The Al Dar Academies Group of schools is fast becoming known for their resourcefulness and accomplishments within the education sector. The schools have received outstanding reports based on the results of their Irtiqaa inspections. Al Bateen Secondary School, which opened in September of 2011, is counted among the group’s outstanding schools.
In their most recent inspection, Al Bateen was judged to be a High Performing School and was awarded a Band A rating. Al Bateen is an inclusive school and offers a high quality holistic education from Years 7 to 13.
Teach UAE Magazine visited this outstanding school and discussed with the school’s Principal, Mr David Hutson and Dr Chiara Tabet, IB DP Coordinator and Head of Senior School, some of the areas that continue to contribute to the school’s successes.
A key area of focus at Al Bateen is the protection, care, guidance and support of students. The school is reputed to have an exceptionally caring ethos that ensures that students receive strong personal and academic support. This encourages students to form very positive attitudes towards learning.
When asked about what makes Al Bateen outstanding, Principal Hutson states, “It may sound cliche but what makes our school a world-class school is our staff. To have an outstanding school, you also need to have a very solid curriculum. The teaching and learning have to be outstanding. The leadership across the school on all levels also need to be very strong.”
He asserts, “Additionally, you need to have high standards in terms of academic expectations. I enjoy coming to work every day because our students are excited about learning. We have a very supportive and caring environment.”
The leadership and educators at Al Bateen Secondary School are keen on fulfilling one of the most common desires of parents. This desire is that each child receives a high quality of teaching in an environment that promotes student engagement and positive learning outcomes. As such, a lot of emphasis is placed on learning, and on continuous improvement in the quality of teaching, which are fundamental to delivering high quality education.
In order for the school to ensure that excellent teaching and learning remain consistent across the school, teachers are continuously provided with high quality professional development. This involves empowering teachers with a framework for lesson planning in order to maximise student learning and progress. Care is also taken to ensure that teachers provide quality experiences for all students, while helping them to develop 21st century skills.
“There is a common belief that we have at the school,” notes Principal Hutson, “we believe that all of us are lifelong learners. We want our students to become lifelong learners, so it is important for us to lead by example.” This has proven to be very beneficial and is reflected in the significant progress made by students who enter Year 7 with varied backgrounds in English, Mathematics and Science. By Year 11, many students achieve results that are well above international standards.
Al Bateen Secondary School adapted the British Curriculum and managed to successfully implement it so as to meet the needs of students living in Abu Dhabi. Here are a few of the ways in which Principal Hutson and his team have done so:
- The curriculum is contextualised so that teaching topics and examples are not too ‘anglo-centric’. It is important for students to learn about Abu Dhabi, the UAE and the international community. For example, a Geography lesson would analyse geographical examples and case studies from the UAE and around the world rather than just the Uk or Europe.
- Staff members receive EAL CPD as 80% of learners are learning English as an additional language. Teachers differentiate and scaffold learning activities to assist with comprehension and progress; focus on key terminology and visual aids to support learning.
- Al Bateen embraces the history and culture of Abu Dhabi with regular trips to museums, galleries and landmarks. An example of this is the Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) Media Club’s recent visit to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The school likes to create links with the local community, for example, Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (ADMAF).
Dr Tabet states that within this framework, Al Bateen’s added value can be measured against three standards: the quality of the student guidance offered, the level of academic ambition in the Senior School, and the ethos in which they expect all students to participate.
“As far as student guidance is concerned, at Al Bateen, we have a well-established one-to-one coaching and mentoring system,” says Dr Tabet.
“Students can receive training and become mentors for younger students, in line with the school’s emphasis on providing leadership opportunities for all and with its interpretation of leadership as service to others.”
She continues, “The Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) activities that all IB students need to complete, are taken very seriously. We currently have IB students leading our school magazine, helping to organise after school clubs for younger children and co-leading the school’s attempt to give back to the wider community through charity and social projects.”
Students are taught a curriculum that is imaginative and engaging. This focuses on developing the skills required to become successful lifelong learners. In Years 7 to 9, Al Bateen offers the English National Curriculum with an international dimension; I/GCSE in Years 10 and 11; AS Levels and the prestigious IBDP in Years 12 & 13.
The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB DP) is fairly new in Abu Dhabi but has been enthusiastically received by the school community. Dr Chiara Tabet, IB DP Coordinator and Head of Senior School at Al Bateen, credits the success of the programme to the transparency of its academic standards and assessment criteria. The curriculum is designed by the IB organisation, rather than by individual schools, to challenge students and provide them with skills and competencies that will be key to their successes both at university and in their chosen careers. Universities worldwide love this programme, and typically favour students who have completed it, because assessment results in the IB DP are a good predictor of academic performance in higher education.
Special attention is given to all Senior School students and their families, who will receive one-to- one guidance relating to university applications. According to Dr Tabet, each application must be carefully prepared within the school; this helps to maximise students’ chances to receive offers from the best universities worldwide.
“This also reflects our academic ambitions. An outstanding Senior School is one in which every student is in a position to realise his/her dreams. We pride ourselves on the high standards we expect our students and staff to meet. No IB student at Al Bateen is ever left alone. The entire school community is here to support and encourage their desire for academic success,” she adds.
Finally, Dr Tabet posits that enthusiasm, kindness and ambition are key qualities that Al Bateen’s IB students exemplify.
Al Bateen Secondary School is home to students who are happy, highly creative, and responsible. They are continuously excelling within their subject areas under the watchful guidance of educators who firmly believe in their own continuous development as education professionals.