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Noticing a gap in the education sector for a school that respects the culture of the UAE whilst cultivating its students towards the digital and global era, Al Sharif Investment Trading Group partnered with the Government of Queensland to build the first Australian school in the Middle East 14 years ago - Australian International School (AIS). Today, the school uses the pioneering Australian curriculum framework to instil a love for lifelong learning in its students. It is taught by a skilled faculty team from Australia, Arabic specialists and a leadership team, helmed by Karen Mccord, principal AIS Dubai, who are passionate about delivering exceptional education to the youth of today. With its first branch dedicated to primary school in Sharjah, AIS will soon open in Dubai up to the secondary level in September 2021.
Benefits of the Australian curriculum
Australia prides itself on the delivery of a future-oriented education. Twenty-first-century skills are critical if today's youth are to be successful socially, emotionally and academically for a world they are yet to create. Research shows that in the western world, students currently at school aren't sure what path to pursue once they graduate, so it is imperative to develop students into adaptable young people who can make sound life decisions. The curriculum challenges students to excel and be creative, active and respected citizens in the evolving global society. AIS ensures its graduates have the skills to develop meaningful relationships within a positive learning environment and enable them to learn in a culture promoting mutual respect and personal accountability.
"We find our curriculum delivery develops motivated and high achieving independent lifelong learners when they are engaged in a rigorous and relevant curriculum. Our students love learning in the environment the school fosters," Mccord observed.
Additionally, the flexible delivery of the curriculum delivered by experienced teachers ensures that students excel because they love learning in the classroom and sharing their community responsibility.
Crafting a strong school community
The goals for education and the lifestyles of the UAE and Australia are aligned. Both expect their citizens to be a part of the local community and take pride in their nation. Students are encouraged to be engaged through activities reflecting the needs of their community. Both countries embrace diversity and desire the upcoming generation to value who they are as individuals, those around them and their environment, making the Australian curriculum a perfect fit for the UAE. Both cultures focus on ensuring young people become independent through learning 'how to learn' not just 'what to learn', therefore, fostering a culture of innovation as that is what today's children need to be skilled in, as they move into tomorrow's world.
Karen Mccord, principal AIS Dubai, with AIS primary students
Skills beyond the classroom
According to Mccord, education is a partnership between the home and school; if the very best holistic education is to be provided to the students within a safe, secure and happy environment, AIS turns 'knowledge into impact'. To the school, the learner comes first.
"We nurture traditional values and ensure our children demonstrate manners, considerate behaviour, personal responsibility and take pride in their school. Our focus is on the whole child, so whilst their academic development is critical, we also ensure emphasis is placed on other passions," said Mccord. All this is central to how AIS does business so students emerge into society as motivated, emotionally intelligent, reflective, resilient, and investigative thinkers who are self-disciplined, successful and active participants within their community.
Obviously, in this ever-changing world, a focus on technology is also central to AIS' students' development while developing skills to transition into individual career paths once they move higher in school. AIS prepares its students for their future and to face the real world.
Emirati ethos at AIS
In less than 50 years the UAE has transformed from a desert to one of the most famous metropolitan hubs in the world. The rulers had their visions set on the future, creating a culture that is not only warm, inclusive and engaging but also adaptable and future-focused. The UAE's multicultural population is a testament to this. Dubai epitomises a culture of success, where individual talents are not only developed but also supported and AIS' curriculum fosters this ethos.
Hence, Australians and its style of education fit beautifully into the development of Emirati children and those of expatriates from around the world. The Australian style of education focuses on:
Engaged learning: Relevant activities and curriculum where active learning is negotiated through an 'inquiry approach',
Connected learning: Ensuring pathways for personal need - every child matters.
Rigorous learning: Intellectual rigour, literacy, numeracy, ICT skills are developed in students. Put simply, learning is what students do, not what is done to them.
'How to' learning: AIS' curriculum is based on core curriculum elements (CCEs), all of which develop skills for the 21st century and the need for children to understand the world they live in, so they can be active participants.
"We want our children to excel in what they choose to do, just as Emiratis do, but most importantly, we all want our children to be happy," Mccord said.
At AIS, children have access to the most amazing facilities as soon as they walk through the door such as a 600-seat auditorium, two swimming pools, soccer field and volleyball courts along with various playgrounds, music rooms, a theatre, library, cafÃ©, science labs, technology suites and indoor sports courts and play areas.
Life after graduation
Students with an Australian education will find that the world is their oyster. Multiple pathways present themselves to graduates of AIS. As the secondary school grows, AIS intends to create partnerships with local universities and business communities. Attaining a Queensland Certificate of Education ensures that students have reached a highly regarded literacy and numeracy standard at graduation, which makes them highly employable in the fields they choose to transition into. In addition, either an Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) score or International Baccalaureate accreditation enables entry to selected universities. The Australian curriculum ensures that graduates are highly sought-after in the workforce because of their soft skills such as teamwork and communication, along with their ability to be independent, adaptable, innovative and creative.
"We are proud that all AIS Sharjah graduates gain admission and attend university in the UK, Canada, Australia, the USA, etc. in the fields of medicine, engineering, computer science, law,Â architecture and finance to name a few. Our new ATAR senior curriculum will enable more students to gain admission to many top universities worldwide," she added.
The future for AIS Dubai
Mccord's ambition is that AIS will become one of the best education providers in Dubai. "If we have truly excelled in our role as educators of the whole child, we will continue to provide excellence in educational opportunities for all our children as they come through," she said.
AIS has only just started taking enrolments and she has already been blown away by the public response. The school has also received assurance from two parents that their children are on the waiting list for kindergarten at AIS.
AIS will focus on the learning needs of each child and what they need to be successful in the world they are choosing to enter post-school. "When we succeed in the above, we will truly secure a reputation for excellence in the Dubai community because we would have made a difference in each of our children's lives," Mccord concluded.Â
Admissions are now open for the year 2021-22.
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