, as we are operating as a social enterprise, not taking profits from the centre, the start-up costs definitely added up. Why is it important to you specifically to work with students of determination? This is a population that was largely under-served and it was imperative for us to work with and create opportunities for young adults with additional needs. We believe in a very individualised way of teaching where, if a student cannot learn the way we teach, we have to tailor our programme to teach the way they learn. What did Integreat introduce to the UAE? Integreat Center is the first holistic special needs centre for young adults 16 to 25 years old. We offer a truly unique transitional programme for students focusing on the practical skills required to be independent in their lives. We also offer ASDAN to supplement our curriculum and certify our students. Our life skills modules include Personal Care, Money Management, and Communication. While our Vocational
Training track prepares students with the skills and work placements in companies across industries in the UAE to ensure they are set up for maximum success when they search for a job in the future. What kind of progress have you seen in these children since they have joined Integreat? Our students, across the board, have more confidence in themselves. They are more confident in doing their daily living skills independently, more confident speaking to new people and expressing themselves, and more confident navigating public spaces such as the mall, grocery stores and the metro station. Recently, in one class, all of the
students opened bank accounts independently â€“ one component of the Money Management module. In another class, students successfully learned the emergency procedures to follow in the event of a fire, demonstrating this during their Safety module. What future plans do you have for Integreat? We hope to expand in terms of the number of students we can cater to. Additionally, in the near future, we are looking to offer additional services to support our students as well as their families.
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BOOK AND BRUNCH IN BELGRAVIA
Visit Lowndes Bar & Kitchen and experience Book and Brunch Sundays. Choose from delicious brunch dishes including an exclusive children’s menu available throughout March. Guests will also receive a side of literature courtesy of the monthly changing book specially selected from local store, Belgravia Books. Childrens book and brunch from £12.50 and adults from £30.00 with the option of bottomless bubbles for an additional £15.00. To book your table call 020 7858 7223 or visit lowndesdining.co.uk.
ICC ACADEMY, DUBAI SPORTS CITY
BRAIN GAMES P. 66 SUMMER CAMPS P. 70 THE LAST WORD P. 82
Does your kid love cricket? Football? Drama? Technology? Whatever their interests, there is a summer camp being hosted in the UAE for them. Turn to page 70 to find out more.
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Brain GAMES Keep those little minds active during the long summer holiday with these top tips from our resident education expert FIONA MCKENZIE
he long summer holidays are stretching ahead; they are almost within reach… Parents are looking forward to not having to be up at the crack of dawn, making packed lunches and trying to track down trainers, while the children are looking forward to lying in and not having every minute of their day dictated by the school routine. The summer break is a fabulous opportunity to have quality family time, without the daily pressure from school, a time to enjoy pottering, not having to be anywhere and to explore hobbies and interests that usually get squeezed out in the frenetic pace of term-time life. However, although eight weeks away from studying might sound enticing, educationists raise sound reasons as to why taking your eye off the academic ball for this length of time can be detrimental to children’s learning. So, we ask, how
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can you keep your children’s brains and minds ticking over so they are not losing ground over the break? How can you make sure they will be able to slot back into the academic groove more easily in September?
Some of the simple pleasures parents
may recall from their own childhood are actually great ways of practising academic skills in a different way. Card games, for example, are good for counting, problem solving, strategy and memory. Playing board games, such as Risk, gives you a focus on diplomacy and geopolitics and an opportunity to discuss how this might be playing out in real time. And, if the family dynamic can stand it, then Monopoly is a great way of practising maths and communication skills. Not all games have to be inside. Getting a beach cricket or rounders game going is a good idea, as again, it requires numeracy
A B OV E
Learning a new instrument can be a great way to keep a kid’s mind active
SCHOOL’S OUT / SUMMER BR E A K
ED UCATION ISTS RAISE SOUND REASONS AS TO WHY TAKIN G YOUR EYE OF F THE ACADEMIC BALL FOR THIS LENGTH OF TIME CAN BE DETRIMENTAL TO CHILDREN ’S LEARNING
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SCHOOL’S OUT / SUMMER BR E A K
Students’ View Alessia Macedo, a Year 9 student at Repton School, Dubai, comes up with some ideas for teens to try while they have some time on their hands…
A B OV E
Make a beeline for the British Museum this summer if you are in the UK
skills and teamwork. A great game of Capture the Flag requires children to come up with a plan, allocate roles to the team and work out how to defeat the opposition, all of which can create quite an adrenaline rush and keep the “grey matter” operating. If you are looking for games that are more techy, but still educational, then download Sporcle (sporcle.com) for a fantastic range of quizzes on every subject under the sun. Everyone can play together while trying to beat the clock. Who knew that matching flags to countries or naming capital cities could be so much fun?! Or, approach it from the other angle, and get the children to create their own quizzes on Kahoot (kahoot.com) and let them test out your knowledge (are you brave enough?).
The museum experience Although the children might offer
some token resistance when you suggest visiting a museum or art gallery, it is worth persevering as it gives them an opportunity to explore a different time and culture. If you are in the UK, head to the British Museum for treasures from Egypt, including mummies and detailed showcases on the mummification process – that is sure to intrigue any child with a taste for guts and gore. Or head to the Natural History Museum to see amazing skeletons of dinosaurs or experience what it is like to be in an earthquake. My top tip for visiting a gallery with children? Pick four paintings, make a beeline for them and spend time looking at them in some detail. Get the children to see if they can make out what the story is
“Who knew that matching ﬂags to countries or naming capital cities could be so much fun?!”
LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE
by looking for the small things. Or pick a theme, such as dragons, and then see how many paintings the children can spot with a dragon in it. Alternatively, you can always opt for picking up a headset with a specific children’s tour. Most visitor attractions have really engaging activity trails for a whole range of ages. In a similar vein, visiting historic sites can be a great day out, especially if it relates to something they have studied in school or seen on TV. Castles, battle sites, locations that have been used in films or TV series can all be starting points for a fun learning experience without it feeling too educational.
Skill building and summer programmes
Alongside subliminal learning, it can also
be useful to focus on a few key skills over the holidays. For younger children, using the Bond books can be a good way of keeping their hand in with verbal and non-verbal reasoning skills. They can be quick and easy to do and this type of exercise is familiar to most UAE children, as they will do online tests in school that are very similar. For older children it is worth exploring online learning opportunities like Coursera (coursera.org). Taking an online module provided by a good university can be both intellectually stimulating and give a student the chance to either explore a completely new topic or to support in more detail something they have been learning about at school. The added advantage is that this work can attract credits and is a plus-point when writing university applications. If studying in the holidays seems too much like hard work then it is worth looking at the huge range of summer programmes available. They could take this chance to improve their English language; hone their football skills; or even enrol on a pre-university course in something like International Relations or Law so they can try it before committing to studying it in full time. Even if you feel more like putting on a musical or becoming a fashion blogger, then there is camp for you, too.
I find either learning a new language or becoming fluent at one you already know is a good way to embrace different cultures. Since I am taking Spanish for my GCSEs I will be taking extra Spanish lessons to widen my vocabulary.
WRITE A SONG/SHORT STORY I think writing songs or short stories really helps me feel less stressed and helps me understand my emotions as a teenager. I will be basing my song or story on my adventures during my time in Europe over the summer holidays, capturing some of the things I have seen and people I have met.
START A YOUTUBE CHANNEL This can be a good way to express yourself in a very creative and personal way, and can really help to build your confidence. It might seem that starting a YouTube channel will be difficult, but in a few simple steps you are ready to go. Sign in, click on settings, click “create channel”, choose a name and hit the create button!
READ A BOOK I find reading books helps me escape and it is a good way to relax yet still keep your mind active. I would recommend the book Girl In Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow for young teenage girls who enjoy reading deep and emotional books. It is about a teenage girl who struggles with depression and how she deals with it.
LEARN A NEW INSTRUMENT Although this may seem very hard, learning a new skill can really benefit you in lots of positive ways. It gets you out of your comfort zone and builds confidence. It also means you can meet new people and helps you stay productive throughout the summer. My aim is to learn the ukulele this year, as I’ve always been fascinated by this unique instrument!
FIONA MCKENZIE Director Gabbitas Education Middle East 2018
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CAMP OUT Our pick of 13 great UAE summer camps you can choose from this year F I O N A M C K E N Z I E a n d K AT Y G I L L E T T
nrolling your child in a summer camp is a great opportunity for them to meet new friends, develop a new skill and build confidence and independence as well as keeping them occupied over the long hot summer. Here Fiona McKenzie, Director of Gabbitas Education Middle East, and Absolutely Education Emirates Editor Katy Gillett, share some of their top choices for UAE-based summer camps.
award-winning author Julia Donaldson through drama, theatre games, role play, mime and much more. AGES: 4-7 LOCATION: The Courtyard Playhouse
Theatre, Al Quoz, Dubai DATES: 1-5 July, 8-12 July, 15-19 July TIMINGS: 10am-1pm COST: AED1,155, AED1,100 with sibling discounts available courtyardplayhouse.com/kids/ summer-camp
The one for the dare devil…
SUPER HERO AND NINJA CAMP
There are two camps at Parkour DXB – the Super Hero and Ninja Camp for the younger ones; and the Parkour Master Camp for older ones. Parkour is a unique way to get your kids active, and encourage focus. AGES: 5-9 and 10-16 LOCATION: Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz DATES: 1 July-30 August TIMINGS: 9am-noon for 5-9 year olds
and 1pm-4pm for 10-16 year olds COST: AED1,100/week parkour.ae
The one for the techie…
APPLE SUMMER CAMP
A great opportunity for your child to explore their creativity using Apple products, campers pick one track and can explore in depth across the three days. AGES: 8-12 LOCATION: Apple stores across UAE DATES: Three-day sessions throughout July TIMINGS: 90 mins each day COST: Free
The one for the little historian… The one for the child with lots of energy…
MOVIN’ & GROOVIN’ AT FITREPUBLIK
A B OV E Cooking and fitness at Fairmont The Palm B OT TO M Hayley’s Comet Theatre Company drama camp
The popular FitRepublik summer camp is back. From swimming to hip hop dancing and martial arts, your child will get to express themselves physically and creatively, all day long.
BACK TO THE OLDEN DAYS
A chance for your little one to immerse themselves in history, exploring topics from the Stone Age to Ice Age and dinosaurs to the Egyptians. AGES: 4 months-7 years LOCATION: Odyssey Nursery, Umm
AED1,313 per week of full days fitrepublik.com
Suqeim 2, Dubai DATES: 1 July-30 August TIMINGS: Start time 8am, finish times include 1pm, 3pm and 6pm COST: AED1,155 for a week of 5 full days (other options available) odysseynursery.com
The one for the budding performer…
The one for the budding engineer…
Allow your child to immerse themselves in the magical world of the
This is your child’s opportunity to gain hands-on experience in robotics, computer programming and
AGES: 5-14 LOCATION: Sports City, Dubai DATES: 8 July-30 August TIMINGS: Full or half day COST: From AED262.5 for full days; from
LITTLE MONSTERS THEATRE CAMP
STEM FOR KIDS
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SCHOOL’S OUT / SUMMER C A MPS
A B OV E Kick about at City Football Schools Summer Camp
engineering, facilitated by experienced teachers in STEM learning. Let them get a head start in tech. AGES: 5-11 LOCATION: Ontario International
Canadian School in Mirdif and Rising School in Nad Al Sheba, Dubai DATES: Weekly throughout July and August TIMINGS: 8.30am-2.30pm COST: AED 1,250 per week stemforkids.ae
The one for the outdoor explorer…
RAINFOREST RANGER SUMMER CAMP
Your child will have a fantastic time at this summer camp by Kid’s Island Nursery, as they play with sand and water, try fun music and movement classes, learn through exciting experiments and much more. AGES: 1-4 LOCATION: Kid’s Island Nursery in
Jumeirah 3, Dubai DATES: 1 July-30 August TIMINGS: 8am-1.15pm COST: AED950 for a full week kidsislandnursery.com/spring-andsummer-camp
The one for the football fanatic…
CITY FOOTBALL SCHOOLS CAMPS
Girls and boys get the opportunity to
improve their football skills, stay healthy during the long summer, make friends and have lots of fun in a positive and friendly learning environment, all under the guidance of fully qualified City Football coaches.
B E LOW Have fun and get fit at FitRepublik this season B OT TO M Tech-lovers will adore the in-store Apple sessions
AGES: 6-12 LOCATION: Mubadala Arena, Zayed
Sports City, Abu Dhabi DATES: 8-12 July, 15-19 July, 22-26 July, TIMINGS: 8am-2.30pm COST: AED950 + VAT per week cityfootballschools.com
The one for cricket-mad kids
BABYSHOP SUMMER CRICKET CAMP
This cricket-themed skill development programme is designed to boost boys’ and girls’ confidence, movement skills and to help young players love the game. The sessions are delivered by the ICC Academy coaches and held at a world-class indoor facility (that is fully airconditioned). They will play games, learn new skills and even win prizes! AGE: 7-10 LOCATION: ICC Academy, Dubai
Sports City DATES: 29 July-2 August, 5-9 August, 19-23 August TIMINGS: 9am-noon COST: AED650 per week or AED140 per day + VAT iccacademy.net
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The one for little foodies
SUMMER TIME KIDS COOKING AND FITNESS ADVENTURE SERIES
Fairmont The Palm’s exciting summer series aims to engage children with fitness, food, education and fun. They will do an interactive, LED-based HIIT workout daily, learn some handy cooking skills at The Chef’s Palette with Michelintrained chef Romain Van Durmen, and finish off with some pool and beach play time. By the end of it all, they also get to take home a personalised apron and chef hat as a keepsake. AGE: 8-14 LOCATION: Fairmont The Palm, Dubai DATES: 1-5 July and 26-30 August TIMINGS: 9.30am-4pm
Cost: AED250 per day or AED1,000 per week email@example.com
The one for drama kings and queens
HAYLEY’S COMET THEATRE COMPANY SUMMER CAMP
Mini drama fans will immerse themselves in a creative, energetic environment where they can make friends and perform a show at the end of the week. They will build team skills by playing drama games, learn routines and songs, and create their own characters as part of a devised play to be performed to family and friends on the last day. AGE: 6-14 LOCATION: James & Alex Dance
Studios, Dubai Media City DATES: Sunday to Thursday through July TIMINGS: 9am-3pm (plus added option of After Club Camp from 3pm-6pm) COST: AED750 per week firstname.lastname@example.org
The one for water babies
OTTERS AQUATICS SWIMMING CAMP
Both juniors and seniors have options here. The former can join the Junior
TO P L E F T Parkour DXB TO P R I G H T Otters Aquatics Swimming Camp
Swim Squad Training – Competitive (Development) from 10am-11am to learn race strategies, dry land exercises, endurance training, stroke drills and more. Meanwhile, seniors get speed, strength and endurance training; learn how to save seconds on start, turn and nish; pick up race strategies and dry land exercises.
B E LOW STEM for kids B OT TO M Little Monsters Theatre Summer Camp
AGE: Grades 2-5 and 6-10 LOCATION: Swiss International Scientific
Schools, Dubai Healthcare City DATES: 8-12 July, 15-19 July TIMINGS: 10am-11am and 11am-noon COST: AED400 per week walkaheadsports.com/swimming
The one for future Picassos
TASHKEEL ARTS SUMMER CAMP
This year’s camp at the influential arts organisation will offer a range of workshops covering a variety of techniques, skills and explorations. In ten days, ten workshops will be delivered on areas such as pinhole photography, sculpture, screen printing, casting with silver, papermaking and more. AGE: 8-16 LOCATION: Tashkeel, Nad Al Sheba DATES: 8-12 July, 15-19 July TIMINGS: 10am-1pm COST: AED250 per session, AED1,200 per
week, AED2,200 for two weeks (excluding VAT; 10% siblings discount) tashkeel.org
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A R E W E N E A R LY THERE YET? The season of road trips and long-haul flights is upon us, so education expert and mum-of-four, Fiona McKenzie, shares her top tips on keeping kids amused on the journey FIONA MCKENZIE
ow often do we take a long journey with the children here in the UAE? Then suddenly in the summer we expect the kids to behave beautifully for hours on end while we fly around the world, and drive for what feels like days, trying to catch up with all the relatives. Knowing how to keep your children entertained on long journeys can be a nightmare for many parents. That is why Fiona McKenzie, Director of Gabbitas Middle East (and a mum of four), is sharing her best ideas to help your family not only survive these trips but also make them fun.
lanning for a long journey is the number one step to ensuring it goes smoothly. Pack a bag filled with magnetic board games, colouring books, crayons, sticker books and magazines. Anything you think your children will like! On top of that, make some Are We There Yet? packs as back-up. These can be filled with little surprises for your children ready to bring out in moments of need. And always carry treats and healthy snacks; they will keep you just as sane as they do your kids!
ENSURE YOUR KIDS GET EXCITED ABOUT THE DESTINATION
etting your children enthused about where they are going is a surefire way of making the journey there more tolerable. Encourage your children to keep a travel journal and include some cool facts about the destination. Or get them to take photos on their phone or a digital camera so they can document their trip. This is a great way to make your holiday educational, too. Have some quizzes ready about your destination for them to do on the way. Not only will this help to pass the time but it will also get them excited and learn about where they are going.
“Have some quizzes ready about your destination for them to do on the way”
PLAY GAMES BUT THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
nstead of the usual I-Spy, try I-Don’tSpy where the answer can be anything! A simple “I don’t spy with my little eye something beginning with M” can take hours before they end up at Marmalade. Make bingo cards in advance on the things you are likely to come across on the way – the first to get all of their squares checked off wins a prize. A great game for the whole family is Alphabets. Pick a category such as “Fruits and Vegetables” or “Cartoons” and go round everyone saying as many as you can beginning with A. Once completed, move onto B. You will be amazed at how the time passes! Or play the “Round the World” version, where you have to think of a country or city that begins with the last letter of the previous word. For example: Dubai, followed by India, followed by Austria, and so on.
TRY SOME OF OUR FAVOURITE PODCASTS
odcasts are a fantastic bonus on a long journey; they can be educational but try to pick ones that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Here are some of our own favourites for you to try on your next trip:
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A B OV E
Make long journeys more tolerable and get the kids excited about the destination
Wow in the World – This is a brilliant scientific quest through space, technology, anatomy and beyond. Join hosts Mindy and Guy as they explore new discoveries and try to answer some of the biggest questions about the universe.
The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel – A mystery series that centres around Mars Patel, who goes off to find his missing friends. It has been compared to recent hit show Stranger Things, and will have your whole family hooked from episode one. What If World – No question is too silly to explore on this podcast. What if sharks had legs? What if it rained candy? What if cars could talk? It makes for an incredibly engaging listen for the whole family, exploring these worlds in imaginative detail.
Story Pirates – Real actors tell stories that have been written by kids. The silliness of where the stories go will have your children entertained for hours. The Past & The Curious – Each episode explores historical figures of the past through stories and songs. It celebrates great achievements in history in a fun and entertaining way.
IF ALL ELSE FAILS, USE THE IPAD TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
f ever there was a time to not feel guilty about letting your child binge on a screen, it is on a long journey. But it does not have to be mind numbing! Make sure it is loaded with creative apps and educational games. Playing Scrabble on the phone with everyone joining in can keep
everyone engaged, or timed quizzes such as Sporcle can get very competitive. Do make sure you have a few films downloaded in advance just in case.
GIVE THEM STRUCTURE
ong journeys are boring, there is no doubt about that, but help ease the time for your children by breaking it up into manageable chunks. Stop regularly and aim for somewhere where your children can run around to let off some excess energy while the adults can enjoy a much-needed caffeine hit. Also help break down the time by having a countdown to arrival, with a new activity each hour, or a signal that says we will be stopping soon.
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MAKING M E LO D I E S London’s Chelsea Quavers Music School is popular with budding musicians here in the UAE. We speak to the Founding Principal, Claire Meyer, to find out why… K AT Y G I L L E T T
he benefits of learning a musical instrument at a young age are well documented. Everything from a child’s language skills to self-confidence and spatial awareness to attention to detail gets a boost. And while the UAE has a range of great music schools, the London-based Chelsea Quavers Music School, which runs holiday workshops and international tuition online, has an outstanding reputation among families here that outshines the rest. “There is no other school like it anywhere in the UK, or globally,” states Claire Meyer, Chelsea Quavers Music School’s Founding Principal. “All our tutors are hand-picked from the top conservatoires around the UK. The qualities we look for in each of our tutors are empathy, energy, patience, creativity, enthusiasm and a passion to engage with and inspire each individual pupil.” Eric Whitacre, the Grammy-Award winning composer and conductor, agrees with Meyer on the uniqueness of the school. He says: “Claire Meyer is simply one of the most extraordinary educators I have ever met. She has carefully crafted a bespoke curriculum and the Chelsea Quavers’ teaching style I believe to be the future of music education and teaching in general.” Whitacre is not the only well-known supporter of the school, either. The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation provides 100% funding for a gifted and talented pupil to study at Chelsea Quavers Music School.
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And, since 2014, Marsh & Parsons has been an invaluable sponsor of the facility. It is all because of the distinctive approach to music education Meyer and her team takes. Meyer has spent the last few years creating Chelsea Quavers’ curriculum, which has since been highly praised by Directors of Music and Heads of top prep schools in the UK. “I have carefully crafted a fun and educational music curriculum to teach children from age four upwards to read, write, perform, transcribe and compose music in a fun, easy-to-follow and engaging LEFT Learn all manner format using our highly acclaimed of instruments series of Chelsea Quavers Music RIGHT Puzzles and the popular The pupil to student hands-on educational musical ratio is excellent game CHENGA!” The curriculum is specially designed to allow young pupils to work without constant supervision through reinforcement and step-by-step progression.Yet Chelsea Quavers also offers an excellent tutor to pupil ratio of no more than five pupils to one tutor. “No other club in London offers this outstanding level of support for each of its pupils,” Meyer adds. “Every one works at his or her own individual level, and children are grouped according to ability and age.” But how is this relevant to budding musicians in the UAE? Chelsea Quavers So why go to the UK instead of signing up to schools or workshops here? It is simple, says Meyer – “the UK is globally recognised as a centre of excellence for music education as a whole.” It is where worldrenowned institutions, such as the Royal Academy of Music, were born. It is where some of the world’s best tutors are based. And it is where more than 250,000 pupils from around the world sit their globally recognised ABRSM exams. “We often work with students from China, Singapore and the UAE who may excel, for example, at performance, but whose reading, theory and general musicianship skills are seriously lacking.” Tutors will also prepare international students who wish to attend schools or conservatoires in the UK. For children aged four to 12, from beginners or experienced musicians, Chelsea Quavers offers everything they need to excel within the world of melodies. “Our tutors work as a tight-knit team to provide not only the highest possible standards in music education, but to engage with every child to unlock potential, self-belief and confidence.” Now that is something worth travelling for.
“Many of our pupils come to the UK in the holidays and parents constantly praise the standard of our workshops” also offers international online tuition. “As well as the face-to-face camera, we use a close-up camera (she’s called Ziggi!), so the student can see in clear detail what the tutor is writing as if they were sitting across a desk from each other.” In this way, students anywhere in the world are taught ABRSM Theory of Music Grades 1-5, Aural Grades 1-8, Sight Reading (piano), and Sight Singing Grades 1-8. On top of that, families can sign up for the workshops in London, too. “Many of our pupils come to the UK in the holidays and parents constantly praise the standard of our workshops, telling us there is nothing like this at home. A large contingent of families from Dubai come to our workshops every year at Easter, summer and Christmas, and we also arrange private, bespoke workshops.”
SUMMER MUSIC WORKSHOPS We take a look at this year’s holiday programme at Chelsea Quavers Music School 1 6 - 2 0 J U LY A N D 2 4 - 2 6 J U LY
ach day of the Summer Workshops – taking place at the Chelsea Quavers Music School venue in Chelsea, London – children develop performance, aural, reading and writing skills, engage in a variety of fun educational music games and activities. Children participate in a number of Music Enrichment projects, develop drumming skills, and perform a wide variety of traditional and unusual instruments (such as djembe, crotales, bassoon, trombone, piano, glockenspiels, drum kit, electric and acoustic guitars). They will perform songs from around the world, from traditional, classical, jazz, African and international influence, as well as learn all about song composition.
- 4-year-olds, 9am-1pm; £75 (AED371) per day - 5-12-year-olds, 9am-4pm; £95 (AED470) per day Book online at chelseaquavers.com/booking
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CAMP FUN From day-time fun to an adventure week in the beautiful British countryside, summer camps offer kids (and parents) time off. Here’s our pick of providers R AC H E L W E B B
hile summer camp is a North American institution, the UK has been somewhat slower on the uptake. But the country has caught on – camp offers fun and adventure for children as young as three to get more out of their summer break. Perfect for us holidaying expats, then. If you are headed to Great Britan for any stretch of time this season, these specialist providers have camps to suit the most active, creative and quirky of kids. It is a great way to keep the children active and meeting new people, while you catch up with family or friends.
he emphasis at Activate Camps is on high-energy sports and activities that get children trying new things and the team here have lots of expertise, having delivered camps for over a decade. Camps take place across England, and with excellent locations across the south-east in wellequipped locations such as Berkhamsted School, Dulwich College, Merchant Taylors’ School, Sevenoaks and St George’s College, Weybridge. Not all activities are available at all schools, so check by location and activity programme. What’s special? For younger children (aged five plus), the Multi-Activity Camps offer themed activities, including sport and nature, and with “pick and mix” options from T-shirt designing to treasure hunts and crazy Olympics. Sports-mad kids will love the sports-themed camps, including Andrew Flintoff Cricket Academy, Pro:Direct Soccer Academy, Ultimate Lacrosse Experience and Louis Smith Gymnastics Experience. The new Netball Fever course is custom-designed
by Tamsin Greenway. Sports stars are all part of the experience and, for instance, every Cricket Academy includes a visit from a current or past pro cricketer. Age range: 5-16 Good to know: Camps typically run from three to five days and are non-residential, with discounts for multiple weeks or siblings. Early drop-off and late collection is available at some camps. Children take their own packed lunches, with careful supervision to ensure they stay fed and watered. activatecamps.co.uk
his London and Home Counties specialist has been running school holiday camps for over 35 years and its flexibility is one of the big draws for busy parents, with daycare and fun built in. Locations are conveniently spread, and include Mill Hill School, Godolphin & Latymer in Hammersmith, Ursuline Prep School in Wimbledon and Halstead Prep in Woking. Croydon High School has been added to the camp locations for this year.
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Kids go wild at XUK
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is also a cinema and diner, and surfing lessons as an optional extra. The Isle of Wight camp is in a stunning clifftop location and with multiple watersports including kayaking and raft building. There are plenty of all-weather activities, including arts and crafts, plus 1,000 acres to explore with guided adventures. Age range: 8-17 Good to know: Kingswood has been offering outdoor adventures to schools and groups for over 30 years and offers lots of support for younger residents. Alongside week-long stays you can book from four to six nights’ duration. Three-night taster trips have been introduced this year exclusively for camp first-timers. camps.kingswood.co.uk
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What’s special? Playtime Camp (3-4 years) is a paced blend of lively and focused activities, from cheerleading and adventure playground to mask making, biscuit decorating and collage. You will also find crowd-pleasing karaoke, drama, dance and bouncy castle. Move on up to Mania (8-11) and kids can try their hand at archery, climbing, badminton, tag rugby and water polo. Not all activities are available at all camps, but enough variety is built in to appeal to their passions and widen horizons. All camps offer age-appropriate extra options – from immersive crafts workshops to horse riding and motorsports. Age range: 3-16 Good to know: Camps are very flexible, with everything from one-day to weeklong or multiple week passes. Extended days can be booked at most camps. You can pre-book a lunch or send your child in with a packed lunch. All children have at least six activities a day, all logged in their personal timetable. While it is
dressed up as fun, they do sneak in mind-expanding options such as 3D modelling. And, a real child-pleaser, you have the option of an escorted day trip to Go Ape in some camps in 2018. campbeaumont.co.uk
parks summer shoot camps are a week-long movie-making spectacular designed to let children as young as four get behind the camera and create a blockbuster. The workshops are held in six London locations, from Highgate to Balham, with an additional film centre in Weybridge. Not every age group is catered for in each location.
his residential camp specialist offers spectacular settings geared towards children’s interests, with locations ranging from Kent and the Isle of Wight to North Norfolk and North Wales. It is all about fun in the great outdoors, with camps split to ensure children of similar ages stick together and everyone enjoys a home from home. What’s special? The North Norfolk Young Adventurers Camp (8-14) is housed in a former girls’ boarding school near Cromer and offers access to a gloriously unspoilt stretch of East Anglian coastline. On-site activities include archery, caving, swimming, bushcraft and zipwire. There
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XUK camps are split up into age groups
What’s special? Varying levels of experience are welcomed and children get a chance to try out different creative and technical roles and responsibilities. There is a high staff-to-student ratio and each summer a new theme for the film. Sparks operates a “studio system” to challenge more experienced filmmakers and encourage their talent. At the end of the week there is a Cast & Crew preview screening before the final red-carpet premiere in September. Films are distributed to proud parents for home viewing and sharing afterwards. Age range: 4-18 Good to know: Sparks runs age-tiered term-time Saturday courses and afterschool clubs too, so the summer camp is a great way to ignite children’s interest and see if they want to take things further. The experienced team argue that filmmaking builds a wide range of skills – from teamwork and problem solving to storytelling and visual literacy. They have been running movie-making courses since 2010 and have published a book with Quarto to inspire young filmmakers. sparks-ignite.com
elebrating its 30th birthday this year, Stagecoach is well known for its weekly music, dance and drama classes and its motto of building “creative courage for life” is going strong. Holiday workshops give children as young as four the opportunity to take to the stage. This is high-energy stuff of a different order, as children have a week to put on a show – making friends along the way – and with no previous experience required. You will find workshops across London and the south east, and in some lovely locations such as Alleyn’s School, Dulwich and King’s College School, Wimbledon. What’s special? For children already plotting their conquest of the West End or Hollywood, this is perfect. But even if your child is not a thespian or dancer in the making, this is a highly active and productive workshop. Do not expect Ibsen – Legally Blonde The Musical and Trolls are among the summer productions promised in 2018 – so child-pleasing. This year’s birthday will be marked by lots of events, including a Guinness World Record attempt in July when Stagecoachers around the world will stage a simultaneous performance of Beauty and the Beast Junior. Age range: 4-18
“STAG ECOAC H I S W E L L KNOW N FOR I TS W E E KLY M US I C , DA N C E A N D DRA M A C L A SSES” Good to know: Stagecoach operates a franchise system, and each school is led by a professional principal and team, with experience in both performing and teaching performance. Holiday workshops can be a good taster for children who may want to take things further and join the regular school. Some summer workshops offer two shows suitable for younger and older age groups. Sibling discounts may be available. stagecoach.co.uk
amily-owned XUK attracts children from across the UK to its residential summer camps. Its dedicated English Summer School means you also find a great mix of young people from across Europe and further afield. Special attention is paid to splitting camps by age, so that young, tweenie and teenager have the right environment and activities. Its London day camps are perfect for younger children and offer plenty to keep older ones amused.
What’s special? Mini Minors day camp is a split-age activity camp (3-4 years or 5-6 years) with lots of fun, a resident clown and special activities such as fencing. From age seven, children move on to XUK day camp, giving them the option to choose activities that most interest them. Both camps are located in Brookland School in leafy Hampstead Garden Suburb. The Activity week-long residential camp is located in idyllic surroundings at Abberley Hall School, Worcestershire and includes trips out to cultural hotspots such as Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon, plus a smorgasbord of activities, from zorbing to quad biking. Age range: Day camps 3-13; residential camps 6-17 Good to know: Lots of children here are repeat bookings and the day camp (rated Ofsted Outstanding) gives them the opportunity to move on up in familiar surroundings before, perhaps, trying out a residential camp. Half-days are available here and summer afternoon swimming courses offered at day camp are a treat that also give kids valuable skills. xukcamps.com 2018 | E D U C AT I O N E M I R AT E S | 81
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Jonas Al-Sibaie Meet the first student from Deira International School to have gone to the UK’s prestigious University of Oxford
Q How did you find the last two years of school, studying your IB programme? A I think it was a very enriching experience. It helps you build a personality and a field of interest. It helps narrow down what you’re focused in. The width of the IB, in terms of the breadth of knowledge that it covers, helps you make connections between different subject areas that you wouldn’t normally make. It helps you realise that the subjects you go on to study aren’t independent of everything else that you do. In fact, everything you do is very interrelated. That very much helps you prepare for when you go to university, because nothing at university is taught in isolation, especially when you do course like Law, which deals so much with the real world. Q How did Deira International School prepare you for university? A It gives you the freedom to explore what you want to explore, while still giving you the structure to get the learning that you need. The one thing you really notice when you get to university is that you’re really left on your own; there’s nobody to guide you through and hold your hand. So while school is very different to university, and they have some form of responsibility to nurture you, I think there’s a good emphasis here – especially in your last two years – where they encourage you to go and research further on your own. I think Deira International School does a really good job of that.
“The one thing you notice when you get to university is that you’re really left on your own”
these universities are not looking for. What I did in approaching my interview is to see it as an opportunity to have a conversation with one of the world’s leading scholars in their field. Why not take advantage of that in that sense, rather than being nervous about it or seeing it as a test of your capabilities? I think that really helps in terms of how you’re going to approach it. How did you find the adjustment of going from a Dubai school to the UK? A I think the biggest adjustment that students find, especially when going to a university that’s very intense already in the first year, is that you no longer have an external source of motivation. Nobody is making you get up at 8am; nobody is making you go to the library at 9am. I think this is the really big change that you feel coming from school in general to a university that is very work heavy. Moving from Dubai to a very small city in the UK comes with the difference in culture and the difference in approach to learning. I think the important thing for students going to do that is to understand that everybody else – especially international students – is going through that same adjustment phase, and as long as you talk to people about that then it does sort itself out. Q
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Jonas Al-Sibaie is now studying Law in Oxford, UK
Q What advice would you offer other students hoping to get into the University of Oxford in future? A First of all, the most important thing is you have to have your academics to the standard that’s required. But that shouldn’t intimidate students. The requirement that universities put forward is what they want – going beyond that is not a priority. I think the really important second thing is that you have to be interested in what you want to do. And you have to show that by really going beyond whatever you’re taught in the classroom and thinking about that critically. So whether it’s reading articles, or thinking about the world at large, in a critical sense, that is really important. And the third thing I would say is kind of a corollary of that second thing – be an opinionated person. Have strong opinions, especially for subjects like Law or the popular PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics), as they really look for an opinion on what the world is like, and what the world should be like. The last thing I would say is I think it’s very important not to see your interview as a test, because that’s exactly what
Would you recommend people take the same path you have taken? A I think going abroad, especially to the UK, is a very beneficial experience to students. Going to the UK gives you more independence, it teaches you different worldviews, and I think that’s very important for personal development for most students. I think it’s a very good experience to have, to see a new part of the world. Q
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