Dubai English Speaking College (DESC) is notably one of the outstanding schools in Dubai. Under the leadership of Head Teacher, Chris Vizzard, some of the College’s strengths are reflected in the strong leadership of the teachers, outstanding attainments in the various subject areas and the students’ aptitude and positive attitude towards learning.
Mr Vizzard attributes this success in part to the College’s mantra.
“Our mantra is ‘tight values, loose control’ so all staff and leaders fully understand the expectations and standards that we set and ensure that these are met,” he says, “once you have that foundation, leaders are able to bring about improvement in a less restrictive environment. You have to trust people to be able to flourish and shine and lead their areas of the College, but with the knowledge that they support what the overall vision is.”
He also acknowledges that having the right attitude and effective teamwork are key ingredients when it comes to empowering educators.
“When educators feel empowered there is no limit to what they can help their students to achieve. Having leaders who are able to mentor and guide their teams, ultimately leads to very high functioning teams.”
The curriculum at DESC was lauded as outstanding in their last Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau (DSIB) report completed by Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA). They were commended for modifying the curriculum to meet the needs of students of all abilities. Teachers were recognised as being adept at planning activities that motivated students and providing challenge for the more able in most lessons.
Data collection and analysis play an important part in curriculum planning. Mr Vizzard highlights the following as useful in data collection and its application to curriculum planning.
- Include students’ data in curriculum planning.
- Have a concept of what you expect students to become/attain.
- Challenge students and let your assessments reflect this (progression).
- Factor in students’ attitude and levels of attainment when planning and then analyse this at every level.
- Change the teaching methods if they are not working.
- Do individual interventions if/ when required.
Students are given many opportunities to develop their skills in areas of personal interest via the extensive range of extra-curricular activities provided at DESC. With 39 different sports clubs and highly successful drama productions, they are able to not only further the development of their leadership skills, but to also engage socially in activities that provide them with balance as they continue to learn.
Another notable area in which the students excel is their impressive awareness of community and environmental responsibility. They are proactive in leading initiatives that have positive effects on the local community. DESC has successfully built an ethos wherein students are excited about being involved. Whether it is with mentoring other students with special education needs via a link with the Rashid Special School or protecting the environment, the students ensure that they are making valuable contributions.
DESC’s Eco-Warriors are a highly motivated, self-directed group of students who are driven by the need to be environmentally friendly while also working hard to raise environmental awareness.
“They are an amazing group and often present their ideas to staff and senior leaders,” shares Mr Vizzard, “we provide them with a budget and they have a number of projects that they work on. They were active in the introduction of our ‘permaculture’ garden, they have built a bio-nest system for growing plants, and they have introduced campaigns to reduce litter, encourage recycling and to save electricity. The group is now working on a solar energy project.”
From 7th–13th December 2015, DESC students joined millions around the world in participating in the Hour Of Code. They hosted a series of workshops to introduce programming using ‘Python’. Lisa Finch, Director of Instructional Technology at the College noted how excited the student coders were to teach employees at KHDA to work with code and to learn new skills.
DESC has developed a culture that promotes leadership, learning and collaboration at the highest level among members of their College community. The students are invested in learning and the highly qualified teachers continue to bring a lot of love and passion to the job. We expect that this outstanding College will continue to dare students to excel, to share what they learn and create the best future going forward.