Schools go out of way to make Syrian students feel at home
The Al Mousa children, (from left) Mohammed, Lilas, Yaser and Yazhir, learn from a curriculum specially tailored for them.
There has been major improvement since from the time they joined school
A British school in Dubai has created a tailored curriculum for Syrian refugee students, educating them for free until they graduate.
The Safa British School and Safa Community School enrolled six Syrian students in September 2016. These students, from two different families, fled their war-torn country and hadn't been to school in years.
The students from the first family are Mohammed Noor Al Mousa, 11, his six-year-old sister Lilas; and brothers Yazhir, 16 and Yaser, 14. From the second family, it's Amal Hassan, 9, and her brother. These students had low English proficiency and had trouble making friends due to the conflict back home. Amal and her family were displaced in Syria for nearly two years.
To help them get back on track, the school created for them a buddy system, one-on-one lessons for Math, English and History subjects; the boys also attended after-school classes.
"Initially, the students were given an Arabic-speaking buddy to help them translate for basic understanding. This system was used until their understanding of basic English improved to a level good enough for them to access the content within most lessons. The buddy system is now not fully in place, but at times it is used for more difficult translations if the students are really stuck," said Nadine Hutchinson, the Head of the Inclusion and Achievement Centre at the schools.
"When the boys had no spoken English, they received intensive one-on-one English lessons whenever their class had English, science or humanities. They joined their peers for the remainder of the timetable, with in class EAL (English as an Additional Language) support where necessary. By the beginning of the second term, the boys' speaking and listening skills were strong enough to attend science and geography lessons, with EAL support," added Hutchinson.
The Al Mousa family continue to be supported in their English learning, either as a group of three or one-on-one. They attend extra classes before school and are withdrawn from English lessons. The boys are also receiving additional time and support from the teachers after and during classes.
'Our students now learn real life problems and empathy'The aim behind this is to help them with certain subjects; however, there has been major improvement since from the time they joined school last year, noted Hutchinson.
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"The students have a strong relationship with their EAL teacher and learning assistant. They are supported socially and emotionally, as well as educationally. Their EAL learning assistant is fluent in Arabic, giving the students the option to discuss any aspects of their schooling or learning. Vocabulary lists, scaffolded work, pre-learning, ICT and additional discussion support the students to access the curriculum," she said.
"The boys receive 9 1:1 (or 1:2 if they are timetabled together) each week. They also receive additional small group support in the morning before school. They also have their EAL learning assistant in class with them for maths and all three sciences and geography," she said. firstname.lastname@example.org
The schools that waived its hefty fees to educate these students for freeFees at Safa British School 2016/17 start at Dh26,510 for FS1 and move to Dh39,32 until Year 6.
Fees at Safa Community school is from Dh47,000 for FS1 to Dh80,000 for Year 13. However, the Syrian students are receiving free education at the Safa schools until they graduate.
What the Syrian children say about their school:
Lilas Al Mousa, 6
"I love going to school. I'm making a lot friends and I want to spend more time with them. My teachers are so nice and friendly. I like reading my books and learning new things everyday."
Mohammed Noor Al Mousa, 11
"Everybody at my school are so nice. They have helped me learn so many new things and I'm also learning English. I like being around my friends and peers at school. My teachers help me a lot and they are always there for me whenever I need them."
Mohammed Yaser Al Mousa, 14
"Our lives have completely changed. We are more confident, we are happy, we are learning, we are waking up everyday and putting on our uniforms. We want to thank the school for helping us. Now, I am confident that we have a bright future ahead of us."
Amal Hassan, 9
"The teachers at my school are very nice. They have been helping me and my brother a lot. We have new friends and we enjoy learning."