We're used to seeing a slew of British curriculum schools open each and every September, yet September 2017, looks set to be more than a little different with a focus on 'affordability,' and 'Unique Selling Points' (USPs) as schools try increasingly hard to stand out from the crowd.
Alpha School, located in Al Qusais is one such school. This little primary school promises parents not only exceedingly affordable fees, but a genuine focus on tech integration in the classroom. We speak to its very experienced and driven founding-head to find out more...
Firstly, can you tell us a little more about you?
I left Australia with my husband twenty years ago to allow our three children the opportunity to live and learn in another language and culture. After six wonderful years in rural Japan, we ventured into the international school arena and have since worked at some of the world’s best schools in Japan, Denmark, Thailand and Oman, and most recently in Ajman.
I have taught and led in schools following all major international curricula including British, American and International Baccalaureate.
Following Education and Arts Degrees, I completed a Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics, with a focus on second language acquisition and maintenance of mother tongue in multi-lingual settings. As a leading certified Apple Education Trainer, my specialisms also lie in guiding schools in the implementation and evaluation of their iPad integration programmes.
My own personal experiences as an educator and as a parent very much shape who I am professionally. Consequently, Alpha School’s vision and pillars are very much a reflection of my own passions and diverse cultural experiences.
What do you think makes your school unique?
Our uniqueness is definitely first and foremost our intimate, family feel. This is what drew me to accept this wonderful opportunity. Alpha’s physical facility is designed to promote a feeling of belonging and togetherness. We firmly believe that we are very different from every other school and offer so much more especially when considering our fee structure.
Firstly, we are committed to quality and that means prioritising the recruitment of quality teachers with English as their first language. We do offer the same essential curriculum as other British schools, but what creates our #Alpha Edge is our purposeful and planned integration of the very best elements of other curricular to create a depth and relevance of learning whereby students witness the impact of applying their learning to real situations for positive change. We track and assess skills and attitudes as well as content through real and relevant contexts.
Finally, and very importantly, as a full Apple school with a 1:1 BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) iPad programme from FS2 to Year Six, the level of integration of technology will lead the way for others to follow. It provides our students with personalised and limitless learning experiences and allows our parents a level of direct involvement previously unimaginable.
When did you come on board and what has your role been in the pre-launch?
I joined Alpha School as the building project was handed over at the end of February. Though not involved prior to this, I am thrilled with the level of support from the school’s owners in encouraging and facilitating the achievement of my vision for Alpha.
Is this your first 'founding-headship?'
Officially this is my first founding-headship, though I have very much been involved in two other start up school projects, the most recent of which was Ajman Academy, where my husband was Founding Director and I was Primary Principal.
What would you like to see happen in the course of your first year as founding-principal?
We are very happy to date with our enrolments and especially the geographic and cultural diversity of our student body. I trust and hope that this will continue.
We have nineteen nationalities already represented. We hope to open with around 120 students, though I would not be surprised to exceed that. We will have at least two FS1 and FS2 classes and at least one of each to Year 6.
What do you predict to be the biggest hurdles for you and your school over the next year?
As any new project, there is always such a lot to achieve in the first year. From experience, it’s about prioritising and doing as much as possible- well.
I am blessed to have access to a wealth of experience and expertise in my staff so I am confident that we will achieve greatness. I very much believe in collaboration and shared ownership. My staff are as excited as I am to be part of building something special.
What are you passionate about?
Those who come to know me soon realise that my school and my students are my passion. I adore spending time with my three grown children in Australia and the UK. When I do manage some time off, I relax playing golf or reading.