UAE - Health & Education
Executive Principal, RAK Academy
Graham Beale has a master’s degree from Leicester University. He has wide experience in leading on school improvement within the Gulf region, having lived and worked there for the past 15 years. He is currently the Executive Principal of RAK Academy.
This has been a challenging year for all within the education sector and this is true also for the five schools within RAK Academy. I have, however, been impressed with the incredible resilience of our learning communities in the face of the pandemic. As a group of schools, we were determined to tackle the challenges with a positive mindset, to use this as chance to change old modes of operating and to establish practices and approaches that allow us to move into the future of education with confidence — whatever that future may bring. An example of this determination can be found in the way we have pivoted towards technology and digital competencies as core components of our learning delivery method. From a minimal technology base and inconsistent digital use across the academy just a year and half ago, we have quite literally transformed our schools, to the point where all our students from the age of 7 years old and up now use technology daily both at home and school. We invested heavily and rolled out a one-to-one Chromebook programme to support interactive and online learning. One of the most impressive aspects has been the extent to which these changes have been led and driven by our teaching staff. They have become adept and expert at utilization of technology in new and creative ways to push learning forward for our students. While the pandemic has been hard on schools, and parents, and teachers, it has taught us to be resilient, adaptable, and flexible in the way we deliver learning to our children.
Our core focus at RAK Academy is grounded on providing each student with bespoke and holistic ‘learning pathways’. This begins with a ground-breaking approach to early years education, where our youngest children experience the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum, delivered through a fully immersive English and Arabic language environment. British and Arabic teachers team-teach to ensure excellent student teacher ratios and safe and nurturing environments for Pre-K and KG1 students. In our primary schools, we offer parents the choice of British curriculum or IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) pathways. We work closely with our parents to identify which approach best suits their child and what matches their aspirations as parents. Unlike most schools we also offer specialist core subject teaching in Mathematics, English, and Science for our upper primary students. This ensures that our students have the best possible transition to secondary school and are provided with all the tools necessary to achieve success as the move to the next phase of their formal schooling. Within our secondary school leadership structure, we employ ‘progress leaders’ – highly talented and experienced teachers whose key role is to ensure each student is achieving success and being challenged to reach his or her potential. For senior students, we once again provide a choice of curriculum options — either British A-Levels or IB Diploma programmes. Our students achieve excellent results at exam level, and they are supported in their university and career aspirations through careers, guidance, and well-being counselling available within the academy. Our teachers are highly skilled and passionate educators who focus on delivering the highest level of education for our students. We place a great emphasis on the partnership with parents as a key factor in student success, and track attainment and progress regularly to maximise learning opportunities. As a modern academy with more than 90 nationalities within our student body, we attract parents who aspire for their children to not only be successful in school but also to develop leadership skills, to be problem solvers and to be able to operate successfully in a global and multi-cultural environment. We develop resilient, talented, hard-working students who see education as a rewarding and lifelong goal in and of itself.
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