- Oct 05, 2018
What makes a school a ‘leading’ school exactly? Exam results seem like the most obvious indicator, but ultimately, they’re the 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-star students. But what are they? Michelle Forbes, Director of Special Projects at Aldar Academies, gave Oasis Living her top five signs.
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).
The accreditation process is extremely worthwhile – for both the school and its students. It pushes schools to constantly seek positive changes 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.
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.
It offers career guidance from those in the know
If gifted and talented programmes help students reach leading universities, career 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 provided 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.
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 masterclasses. 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.
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. For example, all Aldar Academies, Including Al Ain Academy, are Microsoft Showcase schools – the first in the GCC to achieve this. So, we’re often exposed to the latest tools heading for the market. 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.