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The past two years have been an extraordinary time for education. Due to the seismic consequences of the pandemic, the world of learning had to adapt fast – as did the students who suddenly found themselves working from home while grappling with new tech.

It’s testament to the dedication of teachers, students and parents alike that this challenging era has been navigated at all.

However, a brave new world awaits new graduates. They will enter workplaces that include a more multicultural environment, advanced new technology, and ongoing repercussions of the pandemic.

That’s why UAE schools are doing all they can to prepare youngsters for the future.

For example, American School of Dubai (ASD) is focused on ensuring that students develop both the skills and disposition needed to identify and navigate major challenges.

The school is even preparing students for careers that do not yet exist, requiring the use of technology that has not yet been developed. “To accomplish this, our students engage in personalised learning in a flexible environment,” explains Craig Tredenick, Director of Admissions and Advancement at ASD. “This experience is designed to cultivate collaboration and innovation and to prepare them to be solution-oriented learners who can apply knowledge and content to real-world problems.”

When it comes to making choices about possible career paths, being tech-savvy is no longer simply a nice option – it’s essential. Employers in the post-Covid marketplace are likely to have very specific requirements in this area.

This need to get students future-ready is why the word innovation is so dominant in education right now, but for different schools it means subtly different things,

For the top brass at Liwa Education, innovation in education means taking a regular, fresh look at how they plan, deliver, assess and support its skills-based curriculum.

“In essence, this means continually reviewing the quality and impact of teaching in the classroom to ensure the differing needs and aspirations of all our students are continually being met,” says Kevin Corrigan, Liwa’s Director of Education. “Fresh ideas in teaching pedagogy, how students are assessed, the use of digital resources and more are continually encouraged to keep our education provision current, inclusive, international and exciting for students.”

Meanwhile, the subject of connectivity has dominated the approach at Dove Green Private School, says Principal Patrick Affley. “We need to consider how we stay connected to the people we rely on, work with, and learn from – and how can we use various skills and technologies in a meaningful way to achieve this.

“When coupled with the need for robust resilience, communication skills, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking, the students of today realise that future career pathways are anything but fixed. The opportunities to connect, learn, develop and achieve – like the adoption of a growth mindset – are endless.”

As young people get ready to transition to the world of work, there’s more to be considered than just developing next-generation technical skills. Principal Sara Hollis at The American School of Creative Science (ASCS) – Nad Al Sheba believes there’s an emotional and mental aspect that shouldn’t be overlooked. She says that an acute awareness of student well-being means her school’s social and emotional provisions have been enhanced. “At ASCS, we strive to foster strong connections, focus on learning, and model high aspirations – seeing every interaction as a learning opportunity.

“We prioritise creating a safe learning environment where each individual’s well-being needs are met, encouraging them to comfortably take risks, innovate, invite challenges, and explore personal interests.

“Additionally, consistently defining what success looks like, communicating high expectations for staff and students as well as student empowerment in the learning process have all elevated standards.”

In a similar vein, Antony Koshy, Principal at Global Indian International School Dubai, believes innovation in education must still be driven towards a purpose.

“I feel the focus of all impactful innovation in education should be on accessibility and equity of quality education for all,” he says. “It could include creating purposeful, enjoyable and engaging learning experiences for children and providing better analytics and information regarding directing student progress in all areas of development.

“While innovation is just a simple solution, if it helps solve any challenge our educators face in their own ring it is commendable, and I wouldn’t like to restrict it. Education is as wide and long as life itself, so innovations are limitless.”