It is true that a solid foundation is usually at the core of any great school. This point is not lost on Headmaster Brendan Law, who heads the prestigious Cranleigh Abu Dhabi School – sister school to Cranleigh UK, a formidable and well- established institution, known for scholastic excellence in the United Kingdom.
The school serves a strong international and culturally diverse community on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. This lends itself to the school’s motto, “Ex culto robor” or “From culture comes strength.”
All members of staff are charged with carrying out the vision and mission of the school. For Mr Law, the recruitment process is key when it comes to ensuring that members of staff buy into the vision and mission of Cranleigh Abu Dhabi.
“As Headmaster, I make recruitment one of my highest priorities. I have personally interviewed and appointed every member of the Cranleigh Abu Dhabi team. The fact that our retention rate is over 90% tells me that the investment made in this area is worth it,” stated Mr Law.
Mr Law added that in selecting the right people from the outset, the job of securing ‘buy-in’ is relatively easy.
“It helps to recruit individuals who already share the same educational vision. The fundamentals of a strong team are in place from day one, because you are all striving for the same set of goals,” he continued.
Cranleigh Abu Dhabi has been commended for having strong leadership and governance. While smart recruitment is one of the effective strategies that the school employs, another strategy focuses on how the staff is engaged.
“Once you have talented, like-minded people on board, it is of course critical that they know that they are valued,” shared Mr Law.
Below, Mr Law shared a few additional points on how staff is successfully engaged at Cranleigh.
We ensure that each person has the opportunity to voice his/ her opinions and be listened to. When people know their input is respected, they become more invested in school life. They take pride in playing a meaningful role in its success.
- We have an open door approach to communications. On a daily basis, we encourage face-to-face dialogue in place of email.
- We work hard to celebrate successes and overcome hurdles in a transparent and honest manner.
- We have regular whole school and departmental staff meetings and an active common room committee.
A new school year usually has a few hurdles during the first few weeks. Many schools plan for these challenges by implementing programmes to offset the predictable ones, while leaving room to correct the unexpected.
Naturally, at Cranleigh, underscoring of the values that underpin the school’s community is a top priority. The Cranleigh Code clearly articulates the school’s values – respect, collaboration, responsibility, adaptability, kindness, and empathy.
The Cranleigh Code is further reinforced by integrating it into the curriculum, where used daily as a behavioural framework for pupils and teachers alike.
Mr Law noted, “Throughout the academic year, we choose a value of the month and a thought for the week. These are spoken about in tutor time, assemblies and woven into lessons.”
Mr Law and his dedicated team also launch their academic year with an induction week for new and existing staff members.
There is also an induction for new pupils and their families.
According to Mr Law, “these inductions – along with the first assembly of the year for returning pupils – allow us to set the scene for the year ahead, lay out the primary focus areas and reinforce what it means to be part of a school that prides itself on providing a deep, broad, pupil-centred education.”
These occasions also serve to encourage innovation and entrepreneurialism among staff and pupils. The school adopts a theme for the three terms ahead.
“This year, we will be focusing on the rich power of traditional and contemporary Islamic arts and culture. This will be used as a backdrop for a host of academic and co-curricular educational initiatives,” said Mr Law.
Parents are essential stakeholders in any educational institution. Their involvement in the education of their children’s school can significantly bolster or diminish the relationship between school and parents.
A great parent-school relationship usually adds to the overall success of all stakeholders.
It is with this in mind that Cranleigh Abu Dhabi took a personalised approach to engaging parents.
Cranleigh’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) provides a personalised online platform, where pupils can engage with their teachers and peers. This allows for an extension of their learning beyond the classroom and the traditional school hours.
How does the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) work?
1.Parents have access to the full range of subject content, as well as their children’s academic and pastoral records.
2.The VLE’s forum, blog and assignment pages are versatile. They can be adapted for many innovative uses such as, facilitating project work and also for pupils to interact with each other.
Pupils use the VLE to reflect on their learning and receive feedback to improve.
4.The VLE is a continuing learning log of students’ progress and is invaluable for teachers, pupils and their parents. It forms a basis for assessment and on-going development.
Parents of the Cranleigh Abu Dhabi school community are encouraged to participate in and contribute to a number of varied academic, cultural and sporting events programmes.
Some of the internal and external activities that parents are engaged in at Cranleigh include: academic competitions such as Model United Nations, costume making and set designs for drama productions, and organising and participating in UAE National Day and International Day at the school.
“From cheering on the side-lines at sports matches to being an appreciative audience at school performances, the energy and engagement of our parent body is tremendous,” Mr Law stated with pride.
“Their incredible support ensures children get the most they possibly can from these occasions.”
Cranleigh Abu Dhabi is building on a foundation that is rooted in excellence. The school is realising its goal of providing students with a first class, all-round education.
The diligent work being undertaken by all the stakeholders of Cranleigh Abu Dhabi will ensure that the school continues to grow in excellence … a feat that all are ready to accomplish.
By Carolyn Lee