“Bringing learning to life and making it real…that’s what we are passionate about. Every moment is a learning moment and every space a learning space.” ~ Alison Turner, Executive Primary Headteacher, Kings’ School Dubai
This is not just a manner of speaking, but rather a reflection of what is in practice on any given school day at the Kings’ School Dubai. At present, the school holds the coveted position as one of the top schools in Dubai, having consistently received an outstanding status in all school inspections carried out by the Dubai School Inspection Bureau (DSIB) of Knowledge and Human Development authority (KHDA) since they began in 2008.
The school’s welcoming atmosphere is perhaps one of its more dominant features. There is a soft hum of productivity as teachers interact with students inside the classrooms. Further engagement is witnessed as students happily interact with each other in hushed tones on their way to classes. This sense of a tight knit community is aided by creatively designed visuals that highlight the term’s theme throughout the school’s corridors. These visuals are mostly designed by the students and help to remind them and the staff of the creative focus and theme for that particular term.
Of note is that the somewhat cozy layout of the buildings allow for more personalised interactions between students and staff, while the space is effectively utilised for both indoor and outdoor learning.
The facilities, which include a well- resourced library and innovative learning space allow for a progressive teaching and learning environment. The sports facilities are equally remarkable and include a gym, 2 sports courts, a large astroturf pitch, running track and a 25-metre swimming pool.
The school’s commitment to staying abreast of technological developments is evidenced in their PC and Mac Suites, class iPads and laptops, Apple TV and Elmo visualisers, as well as interactive whiteboards.
Kings’ School Dubai also boasts a state of the art auditorium with a high-specification lighting rig and sound system, which is instrumental in showcasing students’ talents in the performing arts.
Both staff and students enjoy a professional and mutually respectful relationship. There is a harmonious and unanimous effort by all in maintaining the school’s prestigious position.
Executive primary Headteacher, Mrs Alison Turner credits quality communication as the key to staff engagement. Good communication is also vital in implementing the school’s vision, improvement planning and the overall direction of the school.
She outlines the following as useful in running a very successful school:
- The staff consists of well over 100 people, which makes ensuring that every voice is heard a challenge. Therefore, quality communication is a priority to guarantee that all staff have input into shaping the school.
- In addition to this, they use a distributed leadership model for curriculum development. The development teams are made up of all of the teaching staff, who are empowered to monitor, evaluate and innovate the curriculum to ensure that they are keeping abreast of up to date pedagogy and best practice.
- They make sure that there are opportunities planned into the timetable for everybody to contribute. Induction is integral to this and the entire school team launches the academic year together with a full understanding of the school’s vision and direction and how they intend to get there.
- A lot of emphasis is placed on the school’s culture of reflection and improvement with regular information-sharing meetings from Learning Assistants to the Executive Leadership Team, where people have the opportunity to reflect and feedback on their experiences in school, including their suggestions on how things can improve.
It is not surprising that serious attention is given to establishing an effective evaluation process in order to keep teachers highly efficient in their respective subject areas.
“Every member of our school community is expected to be a learner and to model learning for and with children and colleagues,” explains Mrs Turner, “We embrace risk taking and creativity and see all mistakes as an opportunity to learn.”
This, she elaborates, is celebrated in termly Professional Learner Review (PLR) meetings, whereby the member of staff uses a range of evidence sources to lead their own professional development, in consultation with their line manager. These sources include reflections, classroom observations and what the data reveals about the children’s performance.
Furthermore, she states that they avoid the usage of the phrase ‘Performance Management’ but instead use ‘Professional Learner Reviews’ to reflect the fact that each individual is on his/her own continuum of professional development.
Mrs Turner emphasises that the process of embedding outstanding evaluation is not necessarily measurable in steps.
“We work hard to nurture a culture of regular reflection in our school amongst both children and staff, and this is what guides us in our improvement planning. Linking this with having the very highest expectations from all members of the school community, we feel we can achieve the very best results in the right way for both the children and the staff.”
This nurturing environment has produced lifelong learners who revel in the knowledge that they receive at the Kings’ School Dubai. The talented teachers are facilitators who also take pleasure in learning from each other, from the students and the broader education community.
In conclusion, the following quote by Mrs Turner adequately captures one of the school’s attributes which is instrumental to their success:
“Kings’ Dubai is an emotionally intelligent school which has a supportive and collegiate ethos. We celebrate and share success, so that every member of our school can share in the pride we have for all our achievements. Our vision and mission capture this to ensure we provide ‘the best by every child’.”