The Aquila School opened doors in 2018. How would you like to assess your journey over the past two years?
When we started to plan what we wanted our school to be like, we decided that four things would matter more than anything:
• Children would be safe and happy and love coming to school.
• Learning would be amazing, which means that every child is making as much progress as possible and is being taught what they need to learn right now, in an active and engaging way.
• We would foster a love of reading in all areas.
• We would be a true community school.
We are so proud of all that our school has achieved over the 18 months since we opened. We know from talking to our pupils and families that children really love coming to school — and this is because we value relationships and ensure that the curriculum and learning are engaging and relevant to the children. Every teacher tailor makes the curriculum and learning to the interests of the children, which means activities and teaching are different in every class, but the focus is always on personalised learning.
We recognise the importance of reading and our children and families have responded brilliantly to The Aquila School’s programme to encourage reading at home to an adult at least thrice a week. Our libraries are well used and have a wide range of books to engage all of our children.
Every teacher tailor makes the curriculum and learning to the interests of the children, which means activities and teaching are different in every class, but the focus is always on personalised learning.
We have an active friends association and work hard to engage our community. Our families are actively involved in a range of activities such as using produce from our hydroponics farm to support cookery lessons; engaging in Arabic lessons; and taking part in a range of family workshops that help support learning at home.
What are your plans in 2020?
As we continue to grow and remained focused on the Amazing Learning of our children, we look forward to welcoming our first batch of Year 8s. We will also be opening an additional library, new outdoor sports facilities and an extended Early Years area.
As we focus very much on teaching children what they need to learn right now in an engaging and relevant manner, we will be of course be taking part in a wonderful range of educational experiences associated with Expo 2020 Dubai to enhance our learning over the coming academic year.
How do you prepare students for the challenges of tomorrow?
Academic performance is of course important and everything we do in school is underpinned by academic rigour. Alongside this we want our children to develop into global citizens who are kind, caring, skillful and resilient.
Our approach to weekly assemblies, leadership opportunities and genuinely involving children in making decisions about the school are integral to this. By being a part of ISP, our students also have the opportunity to learn from programmes such as the Model United Nations, The ISP’s Future Global Leaders Conference, the ISP Buddy Exchange Programme and summer camps in Europe and North America.
What after-school activities does your institution offer?
As we encourage children to be partners in their academic journey, each term we ask them what Community Action Service (CAS) activities they want. We split these into academic, sporting, cultural and creative. Therefore the range and number of these activities changes every term.
What is the school’s policy for inclusion?
We are a genuinely inclusive school, respecting and following the guidance of the local regulatory authority. We believe it is our moral responsibility as educators to provide a place of learning for those children whose needs we can meet.
What steps have you taken to promote healthy eating in school?
MasterCook provides our balanced and nutritious school meals. In addition we encourage children to bring a healthy packed lunch, as we know that when they eat well they learn well.