September 2017 doesn't only bring the new school year but it marks the opening of new schools that promise to shake up the UAE's educational landscape. In this new series we speak to these new schools' founding principals and ask them about their plans for their first year.
Our first founding principal is Dubai Heights Academy's Principal Andrew Prosser who had been an integral part of the Dubai Heights Academy's development from the ground up. We had the chance to see the grounds of the blossoming school as a part of the WSA Dubai Heights Academy Hard Hat Tour.
So what are Andrew Prosser's goals not only for the first year of Dubai Heights Academy but beyond...? Read on to find out!
Tell us a little more about you?
Originally from the United Kingdom, my career has spanned over 16 years in the Primary and Middle school age range. I have a BA in Education Studies and a PGCE and I am currently completing my Masters in Education and my NPQH. The majority of my experience has been in international schools in the Middle East.
My greatest strength is my enthusiasm for ensuring each and every child receives an outstanding education. This drive comes from the desire to see every child enter their adult life with the skills, knowledge and values to make a difference in the global society of the 21st Century.
During my career I have managed the growth of Safa British School from a small two form entry primary school to a six form entry school, with the number enrolled growing from 320 to 800 over a two year period. Additionally developing a sister school, Safa Community from concept to fully operating school has been one of the highlights of my career. The school grew from 110 in the first year to just short of 750 in the third year of operation.
I am very excited to be starting the next stage in my career as the founding principal of Dubai Heights Academy.
What do you think will make your school different?
Value for money! Schools in Dubai are getting more and more expensive and parents are starting to feel the pinch. We are offering fantastic facilities and great teachers at a competitive price. Our fee structure is in line with our inclusive nature and many elements you would be charged for in other schools are included in the fees.
All of the children within the school will have a personalised education plan. This plan will have all of the child’s targets, not only for the core academic subjects but for the other key activities they undertake in school. E.g. If your child is having a personalised violin lesson, speech therapy or is a member of the swim squad they will have these targets on their plan. These plans will be reviewed every half term with parents.
What was it that initially attracted you to the school?
From the initial recruitment information I received during the application process I knew this was a project I wanted to be involved with. The schools vision and ethos of:
- For every child – a platform for academic achievement, cognitive development and personal excellence
- For every mind – an engaging approach, inclusive environment and progressive learning experiences
- For everybody – the inspiration to be the best version of themselves
Is in line with my own ideals of what today’s education system should be providing our leaners.
When did you come on board and what has your role been in the pre-launch?
AP: I officially started in January this year and I have been enjoying the variety of work opening a new school brings. The role is varied and can see you wearing many hats as the school moves along its construction process. I have been working with a great team of people focusing on the:
- Design and Layout of the school
- Resourcing the school
- Curriculum development
Is this your first 'founding-headship?
This is my second founding headship and it is great having all the experience I gained from the first one to help guide me through the process. Once you have lived with a building for a while there are always things you would change and adapt. I have been able to draw upon the successes of the first school and make changes on areas that did not work that well.
What would you like to see happen in the course of your first year as founding-principal?
I would like to see a school of happy children and parents receiving a great educational experience. I would like a steady flow of parents coming to visit the school and soaking up our ethos and vision and enrolling their children in the school. I would like word of mouth to be our greatest marketing tool as a school with a great reputation for delivering an inclusive education to the community.
What do you predict to be the biggest hurdles for you and your school over the next year?
The school market in Dubai has changed over the last few years as many new schools have opened and competition for places is greater than ever. Many of the schools that opened last year still have spaces. This is probably our biggest hurdle as marketing a school that is under construction is considerably harder than marketing a school where you can walk the parents round.
Once we are open I am really looking forward to showing parents around the school so they can see and feel the passion for education we have at Dubai Heights Academy.
What are you most passionate about? What still drives you?
I love learning! The process of opening new schools has exposed me to a wide range of talented people who have all taught me something along the way. It’s this interaction with people and learning from others that really drives me. I now have a good understating of precast concrete construction, swimming pool plumbing and which colours complement each other on a PE Kit!