Repton Abu Dhabi has been officially recognised as a world-class example of digitised learning and is teaching other schools about the effectiveness and importance of harnessing information technology in the classroom.
In 2016, the school, which was founded just five years ago, was the first in the Middle East to become an Apple Distinguished School. The accreditation lasts for two years, and the school has once again been given the esteemed accolade. Apple Distinguished Schools are centres of leadership and educational excellence that demonstrate Apple’s vision for learning with technology — they are proven to be some of the most innovative schools in the world.
A special digital summit, held on October 30th at the school’s Fry Campus gathered teachers and pupils from 4 neighbouring schools in Abu Dhabi to learn more about the benefits of the school’s association with the tech giant. The event took the format of an address by senior representatives from Apple, and a series of workshops showcasing how Repton uses a wealth of educational apps to support and enhance its curriculum. The programme included sessions on the use of iPads to accelerate English language learning for those who have English as an additional language, as well how apps can be used to accelerate learning in Music and PE lessons.
One of the key speakers during the morning session was Mikolaj Zielinski, one of 100 global candidates hoping to embark on the first manned mission to Mars, scheduled for 2031 and organized by Mars One. He works as a software engineer in SAP in Dubai. He holds an MSc in Computer Science and an MSc in Mathematics. He was joined by Education Development Consultant, Abdul Chohan, a specialist in the use and implementation of mobile learning technology.
Mikolaj’s participation was significant because the highlight of the special event was a unique inter-school challenge, a curiosity project entitled “Mission to Mars” held during the afternoon, where students from Year 7 and 8 representing the four visiting schools, along with Repton pupils from Year 7, utilised their coding and app smashing skills to rescue astronauts stranded on the moons of Mars. Each student will be provided with an iPad and take part in interactive tasks using drones and Sphero Robots to provide life-saving resources during the astronaut rescue.
After the event, Mikolaj tweeted: “Thank you for having me at the event. It was a great experience to interact with Repton’s students – the most knowledgeable students I have met so far”. @miko_zielinski @MarsOneProject
Repton Abu Dhabi has invested significantly in digital learning and has established a number of practices which enable them to maximise its potential. These include the creation of a Digital Leadership team of teachers, who are focused on aligning technology with key learning themes and lessons, and a Digital Leadership team of students, who have shown exceptional ability and are able to guide other less tech conversant peers.
Every pupil at Repton Abu Dhabi, from the age of three, has an iPad on to which relevant apps are downloaded appropriate to the lesson and the core learning programme. The technology is even used in PE lessons, where pupils are set specific exercises and can then perform and record them, using an app to evaluate their skills.
A new extension to the school was created and opened last year, enabling it to accommodate pupils up to year 13, with the new modern campus being purpose-built to incorporate several technology rooms and modular space, supporting the investment in digital resources.
Gillian Hammond, Principal comments: “Having been recognised by Apple for our commitment to advancing digital technology in the classroom, we wanted to demonstrate to other schools the huge impact it can have on learning and progress. Today’s pupils will be working with the technologies of tomorrow, and we are very committed to ensuring that they are fully prepared for the next generation of innovation, where they are not just using technology, but helping to develop it for a smarter world.”
Philippa Wraithmell, Digital Leader adds: “As teachers, our ultimate aim is to maintain our pupils’ interest in lessons and we are seeing how that can be achieved through effective engagement with technology in a wide range of classes and subjects.
The Mission to Mars project brilliantly showed how engaged and animated pupils become when they are using technology to solve problems and overcome challenges whilst learning in the process. The experience inspired creativity and encouraged collaboration and problem solving, with the winning team receiving a trophy. We are delighted to be sharing the learning experience with other schools in the area and hope that their pupils and teachers find the experience exciting and insightful.”