Schools leaders
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Dr Steve Druggan, Superintendent, American School of Dubai (ASD)

Dr Steve Druggan

How does ASD implement personalised learning strategies to enhance educational outcomes and cater to students’ individual strengths, interests and needs?

Personalised learning starts with teachers knowing their students very well. As one of the few not-for-profit schools in Dubai, ASD prioritises class sizes and teaching loads that provide students with teachers who truly know their strengths, passions, and areas for growth. Our outstanding faculty then create opportunities for all students to take their learning farther than they ever dreamed possible.

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What support do you provide to students interested in pursuing careers in technology?

Next year, we will open our Centre for Design and Innovation for Public Purpose. This centre will house a scaffolded curriculum for grades 6-12 that encompasses design, innovation, and finance.

The cornerstone of the programme is the 10th-grade design-thinking experience: students work in small teams to create real-world solutions for issues that are important to them. The student teams will work with faculty and industry mentors as they spend a semester working through their challenges before presenting their solutions to the ASD community and the broader world.

The centre will also house the venture accelerator for students in grades 11 and 12 to continue developing the initiative they created as part of their 10th-grade experience. Again, these students will have access to internal and external mentorship. The new centre will also be the clearing house for internship opportunities for all ASD high school students.

Simon Herbert, Head of School and CEO, GEMS International School – Al Khail

Simon Herbert

How do you ensure that your curriculum is future-ready to meet the changing needs of students, universities, and the job market?

In our four programme International Baccalaureate (IB) school, we are able to look long-term, thanks to the IB Organisation’s research-based approach to change, with students always in the centre of decision making. This means our curriculum is not changeable at the whim of one country’s educational policy.

We recognise that students may change careers frequently and will need to develop aptitudes for jobs and roles that do not even currently exist. There are five skills that run through the education at GEMS International School for all students, aged 3-18. These are research skills, communication skills, critical thinking skills, social skills, and self-management skills.

Alongside this, we have developed unique partnerships with universities and the workplace.

Our focus on skills, the many pathways available to students at GEMS International School, as well as our emphasis on respect and service, which is hardwired into the IB curriculum, all allow our students to prepare fully for life beyond school.

Could you explain how personalised learning initiatives align with the broader goal of preparing students for next-gen careers?

It is important to recognise that one size does not fit all. Our educators use triangulation of data, as well as day-to-day conversations and interactions with students, to understand how each child is different and what inspires him or her. Learning and educational provision can then be aligned more aptly to match a student’s passions, aptitudes, and skills. And the best teachers have always known this.

In our inclusive and diverse school, we encourage students to take the initiative, lead, have a voice, and to expect more than a content-memorise-assess approach. The true meaning of education is from the Latin word ‘educare’, which is to draw out, to find a student’s talent, and then to encourage it to flourish; this is a personalised approach which leads to learners for life.

Jasmit Kang, Principal, Glendale International School

Jasmit Kang

How does Glendale prepare students for real-life scenarios to ensure they are equipped for success beyond the classroom?

At Glendale, we prepare students for real-life scenarios by integrating practical skills into our daily lessons. Through project-based learning, students engage in problem-solving tasks that mirror real-world challenges. We celebrate Entrepreneurship Day, where our students assemble products, pitch them for sale, and calculate profits and losses. This teaches them financial literacy and inculcates essential money management skills.

Extracurricular activities included in the well-being hour, such as debate clubs and sports, foster teamwork, leadership, and time management. Digital literacy programmes ensure students are proficient with modern technology. Additionally, social-emotional learning done in association with Heartfulness UAE initiatives develop resilience, empathy, and effective communication, equipping students with the interpersonal skills necessary for personal and professional success beyond the classroom.

Could you talk about specific educational strategies implemented by Glendale that have led to notable academic and social achievements in students?

We are proud to be the only school in Dubai empowering our students with the award-winning ‘Leader in Me’ programme. Glendale International School implements Stephen Covey’s Leader in Me programme into its curriculum through the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

The Leader In Me programme is an evidence-based comprehensive model developed to build resilience and leadership in students. This model equips students with leadership and life skills needed to thrive in a dynamic world. Since we started this programme, I have seen immense growth in confidence in Glendale students.

Antony Koshy, Principal, Global Indian International School (GIIS) Dubai

Antony Koshy

How do you ensure that the education you offer adequately meets the evolving needs of both learners as well as the job market?

At GIIS Dubai, we are dedicated to providing an education that evolves with the needs of learners and the job market. Our innovative RISE (Research, Inquiry, Skill, and Entrepreneurship) curriculum ensures holistic development by incorporating critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication skills. Through the Global Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (GCIE) and Quality Circles (QC) projects, students engage in hands-on learning, fostering problem-solving abilities and entrepreneurial thinking.

Our curriculum undergoes a dynamic review process throughout the year to remain relevant and reflect industry trends and emerging technologies, preparing students for future careers.

What kind of extracurricular support do you provide to complement academic learning and promote holistic development of students?

At GIIS Dubai, our Pro-Edge initiative offers diverse extracurricular clubs to complement academic learning and foster holistic student development. Creative Lab encourages art and craft using recycled materials, nurturing creativity and environmental awareness. Digital Eye enhances photography skills, while Megh Malhar and Tal Tarang celebrate Indian fusion music and dance, promoting cultural appreciation.

Our Global Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (GCIE) engages students in robotics while Quality Circle (QC) projects encourage collaborative solutions. The Sci-Math Club promotes interdisciplinary projects, enhancing critical thinking. Joyful Junction prioritises well-being through dance, music, and art. Career counselling guides students towards informed choices.