The Good News That Came Out of 2020

As this turbulent year draws to a close, there is much to reflect on and much to learn from a year that has pushed the world of education in directions that we might never before have imagined. All the challenges aside, there is still so much to celebrate, not least the amazing work of school support staff, teachers and leaders in ensuring that our children’s wellbeing and education have remained absolute priorities.
This article is part of an editorial series on Covid-19
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This article is part of an editorial series on Covid-19

As we approach the end of a year in which there has been much we would want to forget, the team at thought it would round up some of the good news stories that managed to remind us that darkness is fleeting, and better times are ahead. To help us, our team reached out to schools across the UAE and asked them to share their highlights of a year...

We begin with something positive from almost any angle... the arrival of a new school...

Dubai’s Newest School Gets Ready to Welcome Students

“In November, we were officially able to announce that the Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai will be opening its doors in September 2021. This was an incredibly exciting moment for us, as it has meant that we were able to talk to the community, parents and the media about what we have to offer our pupils at RGS. This was followed by another milestone, where we proudly conducted a hard hat tour of the school site with and showed how the school is really starting to come to life. I have no doubt that 2021 will be an exciting year for RGS Guildford Dubai and we look forward to welcoming our pupils through our doors.” Clare Turnbull, Head of Prep, RGS Guildford Dubai

RGS Guildford Dubai

The School Where Restrictions Can’t Stop Sport – GEMS Founders Dubai

“We created a video to show some of the sporting achievements from the Cambridge Virtual Sports Week that was held in April 2020. We had over 1,400 learners participate in the event, and it was clear to see that lockdown did not stop our learners from striving for physical excellence. After the competition ended it was announced that GEMS Founders School – Dubai were the Virtual Sports Week Winners. We topped the leader board against all schools from the UAE. Learners were recognised on a daily basis for the quality of performance they produced in each event, for their tremendous effort and for the fairness in the way they competed”. GEMS Founders School Spokesperson

Watch the GFS Cambridge Sports Week video, HERE

Virtual Virtuosos at GEMS Founders School

During lockdown, it became more difficult to engage with our students for practical work in terms of music. A member of our music department came up with the idea of running a GEMS Founders School Virtual Music Concert series, where students could submit recordings of themselves playing an instrument or singing, with all of these amalgamated into one video. 

This proved to be very popular with students both in primary and in secondary, and we got some great entries from our students. Due to the great success of the Virtual Music Concert series, we are now running it again this year, for both our online and in-school learners.  GEMS Founders School Spokesperson

The Show Must Go On! At Dunecrest American School

“The show must go on! Given UAE-wide restrictions on athletics and sports fixtures, our dynamic school community decided to pivot to artistic, inventive and theatrical pursuits in the 2020-2021 school year. For example, Grade 9 students are launching a blog and podcast while musical and acting enthusiasts have had the opportunity to participate in 5 shows from our Halloween Concert to “Dunecrest Has Got Talent” to a National Day Ensemble to an upcoming Robin Hood musical and our annual Christmas concert. We have also introduced Musical Mondays where our talented musicians play for the student community as they arrive every Monday morning. Dunecrest is a hive of talent and creative energy! With so much happening, we now even have our own Dunecrest Arts YouTube Channel! Yes, 2020 was a challenge but we have come together as a community, supported each other and celebrated our ingenuity, collaborations and resilience. We are the Mighty Dunecrest Eagles and we will soar into 2021!” Bill Debrugge, Director, Dunecrest American School

Happy days at Dunecrest American School

Traditions Change but Still Remain at Dubai American Academy

“In a typical, non-Covid school year, our elementary division begins the year with a massive opening ceremony, in which students fill our gymnasium and have a spirit-lifting assembly to ring in the new academic year, complete with a gong. This year, despite our social distancing restrictions, the event did not disappoint. Our elementary opening ceremony was livestreamed into each classroom as our Executive Principal ran through the halls making sure to visit every class. Diego, our school mascot, lifted sprits and, yes, we still rang the gong to officially start the new academic year. It was a wonderful way to spread joy and cheer among staff and students as we began 2020-21”. Dubai American Academy Spokesperson

Ringing in the new academic year at Dubai American Academy

Resilience in the face of Adversity at Arcadia School

“At Arcadia, I have been so impressed by the resilience of our community who have lived through such uncertainty, adversity and incongruence. The goodwill amongst our families has helped to overshadow the unpredictability of what we have all been experiencing. Despite the challenges of Covid-19, we have remained fully open and only closed two class groups during the entire term and are now back to 98% of our children in face-to-face classes. A great achievement. This fact, coupled with the opening of our Secondary Campus in August with 50% more of the building than we anticipated, has really showcased the perseverance and adaptability of our students and staff. At Arcadia it has felt as close to business as usual as safely as possible! I commend everyone in our team for making this happen”. Giles Pruett, Principal

Happy, resilient students at Arcadia

Enriching Experiences at GEMS Wellington Primary School

GEMS Wellington Primary School has brought the community together through a number of celebration days that recognise different events. This year we wore odd socks to show we are United Against Bullying, went green for Eco Day, wore pink for Breast Cancer and displayed the UAE flag and national dress with pride. Parents across the school are supportive of these special days and encourage their children to think about the important message behind each event. We also partnered with different groups such as ArtsEd to enrich the children’s experience within their school day. GEMS Wellington Primary School Spokesperson

ArtsEd at GEMS Wellington Primary School

No Glitches: Tech saves the Day for Online Learners at GEMS Wellington Primary School 

How do you overcome the challenges of teaching three groups of children all at once – children at home, children in the classroom in front of you, and children in the room next door? The answer is by using modern technology to adapt, and indeed enhance, the traditional way of educating our children.

Through the use of video conferencing technology, children can access remote learning – this is the easy part. But by combining this with high-quality webcams and state-of-the-art wireless, wearable microphones, children learning remotely also get to see the teacher in the classroom environment. They’re able to see their teacher moving freely around the classroom, utilising the interactive whiteboard as they would normally, and all the while communicating and interacting with children from all parts of the globe, who have a real-time window into the classroom.

Combine this with the use of interactive, collaborative teaching tools and children can interact and comment on each other’s learning in real time, giving the teacher the ability to monitor and assess learning ‘at the touch of a button’. GEMS Wellington Primary School Spokesperson

A brand new campus for Dubai's much loved Safa British School

"Safa British School has had a remarkable year and the opening of its purpose built campus has given the school a new lease of life in what has been a tricky year. The light, spacious building has brought smiles to all faces...even behind the face masks they can be seen." Zara Harrington, Principal, Safa British School

Safa British School's brand new campus

Is your favourite school memory from 2020 not here?  Let us know what it was... We'd love to share it!  Email [email protected]

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