Featured principal: Darren Gale, Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba
Principal Darren Gale talks to Mother, Baby & Child about the latest developments at Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba
How future-ready is the school?
How future-ready can a school be? It’s well-documented that we’re preparing children for futures that haven’t been invented yet! Therefore, it’s my responsibility to ensure we have a culture and climate where people don’t fear change, they embrace it, as well as encouraging all to think, think deeply, critically and outside the box to ensure we’re innovative in our approach to learning and assessment. Giving children a strong voice in the school by involving them in planning, development and direction is also key to our future readiness.
How skilled are the teachers?
Within the King’s group of schools, there’s a strong recruitment strategy. One of the key selection criteria is Teacher philosophy and outlook. Our teachers must be creative with an ability to think outside the box. At KSNAS, we continually provide challenges, support and ongoing training for staff. This is done through collaboration both within the school and across the group as well as providing bespoke training from external sources.
Does learning happen outside the classroom and textbooks?
It’s the teacher’s responsibility to carefully select the best strategy to maximise engagement, learning and progress. We’re fortunate to work with highly-skilled practitioners who skilfully select the best strategy whether it’s through technology, textbooks, collaborations, an educational visit or outside of the classroom. Teachers have the autonomy to select. We’re not prescriptive. However, with autonomy comes accountability and, at KSNAS, while teachers can be creative with their learning strategies, the monitoring of learning outcomes is consistent.
How safe are the learning spaces?
KSNAS is a new build school. Therefore, we’re fortunate to work in a bright and purposeful learning environment. Student safety is always at the forefront of our work. All schools must adhere to Government Compliance visits to ensure the very best practices for Health and Safety are adhered to. We also work collaboratively with our sister schools to ensure we’re developing and sharing best practices. All learning spaces and activities are subject to risk assessments.
How’s technology used at school?
At KSNAS, we share the philosophy that technology should be used to enhance and support learning. It’s not a gimmick that’s used to market the school nor manage children’s behaviour. We’re very fortunate to have a highly-experienced Leader of Learning Technology and Innovation who works collaboratively with the teachers to ensure they’re frequently upskilled and using the best technology to maximise progress through planning and team teaching.
Children have access to a wide variety of technologies as we’re very keen for them to have refined skills and confidence with the full range of devices on offer in schools. Across the group of Kings’ Schools, we have a BYOD programme from Year 3 upwards. However, we have favourable device-pupil ratios for androids, iPads and desktops from FS1.
How are slow learners taught to cope with the curriculum? On the flip side, how does the school cater to gifted children?
All children are unique, learn at different paces and indeed need a variety of strategies to ensure learning is matched to their needs. I’m very against labelling children at a young age. We’re data-powerful at KSNAS. All teachers have a wealth of information regarding a learner’s profile. The continuous, ongoing formative assessment and dialogue around learning and learning strategies gives teachers the information they need to ensure planning is as personalised as possible. The strong focus on depth and mastery at Primary level ensures that we’re delving deeper into concepts, which really engages more able learners.
Darren Gale, as principle of KSNAS, what are the values of your school?
KSNAS is no different from the other schools in the King’s group. Our vision statement of ‘the best by every child’ guides our work. Children are at the heart of all that we do. We appreciate that children learn and develop in different ways and at different paces. Every child is unique. Therefore, the second part of our vision statement ‘results the right way’ ensures that as professionals we do all we can to maximise students’ learning and progress while ensuring that our value system and behaviour policy creates a climate and culture in the school where children feel valued, happy and safe. This was identified in our inspection outcomes with King’s being renowned for how children think, achieve and feel in our schools.