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5 signs of a leading school

 Thu, 22 Jun 2017   -   Thu, 22 Jun 2017
 Aldar Academies

What exactly makes a ‘leading school’? Exam results seem like the most obvious indicator, but ultimately, they’re the end result of something much more - a combination of hard work, focus, and an outstanding learning environment. The true signs of a leading school are the actions and initiatives that consistently help to create A* students. So what are they?

Here, Michelle Forbes, Director of Special Projects at Aldar Academies, shares her top five signs.

  1. 1.It’s accredited by the pros
    Education providers often talk about the quality of their teaching, but accreditation from a recognised professional body is the surest way to prove it. Leading English National Curriculum schools will have or be pursuing British Schools Overseas (BSO) accreditation, Council of International Schools (CIS) accreditation, or both. Similarly, leading American Curriculum schools will be those accredited by NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges).
    Accreditation isn’t given lightly, as we know first-hand. Aldar Academies West Yas Academy, our leading American Massachusetts State Curriculum school on Yas Island, is in the final stages of receiving NEASC accreditation after a thorough schedule of inspections and reviews.
    As we’ve found, the accreditation process is extremely worthwhile - for both the school and its students. It pushes schools to constantly seek positive change across their curriculum, facilities and teaching faculty, with the end goal of creating a more effective learning environment. Accreditation also provides parents with accurate and impartial validation of a school’s excellence, which is a must when they’re searching for a new school.

  2. 2.It pushes exceptional students to a higher level
    A leading school will recognise that students need to be given challenges relative to their academic abilities. For exceptional students, this is where a gifted and talented programme comes in. The purpose of these programmes is to provide high achievers with the widest possible range of educational opportunities, stretching their knowledge – and therefore their achievements, further than the core curriculum can. But, with competition for elite universities increasing, the conventional gifted and talented blueprint is being revisited.
    For example, our own programme for exceptional students – the Academy of Excellence, is incorporated within the core curriculum, yet still provides highly rewarding challenges beyond it. Participants could be revising for exams one day, and contributing to a guest seminar from an industry leader the next.

  3. 3.It offers careers guidance from those in the know
    If gifted and talented programmes help students reach leading universities, careers guidance prepares them for what comes next. Leading education providers leave this important task to the professionals, inviting expert third-party consultants into the school to help students reach their preferred university and excel once they’re in.
    The guidance covers everything from word-perfect personal statements to exam revision techniques, conducting effective research, and training oneself to overcome challenges independently. These skills can be applied to students of any curriculum, and will be useful throughout a pupil’s professional life whether they realise it or not.

  4. 4.It attracts the leaders of industry
    A reputation for educational excellence places schools in an influential position. It enables education providers to attract and partner with thought leaders, who are eager to visit the school and share their wisdom with the next generation of leaders through seminars and master classes. As a result, students gain a positive role model and expert perspectives from within an industry, which only strengthens the school’s position as a leader.

  5. 5.It uses modern technology in the most effective way
    Finally, the most influential educators seek to invest in the latest teaching technology but don’t lose sight of what really counts – the impact it has on learning outcomes. Flashy gadgets may look impressive, but if they don’t advance the way teaching content is delivered, what’s the point? The challenge is to find those EdTech tools that make the teacher’s job easier while engaging students in a deeper way.
    Aldar Academies benefits from all of our academies being Microsoft Showcase schools – the first in the GCC to achieve this. So, we’re often exposed to the latest tools heading for the market. In our opinion, the best educational applications are those that also familiarise students with the tools they’re likely to encounter during their careers, like a cloud-based, collaborative platform such as Microsoft OneNote.